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Three trade targets to bolster the Eagles linebacker depth

Will Howie Roseman access his Buffalo pipeline again?

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The question is not “is Howie Roseman done making moves?” The question is “is Howie Roseman ever done making moves?” The answer is no. Always looking to improve the roster, Roseman is likely zeroing in on one area of need to bolster.

It’s no secret that the the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles have a depth problem at linebacker. Newly acquired Paul Worrilow went down for the season with a torn ACL, Jordan Hicks has never been able to stay healthy, and Mychal Kendricks was cut after his trade market dried up. Behind them is the unproven but appealing Corey Nelson, a young safety convert in Nathan Gerry, and a couple special teamers looking to finally steal some meaningful snaps. Here are three names that Roseman could be considering bringing in to Philadelphia.

RAMON HUMBER (Buffalo Bills)

The Eagles have a pipeline through Buffalo and the Bills have two linebackers that are enticing. The first is Tanner Vallejo, the second year Boise State product. Vallejo’s game against BYU in 2016 was one of the best linebacker tapes I watched from that class. Unfortunately, Vallejo is seeing snaps at all three linebacker spots this off-season and is likely to play a bigger role due to his coverage skills.

That brings me to the journeyman Humber. Having kicked around the league with the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, Humber stuck with the Bills and earned a second one-year contract. That contract is cheap though, coming with a $720,000 cap number that won’t scare away potential suitors.

Humber received the most starts of his career (9) with the Bills last year and played solid against the run and decent in coverage. What could make acquiring him sticky is the health of the underrated Matt Milano. He’s been struggling with a groin injury this off-season and Humber will be filling in for him until Milano can return to full health. Still, Humber is a low-cost veteran with the potential to be a solid spot starter who isn’t a total liability in the passing game.

JARED NORRIS III (Carolina Panthers)

The Carolina Panthers are deeper than a shepherd’s pie at linebacker and thus possess a pair of potential trade targets.

At 6’1” 241 pounds, Norris tested poorly at the NFL Combine but for a player that makes his hay with instincts, it was to be expected. Essentially he is two-down one-down linebacker that provides depth and can contribute on special teams. He’s experienced in the latter, taking 474 specialty snaps in his two years in the league.

From Lance Zierlein’s report on

“Norris isn’t a plus athlete, but he has enough athleticism within the context of what he has to do on the field. His instincts help to guide him around the field, but he doesn’t have the technique or speed to be a high­-end playmaker… has the potential to become an average starter down the road.”

DAVID MAYO (Carolina Panthers)

Mayo enters his fourth year in the league and has increased his snap totals on defense and special teams each year. The former 2015 NFL Draft 5th round selection is another two-down one-down linebacker, lacking the athleticism to hold up in coverage. His contribution would come on run downs, where he racked up big numbers in college at Texas State. Named the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Mayo tallied 154 tackles as a senior.

Standing out in the Panthers 2017 Week 2 preseason showdown with the Tennessee Titans, Mayo caught the eye of the folks over at Pro Football Focus.

“Trying to solidify his roster spot, Mayo had a solid outing, particularly in coverage. Targeted twice, he gave up just one reception for six yards and came away with a pass breakup. He made an impact against the run too, and finished the game with four of his seven solo tackles resulting in a defensive stop.”

As an aside, when working through the depth charts around the league I saw one longshot on the Detroit Lions that I absolutely loved. Last year fourth round rookie linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin badly outplayed 2017 NFL Draft 21st overall selection Jarrad Davis and that’s not being hyperbolic in the least. If the Lions sit him behind the newly acquired Devon Kennard, I’d be all for making a phone call. Then again, Brandon Graham would be a great fit for Detroit just-kidding-calm-down-I’ll-show-myself-out.

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