The Philadelphia Eagles released veteran linebacker L.J. Fort in order to make room for the Orlando Scandrick re-signing, according to an official announcement from the team.
We already discussed the Scandrick development but cutting Fort deserves a separate conversation.
The Eagles originally signed Fort shortly after 2019 NFL free agency began. Howie Roseman called the former Steelers linebacker a “target free agent.” Those weren’t just empty words considering the Eagles signed Fort to a three-year, $5.5 million contract worth $1.9 million guaranteed.
Fort was expected to challenge for defensive playing time in addition to contributing on special teams. Not unlike Corey Nelson last year, however, Fort failed to emerge as an important contributor. Fort didn’t even log a single defensive snap through four regular season games; he only played on special teams. 75 special teams snaps, to be exact ... third most on the roster.
By cutting Fort, the Eagles are potentially gaining a selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Fort signing was previously counting against their compensatory pick formula, as seen below (chart via Over The Cap):
Fort will no longer count against the formula since he’s been cut.
By cutting LJ Fort, the Eagles pick up a 4th round 2020 compensatory pick for one of either Golden Tate or Jordan Hicks, and simultaneously take off the board the Steelers' 3rd round 2020 comp pick for Le'Veon Bell. https://t.co/n4LThiDKpa— Nick Korte (@nickkorte) September 27, 2019
And so the Eagles are now projected to have NINE picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.
EAGLES 2020 NFL DRAFT PICKS
(3rd round - projected compensatory pick)
(4th round - projected compensatory pick)
5th round (from New England Patriots)
7th round (from Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Releasing Fort means the Eagles are now down to five linebackers on the 53-man roster: Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Zach Brown, Nathan Gerry, and T.J. Edwards. The return of Grugier-Hill and the emergence of Edwards, an undrafted rookie free agent, ultimately made Fort expendable.
The Fort signing ended up being a flop but at least the Eagles were wise enough to not let it cost them a compensatory pick. The Eagles could gain one more compensatory pick by releasing Andrew Sendejo before Week 10 ... but he’s actually playing significant defensive snaps for this team so it’s hard to count on that happening.
Philly it has been a pleasure, first class organization! ✊— L.J. Fort (@i_Serve24) September 27, 2019