The Eagles just added two more players to their defense through free agency, and while neither are as big of additions as Javon Hargrave or Darius Slay, both figure to impact the Birds defense in 2020. Will Parks and Jatavis Brown were both signed to one-year deals, and both will have the opportunity to win a starting job.
Brown is a 26-year-old linebacker who spent his first four seasons with the Chargers rotating between starter and reserve. While he has sideline-to-sideline speed and the ability to play in space, he lost his job in 2019 as a result of poor tackling and questionable angles.
The Birds are hoping he’ll at least be able to provide services as a backer in certain sub-packages, while holding out hope that he can return to 2018 form, where he tallied 97 tackles over 10 starts (15 games).
He’s also intriguing when used as a blitzer; in his rookie season he had 3.5 sacks, 8 TFL, and 3 qb hits—decent numbers for a LB who only played 50% of snaps. Nonetheless I don’t expect him to fill a big role in the Birds defense, and they’ll need to continue looking for another linebacker because Brown isn’t strong enough to play inside.
Will Parks on the other hand should provide more value. He’s spent the past three seasons playing all over the Broncos secondary, but was mostly used as the teams third-safety. He’s versatile enough to cover in the slot, deep zones, and isn’t afraid of physicality.
Parks is the sort of role player who Denver would have loved to retain, but simply played too well not to warrant a potential bigger role and more money elsewhere—similar to Patrick Robinson in 2017, though I maintain that he was worth keeping.
Whether he lines up at strong safety, nickel corner, or rotates in as the third safety is obviously unknown, but Parks falls perfectly in line with the teams strategy of assembling a versatile, somewhat position-less secondary. Again, like Jatavis Brown I don’t expect Parks to be a major difference-maker, but unlike Brown I can guarantee Parks will play a real role in this defense.