Based on Howie Roseman’s comments from his previous press conference, this upcoming offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles will consist of some significant changes. Likely, a handful of long-time veterans will no longer be present with the team in 2020 as the team attempts to move on from the many of the core players from the 2017 Super Bowl season and some of the younger players come to the forefront. I will go position by position listing every player on the 2019 roster and give my predictions on whether they will “stay” with the Philadelphia Eagles next season or “go” elsewhere. The players that are obvious locks to stay will be listed but won’t require an explanation. It’s more so the pending free agents and fringe players that require discussion.
Last week I wrote about the offense. This week I will focus on the defense.
Brandon Graham: Stay
Graham was the most consistent player on defense in 2019, providing his usual stellar run defense and pocket penetration. And if you’re someone who bases their opinion on his performance on sack numbers then all I’m going to say is that you need a lesson on EDGE talent evaluation.
Derek Barnett: Stay
He still has one more year left on his contract, so him being here in 2020 is a given. However, the deadline for whether the team will exercise the 5th year option on his contract is March 18, 2020. It will be interesting to see what the team decides to do regarding that option. Barnett is a quality player, but you can’t say he’s lived up to the expectations of being a 1st round pick; he hasn’t. There’s still some room to grow, but I remain doubtful he’ll ever be the elite-level pass rusher that some were hoping he’d become when he was selected in 2017.
Vinny Curry: Go
Curry played very well towards the end of the year. I’d even say he played better than Barnett. But Curry’s time with the Eagles should be done. There are some younger players on the team that could use the reps.
Josh Sweat: Stay
I remain very high on Sweat, just as I was before the 2018 NFL Draft. His progression in 2019 was exciting to witness, and he’s still only scratching the surface of his ability. I’m expecting a true breakout season for Sweat in 2020.
Another guy I’ve been keeping a close eye on is DE Josh Sweat, who keeps showing incremental improvement as a pass rusher. Sweat has an explosive first step and has been putting good reps on film as a backup DE #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/MBeG3hoYY2
— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) September 17, 2019
– In 70 pass rushes, Josh Sweat has 20 pressures, 4 sacks. 28.5 % pressure chance/rep.
– In 201 pass rushes, Derek Barnett has 39 pressures, 5 sacks. 19.4 % pressure chance/rep.
— Thomas R. Petersen 🦅 (@thomasrp93) December 12, 2019
Genard Avery: Stay
In his joint press conference with Doug Pederson, Howie Roseman spoke about the acquisition of Avery and how it was made as a long-term move as opposed to a short-term one. They’re very excited to work with him this offseason, and so are we.
Shareef Miller: Stay
Another young EDGE the team is looking to develop. I’m not nearly as high on Miller as I am on Sweat and Avery, but the 2019 4th round pick is still very young and has room to grow. I’d be surprised if they cut bait with him so soon.
Daeshon Hall: Stay
Hall’s status does depend on if the team adds another EDGE player to the roster in the offseason. Hall isn’t a bad depth piece so I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t.
Joe Ostman: Go
Same situation as Hall’s.
Interior Defensive Line
Fletcher Cox: Stay
Malik Jackson: Stay
The loss of Jackson in Week 1 was almost a forgotten story by season’s end, but we can’t downplay how significant it was. Jackson was going to provide the defensive line with more interior pressure next to Cox, which would have helped make this defense that much scarier. He may be an aging veteran, but I still want to see what he can do throughout a full season playing alongside Cox.
Timmy Jernigan: Goes
If Malik Jackson wasn’t set to come back next season, I’d say there’s a good chance Jernigan comes back. He’s been such a solid player for the Eagles since 2017, and he loves playing here. But the theme with overhauling this roster is “getting younger”, and I’d be willing to bet that Howie plans on drafting an IDL this year. Jernigan’s injuries also make it tough to commit to him.
Hassan Ridgeway: Stays
The former Colts IDL played well before getting injured. He’s no Jernigan in terms of talent level, but he’ll also probably be a lot cheaper to hang onto. With him only being 25 years old, I believe it’s worth it to give him one more go-around in Philly.
Anthony Rush: Stays
I like Rush, and I think the team likes him too. Like Ridgeway, I think he turned out to be better than expected and played well in the limited time he got on the field this season. It won’t cost the Eagles anything significant to bring him back as part of a rotation.
Bruce Hector: Goes
Not much to say for this one.
Nigel Bradham: Go
Bradham looked great in 2016, 2017, and in the second half of 2018. But this season he looked like a shell of himself. He just doesn’t have the same impact on the field as he once did. When Howie talked about moving on from core players from the 2017 Super Bowl season, Bradham was one of the first names that came to mind. Save the $5 million and cut ties.
Kamu Grugier-Hill: Go
I really, really wanted Kamu to pan out as a solid starter for the Eagles. He’s got speed from sideline to sideline, and he’ll flash some very impressive plays on occasion. But overall, he just didn’t provide the type of play the defense needed. With him being a free agent, I think the Eagles move on from him as well.
Nate Gerry: Stays
The fact that there’s a chance Gerry is the top LB for the defense going into 2020 is scary and shows just how neglected this position has been. I will admit, Gerry went from being “difficult to watch” throughout most of the season to being… OK… towards the end of it. I guess that’s player development we should be happy with. But forgive if I’m still not expecting too much from Gerry in the future.
TJ Edwards: Stays
I’m more excited about Edwards than I am about Gerry. Edwards will never be a 3-down linebacker because he doesn’t have the movement skills necessary in coverage, but he tallied a decent amount of tackles in limited playing time in 2019. He’s a downhill run-stopper, one that is very useful when the team goes into their base package.
Duke Riley: Stays
He’s one of the best special teamers the Eagles have, and he’s on a cheap contract. It wouldn’t make sense not to bring him back.
Alex Singleton: Goes
Ronald Darby: Goes
I’m pretty sure we all know by now that it’s time to move on from Darby.
Jalen Mills: Goes
Some fans still don’t want to let go of the “Green Goblin”, especially since moving on from him would create a pretty glaring hole at the CB position. But I’m not interested in investing long-term on talent with little to no upside. Mills is a decent corner, but nothing more. I want better than just decent, especially if Jim Schwartz is remaining as the defensive coordinator.
Avonte Maddox: Stays
Maddox regressed in 2019 a bit, which is very disappointing. However, I remain high on this kid and believe he can be great. Maybe a new DB coach will help Maddox’s development.
Sidney Jones: Stays
At this point, I have no clue what to believe when it comes to Sidney. I really don’t. So, I’m just going to say that he stays on the roster in 2020 and whatever happens, happens.
Sidney Jones has had a bumpy road but coming in cold to make a key 3rd down PBU – with GORGEOUS coverage – hopefully gets him on the right track.
The reaction from the crowd & his teammates in that moment is something he desperately needed – pic.twitter.com/vBQMB9isfW
— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) December 10, 2019
— Christopher Reiss (@NFL_ChrisReiss) December 23, 2019
Rasul Douglas: Stays
I still think he’d make a better Strong Safety than CB (and yes, he has some experience playing safety in college), but Schwartz doesn’t seem to think so and he’s the guy in charge. Douglas is a ballhawk who makes plays on the ball, which offset his lapses in coverage in 2018. But that wasn’t the case in 2019. As a CB he’s nothing more than a backup level talent.
Cre’Von LeBlanc: Stays
I don’t know how or why, but “Strap” plays well late in the year. I still am not willing to say for certain that he should be the answer at slot corner, but I have no problem with him having another chance next year to possibly earn it.
Craig James: Goes
He made a clutch play against the Green Bay Packers in Week 4, and we’ll always be grateful for that. The city of Philadelphia wishes him luck in his future endeavors.
Malcolm Jenkins: Stay
This is going to be a very tricky situation with Jenkins and his demand for a contract extension. He’s made it known that he refuses to play next season unless he gets a new contract. The tough part is figuring one out that would satisfy Jenkins while not strapping the Eagles financially should the veteran safety’s play drastically diminish. I do think a deal gets done though. Jenkins is too valuable to just let go, even though he’s in the downslope of his career.
Rodney McLeod: Go
McLeod has been one of the better, and possibly more underrated, free agent signings the Eagles have had in the past decade or so. McLeod may not have been a superstar or anything, but he was solid and consistent. But he has reached a point in his career where the Eagles are better off cutting ties now instead of hanging onto him for a year or two too long.
Marcus Epps: Go
There’s a reason why he was waived by the Vikings.
Rudy Ford: Stay
Ford is a great athlete whom the Eagles were excited to acquire, but he didn’t amount to anything in 2019. But he does remain under contract for cheap so he should be back in 2020.