February 06, 2021
Before the 2020 season got underway, it was pretty clear that on paper the Philadelphia Eagles had one of the worst sets of linebackers in the NFL, and sure enough, they did not get good play from the position on the field.
However, looking forward, the Eagles do have some youth there, and when Alex Singleton took over for Nate Gerry as the three-down linebacker, things did improve. Today we'll look at which linebackers will stay, and which ones will go.
Previous "Stay or Go" analysis:
When opposing quarterbacks targeted Gerry in the passing game in 2020, they completed 27 of 32 pass attempts for 257 yards, 4 TDs, and a QB rating of 139.7, according to pro-football-reference.com. So much for the idea that a converted safety would be a good coverage linebacker.
#JimmyVerdict: There's no need to beat a dead horse. Gerry was obviously bad in 2020, and the linebacker play improved significantly after an injury forced him from the lineup. Go.
Singleton was a rare bright spot in 2020. He only played 54 snaps the first five weeks of the season, and he still finished 15th in the NFL with 120 tackles. Give him those five full games as a three-down LB, and maybe he would have led the NFL in tackles? He proved that he is at least worthy of competing for a starting three-down role in 2021.
#JimmyVerdict: Singleton will be an exclusive rights free agent, which means the Eagles can retain him for very little money, which they clearly will. Stay.
Edwards quietly finished third on the team with 70 tackles, despite missing four games. He also had two sacks, a pick, and two forced fumbles. At a minimum, Edwards has proven that he can be a base down linebacker who is capable of filling in as a starter if need be. He's under contract in 2021 at $854,168.
Riley is a decent special teamer, but there aren't many scenarios in which you'd want him on the field in the regular defense, as he's not a plus player in coverage, against the run, or as a blitzer.
#JimmyVerdict: Riley will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021. New defensive coordinator, new special teams coach. Let him walk. Go.
Taylor was an athletic but inexperienced project linebacker prospect who should have been a Day 3 pick. Instead, the Eagles selected him on Day 2 of the 2020 draft. He was mostly regulated to special teams duties, and only got on the field in the regular defense for a grand total of 32 snaps.
#JimmyVerdict: Taylor will have time to develop, and as a third round pick with Howie Roseman maintaining control of the 53-man roster, he's not going anywhere. Stay.
Bradley was ahead of Taylor on the depth chart, as he played 76 snaps in the regular defense. He played in 15 games, mostly on special teams, and finished his rookie season with 15 tackles.
#JimmyVerdict: Even though Bradley played more than Taylor as a rookie, his roster spot isn't quite as secure, though the expectation is that he'll have another season to show what he can do. Stay.