When the Eagles season ended in January, executive vice president, Howie Roseman spoke about the need to revamp the roster and get younger and faster. Through the first week of free agency (legal tampering included), the Eagles have done just that on the defensive side of the ball. In this article I will go through each addition and provide some analysis on each move.
• Jatavis Brown – 5’11 221 pounds (Linebacker) – Signed 1 yr/ $675,000
The Eagles added depth at the linebacker position by signing Jatavis Brown. Brown was drafted in 2016 in the 5th round by the Los Angeles Chargers where he played all of his 43 career games and started in 22 of those 43 games. Over his 43 career games Brown has 255 tackles, 12 passes defensed and 4.5 tackles. Brown has a similar skill-set to former Eagles linebacker and now Dolphins linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill. Brown is a very versatile and quick linebacker with legit 4.4 speed. He is an avid and willing tackler who posted 79 tackles and 3.5 sacks as a rookie in 2016, 79 tackles again as a sophomore in 2017 and 97 tackles in 2018. Brown was primarily a special teams contributor in 2019. Jatavis Brown gives Jim Schwartz another undersized, quick and aggressive tackler to add to the linebacker room and play the weak side backer spot.
• Will Parks – 6’1 194 pounds (Safety) – Signed 1 yr/ $1.6 Million ($1 Million guaranteed)
Will Parks brings toughness and versatility to an Eagles secondary that needs it in the worst way after losing veteran and leader Malcolm Jenkins. In his four year career, Parks has totaled 149 tackles and 4 interceptions. An all around aggressive player, Parks plays fearless when making tackles. Parks has played 62 games and has 15 career starts. A bargain signing, Parks may be the steal of free agency as he took less money and had over 4 other offers on the table but took less to join his hometown Philadelphia Eagles. Watching Parks mic’d up and interviews it’s clear to me that he will bring an attitude and swag to the defense. Will Parks gives Jim Schwartz a Swiss army knife of sorts, in the fact that he can be moved all over the defensive formation and he plays special teams. Parks can play the nickel corner position and both safety spots. This maybe my favorite move the Eagles made in free agency.
• Javon Hargrave – 6’2 305 pounds (Defensive Tackle) – Signed 3 yr/ $39 Million ($26 Million guaranteed)
Javon Hargrave furthers the Eagles philosophy of building from the trenches and adds to Jim Schwartz’s use of a rotational defensive line. Hargrave was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was used predominantly as a run stuffing nose tackle in the Steelers 3-4 scheme but with the Eagles 4-3 scheme will be used more in passing downs and will be allowed to just attack and be aggressive while doing so. Hargrave showed he could be effective as a pass rusher, as he has put up 10.5 sacks over the last two seasons. With the Eagles, playing alongside Fletcher Cox or Malik Jackson, Hargrave will have the advantage of drawing one on ones and will eat in those situations. Per Pro Football Focus, Hargave ranked first in high pressure rates among interior defenders and was a top 15 pass rusher. Hargrave brings strength and power to an already stacked defensive line that will benefit greatly from his addition.
• Darius Slay – 6’0 190 pounds (Cornerback) – Acquired via trade and signed a 3 yr/ $50 million extension
This the move of the off-season, plain and simple, just because of how long the Eagles have been devoid of talent at the cornerback position and the level of talent that Slay brings to the organization. Darius Slay will be the best cornerback to suit up for the Philadelphia Eagles since Asante Samuel. A 3 time pro bowler, Slay gives the Eagles a true shutdown corner who can blanket his side of the field. Over his 6 year career, Slay has accumulated 347 tackles, 104 passes defensed and 19 interceptions. Slay is without a doubt a top 5 cornerback in the NFL. At 29 years old, Slay had been vocal about his displeasure with his former team, the Detroit Lions due to his fractured relationship with Detroit head coach Matt Patricia. Slay provides the Eagles with talent they desperately needed. Whether it be ball skills, coverage ability, attitude, competitiveness, you name it, Slay has it. With the Eagles, Slay will be back with the coach that drafted him, in a system he knows and in a scheme he fits like a glove. Darius Slay gives Jim Schwartz the leeway to call plays that leave him on an island with a receiver and not have to have the safety over the top shifting to his side of the field because of Slay’s ability. This move is without a doubt, the move of the off-season, regardless of what happens in the draft or rest of free agency.
The additions to the team through the first have come solely on the defensive side of the ball. This is somewhat understandable due to what the free agent wide receivers asking prices, which should go down in the coming days. These moves bring speed and youth to the defensive side of the ball and will allow defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz to be more versatile and care-free in a sense when he calls the defense. In all, these additions should greatly improve the defense and help to catapult them into the upper echelon of not just run defenses, where they’ve made their name the last few seasons, but the pass defense as well.
Follow The Philly Blitz on Twitter!