NFL Free Agency: Eagles should target these AFC East players

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – SEPTEMBER 25: Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (49) during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins on September 25, 2022 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire)

We have covered all of the NFC targets from the divisions for the Eagles and have now moved on the AFC side. We’ll start in the East.

New England Patriots

Offense: No one

I’d love to list Jakobi Meyers here, but he’s going to be way too expensive to be a WR3. Maaaybe Damien Harris, who played with Hurts for three years at Alabama? He’s enticing but hasn’t been very healthy. If the cost is right, sure. But no one to chase after here. 

Defense: Jabrill Peppers

Long ago, I pined for a J. Peppers to join the Eagles in free agency, now is the time to fulfill that destiny. Sure, this isn’t Julius Peppers.. but still.

Peppers isn’t a starting caliber player but he’s been very effective in a reserve role. He played all over the defense in 2022 for the Patriots while being on sort of a “recovery year” after tearing his ACL in 2021. Peppers played in all 17 games in 2022, starting five, and registered 60 tackles and one fumble recovery. He played 35% of the snaps on defense and 58% of the snaps on special teams. He’d make for very nice depth at a sorely needed position and if he’s healthy, he can make an impact.

New York Jets

I had to.

Offense: James Robinson

Admittedly, wanting a Doug Pederson cast off at RB is a bit troubling. He recently said in an interview at the combine that he wants another 2, 3, or 4 backs to work the rotation with Etienne. So then why did he ship Robinson off to the great beyond of MetLife stadium?

Robinson was on his way to stardom after his rookie year, had a solid sophomore year, then BAM sent to boarding school. He was a healthy inactive for many games with the Jets. Was it unfair gamesmanship so the Jets don’t trade a higher pick? 

Regardless of what it was, the Eagles should check in to 1) his RFA tender and 2) his price. If the tender isn’t high, or if it’s really anything at all then the Eagles should back away since they’re (currently) so low on capitol. But if his price is right and there is no attachment, then bring the 5’9″ 215 lb bowling ball over to see if he can rejuvenate his career.

Defense: Sheldon Rankins

The Eagles will be in the market for bargain deals at most positions on defense and, while this probably wouldn’t be a huge bargain, Rankins’ contract compared to the other defensive tackles will look cheap.

Rankins had a nice season pairing with Quinnen Williams on the Jets’ interior defensive line. He’s no longer the pass rush artist he used to be in New Orleans, but he offers dual ability vs the pass and run and the Eagles’ DL rotation could entice him.

Miami Dolphins

Offense: Raheem Mostert 

September 15th, 2015: Mostert is released by the Eagles. 

Fast forward to 2023, Mostert is one of the more underappreciated and more productive running backs in the league… when healthy. 

While Mostert just played 16 games, it was his first such season since 2019. It was his also multiple start season since 2020. He’s a career 5.4 YPC back and that translates really well to a team that features two stud OTs on the bookends for an outside zone back.

Defense: Andrew Van Ginkel

Google him and tell me that you don’t want that head of hair under the Eagles helmet.

Van Ginkel is not a household name outside of Miami, but he is a very productive LB/EDGE rusher who had a great year against the run. Know a team that needs that? According the PFF, his 81.6 grade against the run is the 9th best over the last three seasons at his position. Not bad for a guy who’s been a reserve. 

He will be looking for a larger role elsewhere and could see some promise in Desai’s system. He was also teammates with T.J. Edwards.

Buffalo Bills

Offense: Jamison Crowder and Devin Singletary

I don’t know why, I really don’t, but I’ve always had an appreciation for Jamison Crowder. He’s been on my fantasy teams, he’s been someone I’ve enjoyed watching play, and I think he’d bring a really nice element to the slot.

However, he didn’t get to prove that in his first season with the Bills. He lasted four games and only had 60 yards. Brought in to give a spark in the slot and in the return game, it seems like his time is up with the acquisition of Nyheim Hines. 

Crowder has punt return experience and would add valuable experience and production to WR3.

It seems as though the Bills have been looking to upgrade at RB for all four years of Singletary’s career despite him being fairly productive. He has 3,151 yards in four years with a 4.7 YPC average. Only 25 years old, Singletary could form a nice duo with Kenneth Gainwell.

Defense: Tremaine Edmunds

There’s a report floating around that the Bills are “expected to lose” Edmunds to free agency. There are only two (maybe more I’m not sure yet) free agents out there that I think the Eagles should spend on. Edmunds is one of them. 

With the Eagles seemingly plugging in Nakobe Dean at the MIKE position and being more of a between the gaps LB, they need to upgrade at the off ball LB position. Sure, Haason Reddick can fill that role but you’re moving him off EDGE after that year?

From PFF:

Edmunds’ 86.9 coverage grade in 2022 was the third-best mark among off-ball linebackers, and he forced an incompletion on 10.3% of targets into his coverage while allowing just four explosive receptions the entire season (0.9% of targets into his coverage, ninth among linebackers). Edmunds also missed just 6.5% of potential tackles, the lowest rate of his career and another huge sign of continued growth from a football intelligence and play recognition standpoint.

The Eagles have struggled for years defending passes over the middle and the flats and allowing those plays go for big chunks of yards. How many times did you watch a 5 yard dump go for 10-15 yards? Too many.

Pairing Mr. Run Gap blocker Nakobe Dean with Mr. Coverage LB Tremaine Edmunds would set the Eagles up at LB for a half decade, at least. If anyone can make a contract work out for big money, it’s Howie.

Other divisions: NFC East, NFC West, NFC South, NFC North

Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire