The first day of free agency was fast and furious in the NFL. Unfortunately, it didn’t start or end the way Eagles fans expected.
It started off with a strange report about the Texans possibly wanting to trade DeAndre Hopkins. Within hours, that surprising fiction became mind-boggling fact as Hopkins was sent packing to Arizona in exchange for David Johnson and some loose change. The Eagles could have offered a better package — swap Miles Sanders for Johnson? — but chose to stand pat.
Instead, Philadelphia was thought to be all-in on a “bidding war” for Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones. There were even multiple reports they were the front-runners to land him. Nope. Jones signed a five-year deal in Miami to become the highest-paid cornerback in football at $16.5 million per year.
Stefon Diggs had been teasing people on Twitter about “a new beginning” and fueling rampant trade speculation. As night turned into day, it was revealed Diggs was heading to Buffalo in a blockbuster trade that netted Minnesota a king’s ransom in draft picks. The price tag seemed too high for the Eagles.
Then, to cap the day’s festivities, the Cowboys and Amari Cooper agreed on a five-year deal reportedly worth $100 million. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Redskins actually offered more money but Cooper turned it down to stay in Dallas. Did the Eagles try to match it? We may never know. What we do know is four franchise-changing players were off the board.
Eagles Throw Huge Money at Steelers Tackle
Philadelphia didn’t sit on its hands all day. No, the team did make a pretty big splash by signing Javon Hargrave to a three-year contract worth $39 million. The former Steeler will become the highest-paid nose tackle in football.
The move seemed to confuse many in the know since the Eagles already have so much money invested in the defensive line, thanks to guys like Malik Jackson and Fletcher Cox.
However, Hargrave should be viewed more as a pass-rusher than a run-stuffer — and a very good one who knows how to get to the quarterback. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has a scheme predicated on applying pressure and values that over stellar cornerback play. That could be the motto going forward.
For those unimpressed with Hargrave, give him a chance. His numbers are solid and his reputation is phenomenal. One more thing, he absolutely hates the Dallas Cowboys.
Darius Slay in Play for Eagles on Day 2?
One of the secondary storylines on the first day of free agency was Darius Slay.
Would Detroit trade him? If so, where might the disgruntled Lions cornerback go? The 29-year-old wants to become the highest-paid cornerback in the league and the fact he wasn’t dealt on Monday might have been strategic.
With Byron Jones setting the market rate — five years at $82.5 million, plus James Bradberry raking in a huge payday as well, at $15 million per year — Slay can ask his new team to top them both if a trade is worked out. It’s a savvy business move, one that Slay was having fun with all night on Twitter.
Here are some other intriguing options for the Eagles to consider at cornerback, via trade or free agency: Chris Harris Jr., Logan Ryan, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Desmond Trufant, Vernon Hargreaves, Darqueze Dennard, Jimmy Smith, Jalen Mills (yet unsigned).
Kendall Fuller had been on this list but the Redskins reportedly inked the former Chief to a four-year deal worth $40 million, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Perhaps Day 2 of free agency will be more fruitful for the Eagles.
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