The Eagles have $23 million in cap space for 2020 and there’s no telling how they’ll use it. NFL salary cap rules allow them to roll what’s leftover into 2021—which is very likely given the dire cap situation next year (it’s bad)—regardless, the team has the flexibility to make another move this summer, and if they want to add some juice to the pass rush they have some options.
With Graham, Barnett, and Sweat the team has a nice trio of edge players, but Schwartz generally likes four guys in his rotation, and they could use someone who specializes primarily at pressuring the quarterback. I’ve written in the past about adding Jadeveon Clowney, and while the team is well positioned to do so on a one year deal, it’s not all that likely (though don’t put it past Howie to make a splash if Clowney’s market continues to flounder).
The more obvious choices are cheaper options. Obviously Vinny Curry makes plenty of sense (I would say it’s more likely that he returns, than not) but I’d like to see the team add someone with more sack potential than Curry, or in addition to Curry. A couple of names that come to mind are Everson Griffen, Jabaal Sheard, Cameron Wake, or even Ziggy Ansah.
Griffen (33) is the most expensive of the bunch, but at his age it’s no surprise that a market never materialized. The Vikings can’t really afford to bring him back, so he’ll be looking for a contender who can offer decent dough and playing time—the Birds can offer that. 8 sacks and 24 QB hits in 2019 is proof that he can still hang at a high-level.
Sheard is a pass rush specialist with a long track record of getting to the QB. He’s more of a standup rusher but can play with his hand in the dirt just as well. I have confidence in Schwartz getting the most of what’s left in the tank for the 31 year old with a career 51.5 sacks & 92 QB hits in nine seasons.
Wake is old (38) but still has a little something left for a team in need of a situational rusher. He has a long track record of getting to the quarterback—100.5 career sacks—and playing in a system similar to Schwartz’s. He could be had cheap, and I’d imagine he wouldn’t mind playing for a contender. This team could use 15-20 pitches a game from a guy who had a pass-rush grade of 77.8 in 2019 (highest on the list).
Ansah (31) has struggled to stay healthy and age has robbed him of his best tools, but he’s only two years removed from a 12 sack season, and if anyone will take a shot on him it’s the coach who originally drafted him in Detroit. This would be a major flier, but there’s no reason not to take it as long as he’s cheap.
We’ll see a little bit of Malik Jackson lining up on the edge assuming he’s healthy (he still has plenty of juice working upfield) but the Eagles could use help behind Graham, Barnett, and Sweat. Even if they add Curry, they could really use a rotational guy who’s a pure pass-rusher.
It likely wouldn’t cost too much, nor hamstring the salary cap any more for 2021. The lifeblood of this defense is getting pressure with the front-four, and if Howie want to top-off that side of the football he should look to add one of those supplemental rushers.