Although Howie Roseman was strapped for cash heading into the 2021 Free Agency Frenzy, the Philadelphia Eagles were able to emerge from Free Agency with a handful of players that are primed to contribute immediately this upcoming season.
The first few days of Free Agency were quiet for the Birds, with their first move resigning Running Back Adrian Killins to a two-year deal. Philly retained more players of their own by also re-signing Hassan Ridegway, Alex Singleton, Greg Ward Jr. and Boston Scott.
The first signing from outside of the organization was Safety Andrew Adams from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a one-year deal.
Eagles sign S Andrew Adams from Bucs:— Thomas R. Petersen (@thomasrp93) March 18, 2021
– 28 years old
– Has 5 INTs, 6 PBUs, 1 TD, and 50 passer rating allowed in 640 coverage snaps in '18 and '19
A depth signing who has shown ability when on the field.#Eagles pic.twitter.com/oZvjOgrTmm
Philadelphia’s pick-ups relatively went under the radar until they signed Safety Anthony Harris to a one-year $5 million deal on March 20th. This move was considered a “splash” by analysts and reporters around the league.
“The Eagles’ biggest need entering the offseason was safety, and they signed one of the best safeties on the market. When framing the move that way, it’s hard not to credit the Eagles.” said Zach Berman of the Athletic. “Harris makes the defense better. He has familiarity with the scheme Gannon is expected to run and the safety he’ll be joining (McLeod, a one-time college teammate at Virginia). And the contract isn’t too burdensome. So there’s much to like with the signing — even if it seems more like swinging for good value than adding a potential building block.”
During his introductory press conference, Harris spoke about reconnecting with a few familiar faces and also about the opportunity of a fresh start.
“I just think it was a great fit. Being closer to home [families being able to travel up], that’s exciting, getting back on the east coast. Being able to reunite with individuals that I’ve crossed paths with.” said Harris “As far as players, Rodney McLeod, getting back with [defensive coordinator] Jonathan Gannon. Ultimately, just being able to come into a new situation and I’m just excited to be here.”
Anthony Harris was the NFL's highest-graded safety in 2019 with 6 INTs and 60 tackles.— Word On The Birds (@WordOnTheBirds) March 19, 2021
On April 7th the Birds signed another reinforcement from the Vikings. Linebacker Eric Wilson put the pen to the paper on a one-year deal worth $3.25 million. The Eagles have desperately needed to upgrade the linebacker position since the departure of DeMeco Ryans. One can argue Mychal Kendricks made an impact at the spot, but the team has not had a Pro Bowl linebacker since Jeremiah Trotter back in 2005.
“The NFL Network said Wilson signed for one year and up to $3.25 million. It’s fair to speculate that after a breakthrough season, in which fellow Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks called him a “walking turnover,” Wilson was expecting more from the free-agent market.” said Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Three weeks into that job fair, the Eagles offer him a chance to start — their linebacking corps was among the worst in the NFL last season — and another shot at the market next year.”
Similar to Harrs, Wilson was also coached by Gannon back in Minnesota. Wilson was known to bring the pressure to opposing quarterbacks during their time together.
“Wilson was an undrafted Vikings rookie in 2017, the last year new Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon served on Mike Zimmer’s staff.” said Bowen. “Gannon is expected to install a Zimmeresque scheme, in which linebackers might hold more value than they held for former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz…”
Both newly acquired defensive players are expected to hit the ground running next season.
Since the Birds are going through a “re-tooling” transition in 2021, it is important to have incoming players with NFL experience mixed into the locker room in addition to the established veterans already in the locker room. Familiarity between the two from a previous coaching staff is an added bonus in this situation.
Harris and Wilson can contribute on the field day 1 for Philly, both been near the top of their respective positions statistically the past two seasons of play. Although both players of course do come with deficiencies, these two signings have made the Philadelphia Eagles defense exponentially better.
Featured Image: Jim Mone/AP Photo