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April 27, 2020

The Eagles' remaining holes to fill, post-draft, and who can fill them

Eagles NFL

Each year after the draft has come and gone, the Philadelphia Eagles typically sign a veteran player or two to plug unfilled holes on their depth chart. At 4:00 EST on Monday, free agent signings will no longer count toward the compensatory pick formula, which will result in some post-draft signings around the league over the next week.

To begin, the belief here is that the Eagles will not be seeking starters. There are certainly arguments to be made for starting-level upgrades that could be made at some positions, like linebacker or safety, but the Eagles seem to like who they have at those spots, right or wrong.

And then there's defensive end, where the Eagles do have legitimate starters in place already, but impact players remain either in free agency, like Jadeveon Clowney, or via trade, like Yannick Ngakoue. Neither player is likely to become an Eagle this offseason, as the front office has to account for some inflexibility, salary cap-wise, over the next year or two.

In other words, if they sign veterans, they will be role players only. Here's where I see them looking:

Rotational defensive end

The starters at DE are Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett. Beyond them, Josh Sweat will come in on "line changes," so to speak, but the other DE opposite Sweat is in question. 

After looking at Genard Avery's game action last season, it's pretty clear that he is not a rotational DE, in that you don't want him on the field for run downs. He is a situational pass rusher only, and his effectiveness in that role is even questionable. Beyond Avery, the Eagles have a lot of bodies, none of whom are proven, and some of whom are coming off serious injuries.

Rotational DEs who might make some sense:

Vinny Curry: Curry ended up being a bargain in 2019, when he made $2.25 million as a rotational DE, who exceeded expectations (or at least my expectations). He had 27 tackles (5 for loss), 5 sacks, and 12 hits on the quarterback. More importantly, Curry played well down the stretch, as he had 4 sacks in the Eagles' final 5 games. He'd be cheap, and the Eagles would of course know what they're getting.

Everson Griffen: If the Eagles were to make something of a splashy signing, Griffen would make some sense as an aging vet (he turns 33 in December) looking for an opportunity with a contender. The Eagles have always been over-effusive in their praise of Griffen leading up to Eagles-Vikings games. If his cost is reasonable, and he would be willing to share time at DE (think 50 percent of the snaps as opposed to his typical 80 percent), his fit in Philly as a player is pretty easy to imagine.

The likely reason Griffen is still a free agent is because teams have understandable concerns about his mental state. In fact, in an interview with NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Griffen revealed that he was living in a sober house during the 2018 season while continuing his treatment following a laundry list of incidents, noted here:

What they know is largely based on what they read in a widely publicized police report from the 2018 incident: verbal outbursts in practice, prompting the Vikings to order Griffen to undergo a mental health evaluation; one encounter with police at a downtown hotel, another at Griffen's house after he'd entered teammate Trae Waynes' residence, shirtless and uninvited; an escape from an ambulance, before eventually going to a hospital for evaluation. Griffen was not arrested and faced no criminal charges.

I'd at least kick the tires.

Running back

The Eagles have their explosive, three-down, young runner in Miles Sanders. Behind him they have the nimble Boston Scott, a couple undrafted inside runners in Elijah Holyfield and Michael Warren, and a tiny speed guy in UDFA Adrian Killins.

Ideally, they could find a more proven between-the-tackles back to complement Sanders.

Running backs who makes sense:

Isaiah Crowell: Crowell once wiped his butt with a football and then threw it into the stands.

So obviously, I'm in. But also, before he tore an ACL last training camp, he was a good inside runner in the NFL for years, and in his last NFL action in 2018, he ran for 4.8 yards per carry in a bad Jets offense. I'd take a low-cost flier on him all day.

LeSean McCoy: I think the Eagles can find a better, younger back, but they've had interest in the past in bringing Shady back, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


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