A recent Eagles signing could hint at an offseason of change at defensive end

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Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham celebrates after a sack against the Buffalo Bills during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia Eagles made a minor roster move on Wednesday evening, bringing in former Lions’ pass-rusher Julian Okwara to their roster. While the signing might not scream ‘game changer’, Okwara’s arrival should at least bolster a positional group set to undergo quite a big transition this offseaon.

Who is Julian Okwara?

Julian Okwara was drafted back in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Standing at 6’4, 239 lbs, he’s spent his entire career up to this point with the Lions, playing in 38 games and registering 9 sacks. A career-high 5 sacks came in 2021, with 2 per season in the two years that followed.

Now 26-years-old, Okwara is looking for a new beginning. He’s dealt with some nagging injuries over his four-year career, starting off 2023 on injured reserve and ultimately ending it on the practice squad. While we can’t expect him to take on a starting role anytime soon, he should be able to compete for a spot slightly lower on the depth chart.

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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) steps out of bounds while going for a 2-point conversion in front of Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham (55) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Where does Julian Okwara fit on the Eagles?

He’s largely been a rotational pass-rusher in Detroit, playing in no more than 40% of defensive snaps per season, and just 21% in 2023. By comparison, Brandon Graham played in 33% this year and combined for 16 tackles, 3 sacks, and 6 QB hits. Okwara had 7 tackles and 4 QB hits to go with his 2 sacks 21% of defensive snaps.

Brandon Graham’s future is uncertain, and he’s not the only one. Haason Reddick has reportedly been floated in trade discussions as of late, Josh Sweat could be a prime trade candidate if the Eagles want to cash in before a big extension, and that could mean we see a scenario where depth outside of Tarron Jackson and second-year player Nolan Smith is invisible.

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Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Jalen Carter, left, runs with the ball while scoring on a fumble recovery as teammate Haason Reddick (7) gestures and Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Terence Steele (78) chases him during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Okwara has the ability to at least make a difference on the field, as he has done in a depth role in Detroit for four years. He’s flashed his pass-rushing chops in 2021 in an expanded role and if he can stay healthy, would at least provide the Eagles a cheap depth solution while they figure out what the EDGE/OLB positions look like under Vic Fangio.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum