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Potential Eagles free-agent targets with connections to Jonathan Gannon


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Potential Eagles free-agent targets with connections to Jonathan Gannon



Might Jonathan Gannon’s return influence how the Eagles attack free agency?

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for Jonathan Gannon over the past year. There’s no other way his journey can be described. Shortly after Nick Sirianni was named as the Philadelphia Eagles‘ head coach, he went to work on assembling his staff. Gannon, a man that spent the past three seasons with him in the Indianapolis Colts organization, was his choice to lead the defense.

Sirianni was Indy’s offensive coordinator from 2018 to 2020. J.G. also served as a part of Frank Reich’s staff. He was the defensive backs coach for the Colts over that same period.

One of the immediate questions that came after Gannon’s hire centered around the fact that he had never called plays before. Let’s just say there were growing pains.

J.G.’s defense saw criticism as they were bludgeoned on a week-in and week-out basis. There are moments where they looked like they had a handle on things, but they also made pedestrian quarterbacks look like Joe Montana.

Gannon was called out publicly by Fletcher Cox on one occasion and Javon Hargrave on another. People were calling for his job before the midpoint of the season. Somehow J.G. righted his ship but heading into the offseason, there’s much to fix on the defensive side of the ball.

Now, while that may not sound like a future head coach, by the time we reached the end of the Eagles’ season, Gannon was a candidate that several teams were interested in. Go figure.

In the end, several interviews led to nothing, and J.G. is expected to be Philadelphia’s D.C. again in 2022. The Birds are armed with draft capital and money to spend in free agency. The expectation is that holes will be filled on Gannon’s side of the ball.

Philly should and can be expected to be players in free agency. Some of the available talent has connections to you know who. Let’s take a look at a handful. Here are five guys that should have a market. Might the Philadelphia Eagles be among the interested parties?


Anthony Barr is a better option than a former Vikings LB the Eagles added in 2021.

It’s no secret that Gannon’s arrival in Philly had a lot to do with two former Minnesota Vikings being added during last year’s free-agency signing period seeing as how Gannon spent four seasons in Minneapolis as the Vikings’ assistant DBs coach of course.

Eric Wilson signed a one-year deal on April 14th. Anthony Harris was added via a one-year prove-it deal of his own almost one full month earlier on March 16th.

Wilson struggled mightily and was released on November 3rd after starting two of the seven games that he appeared in. Harris was much better for Philly than his former Vikings teammate was. He’s no Brian Dawkins, but he fared well in Gannon’s scheme, eventually settling into an above-average safety rotation that also featured Rodney McLeod and a steadily-improving Marcus Epps. Has he gotten good or what?

All that’s been said to say this. Wilson’s struggles probably won’t have any effect on the interest the Eagles brass could have in another Minnesota linebacker, Anthony Barr. He’s one of Minnesota’s impending free agents, and he fills a huge need for these Birds on the defensive side of the ball if h hits the market.

He turns 30 in March, and that will turn some teams off. Still, he’d be a tremendous player at the second level in the Eagles’ 4-3 scheme. Four of his eight NFL seasons have ended with his name being added to the Pro Bowl roster. That hasn’t happened since 2018, but Barr is more than capable. Keep an eye on him. He could be added for a bargain price.


Could Mackensie Alexander fill a potential void on the opposite side of Darius Slay?

During two of J.G.’s four seasons in Minneapolis as the Vikings’ assistant defensive backs coach, he got to know Mackensie Alexander very well after Minnesota made the former Clemson Tigers star the 54th-overall selection during Round 2 of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Alexander arrived, and the expectations were he’d provide immediate results. After all, he was a First-team All-ACC nod and a Third-team All-American following his final season at the collegiate level in 2015. It hasn’t quite worked out as the Vikes would have liked.

His first four seasons at football’s highest level concluded with a trip to the injured reserve. The Cincinnati Bengals added him by way of a one-year deal on March 30th before the Vikes re-signed him for a second stint on March 29th of last year.

Alexander figures to walk during the offseason. He’s never been voted to a Pro Bowl. He’s never been an All-Pro, but if there’s one area where Jonathan Gannon excels, it’s in getting the best out of his secondary.

In Gannon’s scheme during the 2021-2022 season, Darius Slay enjoyed a Pro Bowl season. Avonte Maddox had a fantastic run. The Birds found a nice rotation a safety. Don’t rule out the possibility of Alexander finally reaching his ceiling if he reunites with J.G. That is if the Philadelphia Eagles have any interest. Only time will tell if they are.


Could Xavier Rhodes re-establish himself in an Eagles jersey?

Once upon a time, Xavier Rhodes was seen by many as being one of the best young corners in the game. Now, he’s 31 years old. He turns 32 in June, and he figures to leave the Indianapolis Colts three months before that happens. That would mean that Indy had decided to move on after one season.

Rhodes’ story is similar to that of Mackensie Alexander’s. They both played under Gannon in Minnesota. They both have made their living by chasing some of the game’s best wideouts around, but Rhodes has done something that Alexander couldn’t. He’s found his way onto three Pro Bowl rosters (2016, 2017, and 2019).

On March 13th of 2020, Minnesota released Rhodes after seven years. With Indy, he earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after picking Sam Darnold off twice in Week 3 of the most recent NFL season. The only way to connect the dots between the Eagles and Rhodes is to, again, bring up the four seasons that they shared from 2014 to 2017.

Still, even if you do so, it seems highly unlikely that Philly would want to start and pay top dollar for two cornerbacks who are over the 30-year-old threshold. Who knows though? We’ve been wrong before.

It will be interesting to see what the market is for Rhodes as we near free agency. We’ll see if there’s any interest by the Birds at that time.



Al-Quadin Muhammad could be the elixir for the Eagles pass rush.

Regardless of how the game of football evolves, certain rules will always be true. The pass rush helps the guys in coverage and vice versa. The Eagles, knowing that, signed Ryan Kerrigan to a one-year deal in 2021, and that blew up in their faces almost immediately.

The former Washington star had nothing left. The Birds had buyer’s remorse all season, but hope springs eternal. This could all get turned around relatively quickly.

Kerrigan and Derek Barnett are expected to leave in free agency, but Josh Sweat is still on the team. As is a young star in Tarron Jackson.

Earlier this offseason, it was learned that Brandon Graham, despite coming off of a significant injury, is still in this team’s plans for 2022. If the Eagles draft a young EDGE star and add one via free agency, they could be in business.

Pay very close attention to Al-Quadin Muhammad if you aren’t already. In the right system, he could take a step towards stardom.

In 64 regular-season games as a member of the Colts, he’s started 25 games. 47 of those games and eight of those starts came with Gannon standing on the same sideline. The results have been good for someone playing in a rotational role.

He has 127 tackles and 11 sacks to show for his work. He’d look really good in an Eagles jersey, and at 26 years of age (he turns 27 in March), he has plenty of gas left in the tank.


Everson Griffen is old, but he’d still upgrade the Eagles’ pass rush.

Knowing that Everson Griffen is 34 years old is enough to turn much of the Eagles contingent off immediately. By NFL standards, he’s a senior citizen, and easy arguments can be made for any theory stating the Birds don’t need another guy on defense that’s over 30.

Keep this in mind. Brandon Graham is 33 and turns 34 in April. Do you see where this is headed?

Here’s why adding Everson Griffen might work. Philly doesn’t need Griffen to be the guy that earned a Second-Team All-Pro nod in 2017. They don’t need him to be the guy that racked up four Pro Bowl nods in the span of five seasons. Here’s all that has to happen.

If Griffen could serve as another veteran presence and join that already-impressive defensive end rotation, let’s say he’d handle about 15-20 snaps in pass-rushing situations, that would give the Birds the extra punch that they thought they were getting from Ryan Kerrigan. Griffen is definitely still capable of doing that.

In 2020, his second stint with the Vikings, he appeared in nine games and made six starts. The result was 15 tackles, a forced fumble, five sacks, and ten additional quarterback hits. Just in case you’re keeping score, Fletcher Cox played in 16 games for the Birds. He added 35 tackles, two forced fumbles, and 3.5 sacks to the Eagles’ cause.

Trust us. Griffen can contribute in a limited role. That isn’t to say that the Birds need to break the bank. That isn’t to say that they shouldn’t draft someone and seek other options first, but if he’s hanging around and Philly can get him for a discount, this could be an idea that’s worth tossing around.


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FAs with connections to Gannon ... worked out well with Wilson, eh?  

Here's a novel idea ... how about we just focus on drafting players that seem to fit the scheme we are trying to run.

Zero interest in adding any more FAs that are near or past 30.

Barr turns 30 next month ... NO

Rhodes turns 32 in June ... NO

Griffen turned 34 in December ... NO

Alexander is only 28 but 3 INTs in 6 seasons?  ... NO (better off bringing back Nelson and drafting a CB on day 1 ... day 2 latest)

Muhammed is somewhat intriguing ... only 26 (turns 27 in March).  If we could sign him for a reasonable deal to serve as a rotational piece it might be a good addition (I wouldn't overpay for him ... some team probably will just as they likely will do for Barnett too).  

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i’ve been eyeing Barr recently he is getting up there in age but still playing solid and we don’t have much at the SAM spot if you get solid production for a few years and allow him to train up Johnson and/or a draft pick or two it’s worth it. 

only other one i would be interested in is muhammad hadn’t really heard anything about him before now.

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