Eagles: 3 EDGE defenders to target in free agency this offseason

Heading into the 2022 offseason, addressing the pass rush should be a top priority for Howie Roseman. The Eagles finished 2021 with just 29 sacks on the year, the only team that had less was the Atlanta Falcons with 18.

It was a stark contrast from the year prior where Philadelphia racked up 49 sacks, third-most in the league. Their lone bright spot from the 2020 season morphed into a total disappointment in 2021.

Roseman has always built his defense through the trenches, so there’s no doubt he’ll look to add at least one EDGE defender during free agency, and probably more in the draft.

Here are three EDGE defenders Howie could look to target when the free agency period officially begins.

Dante Fowler Jr.

Although Dante Fowler hasn’t live up to the expectations that come with being the third overall pick, he’s been a serviceable pass rusher throughout his five year career. At his best, he has double digit sack potential. But, it’s pretty clear that he’s best suited for a rotational role along a defensive line.

He’s not very good against the run, posting a run-defense grade of 63.4 last season. In 2020 it was even worse, coming in at 39.6. The Eagles won’t need Fowler to play every down at defensive end, which is why acquiring him would make sense. Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat should anchor the edge, while Fowler rotates in on passing downs.

Fowler probably won’t demand a high price tag either. A one-year ‘prove it’ deal feels like it’s in the cards for Fowler, and the Eagles could certainly be the team to give him that chance.

Charles Harris

After four disappointing seasons with Miami and Atlanta, Charles Harris finally flashed his pass rushing potential in 2021 with the Detroit Lions. On the year, he recorded 7.5 sacks, 65 combined tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 16 quarterback hits.

At 27 years old, Harris would be a great long-term depth piece along the Eagles defensive line. BG won’t be here much longer, so having a guy like Harris who can step up at any time to start is an invaluable asset to have. Obviously, it would be great to get that through the draft, but acquiring Harris is a safer bet and he won’t need time to get acclimated to the NFL.

Jadeveon Clowney

If Howie is open to making a splash move for a pass rusher, Jadeveon Clowney is a name to keep an eye on. He never truly lived up to his billing as a generational pass rusher, but he’s been good to great throughout most of his career.

In 2021, Clowney got back on track after two subpar seasons with Seattle and Tennessee, recording nine sacks, 37 combined tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 19 quarterback hits, all while playing 74% of the team’s defensive snaps.

He’ll demand a hefty price tag, but it would be worth it if the Eagles are open to signing him long-term. He’s a better overall EDGE defender than Brandon Graham at this point in their respective careers, and it probably makes sense for BG to start adjusting into a secondary role along the defensive line.

With the amount of cap room at Howie’s disposal (approx. $30-$35M), there’s no reason to shy away from acquiring long-term pieces. We’ve seen what kind of playter Clowney can be when he’s put in a favorable situation. Playing alongside some solid defensive talent along the line should only bolster Clowney’s value to the unit.

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