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NFL Draft

3 Defensive Free Agents Eagles Should Target

  • The Draft Network
  • March 12, 2021
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It goes without saying that the Eagles have found themselves in metaphoric quicksand as they enter a crucial offseason: one that has resulted in Carson Wentz already being shipped off to the Indianapolis Colts. So now, for the often criticized front office duo of team owner Jeffrey Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman, the latter must jockey his way by adding to an aging roster overshadowed by one of the worst cap situations in the league.

With limited money available, it makes Roseman’s job that much tougher to try and scour available talent that he deems fit to both produce and stay under budget. The Eagles have made their own bed, and it’s now resulted in a full organizational rebuild with no clear direction as to the next steps under newly hired head coach Nick Sirianni.

Here are three defensive free agents Philadelphia can target when free agency opens next week.

Dawuane Smoot, EDGE, Jacksonville Jaguars

A former third-round selection, Smoot has developed into a nice threat off the edge during his time in Jacksonville following two relatively quiet campaigns to start his career. He’s totaled 11.5 sacks the last two seasons combined and would offer Philadelphia a bargain-bin add off the edge with proven sack totals on the good side of 30.

With Derek Barnett’s future as an Eagle currently up in the air, Brandon Graham’s contract reportedly under reconstruction, and Hassan Ridgeway set to enter free agency, Philadelphia’s once heralded front four now looks to represent one of the shakier units within the roster. Adding insult to injury, Malik Jackson has failed to live up to his $30M deal following a lisfranc injury that caused him to miss the entirety of the 2019 campaign. In 2020, it wasn’t much better for Jackson, who totaled just 2.5 sacks in 15 games. He’s a prime cut candidate who would save the team $5.6M in cap space, offering a shimmer of room for Roseman to sign a cheap player in Smoot that would provide a one-year rental without breaking the bank. 

Mackensie Alexander, CB, Cincinnati Bengals

One of the more expensive adds on this list, if you will, Alexander could immediately start opposite Darius Slay as Philadelphia’s CB2. With 68 games of experience thus far into his career, Alexander, 27, would provide a welcomed add for Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. A former Vikings secondary assistant from 2016-17, Gannon has ties with Alexander, who spent the onset of his NFL career in Minnesota.

With Nickell Robey-Coleman and Cre’Von LeBlanc primed to explore the open market, Avonte Maddox is expected to slide inside to nickel. Alexander has average cover and ball skills, but he’s a surprising athlete in space with room to grow and a willingness to creep in the run game. 

Tashaun Gipson, S, Chicago Bears

You want pop, you got it in Gipson. Following a down year in 2020, a breath of fresh air in Philadelphia would be welcomed for the former Pro Bowl safety with Jalen Mills set to enter free agency. An overall underwhelming secondary in 2020, Gipson would be allowed to move closer into the box in Gannon’s scheme, similar to the role Malcolm Jenkins filled as an Eagle. 

Constantly around the football, Gipson’s game hinges upon his ability to showcase his physicality. His veteran presence and physical game would provide a much-needed sense of identity within Philadelphia’s defense.

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