3 free agents (and one trade) the Eagles should explore at linebacker
In case you haven’t heard, the Eagles made Tyler Higbee look like a Hall of Fame TE last Sunday. The Rams continuously picked on the Eagles’ underwhelming linebackers (more specifically Nathan Gerry) and it worked every time. Higbee had all of 3 of Goff’s passing TDs and Gerry was graded an abysmal 29.4 in coverage by PFF last week.
Gerry got cooked by Higbee while 3 Eagles defenders are biting on Robert Woods. pic.twitter.com/MHcJ0BqX41— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) September 21, 2020
We could rip apart these LBs but in all honesty, they shouldn’t even be in this position. The core consists of a group of special teamers that wouldn’t be getting significant snaps on any other roster. The team hasn’t valued the linebacker position in years and when they do finally have a half-competent one, they show them the door (see LJ Fort).
If the Eagles hope to even be respected defensively over the middle, they have to do something. Albeit temporary solutions, there are some veteran names available:
The former 6-time Pro Bowler spent last season with McVay and the Rams. Matthews recorded 8 sacks and 37 combined tackles (9 for a loss) last season before being cut in March. The 34-year-old has 91.5 sacks and 200 QB hits in his career and would be an immediate upgrade at the position.
The 12-year veteran finished the season with 42 tackles and a sack last year with the Titans. The Eagles don’t have a true leader in the middle of that defense and, at the very least, Woodyard is a vocal leader in the locker room. Woodyard posted a run defense grade of 72.4 (via PFF) in 2019.
The former first-round pick didn’t get much time as a starter last season with the Chiefs, but that isn’t a product of his talent. He’s recorded 241 combined tackles and 11 passes defended in his 3 years with the Jets. The 25-year old would not only fill a void now but could be a long-term option in the future given a better situation. Lee isn’t eligible to play until Week 5 after receiving a 4-game suspension in the offseason.
Darron Lee with the pick-six! pic.twitter.com/VNZLeTXvx4— Barstool OSU (@BarstoolOSU) September 11, 2018
Haason Reddick (via trade)
The Eagles could potentially explore a trade to bring back a homegrown talent. Arizona drafted the former Temple Owl with the 13th overall pick in 2017. Reddick has only 20 starts to his name in 3 years. After starting 12 games in 2018, recording 80 combined tackles and 4 sacks, he only started 5 games last season. With Arizona handing a new contract to Buddha Baker (who also can play LB when necessary), Reddick may be expendable for a low-round pick. I think he’d be able to carve out a nice role in Philadelphia.
Haason Reddick is going to be an issue for offenses looking to pick on him in these situations. Closing speed is unreal. pic.twitter.com/7WcD4R5Pq3— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 11, 2017
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