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May 04, 2019

Three free agents who make sense for the Eagles after the 'compensatory pick deadline'

At the conclusion of the 2019 NFL Draft, after the Philadelphia Eagles had only made five picks, Howie Roseman promised that he was not done adding players.

He wasn't kidding. Last than a week later, the Eagles have already signed a potential starting middle linebacker in Zach Brown, and claimed a pair of safeties off the waiver wire in Blake Countess and Godwin Igwebuike. None of those three players will count toward the compensatory pick formula, since those players were all let go by their teams before their contracts expired.

As it currently stands, the Eagles are projected to gain a pair of compensatory picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, though it's a fluid process. The Eagles assuredly will not sign any more players who will offset the comp picks they stand to gain for the players they lost in free agency this offseason. After May 7, they won't have to worry about that anymore, as that is the date that players signed no longer count toward the formula.

The expectation here is that a late wave of free agent signings will occur after that deadline, league-wide. Below are three free agents I believe make sense for the Eagles after the deadline:

Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Lions (6'6, 275)

Ansah was the fifth pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, one pick after Lane Johnson. He was selected by... (drum roll)... Jim Schwartz's Lions. Ansah was very good as a rookie under Schwartz, collecting eight sacks and two forced fumbles. Over his career, Ansah's numbers have been good, with really only one down year, in 2016, when he only had two sacks in 13 games.

 Ezekiel AnsahTackles (TFL)Sacks FF-FR QB hits 
 2013 (14 games)30 (7)2-0 11 
 2014 (16 games)51 (13) 7.5 3-0 26 
 2015 (16 games)47 (15) 14.5 4-2 34 
 2016 (13 games)35 (7) 0-0 15 
 2017 (14 games)44 (15) 12 1-0 17 
 2018 (7 games)11 (3) 0-0 
 TOTAL (80 games)218 (60) 48 10-3 110 

In 2018, Ansah's season was cut short by a shoulder injury, but he was off to a good start, collecting four sacks in seven games. Interestingly, in two playoff games, Ansah was a monster, as he had 11 tackles (3 TFL), three sacks, and nine (!) QB hits.

If healthy, Ansah is a no-brainer fit in Philly as the No. 3 DE. He is clearly built for Schwartz's defense, and would bolster a defensive front that is likely to lose Chris Long, who has repeatedly stated that the Eagles should prepare as if he's not playing this season.

Ansah seems destined for a one-year "prove it" deal. The question for Ansah is what type of role he will accept. Does he have to be a "starter?" If so, perhaps a team like the Seahawks, who had him in on a visit this past week, would be the better fit. If he's content playing on a loaded defensive line that will provide major matchup advantages, but fewer snaps, then maybe the Eagles are a better fit. Of course, the "highest bidder" can always be persuasive as well. Ansah would be a perfect fit, but at what cost?

Jeff Allen, OG, Chiefs (6'4, 305)

In 2016 free agency, it was pretty clear that the Eagles needed to add help at guard, and they ended up hitting a home run in Brandon Brooks. Another hot name being linked to the Eagles at the time was Chiefs OG Jeff Allen, who played under Doug Pederson, who had just been hired by the Eagles from Kansas City a few months prior.

As it turned out, the team that let Brooks walk in free agency, the Texans, signed Allen to a four year deal worth $28 million. Brooks has made the Pro Bowl the last two seasons, while Allen played in 26 games for the Texans (all starts) before being released off the PUP list earlier this season. He landed back with the Chiefs as a backup to close out the season. What a gross misevaluation by the Texans of one of their own guys.

Anyway, while the Eagles would be better served finding a reserve with guard-center versatility, Allen at least brings some familiarity, and would be a competent reserve.

Stefen Wisniewski, OG/C, Eagles (6'3, 305)

Or, you know, as long as he's not going to get you a comp pick by signing before May 7, Wisniewski is probably the safest option as a reserve guard/center.

MORE: Mailbag: Are the Eagles still looking for defensive ends? | Projecting first-year roles for each of the Eagles' five draft picks

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