By Connor Thomas

 

We officially made it through the offensive side of the ball with yesterday’s look at some potential offensive line targets for the Eagles in free agency, and now it’s time to head to the side of the ball that needs the most re-tooling this offseason. The defense wasn’t abysmal this past season, but there were still major holes in Jonathan Gannon’s unit that need filling between now and opening week 2022. The d-line has long been a strength of the birds, but there are still offseason needs to keep those positions stocked with talent. Here are some available players that could fill those needs:

  • Jadeveon Clowney, DE

    Clowney is probably going to be viewed as the highest profile defensive lineman available in free agency, and for good reason. The man has been a monster since his time at South Carolina, and hasn’t slowed down in the NFL. He had 9 sacks for the Browns this past season, which should entice them to try and re-sign the near-29 year old, but he would be silly not to test free agency and try and get a big pay day. The Eagles would have to pay a significant amount of money, probably more than his $8mil salary he collected in Cleveland, but every indication is that he is totally worth it. The birds have a major need at edge rusher, and Clowney is the best available.

  • Akiem Hicks, DT

    Hicks was looking for a contract extension this past offseason with Chicago, but the Bears could not reach a number. Now, the 32 year old will test free agency, and he’ll be sure to garner a lot of attention around the league. Hicks had some nagging injuries this past season which could lower his value slightly, but even if his new contract is only half of the $12mil he made last year it would represent a sizable investment for the Eagles. Fletcher Cox isn’t getting any younger, though, and it may be time to look at really investing in a veteran at the position outside of Cox. Javon Hargrave had a pro bowl year, so this isn’t a necessity, but the birds love an embarrassment of riches on the lines, and Hicks would be just that.

  • Justin Houston, DE

    Houston is certainly on the backside of his career at 33 years old, but he was productive in Baltimore this past year as part of a strong defensive line. He tallied 5 sacks and 17 QB hits off the edge for the Ravens, and he did it while only banking slightly over $2mil in salary. It’s tough to say what he will command considering his age, but Houston has still showed ability to get to the quarterback at a solid rate. Brandon Graham is clearly in the twilight of his career, so Houston could be an enticing younger vet at that position.

  • Foley Fatukasi, NT

    If you haven’t heard Fatukasi’s name before, you’re certainly not alone. He’s been in the league for 4 years, spending all of them in obscurity with the lowly New York Jets. It’s hard to hid a 6’4”, 300+lb guy in New York City, but the Jets have a way of making solid players seem invisible. Fatukasi is only 26, and is finishing a year in which he made $658k to be one of the better run stoppers in football. He doesn’t pressure the QB well, but he plugs holes well enough to be in a defensive line rotation. Learning from Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave would certainly be a good thing for him to do as well. It’s not a splashy move, but he could be a depth diamond in the rough simply thanks to no one noticing players on the Jets.

  • Derek Barnett, DE

    The Eagles should take a serious look at re-signing their 1st round pick from the 2017 NFL draft… Hahahaha just kidding. Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself for taking a parting shot at a player who seemed to be trying harder to commit personal fouls than actually help the birds win. Some coaches around the league may say “it’s always him”, but that won’t be Philadelphia’s problem anymore. Outside of the fumble recovery in Super Bowl 52, Barnett’s time will pass here without much positive.