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NFL Free Agency 2016: New players the Eagles could target after making trades

Who should the Birds sign now?

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles entered NFL free agency with a number of roster holes. Now they have even more to fill after trading away Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso to the Dolphins and sending DeMarco Murray to the Titans. The Eagles save nearly $10 million in cap space with these moves so they should have about $26 million to work with. Philadelphia won't necessarily be looking to spend on top guys but they do need to bring in some new talent at cornerback, linebacker, and running back. Here are some options to keep an eye on.


The Eagles are still reportedly negotiating with Nolan Carroll, so it's possible they keep him. If that's the case it could be him and 2015 second round pick Eric Rowe as Philadelphia's starters in 2016. There has been some speculation about moving Rowe to safety but defensive backs coach Cory Undlin once said "I strongly believe [Rowe] can be a top-level corner in this league." Undlin is right; Rowe belongs at cornerback, especially based on the progress he made there as a rookie.

If the Eagles don't keep Carroll, former first round pick Patrick Robinson could be an option. The Eagles are reportedly among the teams interested in him. He was up and down with New Orleans but he allowed the fewest yards of any cornerback that played over 500 snaps in 2015, according to Pro Football Focus. He could be worth taking a shot on. Packers cornerback Casey Heyward has the versatility to play in the slot and on the outside, but might be out of Philadelphia's price range. Speaking of guys who can play in the nickel ... would Brandon Boykin come back to Philly? Howie Roseman was presumably the person responsible for drafting him in 2012. It'd be funny if the Eagles got both Boykin and the Steelers' fifth round pick this year.

4-3 Linebacker

Jordan Hicks and Mychal Kendricks are locked in as starters in Philadelphia's new 4-3 defense, but the team needs a new linebacker with Alonso gone. The Eagles don't have an obvious in-house options. Najee Goode is best suited as a top backup and rotational player.

The Birds have already been connected to Lions free agent linebacker Tahir Whitehead. He played for Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz in Detroit. It doesn't hurt that Whitehead went to Temple and might have interest in return to the familiarity Philly offers to him. Whitehead was underutilized by the Lions and could jump at the starting opportunity here. Another former Schwartz linebacker includes Nigel Bradham, who worked with Schwartz during the 2014 season. Bradham played well in 2014 but struggled last season in Rex Ryan's 3-4 defense. He might want to reunite with Schwartz in the 4-3. Yet another name to keep an eye on is Stephen Tulloch. The veteran middle linebacker followed Schwartz from Tennessee to Detroit. Tulloch's best days are behind him but he might be able to provide depth at an inexpensive cost.

Running Back

It's hard to see the Eagles spending big at this position after doing so with DeMarco Murray last offseason. But make no mistake, the Eagles really do need some help here. Murray is gone and Ryan Mathews is reportedly available for trade. Darren Sproles, who turns 33 in June, is on the last year of his contract. The only other running back with NFL experience under contract is former Chip Kelly favorite Kenjon Barner.

The top running back in free agency is Matt Forte. The veteran is likely looking to go to a sure-fire contender and the Eagles don't fit the bill there. Lamar Miller is one of the most intriguing options because he was underutilized by the Dolphins and he's only 24 years old. He should be in line to earn a big contract, however. There aren't a lot of inspiring running back options on the market. Former Eagles rusher Chris Polk is out there. Roseman signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He's always had trouble staying healthy, however. Maybe Khiry Robinson (26 years old) or Ronnie Hillman (24 years old) could be in play? The Broncos used the lowest tender on C.J. Anderson, who is a restricted free agent. The Eagles could always opt to sign him to an offer sheet, but there would be no guarantee they land him.

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