2018 NFL free agency is right around the corner. The league’s “legal tampering window” (dumb name) begins on Tuesday, March 12 before the new league year OFFICIALLY begins at 4:00 PM ET on Thursday, March 14.
Unlike previous years, the Philadelphia Eagles likely won’t be active in free agency this offseason. Currently sitting at about $8M over the cap, the Eagles simply don’t have the room to be big spenders.
Depending on the moves they make, however, the Eagles will be able to free up some funds in order to add some more depth to their roster.
We won’t know for sure who the Eagles will sign until free agency starts, but maybe we can glean some hints based on past relationships. Here’s a look at some connections the Eagles have to this year’s crop of free agents.
Note that I am not including the Eagles’ own free agents (Nigel Bradham, Trey Burton, etc.) on this list.
JOE DOUGLAS - VP OF PLAYER PERSONNEL
Torrey Smith (Baltimore ties) and Alshon Jeffery (Chicago ties) were among free agents the Eagles signed last offseason with connections to Philadelphia’s vice president of player personnel. Will we see the Douglas factor come into play again this offseason?
OL Crockett Gillmore
Gillmore was a third-round pick (No. 99 overall) by the Ravens in the 2014 NFL Draft. Douglas was still with Baltimore at the time. Gillmore finished his first three seasons combined with 51 receptions, 604 yards, and six touchdowns before an MCL injury caused him to miss the entire 2017 season. It was recently reportedly that the oft-injured Gillmore is transitioning to offensive line, which is an interesting choice for the 26-year-old. The Eagles could’ve taken a flier on Gillmore at tight end since Philadelphia will potentially be losing Brent Celek and Trey Burton this offseason. Not so sure if they’ll be interested him as a lineman.
WR Kamar Aiken
Aiken and Douglas overlapped in 2014. Douglas left in 2015, which is when Aiken had a career year: 75 receptions for 944 yards and five touchdowns. In the two season since that year, Aiken has only managed to put up a combined 44 receptions for 461 yards and one score. The 28-year-old was a non-factor with the Colts last season. Could be a veteran camp body for the Eagles at receiver, I guess.
DE Courtney Upshaw
Upshaw was a second-round pick (No. 35 overall) by the Ravens in the 2012 NFL Draft. The former Alabama star hasn’t made a big impact in the NFL. He only played 226 snaps in a rotational role with the Falcons in 2017. If Vinny Curry is traded and the Eagles are looking for a cheap defensive end to bring in, the 28-year-old Upshaw could fit the bill.
DT Haloti Ngata
Ngata was the No. 12 overall pick by the Ravens in 2006. He played in Baltimore through 2014, so he spent a lot of time with Douglas there. Ngata turned 34 in January and he’s coming off a season-ending biceps injury. He said he wants to stay in Detroit but we’ll see how that goes with the Lions having a new coaching staff. Ngata might be too costly; his cap number was $7.7 million last year. If he’s willing to play for cheap as he chases another Super Bowl ring, he’d be a great No. 3 defensive tackle to rotate with Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan. The Eagles will have a need at backup DT if Beau Allen isn’t retained.
LB Josh Bynes
Bynes signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and stayed in Baltimore through 2013. The 28-year-old linebacker measures in at 6-1, 240 pounds and has logged 29 starts in 78 career games played. Bynes played 234 snaps for the Cardinals in 2017. He also finished fourth on the team in special teams tackles with seven. Bynes has experience playing several linebacker positions, so versatility is a plus with him. He’d be a decent addition to boost the Eagles’ linebacker depth if he comes cheap, which shouldn’t be an issue.
LB Christian Jones
Jones, an undrafted free agent in 2014, overlapped with Douglas when the executive spent a year with the Bears in 2015. The Florida State alumnus has started 31 games over four season and has the versatility to play multiple positions. Maybe the Eagles would look into Jones if Nigel Bradham isn’t retained (hey, Eagles, re-sign Bradham).
S Terrence Brooks
I thought Brooks was having a nice offseason with the Eagles last year. He seemed poised to be the No. 3 safety behind Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. But apparently the Birds didn’t feel the same way. They signed Corey Graham and later sent Brooks to the Jets in exchange for cornerback Dexter McDougle (who is no longer with Philly). With Graham set to be a free agent, the Eagles could afford to add some cheap safety depth. I’d like them to give the 25-year-old Brooks another shot.
DOUG PEDERSON - HEAD COACH
QB Chase Daniel
I know this inclusion is bound to draw some laughs, but I don’t think it’s really all that crazy. The Eagles obviously liked Daniel enough to give him a pretty significant contract back in 2016. They trusted him to be their backup then. If Nicks Foles is traded, the Eagles could try to bring Daniel back on the cheap to “compete” with Nate Sudfeld for the backup quarterback job. It’s more likely that Daniel just re-signs with the Saints, I guess.
QB Tyler Bray
Bray signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He’s remained as a deep reserve with Kansas City since then. Whether Foles is traded or not, the Eagles could sign Bray as this year’s version of Matt McGloin. Just an inexpensive camp arm who has familiarity with Pederson’s offense.
FB Anthony Sherman
YES! A FULLBACK! Heath Evans, who obviously reads BGN, is probably so excited I included this guy. Seriously, though, Sherman could be a nice little addition with the Eagles potentially losing Trey Burton in free agency. The Eagles didn’t use a formal fullback during Pederson’s first two seasons but they experimented with different guys; Burton played that role sometimes. Sherman is also a special teams contributor. He led Kansas City in ST tackles for three out of the past five seasons.
TE Anthony Fasano
Fasano spent two seasons (2014-2015) with Pederson in Kansas City. The 33-year-old could be a cheap option if Brent Celek retires. Like Celek, Fasano doesn’t offer much as a pass-catcher, but he’s one of the better blocking tight ends in the league.
LB Derrick Johnson
The Chiefs decided to not pick up the last year of Johnson’s contract, making the 35-year-old a free agent. Johnson had been with Kansas City since being the No. 15 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. He was a real good linebacker and a leader on that defense for a long time. The Chiefs were forced to move on in part due to being limited on cap space. If the Eagles don’t retain Nigel Bradham, Johnson could be a stop-gap option for the Birds. Or maybe the 2018 version of 2017’s Dannell Ellerbe or 2016’s Stephen Tulloch. Veteran backup guy trying to chase a ring.
S Ron Parker
The Chiefs released Parker as a cap casualty in February. The Eagles obviously don’t need a starting safety but Parker could fill Corey Graham’s 2017 role as Philly’s third safety if Graham moves on in free agency.
OT Donald Stephenson
Stephenson made 14 starts during Pederson’ three seasons in Kansas City. The Eagles already have Halapoulivaati Vaitai as a viable swing tackle but they could afford to go four-deep at the position due to Jason Peters’ age and Lane Johnson’s suspension history. I imagine the Eagles would rather invest in a long-term option (see: the 2018 NFL Draft) than bringing in another vet at tackle, though.
S Tyvon Branch
Branch spent the 2015 season in Kansas City. In addition to sharing a connection with Pederson, Branch also directly worked with current Eagles assistant secondary coach Dino Vasso. The veteran Branch was having a pretty good season before suffering an ACL tear in November. I imagine he’ll be looking for a bigger role than what the Eagles can offer, but if Branch can’t find a starting job, he’d be a nice option as Philly’s third safety.
P Dustin Colquitt
The Eagles have a potential need at punter with Donnie Jones retiring. I imagine they’d rather go with a young, inexpensive, in-house option like Cameron Johnston over a free agent like Colquitt, though.
JIM SCHWARTZ - DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR
DT Ndamukong Suh
Suh isn’t set to be a free agent but there’s been talk that the Dolphins could designate him as a post-June 1 cut. If that happens, maybe he’ll really come to Philadelphia to play for free, just like he said. I mean, I highly doubt it, but he reportedly said it! And then later denied it.
DT Nick Fairley
Fairley had heart issues in 2017 that led to the Saints releasing him. His career may be in doubt, but Fairley reportedly doesn’t want to stop playing. If he’s willing to accept a rotational role in Philadelphia, he’d be a good third defensive tackle behind Cox and Jernigan.
LB Preston Brown
The Eagles could potentially replace one former Bills linebacker with another if Bradham isn’t re-signed. Brown and Schwartz overlapped in 2014. The 25-year-old has never missed a game in his four-year career and he’s made 62 out 64 possible starts in that span. The NFL’s leading tackler won’t come cheap, so I wouldn’t consider him a likely option given the Eagles’ cap situation.
LB Tahir Whitehead
Whitehead was a fifth-round pick by the Lions when Schwartz was still Detroit’s head coach in 2012. The Eagles reportedly showed some interest in Whitehead back before they originally signed Bradham as a free agent in 2016. The 27-year-old has the versatility to play all three linebacker spots, so he could directly replace Bradham. Whitehead is a native of Jersey City, New Jersey and he played at Temple in Philadelphia for four years. He might have interest in being closer to home. I think Whitehead makes sense for the Eagles if Bradham isn’t retained.
LB Justin Durant
Durant, no known relation to Kevin, played for Schwartz for two seasons (2011-2012). The 32-year-old veteran has experience at all three linebacker spots. He also has a history of getting nicked up. Durant has only played a full 16 game season once in his 11-year career. Durant could be a fallback plan if the Eagles find themselves suddenly needing a starting linebacker and/or more depth.
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman
It doesn’t get talked about enough how there’s a guy named Nickell who plays the nickel corner position. NRC is a pretty decent one, too. He had a solid year with the Rams after getting cut by Buffalo, where he overlapped with Schwartz in 2014. It’d be nice if the Eagles could add a proven Nickell to potentially replace Patrick Robinson but I doubt Philly will be spending money on corners this offseason. They like the group of young guys they already have in place.
CB Ross Cockrell
Cockrell was a fourth-round pick by the Bills in 2014. He played in seven games under Schwartz as a rookie. Again, I doubt the Eagles will be investing much more in corner. If the 26-year-old Cockrell is willing to sign a minimum deal to compete for a roster spot in training camp, that’d be fine. There are probably better opportunities out there for him, though.
MIKE GROH - OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR
WR Brian Quick
Here’s what I wrote about Quick last offseason.
Quick is hardly a flashy name in free agency this offseason but the Rams receiver could draw interest from the Eagles. Quick had a career year last season under Groh; he recorded 41 receptions for 564 yards and three touchdowns. Quick is long and has good size at 6-4, 210 pounds. The Eagles need all the receiver help they can get and the 27-year-old Quick might be a solid yet unspectacular addition for Philadelphia.
Quick only managed to have six receptions for 76 yards in 11 games with Washington last offseason. He can be signed for the minimum at this point. Might be nice to have another veteran guy to help push the young players.
JEFF STOUTLAND - OFFENSIVE LINE COACH
I wrote about Henderson as a potential in-season Jason Peters replacement prior to this year’s NFL trade deadline.
Henderson isn’t some great player. He’s also played more on the right side than the left, so he might not be a direct replacement for Peters. But at 6-7, 335 pounds, he has the type of size the Eagles like in their linemen.
Yet another factor to consider here is that Jeff Stoutland was the offensive line coach (and later interim head coach) at Miami when Henderson made nine starts as a true freshman in 2010. We all know Stout likes his former college players (see: Chance Warmack).
Henderson would be an intriguing addition if he signs a Warmack-type deal.
KEN FLAJOLE - LINEBACKERS COACH
LB Karlos Danbsy
Flajole was Dansby’s linebackers coach with the Browns for two seasons (2014-2015). Dansby turns 37 this season but he’s still going strong. He’s only missed four games in the past seven seasons. As I mentioned with Derrick Johnson, he could be a ring-chaser type who serves the Eagles as a stop-gap starter or a veteran backup.
DE Leger Douzable
Douzable played for the Rams for two seasons (2009-2010) when Flajole was their defensive coordinator. He has the versatility to play at both defensive end and defensive tackle. He’d also be a really cheap signing. Wouldn’t hurt for depth purposes. Also his name is cool. Fun fact: Douzable is the only player who notched a sack on Lane Johnson in 2017.
HOWIE ROSEMAN - EVP OF FOOTBALL OPERATIONS
Heads up: this category mostly features former Eagles. But not entirely!
WR Cody Latimer
A source once told me that Roseman really liked Latimer heading into the 2014 NFL Draft. Latimer was Roseman’s guy while Chip Kelly was all about Jordan Matthews. The Eagles obviously ended up with JMatt while Latimer went to Denver and did ... virtually nothing. In four years with the Broncos, Latimer put up 35 receptions for 445 yards and three touchdowns. Not the production you’re looking for from a second-round pick. Latimer is still only 25 years old, though, and he has a good combination of size and athleticism (just check out his spider graph). He could be worth a flyer as a guy who competes for a fourth/fifth/sixth receiver spot.
WR Jordan Matthews
JMatt was a cool guy who was loved in the locker room, but I don’t see him coming back to Philly. Nelson Agholor is a much more dynamic slot presence. The Eagles should aim to keep Nelly there.
WR Jeremy Maclin
Maclin isn’t a free agent (yet) but the Ravens can cut him to save $5 million in cap space (compared to $2.5 million in dead money). He’s probably not returning for a second season in Baltimore. With Torrey Smith likely to be cut, it’d be cool to bring Maclin back on the cheap as his potential replacement. With Mack Hollins already on the roster, the Eagles would have “The Mac and Mack Attack.” Dibs on that as a t-shirt idea if a Maclin signing happens. The Eagles showed interested in bringing Maclin back to Philly last offseason.
CB Brandon Boykin
Boykin, 27, hasn’t played an NFL snap since the 2015 season. It’s pretty weird how the once-promising corner just suddenly went downhill. Injuries certainly haven’t helped his case. With the Eagles potentially needing a slot corner, it wouldn’t hurt to give Roseman’s 2012 fourth-round selection a chance on a minimum deal.
TE Clay Harbor
Remember this guy? Harbor most recently spent the 2017 offseason with the Saints before suffering an undisclosed injury. The Eagles are light at tight end and the 30-year-old would be a cheap camp body, but I doubt they’re eager to revisit this well.
TE Derek Carrier
My training camp crush from the 2013 offseason is still in the league. Carrier would fit in as a potential replacement for Burton. He’s a tight end with some wide receiver skills. The Eagles probably won’t bring him back, but you can count on me rooting for it to happen.
OL Allen Barbre
Remember when there was concern over trading Barbre? The Eagles’ offensive line did just fine without him in 2017. It wouldn’t hurt to bring him back on the cheap due to his versatility. Barbre might just retire since he turns 34 this offseason.
OL Matt Tobin
Still can’t believe the Eagles traded Tobin and their 2018 seventh-round pick for a 2018 fifth-round pick. That’s a steal because the Eagles shouldn’t have been able to get anything for Tobin. Tobin has some versatility and he knows the system, so bringing him back wouldn’t be the worst idea. Except for the fact that he’s a total traitor to Phialdelphia and should be banned from the city.
DE Connor Barwin
It’s nearly impossible not to love Connor Barwin, but he just doesn’t fit the scheme here. The Eagles’ pass rush was so much more productive without him.
DE Marcus Smith
Remember when Marcus Smith tweeted this after the Seahawks beat the Eagles?
Talk that shit!— Marcus Smith II (@MarcusSmithII) December 4, 2017
Well, Marcus, as Super Bowl winners, the Eagles are now the ones entitled to be doing the shit-talking.
DT Bennie Logan
It’d be great to bring Logan back to replace Beau Allen, assuming he leaves, but that’s not going to happen. Logan deserves more money and playing time than that role offers.
DT Cedric Thornton
Here’s a former Eagles defensive lineman that might actually make some sense. Roseman signed Thornton as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2011. The man known as “Swamp” could be a solid and inexpensive stop-gap option for replacing Beau Allen.
S Nate Allen
Philadelphia’s second-round pick in 2010 could make for a Corey Graham replacement in 2018.
S Colt Anderson
Pederson highlighted special teams as an area where the Eagles can afford to improve. Anderson was once a ST beast in Philly. But the Eagles already have their own version of him with Chris Maragos.
S Kurt Coleman
Update: I forgot about Coleman, who was recently released. I think he’ll get a starting opportunity somewhere but if not he’s another guy in the mix for the Graham role. Also worth noting Coleman spent one season with Pederson in KC.
Second update: Coleman signs with the Saints.
PREVIOUS REPORTED INTEREST
This category is designed to feature players who were previously connected to the Eagles through reported interest but didn’t actually sign with Philly. Sometimes the Eagles revisit those players. Look no further than last year’s addition of Patrick Robinson. The Birds had previously tried to sign him in past offseasons. I already mentioned some names like that above: Whitehead, Maclin, etc. Here’s one I didn’t already get to. Let me know if there are others I missed.
LB Paul Worrilow
The Eagles were reportedly interested in Worrilow last offseason. Philly wouldn’t be signing him as a starter as much as they’d be for linebacker depth and special teams help.