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March 04, 2016

Five free agents who make sense for the Eagles, version 2.0

Eagles NFL
030416KelechiOsemele Patrick Semansky/AP

Kelechi Osemele's name will be difficult to learn how to spell and pronounce, but he could be a good player for the Eagles.

Back in January, we laid out five free agents who may make sense for the Philadelphia Eagles when the new league year begins on March 9. Here are five more:

Kelechi Osemele, OG, Ravens (6'5, 330)

Osemele, at a minimum, is already a very good starting LG in the NFL, and perhaps the best available guard in free agency this offseason. Obviously, that matches up nicely with the Eagles' desperate need for starters at guard. He is particularly good in the run game, and Doug Pederson's Chiefs were the sixth-most run-heavy team in the league a season ago. 

However, Osemele brings added value as a guy who can also kick out to left tackle, like he did a season ago. Seeing as Jason Peters hasn't always been able to stay healthy throughout his career, Osemele's ability to move out to tackle could be very valuable in the short term, and could leave the Eagles with options to move him out to the edge on a permanent basis if they think he can be a quality starter there.

Speaking at the Senior Bowl in January, Pederson noted what he'll be looking for in his offensive linemen.

"You love offensive linemen that are versatile," explained Pederson. "You love to have tackles that can play left or right. You love to have guards that can also play center. The more you can have that flexibility with your guys up front, the more combinations and rotations you can have because not everyone is going to stay healthy for 16 games and you have to mix and match that. Guys that are athletic who can get out on the perimeter and run, aggressive up front, have a little, as they say, 'piss and vinegar' in their neck are guys that you look for."

Osemele checks the versatility and 'piss and vinegar' boxes, and he'll be 27 in June.

Unfortunately, Osemele is going to get paid, especially since teams are beginning to recognize the need for better guard play. For example, remember last year when Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy wrecked games because the Eagles' interior linemen couldn't block them? Interior defensive linemen are become a position of strength in the NFL, so if you're a team with bad guards, you can be exposed the way the Eagles were a season ago.

The Eagles will have to determine if a guard with the upside to transition to tackle is worth in excess of $10 million per season.

J.R. Sweezy, OG, Seahawks (6'5, 298)

See the 'piss and vinegar' quote above from Pederson? Sweezy's blood is made of 'piss and vinegar.' My friend Tommy Lawlor of noted Sweezy as an interesting name to watch a few weeks ago, and I agree. As Tommy notes, Sweezy can struggle at times in pass protection, but is an animal in the run game.

Again, with an expectation that the Eagles may be a run-heavy team under Pederson, Sweezy could make sense for the Eagles.

From Tommy's post, watch this video of Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable showing what Sweezy is capable of:

Sweezy played defensive tackle in college, but when the Seahawks drafted him in 2012, they converted him into a guard and in a short amount of time Sweezy has become a viable starter in the league. Sweezy will turn 27 in April, and may still be getting better.

Brian Quick, WR, Rams (6'3, 218)

Through the first six games of the 2014 season, Quick had 24 catches for 365 yards and 3 TDs, which would have put him on pace for 64-973-8 on the season. In the seventh game against the Chiefs, Quick suffered a devastating injury to his shoulder.

Rams head athletic trainer Reggie Scott described the injury in this YouTube clip:

“I’ll never forget when we put him on the cart," said Scott. "We had to literally support his arm. I’ve never seen anything like it. Basically you have four rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder, and he tore three of the four rotator cuff muscles. He tore his biceps tendon, which attaches on the front side, and he blew out basically the posterior capsule, or the ligaments in the back side of his shoulder. At that time we were all thinking, ‘This could easily be a career-ending type of injury.’”

Quick was still recovering heading into the 2015 season, as he had to wear a yellow beanie over his helmet for training camp so his teammates knew they were not allowed to hit him hard. He did not play until October, and had just 10 catches for 102 yards with no TDs on the season.

If his medicals check out, Quick could be an intriguing player who seemed to be on the cusp of a breakout season in 2014 before he got hurt. Personally, I think the Eagles should stay away from this crop of free agent receivers, as they are not worth the money they may command. However, Quick would be a low-cost option with upside, and familiarity with Sam Bradford from their time together in St. Louis.

Tahir Whitehead, LB, Lions (6'2, 241)

In 2012, Whitehead was drafted in the fifth round by the Lions when Jim Schwartz was their head coach. Obviously, we can conclude from that fact that Schwartz thought at least at one time that Whitehead was a fit for his defense. Whitehead, meanwhile, was a Temple product, and could find a move home appealing.

If the Eagles do not believe in Kiko Alonso (or can find a trade partner for him), Whitehead would make sense as an option for the Eagles at SAM, with Jordan Hicks at the MIKE spot, and Mychal Kendricks at WILL.

Whitehead did not start at the beginning of the 2015 season, but the Lions inserted him in as a starter in their ninth game. In the eight games he started last season, Whitehead had 37 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 pass breakups and an interception. He'll turn 26 in April.

Rodney McLeod, S, Rams (5'10, 195)

McLeod is only 5'10, 195, which is less than ideal, but he plays bigger than his size. From 2013-2015, when he was a three-year starter, McLeod had 233 tackles, 18 pass breakups, 5 interceptions, and 7 forced fumbles. As you might expect from a smaller safety, he has good range. Here's McLeod in 2014 against the Broncos. He was actually called for a hit on a defenseless receiver on this play, but watch his ability to get to the sideline from his center field position:

McLeod possesses similar athleticism to Walter Thurmond, but is a more physical player in run support. He'll be 26 in June.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski