By now, we all know the lack of value this organization places in its linebackers. They cut the dependable Nigel Bradham this offseason and have pretty much neglected replacing him, with the exception of signing Jatavis Brown, who only played 10 defensive snaps for the Los Angeles Chargers last season.
Based of Howie Roseman’s draft history, it’s unlikely they’ll try to fill their linebacker vacancy through the draft either. The highest Roseman has ever drafted a linebacker was back in 2012 when they took Mychal Kendricks in the second round. Since then, very little has been invested into the linebacker position draft wise (the Eagles did draft Jordan Hicks in the third round of the 2015 draft, but Chip Kelly was the GM, not Howie).
So, with all that being said, there is still a very intriguing option on the open market who could help the team’s LB situation. Mark Barron, who’s a converted safety, is the type of player Jim Schwartz loves having on his defense.
The team already has one converted safety starting at linebacker, Nate Gerry. Plus, Barron is much more proven than Gerry and brings more versatility to the position.
When Barron was originally converted to weakside linebacker with the Los Angeles Rams, his production sky rocketed. From 2015 to 2016, Barron recorded back-to-back 100+ tackle seasons, which includes 16 tackles for loss in 2015.
Once Sean McVay came to town and brought defensive coordinator Wade Phillips with him, the new defensive scheme left Barron in no man’s land, as he would eventually be cut and signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After the Steelers moved up to draft linebacker Devin Bush last season, Barron’s days as a Steeler were numbered, and now he’s a free agent looking for a new team to call his own.
Having two undersized linebackers starting may not seem ideal, but Barron makes up for his smaller size with his stellar run stuffing ability and ability to cover tight ends and backs out of the backfield.
He also knows how to lay the wood on opposing ball carriers, as he had the reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the league during his earlier years with LA. Bringing some ferocity back to this defense would be welcomed with open arms.
Looking at how the Eagles defense is put together at the moment, their big nickel package with three safeties on the field seems like it’ll be their base alignment next season, with a combination of Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills and Will Parks manning each safety spot. Signing Barron to a cheap one-year-prove-it deal would not only help shore up the team’s linebacker position, but if Mills or Parks fails to make an impact at safety, Barron could help fill that void as well.
He just seems like a perfect fit in Schwartz’s scheme. Honestly, I’m surprised Howie hasn’t brought him in yet. At worst, he’s just a depth signing who can help fill in when need be. If he doesn’t work out, the team could walk away from him at the end of the year with no sweat off their backs.
At 30-years-old, Barron still has some juice left in the tank, and I’d love to see him use it here in Philly.