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October 02, 2023

Ranking the Eagles' positional needs at the trade deadline

Howie Roseman will likely have the 4-0 Eagles acting as buyers at the trade deadline. Which positions should they target?

Eagles NFL
James_Bradberry_Eagles_Giants_091922_KateFrese147.jpg Kate Frese/For PhillyVoice

James Bradberry is a temporary solution at slot corner, but his real value is on the outside.

If you hadn't noticed after the first four games of the 2023 regular season, the 4-0 Philadelphia Eagles are good. Expect Howie Roseman to try to make them even better at (or before) the trade deadline. The Eagles are flush with picks in the 2024 draft, so they'll have plenty of ammunition to be aggressive if there are available players they like.

Since Roseman regained his general manager status in 2016, he has been a buyer at the deadline during three seasons, debatably four. So let's first take a look at the Eagles' recent history of deadline trades, and then we'll get to the positions of biggest need.

• 2022: The Eagles were buyers, trading a fourth-round pick for DE Robert Quinn to replace the injured Derek Barnett.

• 2021: The Eagles were kinda-sorta sellers, as they traded TE Zach Ertz to the Cardinals after a loss to the Buccaneers brought their record to 2-4. They also traded Joe Flacco to the Jets to make way for Gardner Minshew to become the No. 2, and they traded a late pick for CB Kary Vincent Jr.

• 2020: No deadline trades, which made sense for a 3-4-1 team at the time of the deadline.

• 2019: The Eagles traded a fourth-round pick for then-DE Genard Avery. Roseman explained after the season that Avery was a player they hoped would contribute in 2020 and beyond, but they did not expect him to step in immediately and make an impact.

• 2018: The Eagles were buyers, trading a third-round pick for WR Golden Tate.

• 2017: The Eagles were buyers, trading a fourth-round pick for RB Jay Ajayi.

• 2016: No deadline trades.

The trade deadline this year is on Halloween, October 31 at 4:00 p.m. EST.

In the coming weeks, we'll start profiling individual players who make sense for the Eagles at the deadline, but for now let's just focus on the positions where they can use help.

1) Slot corner

With Avonte Maddox out with a torn pectoral muscle and Zech McPhearson having torn an Achilles during the preseason, the Eagles have lost their top two slot corners. They have tried a few different things at slot corner over the last three games.

• In Week 2 against the Vikings, the game during which Maddox got hurt, 2022 undrafted signing Mario Goodrich filled in directly.

• In Week 3 against the Buccaneers, James Bradberry shifted inside in nickel, and Josh Jobe played outside. The Eagles also mixed in rookie safety Sydney Brown in the slot.

• In Week 4 against the Commanders, Brown did not play because of hamstring injury, and Bradberry mostly played in the slot in nickel. In fact, only five defensive backs played at all against Washington, compared with seven against the Bucs, nine against the Vikings, and seven against the Patriots. The defensive staff clearly does not trust Goodrich, who might have made some sense against the Commanders' smallish receivers.

Bradberry is an unselfish team-first player so he has embraced a role in the slot, but ultimately his value is on the outside because he is a far better player than Jobe. His presence in the slot should be a temporary solution only. Brown could get more opportunities in the slot whenever he is ready to play again, but that too should only be a temporary solution. The Eagles need a true slot corner, plain and simple, because they don't have one right now.

2) Safety

Reed Blankenship is proving to be a very good player, and the Eagles have to be thrilled about his quick development. Otherwise, Justin Evans is a competent player but prone to injuries, Terrell Edmunds is more of a safety/linebacker hybrid who struggled in a starting role against the Commanders, and Brown is currently on the shelf, as noted above.

If the Eagles can find a starting safety who can also play in the slot, that would probably be the most ideal solution.

3) Linebacker

Nicholas Morrow has played surprisingly well in relief of Nakobe Dean, and for a player who joined the team three weeks into training camp Zach Cunningham has probably been as good as one could realistically hope he would be. Dean will be eligible to come off of injured reserve prior to the Eagles' Week 6 game against the Jets, and the Eagles will then have four playable linebackers, if we're including Christian Elliss.

Linebacker does not appear to be the need it was a few weeks ago, but if the Eagles can add an impact player there it's hard to completely rule out that possibility.


• I could maybe make an argument for wide receiver. But let's be real — If the Eagles make one trade for a player at the deadline, it won't be for a wide receiver. 

• We may need to revisit this list depending on the severity of the foot injury Cam Jurgens suffered against the Commanders.

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