Eagles 2022 Free Agency Primer

The new league year nears as the legal negotiation period opens at noon on Monday (March 14th) and free agency officially opens Wednesday (March 16th).

The Philadelphia Eagles finished the 2021-22 season with a 9-8 record. Their campaign ended in a disappointing 31-15 loss at the hands of Tom Brady (who recently un-retired) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card round. The team has a ton of needs on both sides of the ball and free agency is the first opportunity Executive V.P./General Manager Howie Roseman will have to reshape and add to the roster.

Eagles Free Agents

  • LB Genard Avery
  • DE Derek Barnett
  • S/CB Andre Chachere **
  • TE Jason Croom
  • S Anthony Harris
  • G Nate Herbig *
  • RB Jordan Howard
  • DE Ryan Kerrigan
  • S Rodney McLeod
  • CB Steven Nelson
  • DT Hassan Ridgeway
  • RB Boston Scott *
  • LB Alex Singleton *
  • WR Greg Ward *

* – Restricted FA: A player with three accrued seasons and an expired contract. RFAs are free to negotiate and sign with any team, but their original team can offer them one of various qualifying offers (“tenders”) that come with the right of first refusal and/or draft-pick compensation.

** – ERFA – Exclusive Rights Free Agent: players with two or fewer seasons of service time and whose contracts have expired.

Of the Eagles free agents, I don’t expect many to be back with the team in 2022.

Along the defensive line, Derek Barnett is one of the more polarizing players the Eagles have had in quite some time. He has never really lived up to his 14th overall selection in the 2017 draft, but he also hasn’t been completely terrible. Barnett has cost the Eagles over the years with absolutely bone headed penalties though. If Barnett’s market fails to materialize, I could see the Eagles possibly bringing him back on a one year deal.

Genard Avery played heavily early on in the season but his playing time tailed off as the season wore on. In total, Avery was on the field for 31.8% of the Eagles snaps. The Ryan Kerrigan experiment did not work out (at all). He’ll likely walk. Hassan Ridgeway has been kept around for the last three years. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s brought back as a depth piece.

Elsewhere on defense, the Eagles will likely look to completely remake the linebacker room. Alex Singleton has been productive, but I’m not sure if he fits Jonathan Gannon’s vision for linebackers in his defense. Steven Nelson was signed to be the Eagles number two corner last year and he did his job and did it quite well. Well enough that he might have played himself out of the Eagles price range. Rodney McLeod has been a staple in Philadelphia since signing in 2016, but he has suffered significant injuries over the last few seasons. The Eagles safety position will be upgraded this offseason, but will McLeod, a staple in the Eagles locker room, be brought back? It’ll be interesting to see.

Offensively, Nate Herbig seems like the most likely candidate of all the Eagles free agents to be brought back. He’s been a story of development throughout his career. Elsewhere, names like Greg Ward and Boston Scott have seemingly found a home in Philadelphia. Ward as a dependable pair of hands and Scott as the energizer bunny of the Eagles running backs room. I think the Eagles would be open to bringing both back, but it will likely depend on their market. Jordan Howard has been the Eagles battering ram of a running back, first in 2019, and again in 2021. He has been productive when called upon, but the Eagles may elect to go younger and cheaper in the role.

Eagles Free Agency Targets

  • Eagles Cap Room (per Spotrac): $23.14 million
  • Positions of need
    • Safety
    • Number 2 Corner
    • Defensive End
    • Linebacker
    • Number 2 Wide Receiver/Slot
    • Offensive Line depth
  • S Justin Reid
Jeff Lewis/Associated Press
  • 25 Years Old
    • 4-Year Pro
    • 53 Career Starts
    • 315 Total Tackles – 7 Interceptions – 23 Pass Break Ups
    • Reid is an experienced safety who has flashed a ton during his time with the Texans. He fits exactly what Jonathan Gannon wants to run in terms of heavy 2 high looks. Reid has experience being used as a split field safety. He’s entering the prime of his career at just 25 years old and he likely won’t command more than $8-$9 million per year. According to reports: Eagles are expected to pursue Reid.
      • Eagles Connection: Eagles met with Reid at 2018 Combine.
  • S Marcus Maye
Photo by Paul J. Bereswill
  • 29 Years Old
    • 5-Year Pro
    • 60 Career Starts
    • 312 Total Tackles – 6 Interceptions – 24 Pass Break Ups
    • Marcus Maye is a candidate to sign a one year deal coming off a season ending achilles injury a year ago. Outside of last season, though, when he’s been on the field for the New York Jets, he has been productive. He’s spent time down in the box and as a deep safety. Since 2018, Maye owns the second-highest PFF grade at free safety. The year before his season ending injury, Maye had a career year. He started all 16 games, tied his career high in interceptions, and set career highs in tackles (88), sacks (2), forced fumbles (2), and pass break ups (11). As stated, Maye is a candidate to sign a one year prove it deal coming off an achilles injury.
      • An Eagles connection: Maye played his first four seasons in New York under Eagles DBs coach Dennard Wilson
  • S Jordan Whitehead
  • 24 Years Old (Turns 25 on March 18th)
    • 4-Year Pro
    • 55 Career Starts
    • 292 Total Tackles – 5 Interceptions – 25 Pass Break Ups
    • Jordan Whitehead is a physical and fiery competitor. Whitehead became a starter in Tampa Bay as a rookie and hasn’t looked back. He’s played both safety positions and has played down in the box. he earned the 10th best run grade (78.9) among safeties per PFF. His 2021 season was his best in coverage as he allowed a 62.6 passer rating when targeted and just 8.6 yards per completion on 57 targets. Whitehead’s price should be just right for the Eagles who desperately need impact players at the safety position.
      • An Eagles connection: Whitehead played at Pitt with Eagles nickel corner Avonte Maddox
  • S Quandre Diggs
Photo By Elaine Thompson/AP
  • 29 Years Old
    • 7 Year Pro
    • 78 Career Starts
    • 414 Total Tackles – 19 Interceptions – 44 Pass Break Ups
    • Diggs, although coming off a major lower body injury is one of the top safeties on the market. He earned a 71.2 PFF grade last season. Diggs has a bevy of experience over his years in various defenses and has been one of the top safeties in the league since joining the Seattle Seahawks in 2019. Diggs is a two-time Pro Bowler. Diggs may be a candidate for a one-year prove it type of deal.
      • An Eagles Connection: Diggs played with Eagles cornerback Darius Slay for 4 years in Detroit
  • CB Donte Jackson
  • 26 Years Old
    • 4 Year Pro
    • 51 Career Starts
    • 209 Total Tackles – 38 Pass Break Ups – 12 Interceptions
    • Donte Jackson would make for a fine number two corner next to Darius Slay. He fits what the team likes in potential free agents, in terms of age, production, and fit. Jackson, although 5’10 with 29 and half inch arms has been productive in terms of ball skills with 12 career interceptions. The LSU product has legit 4.3 speed and is at his best in zone coverage. He’d fit nicely in Jonathan Gannon’s zone heavy scheme. Jackson’s market could range from anywhere from $8 -$10 million per season. According to a source: Eagles are expected to pursue Jackson.
      • Eagles Connection: Eagles met with Jackson at 2018 Combine
  • CB Ahkello Witherspoon
Getty Images
  • 26 Years Old
    • 5 Year Pro
    • 36 Career Starts
    • 132 Total Tackles – 41 Pass Breakups – 7 Interceptions
    • Ahekello Witherspoon has always seemed like a player on the cusp of breaking out and establishing himself as a legit starter in the NFL. The skills are there, evidenced the fact that he finds his way into playing time no matter the regime he’s around or team he’s on. Last season Witherspoon started three games and had three interceptions over the final six games. After week 13, Witherspoon allowed the lowest passer rating among corners in the NFL (22.3). Talent is clearly there for Witherspoon, it’s a matter of being consistent and staying confident as a corner.
      • Eagles Connection: Eagles met with Witherspoon during the 2017 Combine.
  • LB Anthony Walker
  • 26 Years Old
    • 5 Year Pro
    • 60 Career Starts
    • 456 Total Tackles – 4.5 sacks – 13 Pass Breakups
    • Anthony Walker is is a 6-foot-1, 230 pound linebacker. Walker has provided a calming presence no matter where he’s played. After becoming a starter in his second year with the Colts and spending four full seasons there, he signed a one year deal with Cleveland following the end of his rookie contract. Walker has been revered for his leadership ability and smarts at the middle line backer position. Colts GM Chris Ballard said of Walker, “Selfless. Team guy. Rare leader. I hope he gets into coaching one day or scouting. Mark my words on this: if Anthony Walker gets into coaching, he will be a head football coach in the National Football League. And if he gets into scouting, he’ll be a general manager. He’s brilliant.”
  • LB Anthony Barr
Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports
  • 29 Years Old
    • 8 Year Pro
    • 98 Career Starts
    • 495 Total Tackles – 17.5 Sacks – 31 Pass Break Ups
    • The 6-foot-5, 255 pound Barr was drafted by the Vikings in 2014. Over the course of his eight year career, he has established himself as one of the better linebackers in the league. He has experience as both a 3-4 outside linebacker and a 4-3 outside linebacker. Barr offers usage both in coverage and rushing the passer. At his size, it’s impressive the ground he can cover either in run support or in coverage. Last season, Barr allowed the lowest passer rating when targeted of his career (89.7) on 48 targets. Barr would legitimize the Eagles linebacker room and add a veteran presence.
      • Eagles Connection: Barr played under Eagles defensive coordinator, Jonathan Gannon’s mentor Mike Zimmer for the entirety of his career. Gannon and Zimmer’s respective defenses share some similarities.
  • LB Kyzir White
Mark Brown/Getty Images
  • 25 Years Old
    • 4 Year Pro
    • 37 Career Starts
    • 278 Total Tackles – 4 Interceptions – 10 Pass Break Ups
    • White is comming off his best season as a pro. He finished 2021 with career highs in tackles, sacks and interceptions. The 2018 fourth-round pick exploded on to the scene putting together his most consistent season. He earned a top 30 grade as a pass rusher, run stopper, and in pass coverage in 2021. White offers true 3 down usage.
      • White and Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen were both with the Los Angeles Chargers from 2018-2021.
  • LB De’Vondre Campbell
Abbie Parr/Getty Images
  • 28 Years Old
    • 6 Year Pro
    • 86 Career Starts
    • 608 Total Tackles – 9.5 Sacks – 24 Pass Break Ups – 31 Tackles for a Loss
    • De’Vondre Campbell is a veteran linebacker profiles as a weakside backer. He’s another run and chase linebacker who could make an impact in Jonathan Gannon’s defense due to his ability to contribute as both a run stopper and in the passing game. Campbell was the only linebacker in the league with at least 100 tackles, at least two sacks, two forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, and 5 pass breakups.
  • LB Haason Reddick
Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports
  • 27 Years Old
    • 5 Year Pro
    • 47 Career Starts
    • 323 Total Tackles – 31 Sacks – 15 Pass Break Ups – 45 Tackles for a Loss
    • Hasson Reddick has seemed to somehow evade the Eagles throughout his NFL career. After playing his college ball at Temple University and playing at Lincoln Financial Field, the Cardinals snatched him up one pick before the Eagles took Derek Barnett. But this offseason, the Eagles are in desperate need of a pass rusher and Reddick can do just that, evidenced by his 31 career sacks. He’d like slot in as the SAM linebacker in Jonathan Gannon’s defense.
      • Eagles Connection: Born and Raised in Camden, NJ and played college ball in Philadelphia. Has played at Lincoln Financial Field.
  • DE Charles Harris
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images
  • 27 Years Old
    • 5 Year Pro
    • 23 Career Starts
    • 144 Total Tackles – 14 Sacks – 44 QB Hits – 23 Tackles for a Loss
    • Charles Harris offers versatility in that he can play as a 4-3 or 3-4 outside linebacker. Harris is at his best when used as a pass rusher. He’s coming off his most productive season as a pro with 14 starts, 7.5 sacks, and 16 QB hits. He’d fit well with the Eagles on the other side of Josh Sweat as a pass rushing specialist.
  • WR Zach Pascal
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
  • 27 Years Old
    • 4 Year Pro
    • 44 Career Starts
    • 150 Career Catches – 1,888 yards – 15 Touchdowns
    • Pascal has been a reliable slot receiver for four years with the Indianapolis Colts. Pascal has returned kicks, played in the slot, ran the ball out of the backfield, and been a core special teamer player. He’s a player that will make the most out of whatever role he’s placed into and be productive in that role as well. With the Eagles he’d slot in as the number 3 or 4 receiver behind DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins
      • Eagles Connection: Pascal played under Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni for his first four years in the NFL. Sirianni said on Pascal in 2019, “I hope Jacob Sirianni, my son, plays football like you do.”
  • WR Christian Kirk
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
  • 25 Years Old
    • 4 Year Pro
    • 41 Career Starts
    • 236 Career Catches – 2,902 Yards – 17 Touchdowns
    • Christian Kirk has been consistency personified since entering the NFL in 2018. He’s never had a season under 500 yards receiving and is coming off his best year as a pro, where he led the Cardinals in receptions (77) and yards (982). Kirk has been used both in the slot and on the outside and has had success next to a high level receiver on the outside in DeAndre Hopkins. This formula could be replicated with DeVonta Smith. The Eagles are said to be looking to upgrade their slot receiver position and Kirk is one of the top options.
      • Eagles Connection: Kirk played under Eagles wide receiver coach, Aaron Moorehead in college at Texas A&M. Kirk spoke highly of Moorehead when the Eagles hired him in 2020:
        • “He’ll do great with the Eagles,” Kirk said. “People might think all of a sudden a good coach goes to Philly and all their wide receivers are automatically going to be world-class receivers and go for 1,000 yards. But that’s not going to just happen. But if they buy in and listen to him and work hard at their craft, they’re going to get better. If they buy in, I know he’s going to get the most out of them.”
  • WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
  • 25 Years Old
    • 5 Year Pro
    • 51 Career Starts
    • 323 Career Catches – 3,855 Yards – 26 Touchdowns
    • JuJu Smith-Schuster has been a very productive wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers over his 5 year career. He’s displayed inside and outside versatility and even broken the 1,000 yard season barrier in 2018. Smith-Schuster fits the Eagles timeline almost perfectly.
    • He’s a very reliable target who will allow them to keep Quez Watkins on the field, can play inside and outside and win one on one matchups with his nuanced route running, will give Jalen Hurts another reliable set of hands, and his 6-foot-2, 215 pound frame compliments DeVonta Smith extremely well. By signing Smith-Schuster, the Eagles would be fostering an environment for the maturation process of Jalen Hurts as a passer. He’s someone who’d give them the physical/intermediate element they’ve lacked in their passing game.
      • Eagles Connection: Philadelphia came close to signing Smith-Schuster during the 2021 free agency period.
  • WR D.J. Chark
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
  • 25 Years Old
    • 4 Year Pro
    • 30 Career Starts
    • 147 Career Catches – 2,042 Receiving Yards – 15 Touchdowns
    • D.J. Chark is a high ceiling wide receiver who has all the tools to be a legitimate number one receiver in the NFL. He’s 6-foot-4, has legit 4.3 speed, and has an 79 inch wingspan. Chark has flashed a ton in his four year career. He’s broken the 1,000 receiving yards mark and has proven he can play at a Pro Bowl level. He’s a nuanced route runner who can win on the outside and because of his size-speed combo, can contribute from the slot as well. Suiting up next to a route running savant like DeVonta Smith would only help further his development.
  • WR Russell Gage
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
  • 26 Years Old
    • 4 Year Pro
    • 21 Career Starts
    • 193 Career Catches – 2,065 Receiving Yards – 9 Touchdowns
    • Russell Gage put together his two best seasons as a pro in 2020 and 2021. Gage amassed 1,556 yards and 8 touchdowns over that span. He’s displayed nice separation skills and contested catch ability during his time with the Falcons. Last season, he was thrust into the number one receiver role after Calvin Ridley stepped away with mental health issues. Gage caught five or more passes in every game after week 10 and broke the 100 yard mark twice. He’d be a nice option in the slot who also offers some usage outside due to his separation skills.

COVER IMAGE CREDIT: DAVID MAIALETTI / MCT

Author: Pierrot Baptiste Jr.

I am the creator of The Philly Blitz and I am committed to delivering innovative and interesting coverage on both the Eagles and Sixers. Contact Information: Twitter - @pierreb3_ Email: pierrotjr3@gmail.com

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