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February 22, 2023

Three free agents who make sense for the Eagles, version 1.0

Eagles NFL
022123JacobyBrissett Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

We're talking about Jacoby Brissett here, not the other guy.

NFL free agency is just around the corner, and the focus — or fear — for many Philadelphia Eagles fans will be how many good players the Birds will lose this offseason to other teams. And make no mistake, they will be losing players.

The Eagles aren't expected to be big spenders in free agency this offseason, as they are tight against the cap and have a contract extension for Jalen Hurts on the horizon. But they also won't sit out free agency completely. Here are some presumably low-cost players who could fit within their limited budget.

Jacoby Brissett (30), QB, Browns (6'4, 235)

With Gardner Minshew likely to leave for another team in free agency, the Eagles will be shopping for a quarterback. As the defending NFC champs and still Super Bowl contenders in 2023, my guess is that they will opt to find a steady veteran backup, as opposed to entrusting that job to Ian Book or a rookie draft pick.

Each of the three Eagles head coaching hires prior to Nick Sirianni brought quarterbacks along with them to help install their offenses.

• Andy Reid brought Doug Pederson with him to Philly from Green Bay.

• Chip Kelly brought Dennis Dixon in from the Ravens. (Dixon played for Kelly at Oregon.)

• Pederson brought Chase Daniel with him to Philly from Kansas City.

Sirianni never got to bring an old quarterback flame with him to Philly. One such quarterback who has actually been available in free agency the last two offseasons has been Brissett, who played for Sirianni in Indianapolis. Brissett likes Sirianni:

And Sirianni likes Brissett: 

Brissett went 2-3 in five starts with the Dolphins and 4-7 in 11 starts for the Browns. In those 11 starts for Cleveland, he played reasonably well enough, completing 236 of 369 passes (64.0%) for 2608 yards (7.1 YPA), 12 TDs, and 6 INTs on a bad team. He also rushed 49 times for 243 yards and 2 TDs, and while he isn't anywhere near as scary a runner as Hurts, he's more effective with his legs than Minshew, and he can push a pile on 4th and 1 with his large frame. He is also widely regarded as a great locker room guy, and could help Hurts continue to grow as a quarterback.

Brissett made $5 million with the Dolphins in 2021, and $4.65 million with the Browns in 2022. If his cost is in that ballpark once again, it's not hard to envision the Eagles having interest.

Keisean Nixon (25), KR/PR/CB, Packers (5'10, 200)

Nixon was an undrafted player out of South Carolina who played for the Raiders from 2019-2021 who signed with the Packers last offseason. In October, the Packers began using Nixon as their primary kick returner, and he was awesome, averaging 28.8 yards per return on kickoffs, earning kick return All-Pro honors.

If you'll recall, he had kick returns of 38, 52, and 53 yards against the Eagles.

The Eagles haven't had a threatening return man since the first few years of Darren Sproles.

When he isn't returning kicks, Nixon filled in nicely for the Packers as a backup slot corner. That is a particularly important role for the Eagles, as Avonte Maddox has been good when healthy, but hasn't been the most durable player.

A'Shawn Robinson (27), DT, Rams (6'4, 330)

Robinson is a former second-round pick of the Lions. He played in Detroit for four seasons, before signing with the Rams in free agency, where he has been a good player the last two seasons, particularly against the run. From 2021 to 2022, Robinson played in 27 games, and had 109 tackles with 2 sacks. He also had a great game in the Rams' Super Bowl win over the Bengals, as he was instrumental in slowing down Cincinnati's rushing attack.

The downside is that Robinson tore his meniscus in the Rams' tenth game in 2022, and was done for the season.

The Eagles are going to be tasked with replacing some combination of Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox, Linval Joseph, and Ndamukong Suh this offseason, and Robinson could come at a discount while rehabbing his injury.

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