Low Risk, High Upside
DiCecco: Cost-Efficient Depth Options For Birds
All things considered, free agency is off to a good start for the Eagles, who somehow retained much of their own talent while also bringing a trio of upside-laden veterans.
Departures were imminent – and big-play safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson still lurks on the open market – but Howie Roseman, the team’s executive vice president of football operations, has done a masterful job in maneuvering and structuring the roster for sustained success.
Roseman also eliminated the urge to reach for needs in April’s NFL Draft.
Following the initial wave of free agency, however, the Eagles still have key positions ripe for improvement.
Here are four cost-efficient free agents who could effectively bolster the team’s depth chart:
DL Michael Dogbe
A seventh-round pick in 2019, Dogbe has been a mainstay on Arizona’s defensive line, playing in 40 games (5 starts) the past four seasons. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Dogbe played everything from nose and 3-technique, to 4i and 5-technique last season. Along with his versatility, the 26-year-old Temple product also demonstrates active, violent hands; herculean strength at the point of the attack; and proficiency defending the run. Dogbe, who logged 282 defensive snaps last season, has established himself as an impactful rotational player and would seemingly provide value to a team deprived of proven trench depth. From an Eagles perspective, Dogbe’s experience and positional versatility could be particularly appealing given the questionable depth behind Jordan Davis, Fletcher Cox, and Milton Williams. His addition would also effectively eliminate a seemingly pressing need entering the draft. In his four seasons in the desert, Dogbe accumulated 62 tackles (4.0 tackles for loss), two sacks, four quarterback hits and a fumble recovery.
S Adrian Amos
As long as C.J. Gardner-Johnson remains on the market, it behooves the Eagles to conjure a contingency plan. Former Eagles cornerback-turned-safety Jalen Mills’ release on Friday evoked some intrigue over a potential return, but in my opinion, the Green Goblin would better serve the Eagles as a backup safety – especially if Gardner-Johnson signs elsewhere. Amos, 29, is versed in multiple schemes and could serve as a veteran stopgap while ideally playing alongside a draftee. The Penn State product, known for his leadership and high-level football intelligence, has appeared in 126 games (122 starts). He spent the first four years of his career with the Bears, where the Eagles new defensive coordinator Sean Desai was on staff as a defensive quality control coach while Amos was there. Though the splash plays have largely eluded Amos throughout his career, the veteran defensive back would provide stability and familiarity in helping implement Desai’s defense. Seemingly an attractive option for the cost-conscious Eagles.
LB Anthony Walker
The departures of starters T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White leaves the Eagles lean in the way of proven commodities at the linebacker position. With 2022 third-rounder Nakobe Dean entrenched into one spot – presumably White’s – Edwards’ role remains a glaring vacancy. The household names remaining on the inside linebacker market include Bobby Wagner, Myles Jack, and Denzel Perryman, but beyond the surface, there is value to be found, though each carrying varying levels of risk and expectations. Considering age, production, and cost, Browns linebacker Anthony Walker checks off most of the boxes. Walker, 27, suffered a season-ending quad injury in Week 3 and could be in line for a one-year prove-it deal. A fifth-round pick of the Colts in 2017 – where he overlapped with Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni for four seasons – Walker appeared in 73 career games (63 starts), accruing 469 tackles (25 for loss), 4.5 sacks, three interceptions, 15 passes defended, and seven quarterback hits. The addition would give the Eagles another experienced, productive, veteran leader, who also happens to have a long-standing history with Sirianni.
WR Isaiah McKenzie
In a surprise move, McKenzie – a diminutive speedster coming off a career season – joined the open market Friday. The 5-foot-8, 173-pound pass-catcher, who accounted for 54 percent of the Bills’ offensive snaps last season, corralled 42 passes for 423 yards and four touchdowns (65 targets), while adding 55 yards and a touchdown as a runner. McKenzie, 27, also provides added value as a returner – an area in which the Eagles navigated through inconsistency last season. If they’re looking for a dynamic slot option to replace Quez Watkins, while also bolstering the return game, the Eagles should give McKenzie a long look. This just feels like the quintessential savvy roster move that Roseman would make.
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
Listen to the latest Inside The Birds podcast with Adam Caplan and Geoff Mosher:
Or watch on YouTube: