March 16, 2023
NFL free agency began on Monday, March 13, when the NFL opened a two-day window during which teams are permitted to contact and negotiate with free agents. The first day of the new league year, which is the "official" start of free agency, is Wednesday, March 15.
Here we'll track reports and rumors that are pertinent to the Philadelphia Eagles. Most recent entries at the top:
Darius Slay went from granted to seek a trade to expected to be released to staying put all within a few days and to the concern, then distress, then huge relief of Eagles fans everywhere.
Now we know what the new agreement looks like.
Per Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, Slay will be staying with the Eagles on a two-year, $42 million extension with $23 million of it guaranteed.
It’s a 2-year, $42M extension with $23M fully guaranteed, per agents Drew Rosenhaus and Robert Bailey. https://t.co/JzkOhRzZDR— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2023
Slay, 32, helped form one of the NFL's best defensive backfields last season alongside fellow corner James Bradberry, and now they're set to run it back after the Eagles looked like they were going to lose both at one point.
Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson is the last big free agent chip in play.
Per Zak Keefer of The Athletic:
Hearing Colts are looking into free agent QB Gardner Minshew. With the Shane Steichen connection — they were together in Philly the last two years, with Minshew making four starts — it makes sense.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) March 16, 2023
The Shane Steichen connection indeed makes sense. But also, the Colts own the fourth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, so if they were to select a quarterback, Minshew could be a bridge quarterback who plays until the rookie is ready.
UPDATE: Minshew is headed for Indy.
Here it is:
Nothing but love Philly!! Lets see where we heading next..— Darius Slay (@bigplay24slay) March 15, 2023
The Eagles were shopping Slay in a trade, and it appears as though he believes he'll be on his way out of Philly, perhaps even released.
UPDATE: Slay is getting released. MORE HERE.
Eagles to release CB Darius Slay. (via @RapSheet) pic.twitter.com/0nRdzQSjoI— NFL (@NFL) March 15, 2023
UPDATE UPDATE: No he's not.
Per Todd Archer of ESPN:
Stephon Gilmore wasn't the only veteran CB talked about in a trade. Source said the Eagles made a call to the Cowboys about Darius Slay.— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) March 14, 2023
Well that's interesting for a lot of reasons, if accurate. Perhaps most importantly, it may say what the Eagles think of Slay as a player if they were willing to face him twice per season as a member of their biggest threat in the NFC East.
Update: Nevermind, lol.
Clarification: there was a discussion about the Cowboys' potential interest in Darius Slay once the Eagles gave him permission to seek a trade. Eagles did not make the call to Dallas.— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) March 14, 2023
And with word of Rashaad Penny's deal with the Eagles, that looks like it's it for Miles Sanders' stay in Philadelphia.
To the city of Philadelphia Thank You from the bottom of my heart. 🏾— Miles Sanders (@BoobieMilesXXIV) March 14, 2023
Another piece of the Eagles' NFC Champion defense is off the board.
Lineback Kyzir White is getting a two-year, $11 million maximum deal from the Cardinals, per The Score's Jordan Schultz, keeping the 26-year old paired up with Jonathan Gannon down in Arizona.
Breaking: FA LB Kyzir White is signing a two-year, $11M max deal with the #AZCardinals, sources tell @theScore.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) March 14, 2023
White played a crucial role in the #Eagles’ defense last season, totaling 110 tackles, 7 PBUs and 3 TFLs.
The Eagles picked up a running back, agreeing to terms with former Seahawk Rashaad Penny, per the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Source: The #Eagles have agreed to terms with #Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 14, 2023
Penny has shown great flashes as a runner over his career but has also struggled to stay healthy, with a broken leg last season eventually costing him his top spot in Seattle for Kenneth Walker III.
Philadelphia could mark a fresh start though, and at the very least, bring some depth to the position alongside Kenny Gainwell.
Our take on Penny in a look at the running back market a couple of weeks ago:
Coming off a season-ending broken fibula suffered in Week 5, Penny, 27, would be a gamble, but possibly a low-cost one because of that. He still ran for 346 yards on an average of 6.1 per carry before the injury, but Kenneth Walker III is the top back in Seattle now after reaching 1,050 yards rushing in his rookie season.
Penny, who would be entering his sixth, has also struggled to stay healthy prior to 2022 but has also shown flashes of great athleticism when he is available to play.
This of course is only "Eagles-adjacent" news, but I'm bored, so...
Blockbuster: The #Giants are finalizing a trade to acquire star TE Darren Waller from the #Raiders, per sources. pic.twitter.com/bNNGJvIKfI— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 14, 2023
Waller will have an $11 million base salary with up to $1.275 million in per game roster bonuses and $200K in workout bonuses due in 2023. The immediate reaction on Twitter was something to the effect of "The Raiders are idiots," and "Holy crap what a steal for the Giants."
If Waller is still the same player he was in 2019 and 2020, when he had 197 catches for 2341 yards and 12 TDs, then yep, that will absolutely be a steal. If he's the injury-prone player in 2021 and 2022 who had 83 catches for 1053 yards and 5 TDs over those two seasons, then the Raiders won't look so foolish, and the Giants won't have themselves a steal.
Per Aaron Wilson:
#Browns veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett has drawn interest from teams, including #Buccaneers #Eagles others at start of #NFLFreeAgency, per league sources. Passed for 2,608 yards, 12 touchdowns, six interceptions, and rushed for 243 yards, two scores last season— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 14, 2023
Brissett is a player we identified as a fit for the Eagles a few weeks ago. With Gardner Minshew likely to leave for another team in free agency, the Eagles will be shopping for a quarterback. As the defending NFC champs and still Super Bowl contenders in 2023, my guess is that they will opt to find a steady veteran backup, as opposed to entrusting that job to Ian Book or a rookie draft pick.
Sirianni coached Brissett in Indianapolis and has expressed a fondness for him.
Brissett is 6-10 the last two seasons in 16 starts on bad teams. He went 2-3 in five starts with the Dolphins and 4-7 in 11 starts for the Browns. In those 11 starts for Cleveland, he played reasonably well enough, completing 236 of 369 passes (64.0%) for 2608 yards (7.1 YPA), 12 TDs, and 6 INTs on a bad team. He also rushed 49 times for 243 yards and 2 TDs, and while he isn't anywhere near as scary a runner as Hurts, he's more effective with his legs than Minshew, and he can push a pile on 4th and 1 with his large frame. He is also widely regarded as a great locker room guy, and could help Hurts continue to grow as a quarterback.
Another two Eagles are on their way to new teams.
Safety Marcus Epps reached a two-year, $12 million agreement with the Raiders (MORE HERE), and offensive tackle Andre Dillard – The Eagles' first-round pick in 2019 – is headed to the Titans on a three-year, $29 million deal. (MORE HERE).
Unsurprisingly, the Eagles are losing defensive tackle Javon Hargrave.
The 30-year old, who recorded a career-best 11 sacks on a dominant Philly defensive line in 2022, is in agreement with the 49ers on a four-year, $84 million deal with $40 million of it guaranteed, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Former Eagles’ DT Javon Hargrave has reached agreement on a four-year, $80 million deal that includes $40m guaranteed at signing with the SF 49ers, per sources. Deal negotiated and confirmed by Drew Rosenhaus and Ryan Matha. pic.twitter.com/rQGVb9OAZe— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2023
Straight from the man himself, Jason Kelce will return for the 2023 season:
I have put much thought into whether it makes sense to play another season. After talking it over with my wife and many other friends and family, I have decided to return for another year. Thank you to all my supporters and detractors for fueling me, I ain’t fucking done yet!— Jason Kelce (@JasonKelce) March 13, 2023
Kelce will be turning 36 this year, but as 2022 has shown, he is still very much playing at a level that has kept him as the best center in the NFL and will no doubt help the Eagles maintain one of the best offensive lines in the league.
Former Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards is signing with the Bears on a three-year contract worth up to $19.5 million with $12 million guaranteed, per the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:
He gets $19.5M over 3 years, source said. $12M guaranteed. A big signing for Chicago, and not the last. https://t.co/HSeLf0z6IB— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 13, 2023
Josina Anderson caught up with Bradberry:
Just spoke with #Eagles CB James Bradberry on his impending free agency.— JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 12, 2023
Here are Bradberry's thoughts as we are less than 24 hours away from the NFL's legal negotiating window beginning Monday: pic.twitter.com/6paLEiRiBB
The bet here is that Bradberry will attract offers that the Eagles won't be able to match and he'll be playing for a new team in 2023, but it's noteworthy that he seemed to enjoy his time in Philly and would like to stay. With revelations that the Eagles are shopping Darius Slay, the possibility that Bradberry will return has risen to some degree.
Full story here. I'll note that many of the free agency nuggets within ESPN's rumor piece sound a whole lot like they're coming from agents trying to create the perception of high interest in their clients.
First, Gardner-Johnson and Bradberry, per Jeremy Fowler:
"The Eagles have several key players they could bring back, and though it appears they are waiting for markets to develop before reacting, some around the league believe they've made a strong effort to re-sign safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who appears set for the open market. That could open the door to re-sign cornerback James Bradberry or another player." [ESPN]
That's a weird sentence. They've made an effort to keep Gardner-Johnson, which could open the door to re-sign Bradberry? I'm not sure I understand what Fowler is trying to say there. Anyway, it is pretty well established that the Eagles want to keep Gardner-Johnson, but at what figure does his price tag become too high?
"This isn't perceived as a great free agent class, but the top of the defensive tackle market could get pricey. Philadelphia's Javon Hargrave is expected to get a big-money deal from some team (probably not Philadelphia)." [ESPN]
It has become less and less likely over the last week or so that the Eagles will keep Hargrave.And finally, Edwards:
"A player whose market might surprise is Philadelphia's T.J. Edwards. He could get more money than people think. He racked up nearly 300 tackles and 12 pass deflections in two seasons with Philly." [ESPN]
One team that makes sense for an Edwards overpay is the Cardinals, where Jonathan Gannon could land his "green dot" signal caller to help install his defense in Arizona.
Per the Twitter account @letsgo2thephone, Cox is likely to be moving on to a new team.
Nothing official but we don’t expect Fletch to be an Eagle next year— Let’s Go to the Phones (@letsgo2thephone) March 10, 2023
These guys were all over the Cox release / re-signing weirdness a year ago, so they're not just some random know-nothing jabronis, and I'm curious to see if they go 2/2 on Cox news in consecutive seasons.
In 2022, Cox (32) had better stats (43 tackles, 7 sacks) than the previous year and is still a decent starter, but he never truly felt like an impact player and it has become pretty easy to see that his play in decline.
On Tuesday night, Gardner-Johnson, who is scheduled to become a free agent next week, tweeted the following video:
All Love Philly 💚🦅 pic.twitter.com/TpdnwqhVJx— C.J. Gardner-Johnson (@CGJXXIII) March 8, 2023
He posted the same video on Instagram, and teammates like A.J. Brown (among others) responded in the comment section with well wishes (h/t AidanDoc_).
Does that mean that Gardner-Johnson is a goner? No, but as we noted over the weekend, when you read the tea leaves it feels more likely that he will be with another team in 2023 than with the Eagles.
Per Mike Garafolo:
The #Saints are closing in on a deal with QB David Carr, sources tell me and @RapSheet. After nine seasons with the #Raiders, the four-time Pro Bowl selection is headed to New Orleans.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 6, 2023
The first QB domino is about to fall and one NFC South team has its starter. pic.twitter.com/nuLSAhncLQ
Mike obviously meant Derek Carr, not David Carr. I've done that too. Anyway, this news is relevant to the Eagles since they hold the Saints' second round pick in 2024, and will once again be rooting for the Saints to lose as many games as possible in 2023. While Carr is not among the NFL's elite quarterbacks, he is easily a top half of the league starter and the best quarterback the Saints have had since Drew Brees retired.
If the season began today (it doesn't), the following quarterbacks would be the projected starters in the NFC South:
• Saints: Derek Carr
• Buccaneers: Kyle Trask?
• Panthers: Matt Corral? PJ Walker?
• Falcons: Desmond Ridder
The Saints would have the best quarterback in the NFC South, and by a wide margin.
Update: That's done.
This isn't so much a free agency report/rumor, but we'll put it here. Per Patriots beat writer Karen Guregian:
I’m hearing that Matt Patricia has a shot to land with the Philadelphia Eagles on the defensive staff, presumably as a linebackers coach.— Karen Guregian (@kguregian) March 5, 2023
Patricia was a good linebackers coach for the Patriots from 2006-2010, but he is perhaps best known among Philly fans as (a) the guy whose defense the Eagles shredded in Super Bowl LII, (b) the guy who didn't win many games as the head coach of the Detroit Lions, and (c) the guy who had a disastrous season as the Pats' offensive coordinator in 2022. Oh, and that he always has a pencil in his ear.
You may also recall that Eagles starting cornerback Darius Slay has on multiple occasions slammed Patricia, who he played for in Detroit from 2018-2020. I mean, the latest instance was less than a month ago.
I believe that the Eagles heavily value team chemistry, and the hiring of Patricia isn't worth a potential locker room disruption.
#JimmySmellTestMeter: 2/10 noses. 👃👃
Per Tim McManus of ESPN:
Eagles free agent DE Brandon Graham is generating interest from other teams, including the Browns, sources say.— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) March 3, 2023
His preference is to finish his career in Philly but sense here is he’s open to signing elsewhere, depending on where the Eagles come in with their offer.
Graham flourished in a smaller role in 2022, racking up 11 sacks in just 474 snaps. He will turn 35 in April, and he is on record as saying he wants to continue to play in his 14th season in 2023, and possibly even for another season beyond that. He has a complicated contract situation, which is detailed here, but the short-short version is that Graham is likely to be released with a June 1 designation in March, with sizeable dead money hits both in 2023 and 2024. He will then become a free agent, free to sign with any team.
Because he will be released, Graham will not count toward the compensatory pick formula, meaning that the Eagles will get nothing in return if they lose him. It's hard to imagine Graham playing anywhere other than Philly, and in my opinion he feels likely to sign back with the team after being June 1 released, much like Fletcher Cox did last offseason.
That said, it's certainly not surprising that Graham is generating interest, particularly from the Browns, who hired Jim Schwartz to be their defensive coordinator this offseason. If he gets blown away by some crazy offer, anything can happen.
Update: Graham is signing back with the Eagles.
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