Forget the Carson Wentz trade.
The REAL big news this week is that the Philadelphia Eagles are apparently having Genard Avery change positions from defensive end to linebacker. Professional athlete trainer Rischad Whitfield revealed as much on Friday afternoon:
The BEST News I heard all week! The Philadelphia Eagles are moving @AveryGenard to Linebacker this season. My dog should’ve been playing LB in the 1st place. Anyhow, proper preparation been on GO for Genard. #BirdGang pic.twitter.com/xJnICVxHZo— Footwork_King (@footwork_king1) February 19, 2021
A position change for Avery does make sense since he was one of the — if not THE — smallest defensive ends in the NFL at just 6’0”, 250 pounds. For perspective, that’s not too far off from T.J. Edwards, who measures in at 6’1”, 242 pounds.
Avery played off-ball linebacker in college at Memphis but BGN’s Benjamin Solak noted that he was “miscast” in that role. Avery had some rookie success as a pass rusher with the Cleveland Browns but then fell out of favor with a defensive scheme change in 2018.
The Eagles curiously traded their 2021 fourth-round pick to acquire Avery ahead of the 2019 NFL trade deadline. The coaching staff briefly used him as a stand-up interior rusher in the JOKER role in addition to simply having him line up on the edge. He failed to earn regular playing time in Jim Schwartz’s defense, though with just 159 total snaps played.
Perhaps a position change will help Avery, who turns 26 in April, be more impactful. Both sides benefit from taking a stab at it. Avery is in a contract year and the Eagles desperately need help at linebacker. In a best-case scenario, maybe new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon — who used to work for the Minnesota Vikings — transforms Avery into the Eagles’ version of Anthony Barr?
It’s far from guaranteed a position switch will magically unlock Avery, though. He’s going to be making the transition under a new position coach (Nick Rallis) who is less than two years older than him.