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October 30, 2023

Eagles reportedly 'poking around at linebacker': Here are some who make sense

The Eagles are reportedly on the lookout for a linebacker ahead of the NFL trade deadline. Here are some players who could make sense for them.

Eagles NFL
103023ZaireFranklin Jenna Watson/USA TODAY NETWORK

Colts LB Zaire Franklin

Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles filled a hole last week with a trade for safety Kevin Byard, formerly of the Tennessee Titans. They're not done yet, according to The Athletic's Dianna Russini, who is reporting that the Eagles are "poking around at linebacker."

At linebacker, Nicholas Morrow and Zach Cunningham have played above modest expectations, while Nakobe Dean has only played in four games due to injury. The Eagles don't typically like spending valuable draft resources on linebackers, whether that's through the draft itself or via trade. 

The Eagles have gotten adequate play from their linebackers, so if they do indeed add one at the trade deadline, it would likely have to be a player who is (a) clearly an upgrade on what they already have, and (b) not expensive. A trade similar to the one they made for Byard — a couple of Day 2 picks and a backup player they no longer needed — would make sense.

Some linebackers who makes sense for the Eagles:

Zaire Franklin (27, 6'0, 235), Colts 

Like Byard, Franklin is from the Philadelphia area, and if you'll recall from this summer, was involved in a melee during Eagles-Colts joint practices. He signed a three year, $10 million contract with the Colts during the 2022 offseason, and is under contract through 2024. 

After eight weeks, Franklin leads the NFL with 102 tackles, and is a tough, violent player. At 27 years of age, he is probably a better fit for a contender than he is for a rebuilding team in the Colts, who have also lost their starting quarterback for the season.

Blake Cashman (27, 6'2, 235), Texans

Cashman was a Jets fifth-round pick in 2019 who has very good athleticism:

Cashman battled injuries early in his career, but is having a good season for the Texans. The Eagles' current group of linebackers have all been good against the run, but Cashman would give them a linebacker who has been particularly good in coverage this season.

The Texans have shown nice improvement this season, but they are 3-4, which leaves them 2.5 games behind the Jaguars in the AFC South. Even if they were a little closer to Jacksonville, this is obviously not a Super Bowl contender even if they may be heading in the right direction. Cashman is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason, so they may as well get a Day 3 pick for him now.

Jeremy Chinn (25, 6'3, 220), Panthers

We have already covered Chinn extensively here (sorry for the repeat), but he sort of evaporated off Eagles fans' radar when he suffered a quad injury that could keep him out until around early December.

If you'll recall, Chinn is the player the Eagles would have selected in the second round of the 2020 draft if they hadn't taken Jalen Hurts, and he is a player the Eagles were sniffing around before he got hurt, per a league source. 

According to PFF, Chinn's snaps have been split so far this season like so:

 SlotBox safety Outside corner Edge Deep safety 
 10370 14 

As you can see, he almost exclusively plays near the line of scrimmage, which more or less makes him a linebacker, even if he's listed as a safety. You don't want Chinn covering speedy receivers, but he can run with tight ends. He's also physical in run support, and can blitz:

I wouldn't view Chinn as a starter on the Eagles' defense, but he could be a versatile sub-package player who should cost very little to acquire via trade. They would just have to wait a little while until he can play, but for a team that (spoiler) is going to the playoffs, the games in January mean more than the ones in November.

MORE: Eagles Week 8 snap count analysis

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