The Eagles pass rush in 2016 wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the strength that it was expected to be either. With Connor Barwin likely on his way out, short term help is needed, and with Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry 28, some youth behind them would help.
Yesterday we looked at the top tier pass rushers in the draft that could be options for the Eagles. They go early and often in drafts because they’re so valued, so it isn’t at all a surprise that the free agent market for them is pretty bad. If the Eagles are going to look to free agency to upgrade their pass rush, they’re not going to find much help.
Let’s take a look at 4-3 DEs/3-4 OLB who can play DE who are scheduled to hit free agency. It ain’t pretty, highlighting that to upgrade a pass rush, teams should turn to the draft. First, two guys who almost certainly won’t hit the market.
No way the Cardinals let him hit the market a year after giving up a 3rd for him.
Chargers have the cap space to afford him and can’t afford to lose him on the field.
So let’s look at guys who may or may not hit free agency. You might want to cover your eyes.
After spending time with four different teams in 2011 and 2012 and then two as a lightly used backup in Carolina, Addison settled into role as much used backup, getting over 40% of snaps in each of the past three seasons with 6.5 and 6 sacks in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, he had a bit of a breakout with 9 sacks in 14 games, hitting the market on a career year but at the age of 29. He could give a boost platooning with Vinny Curry, but not much else and he’ll be 30 when the season starts and be replacing a player who was 30 when the season ended. That doesn’t make much sense for the Eagles.
Signing away a guy from the Cowboys has some appeal, but signing a 28 year old with 9.5 career sacks has very little appeal. The Cowboys are in such bad shape with the cap that they’ll take care of getting rid of a bunch of contributors on their own, there’s no reason for the Eagles to help them.
A solid run defender who can get to the QB on occasion, Gholston probably won’t hit free agency, but if he does he will draw some interest since he’ll be 26 when the season starts. A two year starter in Tampa, he’s not going to sign to be a rotational player and he wouldn’t be the answer as a starter for the Eagles.
Guy bounced around three teams in three years from 2012-2014, then notched 4.5 sacks in 45% of snaps in 2015 at the age of 25. But in 2016 with similar playing time, he had just one. At 26 he’s one of the youngest pass rushing free agents, so you’ll see him listed as a “upside depth” guy (no pun intended there) by some people, but don’t get your hopes up. He was Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 2 after blocking a kick, but he’s not a big contributor on special teams, logging just 15% and 12% of snaps in the last two seasons.
Forget the name value, if he has any left. He’s got 5 total sacks in the last two years.
Moore was a decent depth player with the Giants who caused so many headaches they dumped him in the middle of his third season in 2015, he’s been on three teams since then. Furthering his off-field problems, he was arrested for a DUI on a suspended license in December. Someone might take a chance on him, it’ll probably be his last one.
There’s not much to say about JPP that you don’t already know. He wants to get paid, and the Eagles don’t really have the cap space for that.
Free agency couldn’t come at a better time for Perry. He nearly doubled his career starts and sack totals with 11 sacks and 12 starts in 2016. And after suffering a hand injury that could have been season-ending he missed just two games then played through it. With the Packers needing all the help on defense they can get, he’s probably not going anywhere, but coming off a career year he should do well on the open market.
You want to sign a non-star who just won a Super Bowl? You probably shouldn’t, but someone will. Sheard was solid his first two years in Cleveland, but lost his starting job in his fourth and final season as he struggled to play LB in a 3-4. In New England, he’s started just 9 games in two seasons. Some team that thinks they’re a few moves away from contending might look to add him if he hits free agency.
7 sacks in no starts and just 56% of snaps in 2015 had Taylor looking like a breakout candidate in 2016. He started all 16 games in 2016, increased his playing time to 64% of snaps and... had just 4.5 sacks, a big disappointment.
Trent Cole, Dwight Freeney, Chris Long, Robert Mathis, Julius Peppers, DeMarcus Ware
All of these guys are in their mid thirties and it’s hard to see them signing with a team that isn’t already a contender if they don’t retire, which is what Long did in 2016. Signing players in the twilight of their careers does not mesh with being a rebuilding team. Trent Cole finishing out his career in Philly makes some sense on the surface, but he had 5 sacks in 21 games in Indy. It’s better for both sides for a reunion not to happen.