5 free agents the Eagles should target to bolster a weakened defense

PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 09: Philadelphia Eagles Cornerback Cre’von LeBlanc (34) watches the game from the sideline during the game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles on December 09, 2019 a Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Nicole Fridling/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles might be 2-0 but it hasn’t been pretty. They’ve been bitten by the injury bug in a way that leaves them very light on depth at linebacker, and with no choice but to drop young corners into the deep end.

Here are 5 free agents the Eagles should consider signing if they believe they need some reinforcements.

CB Cre’Von LeBlanc

It would be rude for me to make a free-agent list with the Eagles craving cornerback help and not include Cre’Von LeBlanc.

He’s a player the streets will never forget. After going undrafted in 2016, Strap eventually caught on with the Chicago Bears (where he overlapped with Sean Desai!!!) where he began to make a name for himself. His real break came a couple of years later when he was brought in to Philadelphia to replace an injured Avonte Maddox. Will history repeat itself?

Unfortunately, LeBlanc was deemed expendable by the Eagles after an injury in 2019 and he’d later bounce around between four different teams, struggling to find a long-term home.

However, things picked up in 2023 when he took a plunge into XFL waters. His interception in the Championship game for the Arlington Renegades sealed them the XFL title. The man just cannot stop making plays.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 14: Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman is pictured prior to the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles on October 14, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

The front office is familiar with Strap as one of the best low-risk, high-reward pickups in recent memory, and so is Sean Desai. There would be certainly no harm in bringing him back, and it seems to be something he’s open to…

*side note, the legend of Cre’Von LeBlanc is one that is close to my heart. Being in England, most primetime games kickoff at 1AM my time. Filled up with Caffeine and sleep-deprived, I tweeted ‘Captain Cre’Von’ one mysterious Monday night after a huge play, and the rest was history. He and his Mom followed me on Twitter, and the Captain’s ship began picking up crew mates. I would love to see LeBlanc in Philly one more time.

CB William Jackson

The former Commanders corner worked out for the Eagles this week, making Jackson a likely pickup for Philadelphia if they do want to add a corner to their ranks.

He’s 30 years old and coming off of a back injury that shortened his 2022 campaign. Prior to that, he struggled for the Commanders after signing a huge contract in the previous offseason. Jackson was a former first-round pick who balled out for the Bengals but couldn’t quite get it all together in Washington.

At the very least, Jackson would add some experience to a positional group that now features a plethora of young corners who could be thrust into deep waters at a moments notice. He might not be the most reliable player available, but if he can get anywhere close to the player who amassed 41 passes defensed through his opening 4 years in the NFL, it’s a great low-risk, high-reward move.

CB Bryce Callahan

I genuinely don’t think that there is a better fit in this scenario than Bryce Callahan. He spent 2022 with the Chargers where he compiled 47 tackles, 3 picks, and 6 passes defensed. While those numbers aren’t mind-blowing, they’re certainly starter-worthy and it’s amazing he’s not on an NFL roster at this point.

The real hidden ace for the Eagles here though is that the 31-year-old has spent a total of 6 years playing under Vic Fangio – 2 in Denver and 4 in Chicago. The Eagles have a real affinity for Fangio and new defensive coordinator Sean Desai preaches what Fangio teaches.

Callahan’s arrival would give Philadelphia a relatively smooth induction process and the closest thing to an instant impact that they could find.

It’s a prove-it deal for Callahan, and a low-risk, high-reward play for Philly who are getting a corner that has proven himself in schemes with similar principles.

LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Nick Kwiatkoski has been a popular name over the last seven years or so, but finds himself without a team going into week 3. He caught on with the Steelers this offseason but a minor injury hurt his chances of making the roster, and with Pittsburgh only keeping 4 linebackers, it became a Mountain too call to conquer.

FILE – Philadelphia Eagles linebackers coach Nick Rallis gestures during a preseason NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Philadelphia. It’s a big weekend for Nick Rallis and big brother Mike. Mike Rallis, better known as WWE star Madcap Moss, is in the mix for Saturday’s Royal Rumble. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz, File)

The former fourth-round pick has also overlapped with Eagles Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai, playing in 57 games for the Bears as a MIKE linebacker. He exploded in 2019 with 76 tackles, 3 sacks, and 8 TFL. Again, this is a player who has proven he can handle the load of a MIKE linebacker in Desai’s style of defense and would bring some pass-coverage prowess to a position that lacks it.

Reuniting Kwiatkoski with Nicholas Morrow in the same way Jim Schwartz once signed Nigel Bradham and Corey Graham isn’t the worst idea in the world. Coordinators often target players they’ve worked with before and for good reason. Kwiatkoski is a linebacker Desai will know well and can provide an insurance policy if there are any more injuries at an already light linebacker spot.

LB Kyle Van Noy

This might not be a popular play, but Kyle Van Noy is a two-time Super Bowl winner who could certainly fill a niche in Philadelphia.

The former Patriot has played at both MIKE and WILL spots throughout his career, and most recently spent time with the Chargers (a common theme here) helping them to a playoff berth with 46 tackles and 5 sacks. He’s still got it.

KVN would Instil some veteran leadership to the linebacking group and with Nakobe Dean sidelined, having someone as experienced as Van Noy could be invaluable from a mentoring perspective.

Photo by Nicole Fridling/Icon Sportswire