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October 19, 2018

What defensive tackles make sense as Eagles targets at the trade deadline?

Eagles NFL
101818KyleWilliams Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Williams has a beard.

As the NFL trade deadline approaches, a lot of names have been mentioned as possible trade targets for the Philadelphia Eagles, but they've most been at running back and wide receiver. Another position of huge need for the Eagles is at defensive tackle.

Trade speculation has not included much in the way of defensive tackles, and for good reason. Teams aren't often willing to part with good defensive linemen, and being only six weeks into the NFL season, there are a only a small handful of teams who might think about punting on 2018 already. For now, here are three defensive tackles who make some sense, though they all require a little bit of squinting to see the logic.

Kyle Williams, Bills (6’1, 303)

On paper, Williams makes all kinds of sense. He's 35 years old, so he would clearly just be a one-year rental, but he's still playing very well. Williams has 47 career sacks, 3.5 of which were this season, to go along with 12 tackles, 6 QB hits, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery. He is a defensive tackle who is disruptive against both the run and the pass, which is what the Eagles have missed all season long with Timmy Jernigan out. In his lone season with Jim Schwartz in 2014, Williams had 42 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, 16 QB hits, and 3 batted passes.

To be clear, I stress that he makes sense "on paper." Williams signed a 1-year, $5.5 million deal in March, despite likely knowing that the Bills didn’t have the talent to win a Super Bowl. The Bills drafted him in 2006, and he’s been there his entire career. The people in Buffalo love him. He's kind of like their Brian Dawkins of the last decade, so there would no doubt be backlash against the team if he were traded for a later-round pick. Obviously, the Eagles wouldn’t give up more than, say, a 5, for a 35-year old on a one-year deal.

He would be a perfect fit in the Eagles defense and locker room, but Buffalo would have to be willing to absorb backlash, and who knows if Williams would even want to be traded.

Corey Peters, Cardinals (6’3, 305)

Peters is a 30-year-old starter for Arizona who has 21 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, and 1 fumble recovery. He signed a contract extension in December of 2017, and the cap hit for the Eagles, should they acquire him, would be a little over a million in 2018, plus per game roster bonuses. It would be easy to get out of his contract thereafter. 

Peters would certainly make sense for the Eagles, however, the trade compensation would have to be worth the Cardinals’ while, because their cap savings by trading him would be less than $500K. Sooooo, maybe a 6 would do it? I'm not sure that'd be enough if I'm Arizona.

Another interesting name is the Cardinals' other starting DT, Robert Nkemdiche, who would be a good fit at DT in Schwartz's attacking scheme, but would require the Cards to part with a talented (albeit production-deficient) young player. That one feels unrealistic.

Derek Wolfe, Broncos (6'5, 285)

Wolfe has mostly been a 3-4 DE in the Broncos' scheme, but he could theoretically be a good fit as a disruptive 4-3 DT with the Eagles. In seven games this season, Wolfe hasn't filled up the traditional pass rusher stat sheet, as he has 20 tackles, a half-sack, 1 tackle for loss, and 4 QB hits. He does, however, have 5 batted passes and a pick.

Wolfe's appeal is that he's still only 28, with 25 career sacks and 63 QB hits. He also played on a once-dominant Broncos defense that was excellent against the run. On the downside, he's expensive, as his salary in 2018 and 2019 is $8 million/year. That's not ideal, but it also makes him a player the Broncos might consider trading. 

If the Broncos were smart, they'd be sellers, but their blowout win over the Cardinals might make them delusional about their chances to compete for a playoff spot.

Another Broncos player we should note is Adam Gotsis, who Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz suggested earlier this week

The Eagles liked Gotsis prior to the 2016 draft. Denver shocked some people by taking him in the 2nd round. Gotsis has slowly developed into a solid NFL player. I don’t know how the Broncos coaches feel about him at this point. With Denver sitting at 2-4 and looking up at the Chiefs and Chargers, they might be open to dealing him. Worth a call. Gotsis has played 3-4 DE and DT for Denver, but would be a DT for the Eagles.
(Tommy had a list of 10 players at other positions who might make sense for the Eagles, so go check that out as well.)


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