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January 17, 2020

Eagles stay or go: Linebacker

Eagles NFL
290922_Eagles_Lions_Nigel_Bradham_Kate_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham.

The Philadelphia Eagles' 2019 season is over, and there will be a lot of interesting decisions made on the players currently on the roster, more so than in most years. Let's take a position-by-position look at who will likely be back with the team in 2020, and who won't.

Previous stay or go positional analysis

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Tackle | Guard/center

Defensive end | Defensive tackle

Today we'll look at linebacker. (All money figures via OverTheCap.)

Nigel Bradham

The Eagles have a March 17 deadline to exercise a 2020 option on Bradham. If they keep him, his salary will be $8,000,000. The new league year (the start of free agency, trades, etc.) is March 18.

Bradham missed four games in the middle of the season with an ankle injury, but when he plays, he typically does not come off the field. He is a steady three-down linebacker in Schwartz's scheme, but one who has not made many splash plays. In four years in Philly, Bradham only has 2 INTs, 3 forced fumbles, and 5 sacks.

If Jim Schwartz had moved on to another team, the Eagles might have moved on from Bradham, but with Schwartz staying, the thinking here is that Bradham will be back.

#JimmyVerdict: While I believe the Eagles could put $8 million to better use, Bradham will probably return.

Your verdict:

Kamu Grugier-Hill

Grugier-Hill was crushing it in training camp, until he went down with an MCL injury. He missed the first three regular season games, and was eased back into the rotation. His snaps gradually rose, and then proceeded to fall:

 Kamu Grugier-HillSnaps Percentage 
Week 4 13 16% 
Week 5 20 34% 
Week 6 35 50% 
Week 7 58 84% 
Week 8 38 64% 
Week 9 28 64% 
Week 11 40 54% 
Week 12 21 34% 
Week 13 42 59% 
Week 15 9% 

The Eagles announced after Week 15 that they placed Grugier-Hill on injured reserve, and, uh oh, that announcement came with a "CYA" tweet, which stated that Grugier-Hill reported a back injury after that game. Shortly thereafter, Grugier-Hill's agent put a message out to several reporters that he had been playing through the back injury all season long.

Grugier-Hill will be an unresticted free agent this offseason, and it feels a lot like his relationship with the team is fractured.

#JimmyVerdict: Go.

Your verdict:

Nate Gerry

Gerry was second on the team in tackles in 2019, behind only Malcolm Jenkins, and he was a rare example of a player who made notable improvements from 2018 to 2019.

There are a number of linebackers available in free agency who would be good fits in the Eagles' scheme and would be an upgrade over Gerry, but running it back with Gerry as a quasi-starter at a cap hit of $735,000 isn't crazy, especially if you project a continued upward trajectory.

Either way, Gerry will clearly be back.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

MORE: Mailbag: Jason Peters aside, which Eagles players have the best Hall of Fame chances? | Podcast: Eagles free agency, and offensive coordinator talk

T.J. Edwards

Edwards had a nice rookie season as an undrafted free agent, particularly in the run game. In just 115 snaps in the regular defense, Edwards had 21 tackles, and he added nine more on special teams. He'll be back on an extremely team-friendly contract.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict: 

Alex Singleton

Singleton played in 10 games, and was a core special teamer. He did not get any snaps in the regular defense. He'll have to earn a roster spot once again in 2020.

#JimmyVerdict: Camp.

Your verdict:

Duke Riley

After Grugier-Hill went on IR, the Eagles made Riley the special teams captain. That's a noteworthy development, given that Riley was added to the roster during the season. He had a share of the Eagles' team lead with 10 special teams tackles.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

#JimmyVerdict Stay or Go Results

"Stay" means stay (duh), "go" means go (duh, again), while "camp" means that I think they'll be at Eagles training camp this year, but do not yet have a firm grip on a roster spot in 2020.

 QBCarson Wentz (stay) Josh McCown (go) Nate Sudfeld (stay)  
 RBMiles Sanders (stay) Jordan Howard (stay) Darren Sproles (go) Corey Clement (camp) 
 RB (cont.) Boston Scott (stay)Elijah Holyfield (camp)   
 WRAlshon Jeffery (go) DeSean Jackson (stay) Nelson Agholor (go) J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (stay) 
 WR (cont.) Greg Ward (camp)Robert Davis (camp) Deontay Burnett (camp) Shelton Gibson (camp) 
 TEZach Ertz (stay) Dallas Goedert (stay) Josh Perkins (camp) Richard Rodgers (camp) 
 OTJason Peters (go) Lane Johnson (stay) Andre Dillard (stay) Halapoulivaati Vaitai (go) 
 OT (cont.)Jordan Mailata (camp)    
 OGBrandon Brooks (stay) Isaac Seumalo (stay) Matt Pryor (stay) Sua Opeta (camp) 
 CJason Kelce (stay) Nate Herbig (camp)   
 DEBrandon Graham (stay) Derek Barnett (stay) Josh Sweat (stay) Vinny Curry (stay) 
 DE (cont.)Genard Avery (stay) Shareef Miller (camp) Joe Ostman (camp) Daeshon Hall (camp) 
 DTFletcher Cox (stay) Malik Jackson (stay) Timmy Jernigan (go) Hassan Ridgeway (stay) 
 DT (cont.)Anthony Rush (camp) Bruce Hector (camp)   
 LBNigel Bradham (stay) Kamu Grugier-Hill (go) Nate Gerry (stay) T.J. Edwards (stay) 
 LB (cont.)Alex Singleton (camp) Duke Riley (stay)   

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