Eagles Make Blockbuster Trade with Buffalo for Pass Rusher

Eli Harold

Getty Eli Harold will get a shot to be the Eagles fourth edge rusher after a trade from Buffalo.

The Philadelphia Eagles took a step in satisfying a need in their thin defensive end rotation Friday. The team acquired Eli Harold from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for Ryan Bates.

Harold, a third-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, was signed by the Bills in the offseason as a free agent and couldn’t move up the team’s depth chart as a third-team defensive end. The 25-year-old spent 2018 as a member of the Detroit Lions where he played in 13 games and registered a career-high 4.0 sacks.

Prior to that, Harold played three seasons for the San Francisco 49ers and started 25 games out of a possible 48 matchups. He recorded 5.0 sacks and 84 tackles in three seasons. Harold is still young despite his four years of service in the NFL. He switched to outside linebacker during his time in San Francisco to fit in with their 3-4 scheme.

Harold, 6-foot-3, 247 pounds, was tabbed as a second-round or early third-round pick coming out of Virginia where he was a pass-rushing specialist. He finished his college career with 17.5 sacks and 36.5 tackles for loss over three seasons. The early scouting reports had praised his high motor and ability to pressure the quarterback.

Harold was especially known for his first step and burst, along with his ability to fight off blockers on the bull-rush. He has been compared to Olivier Vernon. One of Harold’s biggest strengths lies in his ability to leverage his hands, according to Bleacher Report:

A pure speed-rusher, Eli Harold has first-class burst and follows it up well with length and hand usage as a pass-rusher. His surprising strength allows him to bull-rush and fight blockers, but he does the most damage with his first-step quickness and ability to shoot past blockers at the snap. His hips and feet work well in sync, and he’s shown good balance, flexibility and overall light-footed agility. Harold plays the run well on the edge and can stack and shed with strong hands and good upper-body strength. He’s best suited with his hand in the dirt, but he has the athleticism to transition to a stand-up rusher role.

The Eagles have been in the market for another defensive end ever since they lost Michael Bennett and Chris Long. The original thought was to bring Connor Barwin back for a tryout, but that hasn’t materialized. Instead, the team will turn to Harold to give them a shot of youthful adrenaline and hopefully fulfill the role of that fourth edge-rusher they so desperately need.

Ryan Bates Leaves His Hometown

The trade for Eli Harold ends the short tenure of offensive tackle Ryan Bates, a player who was born on Valentine’s Day. Bates, a Philadelphia area native who grew up in Warrington and attended Archbishop Wood High School, went undrafted in 2019 before signing with his hometown Eagles.

The 22-year-old played sparingly in the preseason opener Thursday night against Tennessee during the team’s 27-10 loss. Bates played his college ball at Penn State where he was a three-year starter and earned third-team All-Big Ten honors as a junior.

Bates was recently featured by NBC10 for his uncanny likeness to Eagles center Jason Kelce, too. A comparison that the rookie gladly accepted and laughed off. He was the victim of that puking incident during one of the hottest days at training camp, a 90-degree scorcher that saw a ton of veterans and rookies dragging in South Philadelphia. Bates will head to Buffalo and try to land a spot on the 53-man roster.

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