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March 18, 2019

Philadelphia Eagles 2019 offseason roster moves, rumor mill, and free agency tracker

Eagles NFL
030619HowieRoseman Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports

What are you up to, Howie?

NFL free agency will officially begin on Wednesday, March 13, at 4:00 p.m., which marks the beginning of the 2019 new league year. However, beginning on Monday, March 11, the NFL will enter the "legal tampering period" in which teams are allowed to contact soon-to-be free agents before the official start of free agency (as if they haven't been already).

As such, you'll begin seeing reports that the Eagles and other teams around the league have "agreed to terms" with players, which means that they intend to sign on Wednesday, when they are officially allowed to.

Here we'll track all of the Eagles' offseason roster moves, signings, player losses, and noteworthy rumors, with the most recent events at the top.

Eagles sign S Andrew Sendejo

Sendejo, 31, only played in five games in 2018. He suffered a groin injury Week 5 against the Eagles, and was eventually placed on injured reserve, ending his season. In those five games, Sendejo had 21 tackles and one pass breakup.

In 2017, Sendejo started on a Vikings team that went to the NFC Championship Game. In 13 games during the regular season, he had 80 tackles, two INTs, and seven pass breakups. In the NFC Championship Game, he got run over by LeGarrette Blount.

Sendejo adds some depth to an Eagles defense in need of a third safety behind Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.

Last Monday, the Vikings declined an option on Sendejo's contract in 2019, making him a free agent. Minnesota did not release him, which is a distinction worth noting. If Sendejo signed a contract big enough, he will qualify toward the compensatory pick formula.

Stefen Wisniewski to visit the Jets, also has interest from the Vikings

According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (h/t BGN), Wis is getting some interest around the league:

With so many teams around the league desperate for offensive line help, Wis is likely to earn a contract big enough to count toward the comp pick formula. Make sure you bookmark our Eagles 2020 compensatory draft pick tracker.

Haloti Ngata retired

He announced his retirement via Instgram and Twitter. 

Ngata played in 13 games last year for the Eagles, starting nine. He had 17 tackles and a sack.

Ronald Darby re-signed with the Eagles

Darby was no doubt hoping for a long-term lucrative deal, but teams were obviously scared off by his torn ACL last season. Instead, he'll return to Philly on a one-year "prove it" deal: 

On the one hand, he just turned 25 in January, he has good coverage skills, and he's probably the most athletically gifted of the Eagles' corners. On the other hand, he doesn't exactly embrace the art of tackling, he's coming off a serious injury, and the Eagles are already loaded up with young depth at the position.

Still if there's a position where it's ideal to have an overabundance of depth, it's at corner, as the Eagles saw last season. To be determined if the Darby signing will be a precursor to a trade of one of the corners already on the roster.

We have an explanation on why the Eagles adjusted Chris Long's contract

Nice work by Jeff here: 

So, uh, is Chris Long maybe not returning to the Eagles in 2019?

It was assumed that Long would be returning for another season in 2019, and that premise was seemingly slammed home Friday morning, when it was reported by Field Yates of ESPN that the Eagles adjusted Long's contract.

That's not a guarantee, apparently. When some fans tweeted at Long, welcoming him back, Long corrected them, stating that no decision on his return has been made yet.

031519ChrisLong

Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News asked Long outright if he was returning, and Long reiterated that he didn't know for sure.

Long is an aging, but still productive pass rusher. He'll turn 34 in a couple weeks, but still managed to produce 6.5 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in a rotational role in 2018. If he were to not play in Philly in 2019, the Eagles would have an immediate need at defensive end, especially after trading Michael Bennett.

Eagles free up some more money

To be determined what they actually did here, and why, but the Eagles have another $5 million to work with.

Jordan Matthews signs with the 49ers

Matthews signed with the Eagles during the season in 2018, and was a reasonably productive player when he got opportunities, at least in terms of expectations. He finished the season with 20 catches for 300 yards (15.0 YPC), and 2 TDs. He also caught a 37-yard touchdown pass in the playoffs against the Saints.

The Eagles lost wide receiver Golden Tate earlier in the day. Both Tate and Matthews had little chance of returning to the team after they traded for DeSean Jackson and opted to keep Nelson Agholor on his fifth-year option.

We'll update with money details (and subsequent compensatory pick projections) when they are made available.

Browns are shopping RB Duke Johnson

According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, the Browns are open to trading Duke Johnson.

With at least three teams interested, sources tell cleveland.com, the Browns are holding out for good compensation.

They’ve also been waiting for word from the NFL office on the length of running back Kareem Hunt’s suspension, which will impact their decision. That announcement could come at any time, and the suspension might not be as long as some people expect considering Hunt sat out the last five games of last season after the Chiefs cut him.

Once it's known that a player is being shopped, the idea of receiving "good compensation" in return typically doesn't happen.

When the Browns signed RB Kareem Hunt this offseason, many fans immediately (and astutely) pointed to Johnson as a potential trade target of the Eagles, seeing as Cleveland would have a surplus of backs, in Hunt, Johnson, and Nick Chubb.

It was reported recently that the Eagles and Cowboys inquired about trading for Johnson:

As we noted recently, Johnson would be a nice fit in the Eagles' offense, and in my view, an upgrade over what Darren Sproles was giving the Birds in their offense. On just under 300 carries (about 75 per season), Johnson has run for 4.3 yards per carry in his career with the Browns, in what has (mostly) been a horrific offense.

While those are good numbers, his real appeal is as a receiver out of the backfield:

 Duke JohnsonReceptions Yards YPC TD 
 201561 534 8.8 
 201653 514 9.7 
 201774 693 9.4 
 201847 429 9.1 
 TOTAL235 2170 9.2 

 
Trading for Johnson would make a lot of sense, at the right price.

Golden Tate getting interest from the Patriots and Steelers

Per Ian Rapoport on NFL Network:

With the DeSean Jackson trade and Nelson Agholor being retained by the team, there is a roughly a zero percent chance Tate is returning to the Eagles. The better the market for his services elsewhere, the better for the Eagles, for compensatory pick purposes.

Jay Ajayi to visit with the Colts

According to Ian Rapoport, Ajayi will also take a physical so Indy can see how his knee(s) are coming along:

The fact that Ajayi is getting an interview this early in free agency -- and the Colts having more cap space than any team in the NFL -- is a decent sign that Ajayi could get a contract big enough to qualify for a compensatory pick. #Brand.

Obviously, if Ajayi were to land in Indy, he would be reuniting with old friend Frank Reich.

Former Falcons RB Tevin Coleman signs with the 49ers

According to Adam Schefter, Coleman will be joining the Niners on what is a very cheap deal.

The Eagles had interest, I was told, but apparently not enough to top this wholly reasonable deal. Coleman would have been a good fit in Philly.

Ronald Darby to visit the Chiefs

The Eagles reportedly want Darby to return (see a little further down in our free agency tracker), but he will be visiting a Chiefs team in need of some help at corner, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

It's notable that the Chiefs just freed up money by releasing safety Eric Berry. Stay tuned.

Le'Veon Bell to sign with the Jets

After the Eagles began opening up a lot of space under the cap, many began to wonder if that meant that they were clearing the way for Bell. Nope.

The Eagles never had any serious interest in Bell, from what I'm told, and in my view they were right to pass on him.

Jordan Hicks to sign with the Cardinals

It's for four years, $36 million, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network: 

That's a hefty price for a linebacker with no interceptions and no forced fumbles since 2016, but the Cardinals are obviously hoping they are getting the player he was earlier in his career.

With Hicks now gone, the Eagles will be in search of linebacker help.

Stefen Wisniewski confirms that he's no longer with the Eagles

Via Twitter:

We covered Wis here.

Eagles to keep Nelson Agholor even after trading for DeSean Jackson?

According to Jeff McLane of the Inquirer, that's the most likely scenario:

There are four possible outcomes for Agholor:

  1. The team simply keeps him at $9,387,000 on his fifth-year option
  2. The Eagles work out a contract extension (or some sort of other re-worked contract) with him
  3. Agholor is traded
  4. Agholor is released

We analyzed all four scenarios here.

Eagles to place second-round restricted free agent tender on QB Nate Sudfeld

The short version is that Sudfeld will make $3,095,000 in 2019, unless some team out there tries to sign him to an offer sheet, which almost certainly won't happen. He's scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2020, barring a contract extension. You can read the more detailed version in the link above.

Eagles expected to let Stefen Wisniewski walk in free agency

The Eagles have a March 12 deadline to pick up a $3,708,334 option on Wisniewski for 2019. The belief here previously was that the team would retain Wisniewski, considering that Brandon Brooks may not be ready for the start of the season. Perhaps one way to look at this decision is that the Eagles may feel comfortable with the way that Brandon Brooks is progressing from his torn Achilles.

The Eagles are not cutting Wisniewski. They are simply choosing not to pick up an option for 2019. As such, Wisniewski will count toward the compensatory pick formula if another team signs him to a contract big enough to qualify.

The Eagles will have more money to spend in free agency, but they will also need to replace Wisniewski, who was a quality interior offensive line backup, capable of starting when needed.

Eagles trade for DeSean Jackson

It happened! The trade:

Eagles get Buccaneers get 
 DeSean JacksonEagles 6th round pick in 2019 
 Buccaneers 7th round pick in 2020 


Add a couple good running backs, and the Eagles' offense could be potent.

Nick Foles agreed to terms with the Jaguars

Foles' deal is for $22 million per year, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, with a maximum amount of $102 million, per Mike Garafolo, and over $50 million in guarantees, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.

When the Eagles opted not to franchise tag him after a solid market didn't develop for his services, Foles was free to walk in free agency. Because he was not released, and his contract simply ran out, Foles will count toward the compensatory pick formula, and the size of his contract will unquestionably count at the highest comp pick level, in the third round.

Fare thee well, BDN.

"Barring the unforeseen," DeSean Jackson will be playing for the Eagles once again

Aaaaaand now we have this:

Stay tuned.

DeSean Jackson tweets that he's no longer going to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer

It was already known that Jackson no longer wanted to play for the Buccaneers, but he made that even more crystal clear to the rest of the league today.

To note, the Bucs haven't actually released him yet, and it's still to be determined if they will. The bet here is that any team interested in Jackson will continue to call the Buccaneers' bluff that they intend on keeping him on their roster, absent a trade offer they like.

If indeed Jackson is cut and the Eagles were to sign him, (on-brand alert here) he would not count toward the compensatory pick formula.

We analyzed "DeSean to Philly" rumors earlier this morning.

Jason Peters will return to the team in 2019

According to Jeff McLane of the Inquirer, Peters and the Eagles re-worked a one-year deal for 2019 worth a maximum of $10 million:

By bringing Peters back, the Eagles will not be forced to start Halapoulivaati Vaitai, they won't have to reach for an offensive tackle early in the draft, and they'll give Jordan Mailata another year to develop behind the scenes.

Eagles expected to sign former Jaguars DT Malik Jackson

The deal is reportedly for 3 years, $30 million.

See below for more on Jackson, or click the link above.

Former Jaguars DT Malik Jackson close to a new deal, possibly with the Eagles

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk is reporting that the Eagles are in on Malik Jackson, along with the Packers.

Jackson was set to count for $15,000,000 on the cap in 2019, $11 million of which the Jags saved by releasing him on Saturday. Jackson was a great player on the Super Bowl-winning Broncos' defensive line in 2015, which caused the Jags to break the bank for him on a 6-year $85 million deal in 2016. Since then, he has had 18 sacks over three seasons in Jacksonville. He can still be a disruptive interior rusher in the NFL, would would obviously appeal to the Eagles.

Because Jackson was released, he would not count toward the 2020 compensatory pick formula.

Buccaneers reportedly shopping WR DeSean Jackson, who wants to play for the Eagles

According to Tim McManus and Jenna Laine of ESPN, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson is being dangled as trade bait, and he reportedly wants to return to Philadelphia, where he played for six years from 2008 to 2013, before Chip Kelly cut him because he didn't like him.

Jackson is scheduled to count for $10,000,000 on the Bucs' salary cap in 2019, with no penalty if they trade or release him. Before this report, it was already well-known that DeSean wanted out, however, his cost isn't that high for a player who can still take the top off a defense. Both head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Jameis Winston have said they want Jackson to stay, however, as the ESPN story notes, the Bucs are short on cap space.

According to OverTheCap.com, the Buccaneers are only $2,127,022 under the cap. No team in the NFL has less room under the cap to operate.

"All options are on the table," Bucs GM Jason Licht said at the 2019 NFL Combine. "DeSean has been a great player in this league for a long time. We like speed. Bruce loves speed. He fits the bill there. He hasn't lost a step, last I looked. Ideally, we'd love to have the opportunity to see what we can do to keep all of our good players."

The Eagles' offense badly needs speed, and Jackson is one of the most -- if not the most -- prolific deep threats in the history of the NFL. His fit in the Eagles' offense as the No. 2 receiver on the outside is obvious. Even if he can't duplicate the production he had in his first stint in Philadelphia, his mere presence on the field could open up the intermediate ares of the field for Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and even the run game.

CB Ronald Darby says the Eagles want him to stay in Philadelphia

Appearing on a podcast with NFL Network's Ian Rapaport, Darby said the Eagles want him to remain an Eagle. (Thanks to Brandon Gowton of BGN for doing all the transcribing):

RAPOPORT: Tell me, what’s your mindset, what’s next week [free agency] going to be like?

DARBY: My mindset right now is continue to work, continue to rehab. We’re just preparing for Week 1. And just see how everything plays out. I’m just playing everything by ear. You know, [the] Eagles really want me to stay where I’m at, so, me and my agent, we’re just playing everything out.

RAPOPORT: Now, you mentioned the Eagles want you to stay. I know they made a hard push during the season. Tell me what your thoughts are on the Eagles in general and obviously the success you’ve had there, and what would it be like if you ended up staying?

DARBY: I love it here. It’s one of the best sports city, I feel like, in the whole United States. I love it here a lot. I won a Super Bowl here. That’s something that’s never been done. Last year we made it to the playoffs, I was hurt by that time, but we made it back to the playoffs, made another strong push. There’s a lot of talent on this team. So, you know, it’d be a blessing to be able to stay here. But, at the end of the day, you gotta do what’s right.

RAPOPORT: The Eagles obviously traded for you, I know they would like to keep you. Considering you’ve moved teams once, is there something about you where you’d say, ‘I’d really like to stay’ or are you really pretty open heading into next week?

DARBY: I’m pretty much open. Yeah, pretty much open. Of course you would love to stay. No one wants to keep moving from city to city. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to be open. You’ve got to have that open mindset.

RAPOPORT: You mentioned rehab, the knee — the ACL, a clean tear — cut short the season. I’ve seen the pictures you posted on social media. It seems like it’s going well. Update everyone where your knee is at and where you are health-wise.

DARBY: I’m doing real good. I’m hitting my marks. I’m getting stronger. I’m jumping. Running in the RTG. Everything feels good. I feel real good. Working muscles I normally don’t work. We work glute every day. And I’m going to be ready by Week 1, so that’s the goal. Back by Week 1 and that’s what I’m headed to.

RAPOPORT: You’re going to have your suitors, your choice of teams. You’re obviously a very coveted free agent in this market. When it comes down to it, what’s going to be the deciding factor for you when picking a team? What’s the one thing you want out of this?

DARBY: Really, to feel like a priority. I want to be with a team that wants to win, of course. Everything has got to be right financially at the end of the day.

On the one hand, Darby just turned 25 in January, he has good coverage skills, and he's probably the most athletically gifted of the Eagles' corners. On the other hand, he doesn't exactly embrace the art of tackling, and he tore his ACL in November. 

Before the start of the offseason, it felt unlikely that Darby would be returning to the team, but with more cap space to work with, the Eagles could certainly push hard to bring him back. However, interest in Darby around the league could be high because the 2019 free agent cornerback class is straight garbage, potentially causing his cost to balloon..

Eagles trade Michael Bennett to the Patriots

Technically, this move won't actually occur until March 13 at 4:00 p.m., but the reported trade compensation is as follows:

 Patriots getEagles get 
 Michael BennettPatriots' 5th round pick in 2020 
 Eagles' 7th round pick in 2020  


Last offseason, the Eagles traded a fifth-round pick and WR Marcus Johnson for Bennett and a seventh-round pick. That trade paid nice dividends for the Eagles, as Bennett finished the 2018 season with 34 tackles (15 for loss), nine sacks, and 30 hits on the quarterback. Statistically, Bennett was easily the team's most productive edge rusher.

The two defensive end starters to begin the 2018 season were Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett. Graham unexpectedly signed a contract extension before testing the free agent waters, and it is expected that Barnett will resume his role as a starter next season when he returns from a torn rotator cuff.

That left Bennett potentially as a $7.2 million rotational defensive lineman, up from $5,650,000 a season ago. By trading Bennett, they saved that $7.2 million in full.

While the compensation in return wasn't much, a trade of Bennett makes sense, seeing as (a) the Eagles could stand to get younger at defensive end, and (b) Howie Roseman called this defensive line draft class "historic" back in January. It also frees up extra money for the Eagles to use in free agency.

Eagles agree to contract extension with OG Isaac Seumalo

The team values Seumalo's versatility, length, athleticism, and intelligence. He started 11 games for the Eagles in 2018, including two playoff games. It's a three-year contract extension that will keep Seumalo under the team's control through the 2022 season. The three-year deal is worth $17,627,000, per OverTheCap, which is peanuts for a starting offensive lineman.

Seumalo had a promising rookie season in 2016, when he played four spots along the offensive line. He began the 2017 season as the starting left guard, but after experiencing major struggles, most notably Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Seumalo was benched in favor of Stefen Wisniewski.

In 2018, Seumalo began the season on the bench, but he replaced Wisniewski in the starting lineup at LG Week 5, because of how he was performing each week in practice. While I didn't think that was a major upgrade, I do think it ultimately turned out to be the right move, as Seumalo played well enough, and looks like a competent starter going forward.

Eagles agree to a contract extension with C Jason Kelce

There's a strong argument to be made that Jason Kelce is the best center in the NFL, and the Philadelphia Eagles rewarded him as such, signing him to a one-year contract extension that will keep him under contract through the 2021 season.

A report emerged this offseason that Kelce was mulling retirement, a notion that Kelce himself acknowledged. This contract extension ends the possibility of Kelce retiring this offseason. The fact the he is now also the highest paid player in the league at his position should quell concerns that retirement is happening anytime soon.

Eagles re-sign DE Brandon Graham to a three-year contract extension

Graham is still a very good starter who plays a premium position, especially in the Eagles' defensive scheme, which relies heavily on its defensive linemen to get pressure on the quarterback without the aid of blitzes. 

Even if Graham hasn't produced sack numbers like the league's elite, he consistently puts pressure on the quarterback, and is outstanding against the run. It is reportedly a three-year deal worth $40 million.

Eagles re-sign K Jake Elliott and LS Rick Lovato

Elliott and Lovato both have fewer than three accrued seasons in the NFL, which made them ERFAs (exclusive rights free agents). Elliott will count for $645,000 on the Eagles cap in 2019, while Lovato will count for $720,000.

Assuming Elliott and Lovato both earn accrued seasons in 2019, they will be RFAs (restricted free agents) in 2020.

Eagles release S Chris Maragos

Maragos was a team captain, who was at one time one of the best special teams players in the NFL. He was also a well-respected player in the Eagles' locker room, and a favorite of the coaching staff. He suffered a serious injury against the Panthers in 2017, had surgery, and then required a second surgery near the end of the 2018 season.

Maragos' (little-known) greatest strength was his speed, as he was one of the fastest players on the team. With his speed unlikely to fully return after two knee surgeries, his career may be over.

S Rodney McLeod agrees to a restructured contract

McLeod was scheduled to count for $9,906,250 against the salary cap in 2019, $5,093,750 of which the Eagles would have saved if they traded or released him. After the restructure, he is now on a one-year contract, but will count for $8 million against the Eagles' cap, spread out over 2019 (for $4,843,750) and 2020 (for $3,156,250).

McLeod showed how valuable he was to the team after he was was gone, as the Eagles' safety play dipped significantly after he was lost for the 2018 season. However, with hindsight being 20-20, there's an argument to be made that the Eagles made a mistake in bringing McLeod back at $8 million, seeing as a large number of safeties have since flooded the open market, and the Eagles could have capitalized by potentially finding a "good enough" player for not a lot of money.


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