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February 15, 2018

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

In previous offseasons, Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles have been very active in free agency. This offseason, I don't expect the Birds to be anywhere near as active, because (a) they don't have much in the way of team needs, and (b) they don't have money to spend.

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While you won't find guys like Alshon Jeffery on the list below (like you did last year), Roseman could be active on a smaller scale, finding low-cost role players. Here are three that I believe make sense for the Eagles.

Cody Latimer, WR, Broncos (6'2, 215)

Latimer is a former second-round pick (56th overall) who has not lived up to expectations as a receiver through four years in the NFL. His career numbers:

Cody Latimer Rec Yards YPC TD 
 2014 223 11.5 
 2015 659 9.8 
 2016 876 9.5 
 2017 19287 15.1 
 TOTAL 35445 12.7 

So why would the Eagles have interest? Three reasons:

1) Latimer is thought of as an excellent special teams player, especially as a gunner on the punt team. His play on special teams got special notice against the Eagles, actually, earlier this season. The Eagles have always been proactive about adding players with special teams ability, and Latimer fits the bill.

2) According to sources (back in the day), Roseman loved this guy in the 2014 NFL Draft. (Chip did not.)

3) Latimer is a physical specimen who could perhaps grow under Mike Groh. Here's Latimer's spider chart:

He has good size, speed, strength, leaping ability, and catch radius. In 2017, Groh was able to help unlock Nelson Agholor's ability. Perhaps he could do the same for Latimer.

To be clear, we're not thinking of Latimer as a replacement, for, say, Torrey Smith. He would be more of a low-cost fifth wide receiver and special teams maven, with upside.

Crockett Gillmore, TE, Ravens (6'6, 260)

Gillmore was a third-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2014 when Joe Douglas was a national scout there. In four injury-plagued seasons with the Ravens, Gillmore has missed 31 games, including the entirety of 2017 with an MCL injury.

However, he did flash promise early in his career, when he had 33 catches for 412 yards (12.5 YPC) and 4 TDs in 2015 in just 10 games. 

Gillmore was also thought of as an above average blocker coming out of college.

With the Eagles potentially losing both Brent Celek and Trey Burton this offseason, the Eagles are going to need help at tight end. Gillmore could be a very low-cost option on a one-year "prove it" veteran minimum deal.

Derrick Johnson, LB, Chiefs (6'3, 242)

Last offseason, Roseman cashed in on soft 'old guy' market in free agency, signing a number of established, but (mostly) declining players near the ends of their careers, dirt cheap.

Player Contract 
 Chris Long (32) 2 years, $4.5 million
 Corey Graham (32)1 year, $1.6 million 
 Dannell Ellerbe (32)1 year, $900,000 ($370,588 prorated) 
 LeGarrette Blount (31) 1 year, $1.25 million
 Patrick Robinson (30) 1 year, $775,000 (as estimated by

Those players above all helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl. Johnson would be even older, at 35 years of age. While certainly not what he once was during a 13-year career with the Chiefs, Johnson can still cover, which Jim Schwartz values in his linebackers.

If Johnson wants one last chance to chase a ring, who better to join than the Eagles?

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