Eagles free-agency response: Jason Kelce returns, Javon Hargrave headed to 49ers

With the NFL’s negotiation interval beginning on Monday, Bo Wulf and Zach Berman exchanged emails all through the day. The transcript is under:

12:15 p.m. ET

Wulf: It’s simply after midday on Monday, March 13. You know what meaning — the decriminalized tampering interval has begun. As we’ve mentioned advert nauseam, the Philadelphia Eagles have an extended listing of pending free brokers they’re prone to lose (although Brandon Graham is returning, which we will focus on later). Maybe it’s no shock that the primary reported free-agent signing of the day is a former Eagle.

T.J. Edwards, the sign caller of the protection, is signing together with his hometown Chicago Bears on a three-year deal price $19.5 million, with $12 million assured, according to NFL Network. Here’s hoping it is a signing that will get extra Bears followers to learn your story about Edwards’ Chicago roots.

This will not be a significant shock for the Eagles. Historically, they don’t worth off-ball linebackers relative to different positions, and so they have too many holes to fill to allot the cash it might take to convey Edwards again. With Nakobe Dean theoretically slotted right into a beginning position, the template for the Eagles in filling the opposite spot is to attend out the market per week or so earlier than selecting from the leftovers. That’s how they landed Kyzir White a 12 months in the past. Is that your expectation this time round? I’m curious if Sean Desai needs something completely different ability set-wise than Jonathan Gannon did.


T.J. Edwards signing with Bears on 3-year deal

As for Edwards, it is a feel-good conclusion to his time in Philadelphia. Perpetually underrated, he was an undrafted rookie who needed to earn his beginning job three years in a row earlier than lastly being given the keys from the leap in 2022. He was extremely regular, with solely 4 video games missed to harm in 2020, and improved annually. For the Eagles, it’s a template price making an attempt to duplicate, simply not price paying for.

12:43 p.m.

Berman: News is occurring shortly. And the most effective information Eagles followers may hope for at this time: Jason Kelce is returning for his thirteenth season. This will not be notably stunning — it had appeared he would come again for one more season — but it surely’s nonetheless vital. He’s nonetheless taking part in at a top-of-the-league degree and his sturdiness has been exceptional (he hasn’t missed a sport since 2014). Any time you’ll be able to maintain a future Hall of Famer in your offensive line, it’s a great day for the franchise. I’m curious to see the phrases, as a result of his contract was structured in such a method that pressured a brand new deal had he determined to return. But it’s clear the contract would by no means be prohibitive. This additionally means Cam Jurgens will take over for Isaac Seumalo at proper guard, appropriate?

Your evaluation of Edwards is spot on. On one hand, he’s the kind of participant you’d prefer to reward: younger, homegrown, productive, revered within the locker room. On the opposite hand, the Eagles don’t pay linebackers huge cash. It’s why Edwards was capable of get a beginning spot in Philadelphia so shortly. I agree with this roster-building strategy, as long as they will successfully consider and develop cost-efficient gamers on the place. They’ve been burned by this strategy at occasions; Edwards was a sterling instance of when it really works. And Chicago is an effective touchdown spot for him personally, as you talked about.

I equally anticipate the Eagles to attend for the market to settle earlier than including a linebacker to start out subsequent to Dean. They’ll pay different positions first. And they’d doubtless look for the same profile as White final season.

Who’s the subsequent participant to signal elsewhere? And on a scale of podcasts, what’s your grade for Kelce returning?

Eagles 2022 third-round decide Nakobe Dean is anticipated to start out at linebacker subsequent season. (Maria Lysaker / USA Today)

1:20 p.m.

Wulf: Well, I’ve a solution on your query about which participant is subsequent to signal elsewhere. It’s prone to be essentially the most vital one, contract-wise. Javon Hargrave has agreed to phrases with the San Francisco 49ers on a four-year deal price round $80 million, in response to experiences by ESPN and NFL Network. Hargrave’s departure looks as if the results of the staff’s in-season determination to not lengthen any of its personal pending free brokers in an effort to not upset the locker room steadiness. He’s an influence participant at a place of great organizational significance, and the Eagles nailed their analysis of him once they signed him away from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020. Hargrave’s 18 1/2 sacks over the past two seasons are third amongst inside cross rushers, behind solely Chris Jones and Cameron Heyward. But he’s additionally 30, and investing that type of cash in a participant that age is a wager that pays off much less typically than it doesn’t. It additionally appears to be like like that top common annual worth will qualify Hargrave for a third-round-level compensatory decide in 2024 in the event that they don’t signal somebody who qualifies on the similar degree.

Still, the Eagles have work to do at defensive deal with. Maybe they find yourself re-signing Fletcher Cox once more. They have Milton Williams and Jordan Davis theoretically able to tackle expanded roles, however pending free brokers accounted for 69 p.c of the staff’s snaps at defensive deal with final season. Maybe the Eagles assume they will use the draft to fortify the place, or possibly they assume they’re higher suited making an attempt to signal the subsequent Hargrave as a substitute of paying for the depreciating one. There’s an extended option to go, clearly, however what do you make of the state of the place in the intervening time? And how a lot does the staff with which Hargrave is signing have an effect on how you’re feeling concerning the deal?

Circling again to your different questions. I agree Jurgens shall be anticipated to take over at proper guard. I additionally assume Howie Roseman’s M.O. means somebody who can doubtlessly take over for Lane Johnson at proper deal with and slide to proper guard as a rookie will enchantment to him within the early rounds of the draft subsequent month. Otherwise, I don’t anticipate a lot motion up entrance amongst veteran free brokers except for a veteran minimal deal or two. And on the podcast scale, Kelce returning is The Ospreys. People adore it and it looks as if it’ll by no means finish.

2:15 p.m.

Berman: Hargrave is a large loss. Not essentially surprising — I didn’t assume the Eagles would have the ability to pay him $21 million per 12 months — however defensive deal with is a premium place and Hargrave is a premium participant. To make it worse, he’s going to an NFC rival. I perceive you’ll be able to’t be sentimental about your gamers and I’d quite pay huge cash to somebody underneath 30 than north of 30, however I’m curious to see which path the Eagles go at defensive deal with. Davis and Williams are a promising younger duo, though I anticipate the Eagles to have extra pass-rushing certainty. Without understanding what the contract calls for are of different inside defensive linemen available on the market — and the market price is clearly excessive — I’d see if they will discover somebody like Hargrave in 2020. Arizona’s Zach Allen would match the factors — good pass-rushing metrics (finest QB hit price amongst free brokers, as you identified) from a younger, ascending participant with some scheme projection connected to any such signing. Of course, value is at all times an element.


DT Hargrave agrees to phrases with 49ers: Source

I’m extra bullish than others on Davis. It was not an encouraging rookie season, however the instruments, dimension and athleticism stay so engaging. Can he make a Quinnen Williams-like leap? Your Jalen Carter mock draft thought from the weekend is the most effective end result from a soccer perspective, though that’s a tough outcome to financial institution on this time of the 12 months. But if the Eagles like the inside linemen within the first spherical (Calijah Kancey and Bryan Bresee are gamers to know), maybe they go along with a stopgap defensive deal with in some unspecified time in the future in free company understanding they’ll have a great swing at an inside rusher early within the draft.

The 49ers angle doesn’t change the way in which I view the departure. It’s an enormous loss for the Eagles and the staff would most likely favor Hargrave within the AFC, however I figured the 49ers would have a great defensive position. If you’re going to make the Super Bowl, you’re going to wish to beat good groups. C’est la vie.

Let’s flip our consideration to the secondary. The Eagles nonetheless have three starters available on the market and there’s uncertainty about Darius Slay’s future with the staff. What’s your learn on that state of affairs?

3:32 p.m.

Wulf: Big information earlier than I get to these questions. Hassan Ridgeway is signing with the Houston Texans for like $3 million.

Re: Davis, there are causes to consider he’ll make a leap in Year 2. It appeared like he was beginning to come on round midseason proper when he suffered the excessive ankle sprain that led to Linval Joseph supplanting him. He nonetheless has these freakish instruments in his physique. But there have been comparable causes to clarify away his lack of pass-rush productiveness in 4 years at Georgia. As a rookie, he had zero quarterback hits on 107 pass-rush snaps within the common season, in response to TruMedia. Believing he can change into an influence cross rusher for the Eagles will not be evidence-based at this stage.

In the secondary, the Slay developments are curious. I feel persistence will repay right here. The most definitely endgame to me with Slay remains to be for the staff to restructure his deal with out an extension. It would open extra cap house than buying and selling him, and I don’t assume the market goes to supply far more to Slay than the Eagles. But we’ll see. C.J. Gardner-Johnson is the attention-grabbing one to me. Vonn Bell agreed to sign with the Panthers and Jessie Bates is signing with the Falcons for a reported deal of four years for $64 million, so now the protection market has been set. Gardner-Johnson is productive, versatile and younger. That’s sometimes the recipe for an enormous deal. I feel will probably be a very long time earlier than we all know what the penciled-in secondary goes to appear to be.

Speaking of secondary modifications, Courtney Cronin of ESPN simply reported some non-free agency Eagles news. Bears defensive high quality management coach Ronell Williams, a Chester, Pa., native who labored with Desai in Chicago, is coming to Philadelphia to be the nickels coach, which I consider is a primary for the group.

Thoughts on the secondary and Ronell Williams? Any new breaking information by the point you reply to this?


Updated NFL free company rankings: Lamar Jackson, Orlando Brown headline high 150

4:16 p.m.

Berman: As we’ve been saying all alongside about Gardner-Johnson, my guess is that they’ll push to convey him again — however there’s a value they gained’t exceed.
We didn’t know the beginning secondary final season till cutdown day once they acquired Gardner-Johnson. I’m undecided it’ll take that lengthy, however I don’t assume we’ll understand it till after the draft, on the earliest. The James Bradberry signing and Gardner-Johnson commerce had been late strikes final 12 months; the Ronald Darby commerce was a coaching camp transfer in 2017. They may see how the draft goes (for each the Eagles and different groups) and attempt to pounce on a participant who’s the sufferer of a abruptly crowded depth chart. They have a behavior of buying and selling for gamers within the final 12 months of rookie offers (assume A.J. Brown, Gardner-Johnson, Jordan Howard, Darby, Timmy Jernigan). Maybe Carolina will deal Jeremy Chinn now that they’ll signal Bell and have Xavier Woods? It’s at the least price a cellphone name by Roseman, who likes to know if anybody is accessible.

Re: Williams — A Chester native who went to West Chester University and labored at native schools (Widener, Temple), what do you assume I feel? That’s an awesome story! It’s at all times attention-grabbing once they rent somebody who already is aware of the place to discover a good cheesesteak.

And there’s no new information presently, to make use of the phrase of Kelce. But the Kelce information was a great end result for Day 1 for the Eagles. They want to interchange two key starters on protection, though we anticipated there can be defections on that aspect of the ball. Eagles followers can toast the Kelce return at this time the same way Roseman did.

6:05 p.m.

Wulf: Quick! Two updates earlier than this will get printed. Andre Dillard, the 2019 first-round decide who misplaced the left deal with job to Jordan Mailata, is reportedly set to signal with the Tennessee Titans on a three-year deal price as much as $29 million, per NFL Network. That’s a number of hooch on an unproven participant, however you’ll be able to see how the Titans may speak themselves into the upside. Subjectively, it’s exhausting to consider Dillard shall be in a greater place to succeed wherever aside from Philadelphia, however I discover him to be a participant price rooting for. He’ll qualify for the compensatory-pick components at that value. The different replace is one other departure, and this one I discover essentially the most stunning of the day. Marcus Epps is reportedly leaving for Las Vegas, according to NFL Network, with whom he’s agreed to a two-year deal price $12 million. Pertinent to the dialog concerning the secondary above, possibly this makes a Gardner-Johnson return extra doubtless. That’s it for now. Talk to you Tuesday morning, once we can recap all of the enjoyable stuff positive to occur tonight.

(Top photograph: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)

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