PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 08: James Bradberry #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates an incomplete pass during the first quarter against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field on January 08, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Welp, a great season ended in tragedy. This Eagles team looked elite all season. They were top 5 on both sides of the ball. And they were still in the game until the final moments. They came that close just to fall 3 points short. And now, we turn our eyes to the Off-Season. Bouncing back from losing in the Super Bowl can be tough. But not impossible. The Patriots came right back from losing to the Eagles to win it the next year. The Bengals lost to the Rams, and then made it to the AFC Championship game the next season. But making that return starts with having a great off-season. Earlier in the week we looked at the offense. But now let’s check out their needs on defense.

The Eagles’ defense was good all year. Until the Super Bowl. They struggled mightily vs the Chiefs’ offense. They couldn’t get a single stop in the 2nd Half. The Prolific pass rush disappeared. And the great secondary was getting fooled by the Chiefs’ scheme, leaving Chiefs players wide open.

Unlike the offense, the Eagles have a lot of Free Agents on Defense. Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Ndamukong Suh, Linval Joseph, TJ Edwards, Kyzir White, CJ Gardner-Johnson, James Bradberry, and Marcus Epps could all leave. Surely they will resign some of them. But there are going to be holes to fill with Free Agents and draft picks. Luckily, the Eagles have two first-round draft picks. But they also lack very many day 3 picks. It will be the type of year they need to hit on those early picks if this defense is going to carry over to next season.

So what do the Eagles need to do to fix the holes in their defense? Which of their free agents do they need to bring back? Who should they be looking at in the draft? Here is a rundown of the Eagles’ needs on defense.


  • Edge Rusher

    It doesn’t really matter how many pass rushers the Eagles have, edge rushers will always be a need. Even with the Eagles having the best pass rush in the league, DE could still be on the table.  

    Both Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat will be back next year. But Brandon Graham may not be. He is a free agent, and also about to turn 35. As great as he was this year, I don’t know if they can rely on him next year, even if he returns. Is it the most pressing need? No. But that has never stopped the Eagles from investing heavily in it before.  

    If they want to invest a day 1 pick in an Edge Rusher, watch out for Nolan Smith’s name. We know from the last two years they now love to grab guys from the National Championship team. And while Smith’s production never quite lived up to the lofty expectations coming into college, he still projects to be an explosive player off the edge in both the run and pass game. He’s the type of player who could get more and more traction as we get closer to the draft. But if he is there at 10, he is very much a viable option for them. Like last year there are many edge rushers projected to go in the first round, and any of them could be a fit for Midnight Green. 

  • Defensive Tackle

    An interior Defensive Lineman is a far more immediate need than an edge rusher. They took Jordan Davis who will be ready to step into a large role next season. But Javon Hargrave, Linval Joseph, Ndamukong Suh, and Fletcher Cox are all free agents. Ideally, they will bring Hargrave back. But even if they do, we saw this year how valuable a deep rotation at DT is. Milton Williams will stick around, and he has come on stronger on limited snaps. But even in the best-case scenario, they will need DT depth. Worst case scenario, Hargrave leaves, and it becomes perhaps their greatest need this offseason.   

    DT is unfortunately not quite as deep as an edge rusher this draft. Jalen Carter is the star attraction here, but there is no chance he falls to 10 unless there is some last-second scandal that hurts his stock. Bryan Bresee is the next best DT but taking him at 10 may be a reach. So I’m not sure if a DT at 10 is really in the cards for them. But there are some options at 31, and on day 2. 

    Siaki Ika from Baylor is a very intriguing prospect. Like Jordan Davis, he is a very large man, with surprising quickness. The only drawback is that like Jordan Davis, his snap count has been very limited. But having two guys like that on the line would be very dangerous, as long as they had other DTs who could spell them at times.  

    They will need to do something at DT. Hopefully, that starts with bringing back Hargrave. And I would not be mad at bringing back at least one of Joseph or Suh either if they can afford it. The Eagles’ deep DT rotation is a big reason why this team was as good as they were this season. Trying to replicate that should be a priority.  

  • Off-Ball Linebacker

    The Eagles will never invest heavily in an Off-Ball Linebacker. A day 2 pick is the most you can expect them to pay for an LB. They did that last year when Nakobe Dean fell to them in the 3rd round, and a few years ago with Davion Taylor. But given the lack of day 3 picks, I doubt they will take one of their few picks and spend it on a position they do not value much. 

    Both of their primary LBs are free agents. Kyzir White is probably gone. he looked promising at first, but at the end of the season, he represented a weak spot on the Eagles’ defense. But the team will likely want to bring TJ Edwards back. He played at a very high level this season. And he is not such a big star that he will get a large payday. He is the exact right level of good to make the Eagles want to hold onto him.  

    If they sign Edwards, then Dean will take White’s spot, and the Eagles will pretty much be set at LB by their standards. But if they lose both, then they will need to find a 2nd starting LB somewhere. But even then, it will not be a large investment for them. Another cheap one-year deal like they did with White, would be the most likely move in that worst-case scenario. With all the other needs on defense, they are not going to put much stock in at Linebacker, whether we like it or not. Hopefully, they at least keep TJ Edwards though.  

  • Cornerback

    As with every offseason, Cornerback is a need. That has been the case for many years running. But it never quite worked out in the draft for them to land one. With Darius Slay getting older and nearing the end of his deal, plus James Bradberry almost certainly leaving in free agency, that really has to change this offseason. The duo of Slay and Bradberry was elite this year. But they need to get younger at the position. And with Hurts about to get paid, having someone on a rookie deal playing corner would be a great luxury. 

    A name Eagles fans may fall in love with heading up to the draft will be Penn States Joey Porter Jr. Many of us saw him play, and he certainly makes an impression. But names like Oregon’s Christain Gonalez and South Carolina’s Cam Smith are also ones to watch. It is not a bad year to need a corner. And even into Day 2, there should be names worth taking. It’s hard to imagine them leaving the draft once again without a CB.  Though we said that the last two years too. 

    And they could of course always play that game again to see what corners are still left late in free agency who have to settle for a 1-year deal. But that is a dangerous gamble. It paid off this year with James Bradberry falling into their lap. But if the Giants never cut him, Eagles fans could have been watching Zech McPhearson or Josiah Scott lined up on the other side of Slay. And the year before they had to settle with Steven Nelson. So, it is fair to say Eagles fans would prefer to finally get a good young corner on the team. This is too good of a draft for Cornerbacks to come away empty-handed. 

  • Safety

    Both of the Eagles’ starting Safeties are free agents this offseason. CJ Gardner Johnson will likely be a priority-free agent for them. And Marcus Epps was solid enough to bring back at the right price. But there is a chance they go into the offseason needing to replace both of their Safeties. And like Linebacker, the Eagles have not shown much interest in spending high draft capital on a Safety. There will be lots of cheap solid options in free agency.  

    The game plan should be to bring back CJ, and then either resign Epps to a cheap deal or find a similar player in free agency at a cheap rate. They have too many other needs on defense to spend good draft capital at the position. And of course, the Eagles have a long history of not spending high draft picks of Safeties.

    It is hard to project what they could do here beyond bringing back both guys.  Even though on the surface it could be a need, it may be the need that gets the lowest priority from them. The value D-Line and Cornerback far more than Safety. If they do lose CJ Gardenr Johnson, it might just be a bit ugly at Safety for them next year. Which is why resigning him may be one of the most important moves they can make.

  • The Needs on Offense

    The Eagles Off-Season Needs on Offense

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