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PFF predicts 2 of top 50 free agents land with Eagles


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PFF predicts 2 of top 50 free agents land with Eagles


NFL free agency will begin in just a few weeks and the Eagles are actually in a position to go after some players this year.

After a playoff season in 2021, the Eagles still undoubtedly have some holes to fill and with around $21 million in projected cap space for the upcoming 2022 season, they have the money and cap space to do it.

Earlier this offseason, ProFootballFocus put out its list of the top 200 free agents and now they’ve tried to find landing spots for their top 50. PFF’s Arjun Menon has two of those top 50 pending free agents landing with the Eagles. Let’s take a look at both of them and see if they fit:

No. 37: DE Justin Houston

The prediction from PFF is that the Eagles sign Houston to a one-year, $7 million fully guaranteed deal.

Here’s what Menon wrote: "Houston is one of those edge rushers who is better than the public’s perception. After sitting out for most of the offseason, he signed a one-year deal with the Ravens and turned in a solid season. Even at 32 years old, he recorded 45 pressures and 4.5 sacks. Given that pressures are more stable from year to year than sacks, we can expect him to produce this same type of performance in 2022 with a little more sack luck heading his way.

"The Eagles make a lot of sense for Houston, as they are an analytically-minded team that probably understands the value of pressure numbers. Houston’s pressures are usually above average for his position. Houston can provide quality depth as a rotational pass-rusher.”

The Eagles tried an older one-year rental at the defensive end position last year with Ryan Kerrigan, a move that just clearly didn’t work out. Kerrigan was invisible for much of the season. But signing another veteran on a one-year deal for the rotation still makes some sense. The Eagles have three first-round picks and there ought to be a very good possibility they use one of them on a defensive end. But even if they do, the Eagles need more in the rotation. They’ll have Josh Sweat starting and Brandon Graham returning at 34 and coming off an Achilles injury. Remember, Derek Barnett is set to be a free agent. If they add a rookie and Houston to that mix, all of a sudden, that’s a really strong rotation.

Is Houston worth that kind of money at his age? Maybe not. But the Eagles could structure it similarly to how they structured their one-year deals in 2021 to limit the cap hit immediately. And one thing Menon didn’t mention that might be important is that Houston spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons with the Colts in Indianapolis. That Indy connection with Nick Sirianni and Jonathan Gannon shouldn’t be overlooked here. Houston is several years removed from his Pro Bowl days but he’s been a solid rotational piece even in recent seasons. You’d have to be weary of another Kerrigan but that mistake can’t completely change the way the organization thinks about veteran pass rushers.

No. 48: CB D.J. Reed Jr.

The prediction from PFF is that the Eagles sign Reed to a three-year, $24 million deal with $13.5 million guaranteed.

Here’s what Menon wrote: "After getting cut by the 49ers, Reed went to the division-rival Seahawks and immediately flourished. In 2021, Reed finished with a 78.6 PFF grade, sixth-best in the NFL. He’s primarily spent time in zone-heavy schemes, which is why the Eagles make a lot of sense as a landing spot. Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon runs a relatively basic scheme that plays a lot of zone coverage. This can help to mask some of Reed’s weaknesses, which includes his lack of height (5-foot-9).”

Reed was a fifth-round pick out of Kansas State back in 2018 and already has four years and 55 career games under his belt and he doesn’t turn 26 until November. That’s an attractive thing to Howie Roseman, the opportunity to land a young free agent coming who will still be relatively young even after a multi-year contract.. And it’s true that Reed has experience playing in zone-heavy schemes, which could be a fit for Gannon’s defense.

But it’s hard to get over his height. It’s not that a 5-9 corner can’t play outside but we watched Avonte Maddox struggle in that role as a 5-9 corner back in 2020. The difference here is that Reed has played a ton on the outside in the NFL. Of his 1,037 snaps last year, 858 of them came as a wide corner, which is where he’s played most of his snaps the last two years.

And there’s no question that the Eagles need to find a No. 2 corner if Steven Nelson leaves as a free agent. Having Darius Slay as the CB1 is great but a weak No. 2 is going to get picked on with Slay on the other side. It’s also worth noting in this piece that Nelson (No. 45 on the list) goes to the Falcons on a two-year, $14 million deal with $8.5 million guaranteed. Reed might not be their guy but the CB2 position is a very important one for the Eagles to fill.


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