The Eagles front office has a busy offseason ahead of them. Not only do they have a handful of needs to fill on both sides of the ball, they have nine unrestricted free agents they’ll need to make decisions on.
Philadelphia is still in a bit of a transition period, so expect Howie Roseman and company to focus on getting younger this offseason. That means most of these pending free agents will be gone this offseason — unless they don’t get a contract anywhere else and the Eagles can bring them back on a bargain deal.
Let’s breakdown which of the Eagles nine unrestricted free agents should stay, and which one should be let go.
S Rodney McLeod
Since joining the Eagles back in 2016, Rodney McLeod has been a steady presence on the backend of Philly’s defense. He helped lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory in 2017, along with multiple playoff appearances throughout his tenure. But it’s pretty clear that his time in Philly is coming to an end. McLeod has struggled to stay healthy in recents years, as he’s battled two separate ACL tears over the past four years. His play hasn’t been spectacular either. Though he did play better towards the end of this season, he hasn’t done enough to warrant another contract extension from the team. He’ll be 32 years old entering next year and the Eagles seem ready to move on.
DE Derek Barnett
After years of hoping Derek Barnett would finally live up to the expectations of being a first-round pick, the former Tennessee product never did. The team brought him back this season on his fifth-year option hoping 2021 would be that year. But as we know, he was abysmal from start to finish this season, recording just two sacks on the year. His constant penalties and lack of pass rushing production isn’t worth keeping around, regardless of the fact that he’s still only 25 years old. Barnett needs a fresh start and the Eagles should be more than willing to grant him that.
CB Steven Nelson
The Eagles signed Steven Nelson to serve as a stop-gap at cornerback, and he’s successfully filled that purpose. He had some nice moments in Midnight green, most notably his game sealing interception against Carolina. But he hasn’t done enough to warrant a second contract from the team. Nelson is a serviceable enough corner, but he’s the type of player teams will always look to upgrade from. With the assortment of young players the Eagles have at the position, along with the cap room and draft capital to make a splash, Nelson’s time with the Eagles is most likely over.
S Anthony Harris
Like Nelson, Anthony Harris was brought here to serve as a stop-gap player at safety. He got off to a rough start in 2021, but he eventually settled into his position and started making plays once the team shifted to more three-safety looks. But at 30 years old, it just wouldn’t make sense to bring Harris back. The team should look to fill these safety positions with long-term solutions this offseason, so bringing Harris back on another one-year deal would just be counterproductive.
DE Ryan Kerrigan
The last of the stop-gap players the Eagles acquired last offseason, expectations were actually pretty high for Ryan Kerrigan. He terrorized the Eagles for years as a member of the Washington Redskins and he felt like a perfect rotational piece for Philly’s pass rush. Well, it never really worked out at all. On the year, Kerrigan totaled just three tackles and zero sacks. He came alive in the Eagles Wildcard game, but it was too little too late.
LB Genard Avery
After struggling to find a role in Jim Schwartz’s defense during his first few years in Philly, Genard Avery finally found his way into the lineup under Jonathan Gannon, where he settled in as the team’s weakside linebacker. His production still leaves a lot to be desired, though, finishing the season with just one sack and four tackles for loss. The Eagles will likely let Avery test the waters during free agency this offseason. If he doesn’t get any big contracts, it wouldn’t shock me at all if he’s brought back on a cheap deal. But as of right now, the Eagles are probably more willing to let him go than bring him back.
RB Jordan Howard
Jordan Howard was a great story for the Eagles this season. He finished the season with 406 rushing yards on 86 carries (4.7 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. He proved to be a great complementary back to Miles Sanders and Boston Scott and he carved a role out for himself in this crowded Eagles backfield. Given the success of the Eagles running game and the fact that the team probably won’t resign many of their pending free agents, bringing Howard back feels like a no-brainer.
TE Jason Croom
Jason Croom didn’t do much of anything this year, except spend time on injured reserve with a knee injury. He’s a practice squad body at best, so don’t expect this guy to be back unless they need bodies at training camp.
DT Hassan Ridgeway
With Fletcher Cox’s status for next year up in the air, the Eagles will probably look to resign Hassan Ridgeway just to keep some depth at the position. He’s a fine rotational player that can be had on a cheap salary. No reason to let him leave unless the team expects to add multiple pieces along the interior defensive line this offseason.