Aside from the Haason Reddick addition (which was a good move!), NFL free agency has been relatively quiet for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The team would apparently like you to know they consider re-signing their 2018 draft picks as part of this offseason. Something tells me not everyone is easily satisfied with that line of thinking. And understandably so. The prospect of running it back with a roster that was ‘good but not nearly good enough’ is hardly thrilling.
The good news is that free agency is far from over. Now that a number of big money deals that get handed out in the first wave are out of the way, there is now potential for bargains to be had. The Eagles will likely be shopping in this market.
Here are some realistic targets remaining for the Birds.
WR Zach Pascal
Bleeding Green Nation previously wrote about Pascal in our “35 free agents with connections to the Eagles” post.
Nick Sirianni was Pascal’s offensive coordinator for three seasons. In addition, Eagles passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo was Pascal’s position coach in Indy for two years. It’s easy to imagine the coaching staff will be pining for Howie Roseman to sign him.
It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll get their way. But Pascal might happen to fit exactly what the Eagles are looking for in free agency. And that’s not what most fans would probably like to see: a high-volume, top-end kind of pass-catcher.
The problem with that thinking is the Eagles might not be inclined to break the bank for a veteran receiver. For starters, consider that they threw the ball less frequently (in terms of passing play percentage) than any other team last year. If DeVonta Smith is already failing to get the regular looks he deserves, it’s hard to envision the Eagles sinking major resources into yet another volume target. The Eagles have also spoken highly of Quez Watkins, indicating that they don’t view themselves as barren at receiver outside of Smith.
No one is denying the Eagles need to add more talent at receiver and adding Pascal would hardly be a sexy signing. He’s averaging just 472 yards per season. But the 27-year-old would fit their budget and very well might qualify as a undervalued player. Pascal’s numbers were ascending until Carson Wentz arrived in Indy last year. Wentz doesn’t exactly have an extensive history of getting the best out of his receivers as much as he does with, say, tight ends.
The thinking here is that Pascal would be a souped-up version of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. That’s to say, a very good run-blocking receiver who can contribute more than JJAW in the passing game as a legitimate complementary option alongside Smith and Watkins.
Pascal is arguably the best remaining fit for the Eagles.
WR Keelan Cole
I was remiss to not include Cole in the aforementioned ”free agents with connections to the Eagles” post. Former Jacksonville Jaguars general manager and current Eagles personnenl executive Dave Caldwell signed Cole as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2017. He ended up being a nice find for the Jags, logging 276 targets for 159 receptions, 2,242 yards (14.1 average), and 12 touchdowns over four years in Duval. Cole signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the New York Jets last year. Dealing with some absolute dreck at quarterback, he was targeted 51 times for 28 receptions, 449 yards (16.0 average), and one touchdown. Cole profiles as a quality complementary receiver who can also help out on special teams given his experience returning both punts and kickoffs.
WR Sammy Watkins
Watkins isn’t a guy who’s doing the dirty work of playing on special teams, so this might not be the most realistic addition. But with eight seasons under his belt, the 2014 first-round pick brings experience to the table. Watkins’ production has declined for three straight seasons but he put up some respectable efficiency last year with 14.6 yards per reception. 18 of his 27 catches resulted in points or a first down. Considering how he signed with the run-heavy Ravens last year, he might be willing to accept a similar role as a non-primary option in Philly. Though he’s been in the league for awhile, Watkins only turns 29 in June.
WR Jamison Crowder
Here are the quarterbacks Crowder has played with over the last four seasons: Alex Smith, Josh Johnson, Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, Sam Darnold, Luke Falk, Trevor Siemian, Joe Flacco, Zach Wilson, and Mike White. Yikes! Despite this and some injury issues, Crowder has put up some respectable production in this stretch with the following season averages: 54.3 receptions, 591.7 yards, four touchdowns. Signing Crowder would give the Eagles a new option in the slot. He also has experience returning punts.
LB Anthony Barr
If the Eagles plan on using Reddick at defensive end instead of having him see snaps as a SAM linebacker, the Eagles could look to also add Barr himself for “the Anthony Barr role” in Jonathan Gannon’s defense. In addition to overlapping with Gannon in Minnesota, Barr also spent time with current Eagles linebackers coach Nick Rallis.
LB Nick Kwiatkoski
We previously wrote about Kwiatkoski as a free agency target when he hit the market in 2020.
Kwiatkoski is a player the Eagles showed a ton of interest in leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft. The team hosted him on an official pre-draft visit, they interviewed him at the Senior Bowl, they attended his pro day, and they put him through a private workout. Kwiatkoski ended up being selected in the fourth round, between a large gap from the Eagles’ third-round pick (Isaac Seumalo at No. 79) and the Eagles’ fifth-round pick (Wendell Smallwood at No. 153). Had the Eagles had a fourth-round selection, maybe Kwiatkoski would’ve been the pick.
He ended up signing with the Las Vegas Raiders, where he was a disappointment. After signing a three-year, $21 million contract, he started just 12 out of 20 games played. The Raiders cut him earlier this month to clear some cap space. The Eagles could look to sign the 28-year-old to be their next token bargain linebacker signing who inevitably fails to stick with the team. Following in the footsteps of Paul Worrilow, Corey Nelson, Jatavis Brown, Zach Brown, Eric Wilson, etc. But hopefully actually more memorable than those guys.
LB Kyzir White
As a Macungie, Pennsylvania native (Lehigh county), White has some local ties. He attended Emmaus High School and Lackawanna College before transferring to West Virginia. The 2018 fourth-round pick saw more and more playing time over his four years with the Los Angeles Chargers. Pro Football Focus graded him as their 24th best linebacker last season. Indeed, White showed demonstrated play-making ability with two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one sack, and just a 88.1 passer rating allowed when targeted in coverage. White doesn’t figure to be a total bargain given his ascending status as a young player. But the longer he’s on the market, the more affordable he should be.
CB Steve Nelson
Nelson had a solid but unspectacular season for the Eagles after joining the team shortly before training camp last year. There’s been no indication he’s generating a lot of buzz in free agency. I tend to think he’ll sign with another team because he’ll prioritize getting the most money over taking any kind of discount to return to Philly. But perhaps his market won’t be super strong for the second year in a row. If that’s the case, it could be in the best interest of both Nelson and the Birds to team up for another season.
CB T.J. Carrie
The Eagles reportedly had interest in Carrie last year before he re-signed with the Colts. Assuming they lose Nelson, the Birds could look to add Carrie to the mix to push all the young corners on their roster. He’d be an inexpensive veteran addition who wouldn’t necessarily be guaranteed to make the team.
DB Patrick Peterson
I don’t think this signing is super realistic from a fit standpoint but Peterson indicated there could be some mutual interest between him and the Birds. I think he might make more sense at safety than corner in Philly.
S Rodney McLeod
The Eagles somewhat surprisingly decided to re-sign Anthony Harris. Does that mean it’s less likely they’ll also bring McLeod back? Perhaps. But maybe they’ll just run it back with last year’s starting safeties after striking out on a top of the market option like Marcus Williams. McLeod told Bleeding Green Nation he’s interested in remaining in Philly.
S Jayron Kearse
There seems to be a sense that Kearse will re-sign with the Cowboys after having a breakout season in Dallas. But it could be worth noting that Gannon was with Kearse as the Vikings’ assistant defensive backs coach in 2016 and 2017. Kearse’s availability likely stems to his camp having a higher asking price than teams are comfortable paying to a potential one-year wonder. The Eagles should be monitoring Kearse’s market.
S DeShon Elliott
Elliott has shown some promise when healthy. The problem is that multiple injury issues have limited him to just 28 out of 52 possible games since the Baltimore Ravens selected him with a sixth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Considering Elliott only turns 25 next month, some team will be willing to take a shot on his upside. The Eagles could get involved if the price is right.
S Terrell Edmunds
The No. 28 overall pick from the 2018 NFL Draft is hardly generating much free agency buzz, which might be a mistake. It seems like Edmunds is being undervalued considering: 1) he only turned 25 in January, 2) he only missed one game in four years, 3) he has four interceptions and an average 67.3 passer rating when targeted over the past two seasons despite being known as a box safety. Edmunds seems like a quality option for the Eagles to take a shot on.
S Jabrill Peppers
The downside is that Peppers is coming off an ACL tear he suffered in late October 2021. He also has just one interception and one forced fumble in his last 21 games played. The upside is that the 2017 first-round pick is only entering his age 27 season and allowed an average passer rating of 86.9 in 2019 and 2020. Peppers is also a good punt returner. He’s worth a gamble as a buy-low option.
P Bryan Anger
If there’s a 33-year-old free agent who makes sense for the Eagles, it’s a specialist. Anger was one of the very best punters in the NFL last season; his 45.1 net average led the league. He might be more expensive than the Eagles are willing to pay to a punter. But the Eagles have to consider investing in this spot after watching Arryn Siposs mightily struggle late last season. Anger is only four years older than Siposs, by the way.
Wait. Why didn’t these notable names make the list?
S Tyrann Mathieu
LB Bobby Wagner
WR Jarvis Landry
WR Julio Jones
WR A.J. Green
WR Will Fuller
Who do you want the Eagles to sign?
Sound off in the comments!