June 01, 2019
The Philadelphia Eagles' offense is loaded. The defense? Eh, on paper, it looks solid, but it doesn't lack its areas of concern.
Speaking for the first time since the Birds were eliminated from the playoffs, Jim Schwartz was asked about his thoughts on the the player acquisitions to his defense this offseason.
"It's obviously still a work in progress," he said. "If history holds true, there will be another addition somewhere along the line. Howie and Joe have never been shy about adding another player in training camp or at the waiver wire or anything else."
Well then. It sounds a lot like Schwartz would welcome more players being added to his side of the ball. This offseason, of course, the Eagles allocated more resources to their offense than their defense:
|Notable offensive additions||Notable defensive additions|
|DeSean Jackson (trade, plus a new contract)||Malik Jackson (FA)|
|Jordan Howard (trade)||Zach Brown (low cost FA)|
|Andre Dillard (1st round draft pick)||Vinny Curry (low cost FA)|
|Miles Sanders (2nd round draft pick)||L.J. Fort (low cost FA)|
|J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (2nd round draft pick)||Andrew Sendejo (low cost FA)|
|Clayton Thorson (5th round draft pick)||Shareef Miller (4th round draft pick)|
So let's take a look at each defensive positional group and determine where additions could be made:
Michael Bennett and Chris Long are both gone. Well, Long is probably gone, anyway. Replacing their roles in the Eagles' defense will be Vinny Curry and one of a few unproven guys, like Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller, Daeshon Hall, etc. If there's a position where the Eagles could trade for a veteran player, a good bet would be defensive end. A couple players I believe make sense:
• Jadeveon Clowney, Texans: The cost to acquire Clowney would probably include (a) at least a first-round pick, and (b) something in the neighborhood of a $20 million per year new deal. This would be a move of the, "Eff it, let's go all in on the Super Bowl this year" variety. Obviously, in this scenario, Clowney would not be a third DE. He would start (duh), which would relegate either Brandon Graham or Derek Barnett to more of a situational role. To be clear, this is a long shot.
• Arik Armstead, 49ers: Armstead is a former first-round pick who has had a disappointing start to his career. Still, he's a very good run defender and has untapped upside as a pass rusher. The Niners drafted Nick Bosa with the second overall pick and traded for Dee Ford. That makes Armstead a $9 million role player. Of course, he'd be sort of the same thing in Philly, but the Eagles might put more value on Armstead's inside-outside versatility, and it likely wouldn't cost much in terms of draft pick (or player) compensation in a trade.
The Eagles have Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Timmy Jernigan, and Treyvon Hester. They're good to go at DT.
The Eagles don't have any superstars at linebacker, but they have two good starters in Nigel Bradham and Zach Brown, and plenty of capable depth. I don't see any resource-depleting moves being made here.
If anything, I think this is the one position where the Eagles could trade one of their own players for something else. I don't see them acquiring anyone from the outside.
Malcolm Jenkins is currently away from the team (though I don't see that as a situation that will drag on for long), Rodney McLeod is still recovering from a serious knee injury, and if the team keeps Andrew Sendejo, they'll miss out on a fourth-round compensatory pick in 2020. The Eagles also have a few guys with modest NFL experience in Tre Sullivan Blake Countess, Deiondre' Hall, and Godwin Igwebuike, but nobody they should feel comfortable with should they need to start at any point this season.
It's not urgent, but the Eagles could still be looking to add a safety. A couple who make sense:
• Glover Quin: Quin is a ten-year NFL veteran who hasn't missed a game in a decade, who was released by the Lions this offseason because he was set to count for nearly $8 million on their cap. As we've pointed out repeatedly here, Jim Schwartz likes his safeties to have cornerback experience in their backgrounds, and Quin applies. In fact, Schwartz signed him in free agency back in 2013. Quin lost playing time in a new regime under Matt Patricia last year, but he was a very productive player in 2017, totaling 84 tackles, 3 INTs (including a pick 6), and 4 forced fumbles.
Personally, I think he's a far better fit than Sendejo, though to note, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Quin is reportedly contemplating retirement if a solid enough offer does not present itself. As in, he's not just going to continue to play for some sort of veteran minimum contract. Perhaps Quin would take something of a discount to play for Schwartz on a team with realistic Super Bowl aspirations? I mean, would you rather have Glover Quin plus a fourth round pick, orrrrrrrr Andrew Sendejo? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
• Karl Joseph: I loved Joseph coming out of college. He doesn't have great size at 5'10, 205, but Schwartz doesn't seem to care much about that. Despite that smallish size, Joseph is a big hitter, and he has plenty of athleticism. I can't claim to have watched many Raider games over the last three years, and thus can't speak intelligently on why Joseph's career has been a disappointment in Oakland, but a Raider guy I trust feels as though he can still be a good starter at free safety, in something of the McLeod role.
The Raiders signed Lamarcus Joyner in free agency, and then drafted Johnathan Abram in the first-round of the 2019 NFL draft, before declining Joseph's fifth year option. He is clearly not in the Raiders' long-term plans, and can probably be had at a reasonable cost.
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