March 13, 2024   6 MIN READ

Action Packed

Assessing Wild Birds First Wave Of Free Agency


The NFL’s legal tampering period opened Monday, and the Eagles, predictably, have been as active as any team.

As of Tuesday evening, six players had reportedly agreed to terms. Contract signings will become official at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The Eagles came away with three additions on offense and three on defense, with more surely in store in coming days. The aggressive pursuit of supplemental talent potentially foreshadows what the next month will yield.

Here’s how I’m feeling about the first wave of agreements:

Bryce Huff

GETTY IMAGES: Bryce Huff played limited snaps in the Jets’ pass rush but will probably be asked to play more with the Eagles.

EDGE Bryce Huff

The least-surprising signing so far, the Eagles fortified their pass-rush in a matter of hours, agreeing to terms with the former Jets edge rusher on a three-year, $51.1 million deal. Admittedly, the Huff signing is a bit of a projection, as the 25-year-old registered just 7.5 sacks through his first three seasons before his breakthrough 10-sack 2023 campaign.

Notable also is that Huff played just 480 snaps – or 42 percent of the Jets’ defensive snaps – which is a fraction of the mileage Eagles edge defenders Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat logged last season. The team’s investment in Huff likely signals the end of the road for Reddick or Sweat, or both.

With their incumbent edge rushers facing uncertain futures in Philadelphia, the Eagles made securing a preeminent pass-rusher a primary objective. The Eagles are betting on Huff to be an ascending player who will team with 2023 first-round pick Nolan Smith in unleashing a new-look pass rush. Very intrigued to see how new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio plans to deploy him.

RB Saquon Barkley

Deviating from their traditional team-building philosophy, the Eagles generated their second sizable splash hours into the legal tampering period, signing former the former Giants running back to an exorbitant three-year, $37.75 million contract. Assessing the signing is simple: When Howie Roseman fancies a player and envisions high-end production, he’s all in. Remember, this is the same GM who’d have drafted 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey in 2017 if afforded the opportunity.

Roseman will pony up for elite talent, which he believes Barkley is. In Barkley, the Eagles land a three-down running back who, while perhaps not as explosive as he once was, offers a sorely needed power running element, dynamic traits and home-run hitting ability.

Barkley’s presence should also profoundly impact quarterback Jalen Hurts, who will no longer feel forced to shoulder the entirety of the offensive burden and put himself in harm’s way in short-yardage situations. Did the Eagles overspend? Without question. But if a healthy Barkley delivers as Roseman and Eagles brass forecast, he’ll help the offense reach historic levels.

Zack Baun

GETTY IMAGES: LB Zack Baun, formerly of the Saints, is a typical Eagles LB signing.

LB Zack Baun

Baun fits the typical Eagles mold of linebackers in that he’s a low-cost depth signing who will likely be asked to undertake a larger role defensively than his previous stop. Baun, 27, is a former third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints known more for his special teams prowess than defensive contributions.

Appearing in 62 games (14 starts), Baun compiled 88 tackles (six for loss), two sacks, an interception and eight quarterback hits. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder last season accounted for a career-high 27 percent of the defensive snaps. The Eagles needed bodies at the position, with only Nakobe Dean and Ben VanSumeren under contract for 2024, but I’m not sure Baun qualifies as much more than experienced depth and core special teamer.

Matt Hennessy

OL Matt Hennessy

Hennessy, a 2020 third-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons and Temple University product, agreed to terms with the Eagles on a one-year deal Tuesday morning. The 26-year-old appeared in 41 games (22 starts) over three seasons and offers center/guard versatility. Knee injuries hampered Hennessy in each of the past two seasons. For a young player providing depth at multiple positions – signed to a presumably modest contract– it’s hard to find the downside. Would soften the blow a bit in the event longtime reserve guard Sua Opeta lands elsewhere.

DeVante Parker

GETTY IMAGES: Oft-injured WR DeVante Parker is hoping to revive his career with the Eagles.

WR DeVante Parker

A bit of a left-field signing, as Parker, 31, has battled injuries and middling production for the past three seasons. A 2015 first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins, Parker and the Eagles agreed to terms on a one-year, $4.69 million fully guaranteed deal. The language is notable, as the Eagles are only on the hook for $1.2 million, with the New England Patriots culpable for the remaining balance.

Last season, Parker accumulated 394 yards on 33 catches (55 targets) over 13 starts. His game is predicated on playing above the rim and contested catches, and he struggles to separate but perhaps benefits from a better surrounding cast. Still, the signing does little to move the needle, and I believe the Eagles will look to the draft to add another name to the mix. Should injuries or inconsistencies arise in camp, Parker could find himself on the roster bubble.

S C.J. Gardner-Johnson

The two sides were unable to find common ground last offseason, but Gardner-Johnson returns to Philadelphia on a three-year deal worth up to $33 million following a one-year stint with the Detroit Lions. Gardner-Johnson, 26, was never able to build off his league-leading seven interception 2022 season, suffering a torn pectoral in the Lions’ Week 2 loss to Seattle. He was shelved for all but three regular season games.

A ball-hawking center fielder, Gardner-Johnson brings with him positional versatility, range and plenty of swagger. The versatility will be a crucial component to the defensive equation this season under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, whose scheme demands quite a bit of the safeties. If Gardner-Johnson – at times a freelancer – meshes with Fangio’s authoritative personality and significance placed on accountability, the signing should yield positive returns. Gardner-Johnson joins a safety room currently comprised of Reed Blankenship and second-year pro Sydney Brown, along with future deal signings Mekhi Garner and Tristin McCollum.

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for

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