The NFL’s free agency feeding frenzy will begin on March 16 at 4 p.m. The Philadelphia Eagles are expected to be aggressive with a limited budget, one that could increase depending on how they handle contract restructures.
General manager Howie Roseman is working with $22.5 million in cap space heading into free agency. The coffers could swell to $34 million in a “maximum restructure” scenario, according to Nick Korte of Over The Cap. First, Roseman will have to make some tough decision on in-house free agents like Derek Barnett, Rodney McLeod, Steven Nelson, Anthony Harris. Three of those guys make sense to bring back.
The Eagles should make wide receiver a top priority on the open market, especially after DeVonta Smith lobbied for a veteran receiver. D.J. Chark remains a trendy name, along with T.Y. Hilton or Zach Pascal. And don’t rule out a potential trade for Calvin Ridley.
ESPN recently added another name to the mix: JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The one-time Pro Bowler is coming off knee and shoulder injuries that limited him to just five games in 2021, though. He would be an ideal fit in Nick Sirianni’s scheme.
“The Eagles have speed and vertical ability in the wide receiver room, but they are lacking a slot target with physical traits,” ESPN wrote. “Smith-Schuster is more explosive than you think, with the catch-and-run ability to work as a big slot in Sirianni’s offense.”
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Top 5 Free Agent Targets for Eagles
1. Marcus Williams, S, Saints: The Eagles could decide to let both Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris – their two starting safeties in 2021 – walk in free agency. McLeod seems like a lock to return considering he’s a team captain and vocal leader, but you never know what Roseman is thinking. Either way, they need another safety and Williams would check a lot of boxes with his elite size (6-foot-1, 195 pounds), speed (4.56 40 time) and play-making ability (15 career picks).
2. Anthony Barr, LB, Vikings: The 6-foot-5, 257-pounder could come at bargain-bin pricing following two injury-plagued seasons. Barr has played in just 13 games since 2019. However, he is a four-time Pro Bowler who played in Jonathan Gannon’s system from their time together in Minnesota. He has racked up 495 total tackles, 17.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, five interceptions in eight seasons. Better yet, Barr is still relatively young and will turn 30 on March 18.
3. D.J. Chark, WR, Jaguars: Chark has been generating the most buzz as the perfect choice to complement DeVonta Smith in Philly. For starters, his route-running skills are off the charts and his lightning-fast wheels (4.34 40 time) make him a blur in the open field. The 25-year-old receiver has 147 receptions for 2,042 yards and 15 touchdowns in 43 games while catching bombs from Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles in Jacksonville. He was drafted by former Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell who now resides in the Eagles’ front office.
4. Carlton Davis, CB, Buccaneers: If the Eagles are looking for an upgrade over Steven Nelson, then Davis fits the bill. He was Tampa Bay’s top coverage corner thanks to “great physicality and the ability to break on the ball.” Pro Football Focus ranked him No. 28 in qualifying cornerbacks in 2021: 69.9 overall grade, 71.8 coverage grade. He has a whopping 53 passes defensed over the last seasons, with six career picks.
5. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: If Indianapolis is indeed breaking up the band (see: Carson Wentz fiasco), then Hilton makes a ton of sense. Yes, it’s true his numbers have been dipping since he went for 1,270 yards in 2018. Prior to that, the 32-year-old was a four-time Pro Bowler who led the entire NFL in receiving yards in 2016. Sirianni knows him from their days together on the Colts. If anybody can draw it back out of Hilton, it’s Sirianni. The Eagles could probably get him on a one-year sweetheart deal at around $5 million.