Low-key additions are quietly giving Eagles draft flexibility originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
They had to get better rushing the passer, and they did. They needed wide receiver depth, and they found it. They had to upgrade at linebacker, and they did that as well. They wanted to get Boston Scott back on a reasonable contract, and they accomplished that. They needed a safety and they got one, even though it wasn’t the one we all expected. And they had to find some inexpensive pass rush depth and they added that as well.
It hasn’t been a spectacular free agency period so far for the Eagles, but it didn’t have to be.
And that’s the key thing to remember if you haven’t been wowed by the last two weeks.
When you have three 1st-round picks and five picks in the first three rounds, you don’t have to fill every need in free agency. You don’t have to over-pay the first few days to make sure you have every position covered. You don’t have to “make a splash” because that will come next month.
You have the luxury of restraint.
What the Eagles have done the first two weeks of free agency is address some serious needs and add important depth and do it without over spending. At least, we don’t think they have. We still don’t know the Derek Barnett numbers, but I’m confident they’ll be paying him like a backup edge rusher and not the 14th pick in the draft.
In Haason Reddick they got a guy who has the 5th-most sacks in the NFL over the last two years. Reddick had 12 ½ and 11 sacks the last two years. The Eagles ranked 31st in the NFL with 29 sacks last year, so this was priority No. 1. The last Eagle with at least 11 sacks in back-to-back seasons? Would you believe William Fuller a quarter of a century ago?
In Zach Pascal they got a guy who in two years under Nick Sirianni in Indy caught 85 passes for 1,236 yards and 10 touchdowns with a 14.5 average before a down year in 2021. How much should a down year scare you? Allen Robinson had a down year with the Bears – his numbers were actually almost identical to Pascal’s – and he just signed for $15.5 million over three years. Not saying Pascal is as good as Robinson, but his body of work is solid.
In Kyzir White they got a guy who should have gotten Pro Bowl consideration last year with the Chargers. The Eagles had to get significantly better at off-ball linebacker and they did. If you don’t think White is an upgrade, you’ve never seen him play.
I know everybody’s angry about Derek Barnett, but instead of thinking of him as the 14th pick disappointment returning in the same role, think of him as a depth piece. Hey, I wasn’t crazy about bringing Barnett back, but Reddick, Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham will be the primary pass rushers, and if Barnett can come off the bench to generate some pressure it won’t hurt.
And Anthony Harris is Anthony Harris. An average safety, a functional starter. We’ll see what his role ends up being. Still a lot of work to do at safety.
But if you really don’t believe the Eagles have improved, ask yourself is Pascal better than Jalen Reagor, is Reddick better than Barnett, is White better than Alex Singleton and is Barnett better than Ryan Kerrigan?
You know the answers.
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The most important thing to remember about all these signings is that they have no impact on the draft.
If anything, they give Howie Roseman the flexibility to address any position without being forced to reach for a receiver or an edge or a linebacker or anything else. These moves certainly don’t mean the Eagles won’t draft a receiver, linebacker or edge. They probably will. It just means they don’t have to.
And remember, it’s not just 15, 16 and 19. The Eagles have five of the first 83 picks for the first time in 27 years and only the third time since 1970 and a real opportunity to replenish the roster on both sides of the ball.
The offseason isn’t about making a splash and using up all your cap space and seeing how many $50 million contracts you can make headlines with. It’s not about making fans happy by signing fading 32-year-old veterans who made a Pro Bowl five years ago and want to be paid like they’re still 27.
It’s about improving the roster in an intelligent way that addresses needs, upgrades the talent level, makes sensible use of the cap and gives you flexibility going into the next five months of the preseason.
Two weeks in, the Eagles have done exactly that.