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Hassan Ridgeway was less than a couple hours away from hitting the free agent market for the first time in his NFL career when the Eagles announced they had agreed to bring him back on a one-year deal. It was their first signing of the week. 

So why didn’t he just wait a little longer and test free agency? 

Based on the year that I had with the Eagles defense, the people that I was around, the feeling I got, I felt like one of the best situations for me to be in was to go back,” Ridgeway said on a conference call Wednesday. 

“I mean, I like the the way the team was ran, I liked the people around and what I was able to do. They were a step ahead of everybody.

The Eagles traded a seventh-round pick to get Ridgeway during last year’s draft. He came from the Colts, who took him in the fourth round back in 2016, so last year was the final year on his rookie contract. This would have been his first chance to become a free agent and he chose to not even gauge interest around the league. 

He wanted to be in Philly. 

But after Ridgeway came back on a one-year deal, the Eagles went out and signed Javon Hargrave to a three-year, $39 million contract. So that means there are three defensive tackles ahead of Ridgeway on the depth chart: Fletcher Cox, Hargrave and Malik Jackson. 

Things are a little crowded, but he’s kind of in the same spot he was last year, so Ridgeway isn’t worried about his playing time. 

“Everybody is usually going to get a chance to get out there and perform and show what they can do,” Ridgeway said. “Obviously, some people are going to play a little bit more than others. But everybody knows what their job is on defense.” 

And based on last year, there’s still a chance he might need to play a lot. In 2019, Ridgeway began the season as the fourth-string defensive tackle but after injuries to Jackson and Tim Jernigan, Ridgeway was the starter next to Cox by Week 3. In seven total games in 2019, he had 2 sacks, 4 QB hits and 4 TFLs. He has some juice. 

But then Ridgeway suffered a season-ending high ankle sprain in Week 7. His first season with the Eagles lasted just 252 snaps. 

“I feel like when I was out there, I was able to show what I was capable of doing,” Ridgeway said. “I was disappointed by the injury but not disappointed by how I played.” 

The move to bring back Ridgeway wasn’t a splash. It didn’t move the needle. But bringing back a 25-year-old defensive tackle on a cheap deal to provide depth at a position that got decimated last season made plenty of sense. It was a quality signing. 

And with the four defensive tackles on the roster, the Eagles should have one of the best interior defensive lines in the NFL. 

“This interior is probably, as they always say every year, one of the best that’s out there if everybody can stay healthy,” Ridgeway said. “You got a lot of talented people all in the same room.”

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