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PFF says there’s one free agent the Eagles must sign

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NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Every offseason, Pro Football Focus assembles a list of one free agent that every NFL team must sign.

Ryan Fitzpatrick was PFF’s “must sign” player for the Philadelphia Eagles last year. And, hey, had they signed him, they probably wouldn’t have lost to the Miami Dolphins!

This year, PFF suggests the Eagles should go after another former member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR Breshad Perriman

By the end of the season, the Eagles were running out wide receivers anyone recognized. Injuries did a number to the group, and one such injury to DeSean Jackson made it apparent that the Eagles were missing a downfield threat. No player had a higher average depth of target in 2019 than Perriman’s mark of 18.8 yards downfield, and he dropped just one of his 65 targets. By the end of the season, he was a legitimate No. 1 option in the Tampa Bay offense due to injuries. He seems to have put his career struggles behind him, and that should be enough to interest the Eagles.

PFF previously linked Perriman to the Eagles in their free agent prediction post. Here’s what we wrote at the time:

Perriman is another free agent with connections to Philly. Eagles vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl was still working for the Ravens when Baltimore selected Perriman with the No. 26 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. The Eagles also worked out Perriman in September 2018 but instead opted to re-sign Jordan Matthews.

Injuries contributed to Perriman being a big bust in Baltimore but he’s since rebounded. Perriman caught 16 of his 25 targets with the Cleveland Browns in 2018 for 340 yards (whopping 21.3 average) and two touchdowns. He planned to re-sign with the Browns before they traded for Odell Beckham Jr. and he backed out of his deal to instead join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Perriman logged 36 receptions for 645 yards (17.9 average) and six touchdowns last season.

Perriman is an intriguing free agent. He doesn’t turn 27 until September and he boasts an elite athletic profile with 4.24 speed at 6-2, 212 pounds.

The Eagles desperately need to get faster on offense and signing Perriman would help in that regard. His cost shouldn’t be too ridiculous given the lack of an extensive track record. Right mix of risk and upside.

On the note of “upside,” I’d like to add that Perriman had a real strong finish to the 2019 season. He logged 26 receptions for 550 yards and five touchdowns in his final six games. Perriman thrived in a No. 1 wide receiver role when both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin got injured towards the end of the year. Ergo, there’s evidence to believe he’s an ascending player.

BGN’s Michael Kist did a great job of profiling Perriman in even more detail within his post titled: “The Eagles should pursue Breshad Perriman.”

When it comes to the specific “must sign” angle, I think PFF has a fair point. The Eagles badly need at the receiver in position in general but they specifically need to add SPEED. There’s a decent chance they’ll be able to do as much through the 2020 NFL Draft ... but there’s no guarantee the right player(s) fall to them. Adding a legitimate burner via free agency gives the Eagles more flexibility in the draft.

Clearly, not everyone loves the risk associated with signing Perriman. A nice amount of Eagles fans DO want Howie Roseman to sign him but there’s some healthy skepticism out there.

The feeling here is that Perriman does indeed make sense for the Eagles. If/when DeSean Jackson gets hurt, the team will still have a legitimate deep threat in Perriman. And if Jackson stays healthy, well, even better. That’s two burners for opposing defenses to account for. Draft Justin Jefferson at No. 21 and then Carson Wentz has another intermediate weapon to work with as the speedsters open up things for the underneath passing game.

Who’s your one player the Eagles must sign in free agency? And then besides Byron Jones?

Elsewhere, PFF believes the Tennessee Titans must sign Vinny Curry.

With Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and Jack Conklin, the Titans have a whole lot of in-house money to worry about this offseason. That means any moves they look to make elsewhere probably will have to come on the value side of things, especially if they’re trying to retain all three of those players. Curry’s production flew under the radar with the Eagles this past season due to his rotational role, but on a per-snap basis, few edge defenders were better at pressuring the quarterback. Curry’s pressure rate of 16.8% was tied for fifth among all qualifying edge rushers, and he would bring some much-needed juice to the Titans’ pass rush.

They also think the San Francisco 49ers should take a chance on Ronald Darby.

The 49ers are another team that is tight on cap space and still has players to worry about re-signing, such as Emmanuel Sanders, Jimmie Ward and Arik Armstead. That means any outside additions will have to come in the value market, and Darby’s 2019 season should depreciate his value to the point that cap-strapped teams could take a chance on him. The Florida State product was one of the worst cornerbacks in the league last season, earning a coverage grade of 41.0 with the Eagles, but his history suggests that to be an outlier rather than the norm. In his four earlier seasons, Darby had never graded below 68.3. The 49ers could take a shot on him as their outside cornerback opposite Richard Sherman and hope that prior form returns.

PFF has the Seattle Seahawks targeting the aforementioned Jones while former Eagles guard Stefen Wisniewski is a suggested acquisition for the Minnesota Vikings.