You might want to look away if you’re prone to grow weary with the many mentions of this player or that player being on the Philadelphia Eagles radar. These days, someone can make an argument for Tom Brady coming out of retirement and leading the Birds to a second Vince Lombardi Trophy if you’re not careful, but things are different when March rolls around.
The free agency period can feel like Christmas came in the springtime if your team hits the jackpot, and with draft capital and money to spend, there’s some excitement in the Eagles’ fan base that this could be a huge offseason.
Everyone’s talking about how the Birds might utilize those three first-round picks that they have, but before we arrive at the end of April, we’ll get a good look at how creative vice president/general manager Howie Roseman can be with more financial flexibility than he’s had as of late.
There are also some of the game’s best content creators to listen to. They’ve added plenty of fuel to the fire. Take Pro Football Focus for instance, they haven’t been shy about making their guesses about who might end up where, and recently, they gave Eagles fans plenty to discuss.
How might Justin Houston and D.J. Reed look in Eagles jerseys?
Recently, Arjun Menon took the time to update one of PFF’s lists detailing what their thoughts are on where the top 50 impending free agents might land. The Eagles are expected to move on from Derek Barnett and Ryan Kerrigan, leaving holes at the EDGE position. Also, at the time of this story being written, they’ve made no attempt to extend veteran cornerback Steven Nelson.
Still, if Menon is right and Philly has a shot at landing defensive end Justin Houston and cornerback D.J. Reed, you won’t hear any complaints from the Eagles faithful. He mentions the Eagles as the best landing spot for both players. Here’s what he offered as his defense.
We begin with some of his theory on a possible Houston addition.
"Houston is one of those edge rushers who is better than the public’s perception… Even at 32 years old, he recorded 45 pressures and 4.5 sacks… The Eagles make a lot of sense for Houston, as they are an analytically-minded team that probably understands the value of pressure numbers. Houston’s pressures are usually above average for his position. Houston can provide quality depth as a rotational pass-rusher."
Here’s the skinny on D.J. Reed.
"After getting cut by the 49ers, Reed went to the division-rival Seahawks and immediately flourished. In 2021, Reed finished with a 78.6 PFF grade, sixth-best in the NFL. He’s primarily spent time in zone-heavy schemes, which is why the Eagles make a lot of sense as a landing spot. Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon runs a relatively basic scheme that plays a lot of zone coverage. This can help to mask some of Reed’s weaknesses, which includes his lack of height (5-foot-9)."
Here’s some instant analysis for you.
It’s going to be hard to sell the idea of paying top-dollar for an EDGE rusher that’s over 30 to the Philly faithful. Think about it. Brandon Graham, if he returns, will be 34 when the season starts, and Fletcher Cox will turn 32 during the season.
This fan base is still scarred by the ghosts of an aging Kerrigan and the bust that was Derek Barnett. No one wants to see this team field one of the oldest defensive lines in football. Sure, Houston is a four-time Pro Bowler, but he hasn’t made the NFL’s all-star team since 2015 or earned an All-Pro nod since 2014.
As far as Reed goes, as Menon mentioned, he’s five-foot-nine. This team is looking for a complement to Darius Slay on the outside, and if they’re looking to upgrade after fielding Steven Nelson for a year, Reed isn’t that. It’s hard to imagine him lining up versus some of the bigger outside receivers in the game, but hey, we’re still in February. Things can change between now and March 16th.
A lot can change between now and a few weeks from now, but as the final days run out on 2022’s second month, we’ll give Menon a C for effort. We’ll keep our eyes peeled and see what PFF comes up with on the next go-around.