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What the Eagles should do at linebacker

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Eagles roster outlook: position-by-position.

Philadelphia Eagles v New Orleans Saints Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The 2019 NFL offseason has begun for the Philadelphia Eagles, which means Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the 2018 roster. It’s time to start figuring out what this team needs to do to get back to the Super Bowl. Today we’ll continue this roster outlook series by looking at the linebacker position.

THE PLAYERS

NIGEL BRADHAM

Regular season stats: 919 defensive snaps, 7 special teams snaps, 67 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 passes defensed

Playoff stats: 12 tackles, 2 passes defensed

Review: The Eagles re-signed Bradham to a five-year, $40 million contract worth $8 million guaranteed back in March 2018. He missed Week 1 due to suspension but he started and played in all of Philly’s remaining games after that. Statistically, Bradham’s 2018 performance wasn’t all that different from 2017. Anecdotally, it felt like Bradham wasn’t quite AS good as he was last year. He was a monster in the Bears playoff game. But he was also a liability in the Saints playoff game. So, there were ups and downs last season. Pro Football Focus graded Bradham 35th out of 96 linebackers, for what it’s worth.

Outlook: Bradham could potentially take over as the Eagles’ full-time starting middle linebacker, depending on what happens with Hicks. We know he has the ability to do that. But maybe not. Either way, he’ll be a starter once again in 2019. It’d be nice if he could finish next season with more than zero interceptions and zero forced fumbles.

Poll

Nigel Bradham: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 97%
    Stay
    (3597 votes)
  • 2%
    Go
    (98 votes)
3695 votes total Vote Now

JORDAN HICKS

Regular season stats: 705 defensive snaps, 47 special teams snaps, 91 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 passes defensed

Playoff stats: 9 tackles

Review: Hicks was able to start in Week 1 despite suffering an Achilles injury in October 2018. He remained in the starting lineup until hurting his calf in Week 11. Hicks missed four games before returning to the field. Not unlike Bradham, Hicks’ 2018 season wasn’t very memorable.

Outlook: Hicks is going to be a free agent and I don’t think it’s likely the Eagles will keep him. Signing him to a long-term deal is risky considering he’s played in just 43 out of 64 possible regular season games since being drafted in 2015. Hicks also hasn’t logged a single interception or forced fumble in the past two seasons. If Hicks’ market dries up, it could make sense for him to return to Philly on a one-year deal. But I think some other team in free agency will throw more money at him than the Eagles are comfortable paying. It’ll be a shame to see Hicks go because he was once such a promising talent early in his career. You have to wonder if the injury issues have sapped Simba’s power to some extent.

Poll

Jordan Hicks: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Stay
    (2014 votes)
  • 45%
    Go
    (1700 votes)
3714 votes total Vote Now

KAMU GRUGIER-HILL

Regular season stats: 328 defensive snaps, 343 special teams snaps, 45 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception, 2 passes defensed

Review: With the Eagles cutting Mychal Kendricks (remember when some thought that was a big deal?), Grugier-Hill was given the opportunity to compete for the weakside linebacker role. He stepped up in the offseason and earned that role. Grugier-Hill was also named the team’s special teams captain before the season. It was nice to see Kamu take a step forward as a defensive contributor in 2018.

Outlook: Grugier-Hill will likely retain his role as special teams captain and weakside linebacker heading into 2019.

Poll

Kamu Grugier-Hill: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 95%
    Stay
    (3417 votes)
  • 4%
    Go
    (179 votes)
3596 votes total Vote Now

NATHAN GERRY

Regular season stats: 134 defensive snaps, 257 special teams snaps, 23 tackles, 1 interception, 2 passes defensed

Playoff stats: 1 tackle

Review: The Eagles’ 2017 fifth-round pick was given a shot to win the WILL job but he got beat out by Grugier-Hill. Gerry still received some playing time when either Bradham or Hicks was out. He did pick off Mark Sanchez but he mostly never showed much that made you feel confident about him being a full-time starter.

Outlook: Maybe the Eagles think he can handle a bigger role but it’s probably best that he remains as a backup linebacker/special teams guy.

Poll

Nathan Gerry: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Stay
    (1967 votes)
  • 40%
    Go
    (1360 votes)
3327 votes total Vote Now

LAROY REYNOLDS

Regular season stats: 5 defensive snaps, 358 special teams snaps

Review: The Eagles signed Reynolds in mid-May. He won a spot on the roster as a backup linebacker/special teams contributor. He brought energy to Dave Fipp’s unit but he was also overzealous at times, finishing the season with three penalties.

Outlook: Reynolds is going to be a free agent. It wouldn’t hurt to bring him back on a minimum deal but it’s not like there’s a rush to do so, either.

Poll

LaRoy Reynolds: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Stay
    (804 votes)
  • 71%
    Go
    (2022 votes)
2826 votes total Vote Now

D.J. ALEXANDER

Regular season stats: 237 special teams snaps

Review: The Eagles claimed Alexander via waivers after final cuts in September. He missed four games due to injury and only contributed on special teams when he did play.

Outlook: Alexander is going to be a free agent. It wouldn’t hurt to bring him back on a minimum deal but it’s not like there’s a rush to do so, either. He’s more of a dedicated special teams player than an actual linebacker.

Poll

D.J. Alexander: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Stay
    (888 votes)
  • 66%
    Go
    (1767 votes)
2655 votes total Vote Now

B.J. BELLO

Regular season stats: 46 special teams snaps

Review: The Eagles signed Bello to their practice squad in mid-October. They promoted him to the active roster in mid-December. He only played on special teams.

Outlook: Bello will compete for a roster spot this summer.

Poll

B.J. Bello: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Stay
    (420 votes)
  • 82%
    Go
    (1920 votes)
2340 votes total Vote Now

PAUL WORRILOW

Review: The Eagles signed Worrilow to a one-year deal in April 2018. He suffered a season-ending ACL injury on the first day of OTAs. Just bad luck.

Outlook: The Eagles already re-signed Worrilow to another one-year deal. He’ll have a chance to compete for a backup spot at linebacker. The combination of his NFL experience and position versatility should give him an edge. He can also contribute on special teams.

Poll

Paul Worrilow: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 84%
    Stay
    (2266 votes)
  • 15%
    Go
    (403 votes)
2669 votes total Vote Now

ASANTAY BROWN

Review: The Eagles signed Brown as a rookie free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft. He was hurt for most of the offseason but the Eagles kept him around on their practice squad anyway.

Outlook: Brown will compete for a roster spot this summer.

Poll

Asantay Brown: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Stay
    (654 votes)
  • 67%
    Go
    (1354 votes)
2008 votes total Vote Now

ALEX SINGLETON

Review: The Eagles signed this former CFL star to a reserve/future contract following the 2018 season.

Outlook: Singleton is probably a long shot to make the team but it could be fun to watch him compete for a roster spot.

Poll

Alex Singleton: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Stay
    (590 votes)
  • 68%
    Go
    (1274 votes)
1864 votes total Vote Now

FREE AGENCY OR TRADES

If the Eagles don’t retain Hicks, they’ll need a new starting linebacker alongside Bradham. One free agent with a connection to the Eagles is Bradham’s former teammate, Preston Brown. Jim Schwartz trusted Brown enough to have the rookie start 14 games at linebacker for the Bills in 2014. He remained as a full-time in Buffalo before joining the Bengals as a free agent on a one-year, $5 million deal worth $2 million guaranteed in 2018. Cincinnati placed Brown on injured reserve in late November due to a knee injury. With the Bengals bringing in a new coaching staff, the 26-year-old Brown could be looking for a new home that offers familiarity. The Eagles might be able to get him on a one-year, “prove it” deal.

I’m sure the Eagles wouldn’t mind having top free agent linebacker C.J. Mosley but not at what he’d cost.

NFL DRAFT OPTIONS

The Eagles value linebacker all that highly. They’ve mostly used two linebacker sets since Schwartz has been coaching the defense. With that in mind, I can’t see them sinking major resources into the position. They could be looking to draft a linebacker on Day 3.