As the Carson Wentz trade drama continues to unfold, the Eagles must also start to think about their pending free agents and whether or not they want to retain them. The team currently has 18 players set to hit the market in less than one month, amongst which nine are on the defensive side of the ball. For most of them, it may be time to say goodbye to the organization, but a select few should be given serious consideration of retention.

SS Jalen Mills

Image result for jalen mills
Image: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With the departure of Malcolm Jenkins, Jalen Mills finally got the chance to switch over to his natural playing position – strong safety. Though it may not seem like it, Mills had an exceptional year at the safety spot. The fifth-year out of LSU ranked top-15 in sacks, quarterback hits, and tackles for loss amonst SS’s. Mills also tied a career high of starting in 15 games. Despite being one of the more popular scapegoats of the defense’s failures over the years, Mills is only going to continue to grow from here on out as he remains at safety, hence why the Eagles should strongly consider retaining him.

Verdict: Stay

CB Nickell Robey-Coleman

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals
Image: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

Nickell Robey-Coleman was signed by the Eagles to bolster a revamped cornerback squad, but will leave as yet another failed Howie Roseman signing. Operating mainly as a slot cornerback, Coleman had the worst year of his career in Philadelphia. The eighth-year veteran allowed a completion percentage of 78.7%, 490 yards through the air, and a passer rating of 125.2 when targeted. It’s safe to say that he will not be missed by the team.

Verdict: Go

 

DE Vinny Curry

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Image: Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

Howie Roseman has a well known habit of being attached to veteran players, as he’s said so himself, and Vinny Curry is one of the latest examples of it. After having been signed for a one-year deal in 2019, Curry was resigned to another one-year deal for $2 million for 2020. At the end of the season, he totaled three sacks, 16 tackes, and 10 QB hits. For a rotation player, his stats may not seem so bad, but given his age and younger talent waiting in the wings, it would be best for the Eagles to move on.

Verdict: Go

DT Hassan Ridgeway

Hassan Ridgeway returns to a Eagles team stacked at defensive tackle
Image: Yong Kim/Philadelphia Inquirer

Hassan Ridgeway joined the Eagles in April of 2019, when he traded from the Colts. Since then, Ridgeway has gotten a handful of snaps, though nothing substantial. He logged just 138 snaps on defense this season and totaled one sack, one quarterback hit, and 11 tackles. Though he wouldn’t cost much, there’s not much upside to retaining Ridgeway as his production can be replaced through upcoming draft picks and undrafted free agent signings.

Verdict: Go

 

CB Cre’Von LeBlanc

Cre’Von LeBlanc was surprised Eagles released him to clear roster spot last weekend, but he chose to return
Image: Tim Tai/Philadelphia Inquirer

Cre’Von LeBlanc’s season started on a rather odd note when he was mysteriously cut just one week prior to the season opener. Thankfully, he was signed just a day later, as the move was made for roster purposes. Unfortunately, it ended up being a poor year for LeBlanc, in line with the rest of the team, as he allowed a career worst 78.1% completion percentage and 108.7 passer rating. However, LeBlanc also dealt with injuries throughout the season, as he was placed on injury reserve in late November and never returned to the field. The fan favorite cornerback still has the best left in him, and with a new, cornerback-friendly defensive coordinator coming in, in Jonathan Gannon, LeBlanc has a very good chance of bouncing back if resigned.

Verdict: Stay

 

LB Duke Riley

Image: USA Today Images

In his second season as an Eagle, Duke Riley saw an increase in amount of playing time, as he started eight games at linebacker in 13 appearances and played 58% of the team’s special teams snaps. Riley had a decent season, totaling 55 tackles, one quarterback hit, and an interception. Keeping Riley would not only help provide depth at a rather weak linebacker core, but also support the special teams. On a cheap deal, Riley is a keeper for the Eagles.

Verdict: Stay

 

SS Rudy Ford

Rudy Ford
Image: Michael Leff/Getty Images

Injuries unfortuantely plagued Rudy Ford throughout 2020, as he missed over eight games this season. In his limited playing time, Ford saw just 46 snaps on defense and added 15 tackles, including one for loss. Given that the Eagles just drafted K’Von Wallace and Jalen Mills could potentially be resigned, the team has leeway of being able to let Ford walk in free agency.

Verdict: Go

 

LB Nate Gerry

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Image: Laurence Kesterson/AP

At the top of the list of everything that went wrong for the Eagles in 2020 sits Nate Gerry. In 2019, Gerry had actually earned $559,460 from performance-based incentives, but this year, it came crashing down. Before being placed on injury reserve in October, Gerry started seven games and allowed a completion percentage of 84.4%, 258 yards in the air, and a passer rating of 139.8. It’s safe to say that he won’t be missed by the team or the fans going forward.

Verdict: Go

 

LB Alex Singleton

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Image: Tim Tai/Philadelphia Inquirer

Contrary to Nate Gerry, Alex Singleton sits at the top of the list of the very few bright spots this past season. Singleton, a former Canadian Football League player, ranked 15th in the league in combined tackles with 120, while also logging two sacks, five tackles for loss, seven QB hits, and an interception that he returned for a touchdown. His pick-six actually brought him into the spotlight, as it sealed a Sunday Night win over the 49ers early on in the season. As he continues to develop, Singleton will be huge for rebuilding the defense’s linebacker core, and thus must be retained. Fortunately, he can be tendered as an exclusive right free agent, an option which the Eagles can and should exercise.

Verdict: Stay

 

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