When NFL free agency begins on March 16, the Eagles will be looking to bolster a roster that made it to the playoffs in Year 1 under Nick Sirianni.
We’ll look position-by-position for some possible targets. We started with running backs, receivers, quarterbacks, offensive linemen and tight ends and defensive tackles. Today, we’ll look at defensive ends.
The Eagles will lose Derek Barnett and Ryan Kerrigan to free agency and defensive end might be at the very top of their list of needs. While they have Josh Sweat locked into a long-term deal, their other top DE is 34-year-old Brandon Graham, who is coming off an Achilles injury. They really need to improve here. They can do that in the draft but they might also be able to do it in free agency too.
Here are 10 defensive end options that might interest the Eagles in free agency:
Emmanuel Ogbah: After two years in Miami with back-to-back 9-sack seasons, Ogbah is likely in line for a nice payday this offseason. The former No. 32 pick from the 2016 draft played three seasons in Cleveland and one in Kansas City before joining the Dolphins a couple years ago. His two years in Miami have shown him to be a bit of a late bloomer and now he’s in line to get a nice contract. He’ll certainly get paid more than the two-year, $15 million deal he played on with the Dolphins the last couple seasons.
Jadeveon Clowney: He’s 29 now and the former No. 1 pick is a few years away from his three consecutive Pro Bowls in 2016-18 but he’s still a really good player. And if the Eagles want Clowney, it’ll probably come on a one-year deal; he’s become a mercenary in recent seasons. But Clowney is still really solid. With the Browns in 2021, he had nine sacks and 19 quarterback hits in 14 games. And for all the attention he gets as a pass rusher, he’s always been very stout against the run.
Haason Reddick: Bring him home, right? The Haddon Heights and Temple product is set to become a free agent soon and bringing him to the Eagles would make some sense. Reddick was drafted as an off-ball linebacker but has since made the switch back to an edge player. His last year with the Cardinals, Reddick had 12 1/2 sacks and he followed it up with an 11 1/2-sack season in Carolina in 2021. Still just 27, Reddick should warrant a hefty contract. I put Reddick here with the other edge players but in the Eagles’ defense he might be a better fit at the SAM position in Jonathan Gannon’s scheme. That was a role held by Genard Avery in 2021, so this would be a huge improvement. But it would also mean that Gannon would have to find more ways to keep that player on the field.
Al-Quadin Muhammad: The Colts kept Muhammad (6-4, 250) last year on a one-year contract but he’s a free agent again and the soon-to-be 27-year-old is coming off his first full season as a starter. In 2021, he started all 17 games for the Colts and had 6 sacks, 13 QB hits and 48 tackles. The Colts have a couple younger DEs in Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo, so maybe they feel OK letting Muhammad walk. If he does, maybe a reunion with Gannon and Sirianni in Philly is in the cards.
Kemoko Turay: Another player with an Indy connection is Turay. The former second-round pick from Rutgers is still just 26 and has started just three games in four years with the Colts. In 2021, he played in 13 games and had 5 1/2 sacks. Turay has struggled some to stay healthy, playing just 13 total games in 2019 and 2020 but he was on the field for 13 last season. Those injuries might help keep his price down.
Harold Landry: The former second-round pick has played a ton for the Titans since he was drafted in 2018 and had a career year in 2021 with 12 sacks, 75 tackles and 22 QB hits on his way to a Pro Bowl nod. Landry a lot of experience but he still won’t even turn 26 until June. He has played as an OLB in Tennessee’s 3-4 and at 252 pounds might be a tad undersized as a DE in a 4-3, but could still play some sort of hybrid role in Gannon’s defense, which is pretty multiple anyway.
Justin Houston: I think there’s a good chance the Eagles use one of their first-round picks on a defense end and there are going to be some good options. So maybe they can preemptively pair that first-rounder with a one-year veteran rental. No, that didn’t work out well with Ryan Kerrigan in 2021 but it might be worth trying with a different player. Houston is 33 now but he still played at a pretty high level in Baltimore last season. He’s pretty far removed from his days as a Pro Bowler but he had 11 sacks with the Colts in 2019 and 8 sacks with the Colts in 2020 as a defensive end in Matt Eberflus’s defense. Oh yeah, Sirianni and Gannon were on that staff too.
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Charles Harris: Another possible late-bloomer, the former first-round pick had a career-high 7 1/2 sacks in Detroit in 2021 and he finally stayed healthy. The risk here is that you give a guy a multi-year deal after one good season in a contract year, but he could end up being a solid part of a rotation for the next few years in Philly.
Dante Fowler: After two eh years in Atlanta, the Falcons moved on from former first-round pick. Fowler’s best season came in 2019 with the Rams, when he had 11 1/2 sacks. During his career, he’s played in multiple schemes and would be a decent fit in Gannon’s defense rushing from different fronts. It’s worth noting that Eagles personnel executive Dave Caldwell was the GM in Jacksonville when they used the No. 3 pick on Fowler in 2015.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo: With the Rams, the 26-year-old Okoronkwo has been buried behind some top-notch defensive line talent and might need to go elsewhere to see more consistent playing time. He’s been relatively productive in a small sample size but there’s some question as to how much that would translate in a bigger role. But he’s a cheap and somewhat productive rotational option for the Eagles.
Arden Key: After getting cut by the Raiders last April, Key (6-5, 240) signed a one-year deal with the 49ers and had the best season of his career. He played in all 17 games as a rotational player and had 6 1/2 sacks in 374 defensive snaps. Key could be a fun rotational pass rusher for the Eagles and Gannon could use him in a few different ways. For the right price, this could make sense.