Pay attention because this is going to move quickly. For the uninitiated, here’s a roundup. Ahead of Super Bowl 57, Jonathan Gannon boarded a plane from the City of Brotherly Love to Arizona, and that wound up being a one-way ticket. After the Philadelphia Eagles lost football’s biggest game to the Kansas City Chiefs, he never returned.
J.G. is now the Cardinals’ head coach. Sean Desai was hired to replace him, but the Birds still have to fill the defensive backs coach vacancy.
Last Sunday, Philly parted ways with a favorite among the players. After two seasons, Dennard Wilson is no longer with the organization.
Fingers are crossed as we hope Desai gets everyone to buy in quickly because you can best believe allowing Wilson to walk wasn’t the most popular decision among some of the players in the locker room.
Credit guys like Darius Slay though. Before being mentioned as a possible trade piece and in conjunction with rumors that Philly was interested in a former nemesis to fill their then-vacant linebacker coach’s chair, he backed the hire of Desai publicly. That’s exactly the type of energy this team needs.
The Eagles approach the new league year with 20 impending free agents. Many of them were key contributors and/or defensive starters last season. Expect this unit to look a lot different in 2023 than it did in 2022, but if vice president/general manager Howie Roseman can make some magic happen, this could be another phenomenal offseason. We know it will be intriguing.
Sean Desai won’t complain if the Eagles hung on to some of last year’s stars or if added a premier free agent.
Let’s discuss the in-house guys and dream signings. Then, we’ll get into more of the potential bargain signings.
In-house players that appear to be leaving
You never know with this stuff. What if the Eagles found another franchise to take on Darius Slay’s massive cap number? In a passing league, teams always need cover guys, right? Can you imagine what Howie Roseman could do with another $26.1 million? That would help keep at least one or two starters that are believed to be headed elsewhere.
James Bradberry, cornerback
We’ve spent so much time discussing James Bradberry leaving and Darius Slay returning for another season that we failed to mention that, if the Birds trade Bradberry, there’s a good chance that James doesn’t have to go anywhere.
C.J. Gardner-Johnson, safety
C.J. Gardner-Johnson is so talented and versatile that questions have been asked about why the New Orleans Saints let him out of the door (and why Philadelphia would make that same mistake by doing the same thing). This fan favorite appears to be headed elsewhere next season, but you never know. Things can change.
Javon Hargrave, defensive tackle
Javon Hargrave is going to get paid somewhere, and his number is going to be huge. There were questions about whether or not he’d get paid by Philly. In the end, it appears his next deal will wind up being more than what Philadelphia wants to pay.
The popular outside guys
Every year, we all look at the top guys and tell ourselves “it would be nice if the Eagles had enough money”. Heck, we don’t know who the Eagles are hanging on to and allowing the opportunity to walk and explore the free agent market, but if Howie Roseman could wave his magic wand here, we’d be ecstatic.
Jamel Dean, CB
Jamel Dean is the best combination of youth and talent in this free agency class, but in all honesty, it may be less expensive to try and keep Bradberry around.
Jessie Bates, safety
It’s time to dust off those Jessie Bates fantasies from last season as it appears the Cincinnati Bengals won’t franchise him. This is might be the lone safety worth letting C.J. walk for. Yes, we rank Gardner-Johnson slightly ahead of
Byron Murphy, CB
Byron Murphy might be ranked slightly above James Bradberry in the minds of some. Part of the reason for that is he’s almost five years younger.
Taylor Rapp, safety
Taylor Rapp is absolutely fantastic and has a chance of getting even better. He’s only 25 years old.
Dalvin Tomlinson, DT,
Dalvin Tomlinson wouldn’t be cheap, but he’d probably be less expensive than Javon Hargrave. He’s on the verge of turning 30, but that won’t be until next February.
The Eagles could find some value in being patient and waiting. Here are some guys that might wind up being available if they do.
Here are a few guys that might be available once those top-tier guys are no longer available… The keywords in there are “might be”.
Possible value signings
Jot these names down if you haven’t already. All could be immediate contributors in Eagles jerseys.
Ryan Neal, safety
Is it just us, or is Ruan Neal all of a sudden one of the better safeties in football? The light bulb has come on, and he’s flipped the switch.
Anthony Walker, LB
Anthony Walker missed all but three games last season. He’s terrific in coverage, and his return from injury could mean he can be acquired at a discounted rate.
Jonathan Jones, CB
Every team likes versatility. Jonathan Jones can play outside corner and in the slot. That’s a good thing because we all know, at some point, Avonte Maddox will miss time due to injury.
The bad news is Jones turns 30 in September.
Marcus Davenport, DE
Marcus Davenport might belong in the previous tier, but he’s coming off of a down year. He played better than his numbers indicate though.
Germaine Pratt, LB
This young man has been trying to prove he’s better than his draft status would indicate, but the former third-rounder has become an above-average linebacker that covers well. He isn’t much of a sack artist though. Then again, he’s never been used that way.
Yannick Ngakoue, DE
Once upon a time, Yannick Ngakoue expressed interest in joining the Eagles after his time in Duval County with the Jacksonville Jaguars had run its course. Last season was a quiet year by his standards, and he still wound up with 9.5 sacks.
It seems like he’s been in the league forever, but he’s only turning 28 years old this month.
Veterans worth signing to one-year deals
None of these guys should be seen as long-term options or priority signings. Heck, they may not even be around by the time the Eagles clear up space and lock up some of the guys from last year’s roster that they want to move forward with.
Still, as was the case with James Bradberry or those Linval Joseph/Ndamukong Suh types, there’s always some value in adding some old guys that can still play while teaching the young bucks how to be professionals.
Bobby Wagner or Devin White at the linebacker position
Yep… It’s probably unlikely that Bobby Wagner and Devin White are unemployed for extended periods but with no disrespect intended to Nakobe Dean, we’re still asking questions about whether or not he can play.
Both Wagner and White have a little juice left and allowing Dean to have them as teammates would be an invaluable learning opportunity.