October 23, 2019
The Philadelphia Eagles made the defensive tackle position a priority this offseason, when they signed Malik Jackson before free agency even began, and then Timmy Jernigan on Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft. They also traded for Hassan Ridgeway on Day 3 of the draft.
All three of those guys are currently injured.
Meanwhile, Fletcher Cox hasn't been anything close to himself through four games after recovering from foot surgery. The Eagles signed a couple of guys off of other teams' practice squads on Monday, but they could absolutely use help on the interior of their defensive line.
In his Wednesday press conference, Doug Pederson was asked what positions could be addressed at the trade deadline.
"We're always going to look to add value and talent and depth," Pederson said. "We understand our injury situation, especially at defensive line. So if we just start there, let's say, and look and see what’s available, see what we can do."
Because he cited injuries as the reason for their interest in defensive line help, we'll assume he meant defensive tackle, as opposed to defensive end. Both positions would make sense, but for now, here's a look at five defensive tackles who could make sense for the Eagles.
To note, any mention of cap numbers should come with the understanding that a portion of that money has already been paid this season.
Williams is in a contract year, playing on his fifth-year option at $14,200,000. He's a good bet to leave for another team in free agency next season, since he could produce more in a 4-3 defense (or more of an attack-style 3-4) than the system he's in with the Jets. As such, the Jets would be smart to get something for him before they lose him for nothing.
If the Eagles think they can sign Williams long-term, he's still only 25 years old and could be a productive player next to Fletcher Cox on the interior of the Eagles' defense.
The guess here is that a 2 would get it done.
Atkins has had at least nine sacks in each of the last four seasons, and at 31 is still a very good player. His salaries over the next three years are as follows:
Because Cincinnati paid Atkins' bonuses already, the Eagles can easily get out of his contract without a cap hit if Atkins' play drops off.
Atkins has been the Bengals' best defensive player for years, and probably still is. Defensive tackles don't stay elite for long into their 30's, but because Atkins is still a very good player, the Bengals could maybe get a 2 for him, though they may have to settle for a 3 if they're interested in moving him.
Wolfe is 29, and in a contract year, with a cap number of $10,925,000. He's an average starter who should come at a much lower cost (a 5 or so?) than the players above.
Davison is a quality run-stuffer who had a very good game against the Eagles earlier this season. Again, Davison is in a contract year, but the Falcons don't have a financial incentive to move him because his cap number in 2019 is only $735,000. A 5 with a give-back of a 7, maybe? Run-stuffers shouldn't bring much in the way of a return.
And finally, how about good ol' Beau Allen? He's in the final year of his deal in Tampa, and he's averaging under 15 snaps per game. The Bucs should be happy to deal him for a late-round pick (conditional 7, maybe?).
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