With NFL Free Agency opening in under 2 weeks, here are the moves the Eagles may look to make.
Malcolm Jenkins – Safety
Team cornerstone and defensive leader, Malcolm Jenkins stated after the season ended that he would not be back with the team on his current deal. Jenkins has provided the Eagles with stability in a time where the organization has lacked it over the past few seasons. Jenkins hasn’t missed a snap in two seasons and at 32 years old, it’s clear he deserves what he’s asking for. Re-structuring Jenkins current deal and adding more money and incentives should be the move made. However, GM Howie Roseman has continuously said this off-season that he is going to do what is best for the Philadelphia Eagles organization and he has also made it a point of emphasis to get younger on both sides of the ball. An exception should be made for Jenkins when you take into account what he means to the team on and off the field.
*Free Agency Additions*
LaAdrian Waddle – Tackle
Last season LaAdrian Waddle signed a 1-year $2 million deal with the Buffalo Bills after spending the first 3 years of his career with the New England Patriots. The 28 year old Waddle didn’t play a snap last season after suffering a torn quad in training camp. Signing Waddle would strictly be a depth signing in case of injury. Waddle isn’t too old and can contribute if asked to, as in his last healthy season he ranked as the 75th best tackle according to Pro Football Focus.
Nick Kwiatkoski – LineBacker
The Philadelphia Eagles have been known under the current regime (Roseman era), to not value the linebacker position. It’s been years since they’ve invested into the position. Nick Kwiatkoski may change that. Kwiatkoski is a talented linebacker who was drafted in 2016 by the Chicago Bears in the 4th round. The Eagles showed a lot of interest in Kwiatkoski during the pre-draft process, holding a private workout and using a pre-draft visit on him, so there’s the connection. Also, Kwiatkoski fits what defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz likes in a linebacker, he’s fast, can cover and he plays special teams. Kwiatkoski won’t cost as much as the top flight linebacker options (Cory Littleton and Joe Schobert) and he’s a talented defensive player who the organization has shown interest in. Kwiatkoski at 26 years old, also fits the build of getting younger that Roseman laid out.
Danny Shelton – Defensive Tackle
The Eagles defensive tackle position is one of the best positions on the roster with both Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson anchoring the starting roles. However, there are questions within the position. Jackson only played in one game (that he didn’t finish) last season before breaking his foot. Both Cox and Jackson are both getting older and the need for youth at the position is evident. Danny Shelton can provide the youth and talent in a rotational role. Shelton is pre-dominantly a run stuffing DT who can contribute against the pass as well. At 27 years old, with the New England Patriots, Shelton put up 61 combined tackles, 3 sacks and 6 quarterback hits.
Vonn Bell – Safety
Vonn Bell is a 25 year old safety who was drafted in the second round of the 2016 draft by the New Orleans Saints. If the Eagles don’t resign safety Rodney McLeod and re-structure Malcolm Jenkins contract or if they move on from Malcolm Jenkins and resign McLeod, Bell is an option to replace either. Bell is another player the Eagles showed interest in, in the pre-draft process in 2016, meeting with him at the 2016 combine. Bell had the best season of his career in 2019 racking up 86 tackles, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks and 1 defensive touchdown. Bell also played 100% of the teams defensive snaps in 2019. Bell provides versatility in the fact that he can cover receivers out of the slot as well as tight ends and he’s an effective run defender and can blitz well. Signing Vonn Bell would also be very reminiscent of the Eagles signing another safety from the New Orleans Saints who was about to enter his prime a couple years ago.
Case Keenum – Quarterback
The backup Quarterback position on the Philadelphia Eagles is an important one. Whether fans want to admit it or not, the position is important and there needs to be an experienced player at the position. One of the better options at back-up quarterback is Case Keenum. He’s experienced and can hold the fort down in case of injury to Carson Wentz. Keenum has started in 54 career games and has a 62% completion percentage, has thrown for 12,661 yards, 64 TD, 42 INT and has a career rating of 84.5. The journeyman quarterback’s best season came in 2017 when he led the Vikings to the NFC championship vs the Eagles. Keenum’s best fit in 2020 is as a backup QB and the Eagles need a reliable body at that position. A one or two year deal should be the move here.
Byron Jones – Cornerback
The top corner on the market is Byron Jones. One of the Eagles most pressing needs is at the cornerback position and it has been a need for years. Since the days of Asante Samuel the Eagles have not had a true difference maker at the position. Jones would change that. Yes, the Eagles have gone the free agent route in the past with the signings of Byron Maxwell and Nnamdi Asomugha, however whether it was a scheme fit issue (Nnamdi) or a talent issue (Maxwell) there were reasons those specific signings didn’t work out. These issues are not present with Jones. He fits Jim Schwartz zone heavy scheme and when Schwartz goes man with no safety help, Jones can literally blanket whoever he is guarding on the outside. Byron Jones is a 27 year old corner who was drafted as a safety and switched to corner after his first two seasons in the NFL. Jones has excelled in coverage as a corner allowing just 34 completions on 64 targets for just 395 yards in 2019. Jones doesn’t have the interception numbers however, his coverage skills far outweigh any concerns in that area. Jones is a physical and versatile player who can cover wide receivers on the outside, in the slot and he can cover tight ends. Jones also was linked to the Eagles in 2015 during the pre-draft process when Chip Kelly was the main personnel guy. Byron Jones is a very talented corner who is a legitimate talent and he can solve the issues the Eagles have had at the cornerback position the last few years.
Follow me on Twitter!