By: Alex Matteo
As the dust settles from the free agency chaos, there are still plenty of impact players that should sign prior to the 2021 NFL Draft. One team, in particular, that should look into this market is the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles were not the most active in free agency early on in free agency with four signings; most notably safety Anthony Harris. Early in the offseason, however, there was anticipation that the team would cut ties with most veteran players and enter a full rebuild. Restructuring the contracts of Jason Kelce, Darius Slay and Brandon Graham is a very strong indication that the Eagles believe this will be a quick turnaround. If Philadelphia hits on one or two more free agents this offseason they certainly will be in a position to compete in a wide-open NFC East.
K.J. Wright, Linebacker
After spending the 10 years of his career in Seattle, K.J. Wright has hit the open market. Over the course of his career, Wright has played at least 13 games in all but one season. In 2020 Wright had 86 tackles with 11 for a loss, two sacks and one interception. Adding a player like K.J. Wright would be for depth rather than a long term solution for a team.
After resigning Alex Singleton, Philadelphia is still in need of a linebacker. Could the team go Micah Parsons at pick 12? Absolutely. Adding a veteran like K.J. Wright instead would make much more sense for the team. There would be more flexibility for the team at pick 12, and you would be adding a veteran presence and leader that a young linebacker room needs.
Brian Poole, Cornerback
Philadelphia is still in search of cornerback help to play besides Darius Slay. Whether it is helpful in the slot or on the outside Philadelphia needs players. Insert Brian Poole from the New York Jets. The 28-year-old cornerback played in a total of nine games last year. This was the first time that Poole has played less than 14 games in his career. While signing a corner coming off of an injury generally is a bad idea, taking a shot on Poole is a low-risk high reward. Poole can play both in the slot and on the outside. Per Player Profiler, Poole played 47 percent of his snaps in the slot and allowed only 42.3 yards per game.
Poole won’t be a game-changer or a Super Bowl-winning piece, but neither was Patrick Robinson at the time of the signing a few years back. In his nine games in 2020, Poole had 44 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defended is serviceable at the minimum. That is what the Eagles need desperately, a corner with a safe floor who they know what they are going to get week in and week out. Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has gotten the most out of veteran corners in his three seasons as the defensive backs and cornerbacks coach with the Colts. Should Poole stay healthy Philadelphia should have a viable option at the position besides Darius Slay.
Trey Burton, Tight End
Most known for throwing a touchdown to Nick Foles in Super Bowl 52, Trey Burton is a player that would be a good fit in Philadelphia. Things did not work out in Chicago after signing a four-year deal worth up to $32 million. This past season Burton with the Indianapolis Colts was in a timeshare with Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox seeing 28 targets which netted 250 yards and three scores.
Already playing under Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni, the Eagles needing a second tight end with Zach Ertz likely moving on from the team and his ability in run blocking a Trey Burton reunion in Philadelphia is a seamless fit.
Oh… any time you can bring up the Philly Special and Super Bowl 52 you have to take advantage of that.
Would the additions of K.J. Wright, Brian Poole, and Trey Burton make the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl contenders? Most likely not; however these additions would fill holes at positions of need going into the draft. Additions at this time of the offseason are the difference makers between getting a Wild Card spot and hosting a home playoff game. Teams that are shallow on depth regardless of the position get hit one way or another costing them a championship (2020 Kansas City Chiefs). Filling your holes prior to the draft allows you to select the best player available, turning a rebuild into a retool. In a division that is wide open, the Eagles have the opportunity to turn this rebuild into a retool.