After covering the soon-to-be free agents on the offensive side of the ball, it’s time to look at the handful of players on defense that the Eagles will have to make a decision on.

The defensive free agents are highlighted by a handful of players in the secondary as well as another player who is not a free agent but should be treated as one.


Vinny Curry // Verdict: Go

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Photo: Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

A member of the 2018 Super Bowl championship team, Vinny Curry spent one year away from the Eagles before returning as a free agent this year. In his return, Curry was less than impactful; he accumulated just 1 sack through the first 9 weeks of the season, and while picking up his production, later on, was still not that big of a game-changer.

Curry is currently 31, soon to be 32 this offseason, and given that Derek Barnett is on the team, it might be best to once again move on from the defensive end.

Timmy Jernigan // Verdict: Stay

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Photo: Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

After much belief that Jernigan would walk this past offseason, the 27-year-old from Florida State was brought back on a 1-year deal. Despite being injured for the better of the season, Jernigan was a huge asset in stopping the run, as well as gaining pressure on the quarterback. As a defensive tackle, he inevitably didn’t record too many sacks, but that shouldn’t take away from his impactful presence. He’ll be entering his prime soon, so a move should absolutely be made to retain him.

Nigel Bradham // Verdict: Go

Nigel Bradham was retained on a 5-year deal following an outstanding 2017 season en route to a Super Bowl victory. While continuing his excellence in 2018, his level of play dropped off severely in 2019, on account of numerous missed tackles along with his reoccurring problem of dropping potential interceptions.

Now, the Eagles have a choice to make on whether or not to pick up his club option. He’s another player that will soon enter his early 30s, and with Howie issuing a youth movement, the Eagles should find someone better to fill the linebacker role.

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Photo: Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports

Kamu Grugier-Hill // Verdict: Stay

Another piece of the linebacker core, Kamu Grugier-Hill had a pretty good 2019 season. Although it was marred by a concussion, which he lied about to stay in the game against Miami, he showed his reasons for staying on the team. He is not a future starter by any means, but he provides good depth as well as a good presence on special teams. The Eagles, however, may not want to bring him back, given his relationship with coach Doug Pederson.

In 2018, just before a week 14 game vs. the Dallas Cowboys, Hill made comments about getting the Cowboys to “choke”. Pederson did not appreciate the comments at all, which led to Hill apologizing to him. This year, Pederson called Hill’s act of hiding his concussion “selfish” and said that he was dissapointed in the 25-year-old. With all that said, if the Eagles chose to look past that history, Hill would certainly be an important piece to retain.

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Photo: Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

Jalen Mills // Verdict: Go

A cornerback that has been criticized his entire career in Philadelphia, Mills was not better this year. Although he did deal with injuries throughout the season, he has not proven to be any better when healthy.

Considering this and the fact that young corners such as CreVeon Le’Blanc and even Sidney Jones have started to shine, it’s safe to say that Jalen Mills should be let go.

Ronald Darby // Verdict: Go

Finishing off a one-year deal, Darby was mediocre in the 2019 season. Another player who was hurt for the better part of the season, Darby has arguably his worst as a pro. He was rated 45.5 by PFF and was consistently targeted in the deep pass game due to his inability to stick with his assignment. Cornerback is a position the Eagles need a major upgrade at, and bringing back Darby will not help at all.

Rodney McLeod // Verdict: Stay

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Photo: Winslow Townson/AP

Signed in 2016, McLeod just finished the last year of his 3-year deal. Safety hasn’t been an issue for the Eagles for years with the duo of McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins, but with McLeod set to be a free agent and Jenkins wanting a new deal, it’s a position that needs to be addressed this offseason.

Nevertheless, McLeod should be brought back, as long as it’s on a team-friendly deal. He had a decent 2019 season, and while entering his 30s, he doesn’t seem to show signs of decline.

BONUS: Malcolm Jenkins // Verdict: New Contract

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Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Although not a free agent, Malcolm Jenkins has expressed his desire for pay raise and has explicitly stated that he will not play under his current contract. While he is reaching a high age, he’s still tackling hard and hawking in the secondary. Another great factor about Jenkins is his reliability; in his time with the Eagles, he has not missed a single game, starting 96 consecutive games. If that were not enough, he’s been an incredible leader in the locker room and has been accredited numerous times for leading the team through adversities. His presence has been a huge part of the Eagles’ past success, so he absolutely deserves his raise.


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