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DT and LB are overlooked needs for the Eagles

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One of the many ways 2017 can be very different from 2016

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

When we talk about all the various needs the Eagles have this offseason, we do so mostly looking at the obvious holes on the roster in 2016: wide receiver, cornerback, running back, pass rusher, and help on the offensive line. We don’t really talk about how close the Eagles are or were to needing help elsewhere. If Bennie Logan isn’t re-signed, the Eagles are going to need to find a starting DT. The health of the linebackers masked the total lack of depth at the position. Ironically by waiting until now to write about these positions I’m as guilty as anyone at keeping it on the back burner. But they might be needs that move to the front in March and April.

Free agency starts in 18 days, and Bennie Logan will be one. The defense clearly suffered in his absence, and re-signing him should be a priority. But signing a free agent is a two way street, the player has to want to sign the contract. The Eagles could force Logan to stay by franchise tagging him, but almost certainly won’t, and shouldn’t.

And if he, or some other free agent starter is signed, that’s a lot of money invested in defensive line along side Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry. The Eagles are already among the league’s biggest spenders at defensive line. The draft, which looks solid for DTs, would provide the Eagles with a cheaper but riskier solution, and with so many draft needs adding another further complicates the draft. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

It doesn’t get much better at linebacker. Nigel Bradham played 97% of snaps in 2016, Jordan Hicks 95%, and their two backups, Mychal Kendricks and Stephen Tulloch, won’t be on the roster in 2017. Hicks has played a full season in the pros and college just twice in the last five years, the Eagles will need insurance and should do better than a 31 year old who costs $2.5 million. Bradham could very well be suspended for part of the season after two arrests in 2016. Joe Walker might fill one of the backup roles, but as a 7th round draft pick who missed a whole season to injury, expectations should be low, and they’ll still need another linebacker anyway.

With the Combine next week, this week we’ll wrap up our weekly look at positions the Eagles need to address with both defensive tackle and linebacker.