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January 23, 2019

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

The Philadelphia Eagles are heading into an offseason where they could see some prominent players move on from the team. Due to salary cap constraints, they cannot go on a massive spending spree this offseason like they have done in the past under Howie Roseman, however, I don't expect them to exactly sit on the sidelines in free agency either.

Here are three free agents I believe make sense for the Birds this offseason.

Kareem Hunt, RB, formerly of the Chiefs (5'11, 216)

Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood led the Eagles in carries this season. That's not good enough. Corey Clement will return, and he is a nice complementary third-down back. Otherwise, Darren Sproles will turn 36 this offseason, and even if Jay Ajayi returns in 2019, the team can't count on a guy who already has chronic knee issues, who now also has a torn ACL on top of it.

A good running back could take the offense to the next level, and that could be Hunt.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, "multiple teams have expressed interest in Hunt, and it now appears the former Chiefs running back will have a job 'sooner rather than later.'" Hunt was released by the Chiefs during the season in the aftermath of the release of a video showing Hunt pushing and kicking a woman

On the field, Hunt would be an excellent fit in the Eagles' offense, as a multi-dimensional weapon out of the backfield. His numbers over the last two seasons as a runner:

 Kareem HuntRushes Yards YPC TD 
 2017272 1327 4.9 
 2018181 824 4.6 

And as a receiver:

 Kareem HuntReceptions Yards YPC TD 
 201753 455 8.6 
 201826 378 14.5 

Hunt is a hard runner with obvious receiving ability, and he doesn't make mistakes with the football. In 782 carries (and an additional 73 touches on receptions) in college, Hunt fumbled once. In his first ever drive with the Chiefs as a rookie, he fumbled, but hasn't since. That would be one fumble on 546 touches in the pros. Since his freshman year in college, Hunt has two fumbles on 1401 touches. That is incredible.

From a front office standpoint, the Eagles are potentially going to be in line to receive compensatory picks for the losses of guys like Nick Foles, Brandon Graham, Ronald Darby, and others this offseason. Because Hunt was released by the Chiefs, he would not count toward the compensatory pick formula, so he would not offset a draft pick earned for outgoing free agents.   

The question is, would the Eagles sign a player with this very public, and disturbing video? During the lead up to the 2017 NFL Draft, they had interest in -- and put in a ton of work on -- former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who also had a very public, and much more graphic video of him striking a woman. I do believe the Eagles will, at a minimum, do extensive homework on Hunt, and decide if his on-field contributions are worth the negative blowback that will certainly come if they were to sign him. 

But everything else fits like a glove.

Breshad Perriman, WR, Browns (6'2, 211)

One thing that was very clearly missing in the Eagles' offense this season was speed, and Perriman has plenty of that. At his pro day in 2015, Perriman ran a blistering 4.24. His spider chart: 

Because of his speed, Perriman was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens (when Joe Douglas was still employed there, by the way). In his rookie season, Perriman did not appear in any games, and was placed on injured reserve mid-way through the season. Over the next two seasons, Perriman caught just 43 passes for 573 yards and 3 TDs. 

The Ravens released him prior to the 2018 season, and he was scooped up by the Cleveland Browns, where he finally began to show some life as an NFL receiver. In 10 games (2 starts) with the Browns, Perriman had 16 catches for 340 yards (21.3 YPC) and 2 TDs. A highlight reel:

The ability is there, and the Eagles need a deep threat. Perriman is still only 25 years old, and can grow with Carson Wentz, as opposed to a one-year old guy rental.

Danny Shelton, DT, Patriots (6'2, 345)

Shelton was a former first-round pick of the Browns. During the 2018 offseason, Cleveland dealt him along with a fifth-round pick to New England for a third-round pick.

He played in 13 games (1 start) for the Pats, and was actually a healthy scratch in three games down the stretch. He was also a healthy scratch against the Chiefs this past Sunday in the AFC Championship Game, likely because the Pats respected the Chiefs' scary passing offense, and Shelton doesn't offer much as a pass rusher.

While certainly a big disappointment as a first-round pick, Shelton is a good rotational run-stuffer, and the Eagles are in a division with Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, and Derrius Guice. They will also need to replace the unproductive, aging, and (likely) outgoing Haloti Ngata.

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