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NFL Free Agency Preview: 69 players with connections to the Eagles [UPDATE]

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Some names to remember.

Indianapolis Colts v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

NOTE: This post has been updated to reflect recent news developments.


2020 NFL free agency begins in less than two weeks. The “legal tampering window” will open on Monday, March 16 before the new league year officially begins at 4:00 PM Eastern on Wednesday, March 18.

Unlike the past couple years, the Philadelphia Eagles are actually expected to be active in free agency this offseason. Howie Roseman set the table for some significant signings and it’s no secret that the team has money to spend with around $41.9 million in cap space. (The Eagles also have some avenues to free up even more funds.)

We’ll have to wait until mid-March for the Eagles’ signings to become official. In the meantime, we can use some clues to hone in on their likely targets.

As evidenced by their “cohabitation matrix,” the Eagles are very big on the concept of familiarity (and sometime to a fault). With that in mind, let’s take a look at some connections the Eagles have to this year’s crop of free agents. By using this method over the previous three years, I was able to identify eight players the Eagles would go on to sign. Let’s take a look at the names to keep an eye on this offseason.

Note that I am not including the Eagles’ own free agents (Jason Peters, Ronald Darby, etc.) on this list.

ANDY WEIDL - VP OF PLAYER PERSONNEL

This offseason marks the first one for the Eagles since Joe Douglas left to become the New York Jets’ general manager. Douglas’s former right hand man, Andy Weidl, has since replaced him in Philly. The Eagles signed four noteworthy players with connections to Douglas in 2017 and 2018 combined. Will Weidl wield clout the way that Douglas did? We’ll see.

WR Breshad Perriman

The Eagles originally brought Perriman to Philly for an official pre-draft visit leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft. Of course, that was when Chip Kelly and Ed Marynowitz were running player personnel. The Eagles passed on Perriman to instead select Nelson Agholor in the first round. Perriman was selected by the Ravens while Weidl was serving as an east regional scout for Baltimore. Perriman ended up being a big bust for the Ravens before they cut him in September 2018. The Eagles brought him to Philly for a workout back then but opted to sign Jordan Matthews instead. Perriman spent some time with the Cleveland Browns that year before having his best season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019. Perriman is a deep threat that the Eagles should be targeting in free agency.

DE Matt Judon

The Ravens are expected to franchise tag and trade their 2019 sack leader. While you might think the Eagles should be looking to invest major money into a pass rusher, I don’t think the team feels that way. They like what they have with Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett as the main two starters. Thus, I don’t see them giving up draft picks and paying big money to someone like Judon. Still noting his name here anyway.

DT Michael Pierce

The 6-0, 340 pound Pierce has served as a 3-4 nose tackle for the Ravens. He only has 3.5 sacks in 60 career games played so he’s clearly more of a run stuffer. The Eagles already have Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson lined up to start this season but the team needs to add depth behind those guys. Current backups Tim Jernigan and Hassan Ridgeway are slated to be free agents. Pierce could be a depth signing, though I think the Eagles should ideally be looking to add youth at defensive tackle through the 2020 NFL Draft.

LB Patrick Onwuasor

Onwuasor signed with the Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2016 NFL Draft. He emerged as a full-time starter in 2017 and 2018 and was slated to be C.J. Mosley’s replacement at middle linebacker in 2019. Onwuasor was eventually demoted with the Ravens signing L.J. Fort (after he was released by the Eagles) and Josh Bynes during the season last year, however. He shouldn’t be a priority signing for the Eagles but he could a fallback option if Philly strikes out on other free agent linebacker targets as they look to replace Nigel Bradham. Onwuasor turns 28 in August.

LB Josh Bynes

Speaking of Bynes, I originally wrote about him as a potential Eagles free agent target back in 2018. What I wrote at the time: “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.” Bynes turns 31 this summer ... I think the Eagles will be looking at younger options.

HOWIE ROSEMAN - EVP/GENERAL MANAGER

LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Previously wrote about Kwiatkoski as an option for the Eagles back in January. He could be a potential Bradham replacement.

Kwiatkoski is a player the Eagles showed a ton of interest in leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft. The team hosted him on an official pre-draft visit, they interviewed him at the Senior Bowl, they attended his pro day, and they put him through a private workout. Kwiatkoski ended up being selected in the fourth round, between a large gap from the Eagles’ third-round pick (Isaac Seumalo at No. 79) and the Eagles’ fifth-round pick (Wendell Smallwood at No. 153). Had the Eagles had a fourth-round selection, maybe Kwiatkoski would’ve been the pick. In any case, Kwiatkoski has had a limited role with the Chicago Bears since they’ve had talented inside linebackers in Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith. Kwiatkoski could be looking for a bigger role and the Eagles could offer that to the 26-year-old.

LB Joe Schobert

Schobert’s another player we previously profiled.

Joe Schobert is another player the Eagles showed some interest in leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft. The team sent linebackers coach Ken Flajole to Wisconsin’s pro day to scout him. Schobert ended up being selected by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round at No. 99 overall, which fell in that big gap between the Eagles’ picks. As is the case with Littleton, Schobert has a number of factors working in his favor. He’s young (doesn’t turn 27 until November), durable (only missed three games), experienced (49 starts), and very productive (408 tackles, 20 passes defensed, 8.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, six interceptions).

The thinking here is that Kwiatkoski could be a better overall value than Schobert. Betting on an ascending player as opposed to overpaying for past production.

LB Paul Worrilow

I mean, they’ve liked him enough to sign him each of the past two offseasons. Maybe the third time is the charm for the Wilmington, Delaware native?

LB Mychal Kendricks

Ha, nope.

LB Joe Walker

The Eagles had their 2016 seventh-round pick on their practice squad before the Arizona Cardinals signed him away early in 2018. I don’t think they’ll be bringing him back to Philly as anything more than a backup.

LB Najee Goode

Thanks for the goode memories but nope.

LB LaRoy Reynolds

Nope.

LB Christian Kirksey

UPDATE: The Eagles brought Kirksey, who was released by the Browns, to Philly for an official pre-draft visit in 2014. His injury history isn’t encouraging.

DE Yannick Ngakoue

The Eagles hosted Ngakoue on an official pre-draft visit in Philly. They also sent former defensive line coach Chris Wilson to attend his pro day. Going back to what I said about Judon, though, I don’t see the Eagles making a big splash at defensive end. Ngakoue should be the player the Eagles are interested in given he’s only 24 and he already has 37.5 career sacks. But the Jaguars are expected to franchise tag and trade him and I don’t think the Eagles will be the team dealing for him.

RB LeSean McCoy

The Eagles reportedly tried to trade for McCoy back in 2017. The Eagles also reportedly “reached out” to the Bills regarding McCoy’s availability prior to the 2018 trade deadline. The Eagles were reportedly one of four teams with “the strongest early interest” when McCoy was cut by the Bills in September 2019. But Shady signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, eventually winning a Super Bowl alongside his old coach in Andy Reid. Shady turns 32 this summer and was a healthy scratch for KC late last season. I don’t think the Eagles will be looking to re-sign their all-time leading rusher as they ideally try to get younger. Then again, NFL insider Mike Garafalo is saying he wouldn’t count out the Eagles bring Shady back to Philly.

RB Frank Gore

This former Eagles legend has no plans to retire despite turning 37 in May. I’d think the Eagles won’t be bringing him back to Philly but I will note they reportedly expressed interest in trading for Gore during the 2017 season.

RB Kenjon Barner

The Eagles will need a new punt returner with Darren Sproles retired but it probaly won’t be Barner, who turns 31 in April.

RB Wendell Smallwood

Moving on ...

WR Jordan Matthews

Bring him back for a fourth stint? I think not.

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. Latimer had his most productive season last year with the New York Giants: 24 receptions for 300 yards and two touchdowns.

WR Russell Shepard

The Eagles’ 2013 undrafted rookie free agent signing is still around. He had three receptons for 25 yards on the Giants last season.

WR Marcus Johnson (RFA)

This former Eagle had more receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns than JJ Arcega-Whiteside while playing with the Indianapolis Colts last year. The Colts will likely retain him given his status as a restricted free agent. If they don’t, though, it wouldn’t hurt to bring him back to compete for a roster spot. He’s only 25.

TE Blake Jarwin (RFA)

The Eagles tried to sign Jarwin away from the Cowboys’ practice squad in 2017. Dallas recently tendered him at the second-round level so the Eagles obviously won’t be signing him.

OG Stefen Wisniewski

Wis had a bad offseason with the Eagles last year before rebounding on the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs. He should garner some level of interest on the market but it won’t be from Philly.

OG Josh Andrews

The Eagles could afford to add some more depth at center and Andrews has familiarity with Philly’s scheme. He turns 29 this summer, though, so it’s not like there’s a ton of upside here.

RT Dennis Kelly

Kelly and Dorial Green-Beckham have the same amount of receiving touchdowns (2) since they were traded for each other in 2016. Kelly likely won’t be coming back to the Eagles. The Titans might try to make him their starting right tackle if/when Jack Conklin walks in free agency.

DE Steven Means

Means turns 30 in September and is coming off an Achilles injury. He could provide some depth to the defensive end rotation. UPDATE: Means re-signed with the Falcons.

DE Michael Bennett

The Eagles wanted to move on from Bennett last year. A reunion isn’t in the cards. Bennett turns 35 this season.

DT Beau Allen

Here’s a former Eagles player who might actually land back in Philly. Honey Beau Beau could return as a solid third or fourth defensive tackle if the Eagles see both Jernigan and Ridgeway leave in free agency. Would be great to have him back in the locker room.

DT Damion Square

Did you know this 2013 Eagles undrafted rookie free agent signing is still in the league? Square has managed to play in 75 games, most with the Chargers. He turned 31 earlier this month so the Eagles aren’t really going to be itching to bring him back.

DT Domata Peko

The Eagles were rumored to be interested in Peko during the 2017 offseason. I don’t think they’ll be signing the 35-year-old.

DT Akeem Spence

The Eagles signed him to their roster after Malik Jackson got hurt in Week 1 last year. And then cut him after their blowout loss in Dallas.

DT Treyvon Hester (RFA)

The Eagles’ playoff hero that begat the Double Doink is available as a restricted free agent. If Washington doesn’t tender him, it wouldn’t hurt to bring Hester back to Philly. UPDATE: Washington is not expected to tender Hester.

CB Daryl Worley

Worley’s set to be a free agent for the first time since the Eagles cut him after he was arrested in April 2018. The Eagles need corner help, but ... don’t count on a reunion.

CB De’Vante Bausby (RFA)

Big Baus isn’t an answer for Philly.

S Andrew Sendejo

Lol, nope.

S Jaylen Watkins

Watkins turned 28 in November, has some safety/corner versatility, and can help on special teams. Not impossible the Eagles could sign him to a minimum deal but I think they’ll pass.

S Kurt Coleman

The last player selected in Roseman’s first draft class turns 32 this summer. Don’t think the Eagles are itching to bring him back.

DOUG PEDERSON - HEAD COACH

QB Chase Daniel

Pederson was Daniel’s offensive coordinator for three seasons in KC before Daniel followed Pederson to Philly for the 2016 campaign. I think the Eagles will be going a different route at backup quarterback but maybe the two sides reunite if they both lack better alternatives.

FB Anthony Sherman

When will the Eagles realize they’re never going to win a Super Bowl without having a fullback? On a more serious note, the Denver Broncos utilized fullback Andy Janovich on 13% of their offensive snaps last year. That’s noteworthy since former Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello could bring some Kyle Shanahan concepts to Philly as the Eagles’ new senior offensive assistant. But I think the Eagles would just have Dallas Goedert or Alex Ellis serve as a fullback as opposed to paying to acquire one.

RB Spencer Ware

Don’t see the Eagles adding him but he overlapped with Doug in KC in 2015.

JIM SCHWARTZ - DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR

Remember, Schwartz’s role over the Eagles’ personnel is not insignificant.

OT LaAdrian Waddle

With Peters and Halapoulivaati Vaitai potentially set to leave in free agency, the Eagles will need a new swing tackle behind Andre Dillard and Lane Johnson. Jordan Mailata and Matt Pryor have upside and might be able fill that role but it could make sense to add some veteran competition. The 28-year-old Waddle has tackle/guard versatility and 31 starts in 61 games played. Eight of those starts came as an undrafted rookie on Schwartz’s Lions in 2013.

DE Ezekiel Ansah

If the Eagles don’t retain Vinny Curry, perhaps they’d like to bring add another veteran to their defensive end group. Schwartz’s Detroit Lions selected Ansah with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Injury issues have plagued Ansah the past two seasons as he’s missed 14 total games. It’s possible the 31-year-old is just cooked. But if you’re talking yourself into him, he’s only a few years removed from his 12 sack season in 2017. He could be a relative bargain as a contributor off the bench in the old Chris Long role.

LB Preston Brown

Schwartz trusted Brown enough to have him start 14 games for the Buffalo Bills as a rookie in 2014. The Eagles haven’t shown any interest in Brown when he’s been available in recent years but the team has a bigger need at middle linebacker than ever with Bradham gone. Brown only turns 28 this season so he shouldn’t be running out of gas. Like the aforementioned Onwuasor, Brown could be a fallback option at linebacker.

DT Ndamukong Suh

Schwartz’s Lions picked Suh at No. 2 overall back in 2010 but I don’t think we’ll be seeing a reunion in Philly. The Eagles are already paying big money to Cox and Jackson. If the 33-year-old was willing to play for relatively cheap and take a backup role, sure, but I don’t think that’ll be the case.

LB Tahir Whitehead

UPDATE: Whitehead has ties to both Schwartz and Burke but he’s not an ideal target for the Eagles.

RICH SCANGARELLO - SENIOR OFFENSIVE ASSISTANT

WR Emmanuel Sanders

Sanders and Scangarello overlapped for seven games in Denver last year before the 49ers acquired him ahead of the trade deadline. Sanders is definitely a good player but I think the Eagles should and will be looking at other options than this 33-year-old.

RB Theo Riddick

Riddick logged 101 total touches with the Broncos last season. I can’t see the Eagles adding him since they already have Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. Riddick did also overlap with Schwartz in Detroit in 2013.

QB Brandon Allen (RFA)

Allen did some good things in his first NFL start last season before really struggling. He only completed 46.4% (yikes!) of his attempts for a 68.3 passer rating. The Broncos can easily retain Allen if they want since he’s a restricted free agent. If he’s not tendered, though, the Eagles could bring him in as a camp arm.

MARQUAND MANUEL - DEFENSIVE BACKS COACH

CB Desmond Trufant

UPDATE: The Falcons are reportedly releasing Trufant.

Trufant overlapped with newly hired Eagles defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel for four seasons in Atlanta. Manuel was the Falcons’ secondary coach from 2015 though 2016 before moving up to defensive coordinator from 2017 through 2018. Trufant’s sole Pro Bowl season came when Manuel was his position coach in 2015.

LB De’Vondre Campbell

Previously wrote about this guy:

Campbell played for new Eagles defensive backs coach and former Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel in Atlanta (2016 through 2018). Campbell often hasn’t graded out well in coverage by Pro Football Focus’s standards, so, that’s a concern. The 26-year-old does have plenty of experience under his belt with 54 career starts.

DE Adrian Clayborn

Clayborn overlapped with Manuel in Atlanta from 2015 through 2017. Clayborn enjoyed his most productive season when he posted 9.5 sacks in 2017. Of course, six of those sacks came in one game when he dominated a Dallas Cowboys team that was missing Tyron Smith. Clayborn could be an option if the Eagles are looking to add a veteran to the pass rush rotation. He turns 32 in July.

MATT BURKE - RUN GAME COORDINATOR/DEFENSIVE LINE COACH

LB Neville Hewitt

Hewitt signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He started five games in 2016 when Burke was his linebackers coach. Hewitt logged zero starts and only played six games when Burke was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2017. Hewitt most recently started 12 games for the New York Jets in 2019. The 26-year-old graded out poorly by PFF’s standards but he might be on the Eagles’ radar.

CB Walt Aikens

Aikens has mostly been a special teamer since entering the league in 2014. He has corner and safety versatility and overlapped with Burke in Miami for three seasons. Maybe the 28-year-old could be the Eagles’ new version of Chris Maragos?

SCOT MCCLOUGHAN - FRONT OFFICE CONSULTANT

In case you missed it back in January, Jimmy Kempski reported former Washington’s general manager has been a consultant for the Eagles (among other NFL teams). This has been evidenced by the Eagles’ interest in former Washington players such as Nate Sudfeld and Matt Jones.

CB Kendall Fuller

The Eagles don’t really need a slot corner ... unless they move Avonte Maddox to safety? It’s worth noting the Eagles have been curiously linked to some veteran nickel free agent targets (more on those names later). Maybe the Eagles plan to move one of those guys to safety? If that’s the case, Fuller could be another name in consideration. He started to get traditional safety looks late during the 2019 season. Fuller only turned 25 in February and he could come with a strong endorsement from McCloughan, who selected him in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Eagles could obviously have a need at safety with Malcolm Jenkins demanding a new contract and Rodney McLeod set to be a free agent.

CB Josh Norman

Nah. Norman, who turns 33 this year, simply couldn’t run with guys last season. Not so suprising for a guy who entered the league with 4.66 speed (5th percentile).

RUMORED INTEREST

CB Byron Jones

There are approximately eleventy billion rumors linking Jones to the Eagles. [You can click here to read them all.] Acquiring him won’t be cheap but the Eagles are desperate for a solution at corner and Jones checks all the boxes.

CB Chris Harris

The Eagles were originally linked to Harris Jr. prior to last season’s NFL trade deadline before it happened again back in January. NFL insider Jason La Canfora also recently suggested the Eagles could sign both Jones and CHJ.

CB Logan Ryan

Tony Pauline wrote the following back in January: “Several people tell me Logan Ryan will be in play for the Eagles and it makes sense. He grew up right outside of Philadelphia, he’d be a terrific fit from a scheme and personality point of view and he may be slightly less expensive than Byron Jones.”

LB Cory Littleton

WR Robby Anderson

The Eagles tried to acquire Anderson ahead of the 2018 NFL trade deadline. The guess here is that Anderson’s price tag will be more than what the Eagles want to pay but he will be on their radar.

WR Amari Cooper

The Eagles also tried to acquire Cooper ahead of the 2018 NFL trade deadline. They only offered a second-round pick while the Dallas Cowboys offered a first-round selection. There’s been some buzz about the Eagles signing Cooper but I think Dallas retains him.

WR Demarcus Robinson

The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane said the Eagles have Robinson “in their sights.” The Eagles also bought Robinson to Philly for an official pre-draft visit in 2016. There are more preferable free agent receiver additions than Robinson, in my view.

OG Brett Jones

The Eagles were rumored to have interest in Jones last offseason. Signing the veteran could boost the team’s interior offensive line depth.

DE Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney reportedly had interest in playing for the Eagles before the Houston Texans traded him. I don’t know that Clowney has interest in playing for the Eagles now after calling Philly fans the worst in the world. And I don’t know if the Eagles are so keen on paying big money to the dude that cheap-shotted Carson Wentz in the back of the head.

LB Jamie Collins

The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane said the Eagles picked between signing Collins and Zach Brown last year. Brown lasted six games in Philly while Collins logged 81 tackles, seven sacks, seven passes defensed, three interceptions, three forced fumbles, and one defensive touchdown with the New England Patriots. Seems safe to say the Eagles made the wrong choice. Collins turns 31 this year so he might be older than what the team is now looking for.

S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

HHCD was one of six players the Eagles were realistically targeting at No. 22 in the 2014 NFL Draft. (The others were Odell Beckham Jr., C.J. Mosley, Kyle Fuller, Brandin Cooks, and Anthony Barr.) When HHCD went off to the board to the Green Bay Packers at No. 21, the Eagles immediately traded down ... and eventually selected Marcus Smith (yikes). The Eagles will now have a chance to get HHCD if they still want him. He could be a reasonably priced replacement if McLeod isn’t re-signed.

S DeAndre Houston-Carson

The Eagles tried to sign him off the Chicago Bears’ practice squad in 2017. His defensive playing experience is limited but he could be a backup safety in the Maragos mold. DHC led the Bears in special teams tackles in 2017 and finished second in 2018.

S Devin McCourty

The Eagles were really interested in signing McCourty back in 2015. Roseman wasn’t in charge back then, of course, but it seemed like Jeffrey Luri was on board with paying McCourty a ton of money. If the Eagles can’t find a way to make things work with Jenkins, the 32-year-old McCourty could be a replacement.

POTENTIAL CAP CASUALITIES

QB Joe Flacco

Some have speculated the Eagles could sign Flacco to be Wentz’s backup if/when the Broncos cut the former Super Bowl MVP. Weidl could definitely have interest in adding Flacco given their Ravens ties. But I don’t think Scangarello — who was openly criticized by Flacco last season — wants to see the veteran quarterback in Philly. And even if he does, Flacco probably doesn’t want to work with Scangarello again.

S Reshad Jones

The Dolphins can cut their two-time Pro Bowl safety to save $7.5 million. One of those two Pro Bowls came when Burke was Miami’s defensive coordinator in 2017. Signing the 32-year-old could make sense for Philly if Jenkins isn’t retained. UPDATE: The Dolphins released Jones.

S Keanu Neal

I’ve seen some scuttlebutt that the Falcons could move on from their 2016 first-round pick. If they do, Neal might want to reunite with Manuel, his former secondary coach and defensive coodinator in Atlanta. Injury issues have limited Neal to just four games over the past two years but he only turns 25 in July. Could be worth a look.