NFL Rumors: Eagles Swap Rasul Douglas for Jets Tackling Machine

Avery Williamson

Getty Veteran LB Avery Williamson may be available in a trade.

The Eagles’ linebacking corps is very much a work in progress. But, what if they added a veteran in a trade?

Philadelphia has already been linked to cheaper free-agent options like Mark Barron and Alec Ogletree and Wesley Woodyard. There was even some chatter about them possibly taking a flier on pass-rushing linebacker Clay Matthews. However, maybe a trade is the best route to improve the untested unit on South Broad Street.

Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports recently threw out a proposal that kind of makes sense. It requires the Eagles sending veteran cornerback Rasul Douglas packing to New York in exchange for Jets linebacker Avery Williamson. The 28-year-old has recorded at least 102 tackles in three of his five NFL seasons, including a 120-tackle campaign in 2018. More importantly, Williamson is an unrestricted free agent in 2021 and the Jets may want to unload him while they can still get something back for him.

Meanwhile, Douglas already took a pay cut in Philly and appears to be on the roster bubble. The problem would be Williamson’s contract. He is due $6.5 million in base salary in 2020 and carries an $8.5 million cap hit, per Spotrac. Here is how CBS Sports described a potential deal working out for both teams:

Howie Roseman already said no to a big-money veteran at linebacker by cutting Nigel Bradham, and between T.J. Edwards and third-round pick Davion Taylor, the Eagles have internal candidates for the MLB job. Roseman is definitely not averse to player-for-player swings late in the offseason, however, and old friend Joe Douglas would likely welcome the chance to offload Williamson’s $8.5 million cap hit. By giving the Jets much-needed cornerback depth in Douglas, who reportedly already took a pay cut because he’s on the roster bubble, Roseman nets a former 100-tackle machine with the option to simply let him walk after 2020. In an abbreviated offseason, Williamson’s experience would arguably make even more sense, even if his salary is bloated.

Williamson’s price tag is probably too high, plus the Eagles have never valued the linebacker position. The team seems comfortable heading into training camp with youngsters Jatavis Brown, Nathan Gerry, T.J. Edwards and Davion Taylor fighting it out on the depth chart. Still, it’s interesting to ponder this potential trade.

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Williamson Sat Out 2019 Season with Torn ACL

There’s a reason Williamson could be available in a trade. Yes, you guessed it: injury concerns. The former fifth-round pick out of Kentucky missed the entire 2019 season with a torn ACL suffered in the preseason.

It was a crushing blow for the Jets after the team inked Williamson to a three-year, $22.5 million deal last offseason. He came over from the Tennessee Titans where he started 59 games in four years. He was supposed to be a fixture in the middle of New York’s defense, but the Jets replaced him rather easily with a combination of Neville Hewitt and James Burgess, Jr. They also have Blake Cashman and C.J. Mosley returning from season-ending injuries, along with the free agent addition of former Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor.

Needless to say, the linebacker room is getting crowded in New York. Williamson was rumored to be on the trading block back in April and mentioned as a possible cap casualty. They kept him. For now, he remains on the roster but the thinking is that Jets GM Joe Douglas would love to move him before training camp.

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