3 Super Bowl Champions Headline Free-Agent LBs for Eagles to Target

Darron Lee

Getty Former Jets LB Darron Lee was the 20th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Eagles admittedly went into the 2020 campaign without any “household names” at linebacker.

That unit helped to ransack the cupboard in an embarrassing 37-19 loss to Los Angeles who consistently — and predictably, based on what the Eagles saw on tape — baffled them in coverage. The Rams picked on the Eagles linebackers early and often, highlighted by Tyler Higbee’s three touchdowns. Nate Gerry looked utterly confused. Maybe Duke Riley was a special-teams captain for a reason.

T.J. Edwards only saw 29 snaps so he gets a pass, while third-round pick Davion Taylor continues to sit on the bench and learn. Ditto for sixth-rounder Shaun Bradley. The thought entering the season is that the young guys would grow up fast. Two weeks in, they need to hit a growth spurt.

“For us, we do have some young players in some of those roles, right,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “You look at linebacker, there are some young players there. The more obviously game experience they get, the better they get.”

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5 Free Agent Linebackers to Target

Should the Eagles make a move in free agency? There are options, albeit not overwhelmingly great ones:

Darron Lee: He was the 20th overall pick in 2016 and collected a Super Bowl ring last year in Kansas City. His 4.43 seconds in the 40 was also the fastest of all the linebackers in 2016, even quicker than running back Ezekiel Elliott. Sounds great, right? Well, Lee has never really lived up to the hype as evidenced by his 38.8 rookie grade. He particularly struggles in pass coverage. Plus, the 25-year-old has a boatload of off-the-field baggage and carries a four-game suspension this year. He wouldn’t be eligible until Week 5.

Nigel Bradham: Don’t laugh. The former Eagles Super Bowl champion was arguably the team’s best linebacker in 2017, a guy who called the defensive signals before Jim Schwartz handed the headset to Nate Gerry. Bradham had 348 tackles (21 for loss) and 22 pass breakups during four seasons in midnight green. He would be an easy guy to plug-and-play due to his familiarity in the scheme. However, the 31-year-old brings his own share of extracurricular activities. Plus, he took a few thinly veiled shots at the organization before being cut by the Saints.

Jake Ryan: An accomplished starter for his first three years in Green Bay, Ryan was unceremoniously waived by the Ravens on June 11. Ryan tore his ACL (second one going back to college) in 2018 as a member of the Packers and never saw the field, a problem that contributed to his 2019 demise in Jacksonville. Still, the 28-year-old has 27 career starts (at inside linebacker) under his belt and he’s had an additional three months to recover. He has been criticized at times for his coverage skills.

Todd Davis: The Broncos released Davis on Sept. 4 to save $4.5 million in salary-cap space after he led the team in tackles (134) in 2019. It was a curious move, to say the least. He played alongside Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson in Denver in 2015 and the two won a Super Bowl there. The 28-year-old has been considered one of the better tacklers and run-stoppers in the middle over the years but (again) struggles in pass coverage. Davis has 470 total tackles (21 for loss) and 13 pass breakups in seven seasons.

Wesley Woodyard: Woodyard quietly transitioned from starter to role player off the bench for the Titans in 2019. He still finished with 42 tackles and one sack while serving as a vocal leader in the locker room. In fact, his leadership qualities might be his biggest selling point. The 12-year veteran has been a team captain for 17 straight years going back to his high school days. He’s not flashy but he fills a void.

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