Eagles: Should Howie make a run at either Jaylon Smith or Stephon Gilmore?

Over the past 24 hours, there have been two surprise cuts from around the NFL. First, the Dallas Cowboys released their starting linebacker Jaylon Smith. Then on Wednesday morning, New England released four-time Pro Bowl corner Stephon Gilmore, despite being eligible to come off the PUP list in a few weeks.

In Smith’s situation, the emergence of rookie Micah Parsons made one of the Cowboys linebackers expendable, and Smith was the odd-man out. For Gilmore, his contract negotiations never came to fruition and New England was unable to find a suitable trade partner.

For a struggling defense like the Eagles’, adding one or both of these guys could go a long way in shoring up their deficiencies. Plus, the Eagles have the cap space to hand either of these players contracts that would suit them. Howie Roseman currently has $16 million in available cap space to work with, the third-most in the league.

The Eagles could also obviously offer them starting roles right off the bat.

As far as the team’s needs go, Smith would make more sense. The team doesn’t have a good linebacker on their roster. Both Eric Wilson and Alex Singleton have been disappointments this year, posting PFF grades in the 30’s.

Smith would be an instant upgrade to the position. On the year, Smith has racked up 18 combined tackles in just two starts, and his PFF coverage grade of 82.2 is the the third-highest mark of any linebacker in football.

At cornerback, the Eagles do have two suitable starters in Steven Nelson and Darius Slay, but Gilmore is an unquestionably elite corner in this league and would be an upgrade at the position. Howie just acquired Nelson this offseason, but he’s only on a one-year deal and hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. Gilmore is looking for a long-term deal and plugging him into the Eagles secondary could shore up that position for years to come.

Whether the front office decides to pursue either of these players depends on how they view their current situation. If they’re content with continuing their rebuild and playing who they have, acquiring one of these defenders wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense. But as we know, Roseman doesn’t tend to operate in that fashion.

If Howie manages to sign either of these players to a reasonable deal, he’ll do it in a heart beat. It’ll be exciting to see how this whole thing plays out. Even if the Eagles don’t end up acquiring either, they’ll certainly be linked to both.

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