Where the Eagles' Low-Cost Free Agent Signings Fit in '23
When the NFL Draft begins in a little over two weeks, the Eagles’ roster will undoubtedly change, but that hasn’t precluded general manager Howie Roseman from masterfully navigating a murky cap situation over the past month with apt restructuring and strategic valuation.
The Eagles, who have adopted a calculated blueprint in terms of acquiring outside talent on the open market, have restocked the cupboards with a number of low-cost options, varying in viability.
Most Intriguing: RB Rashaad Penny
Penny, 27, inked a 1-year deal on March 15 worth $1.35 million with $600,000 totally guaranteed. While the Eagles have little invested in the former first-round pick, the enigmatic Penny has periodically flashed amid an injury-plagued five-year career — he’s missed 37 games in four seasons — including an exhilarating five-week run to close out the 2021 season in which he accumulated 671 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns on 92 carries. At 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, Penny theoretically fills the need of a between the tackles runner, but the former San Diego State product boasts enough wiggle and acceleration to churn out splash plays. Presuming he’s fully recovered from his season-ending broken fibula and can stave off any potential setbacks in training camp, Penny will likely handle the early down and short yardage work in a rotation expected to include both Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott. With little tread on the tires and an intriguing set of intangibles at his disposal, Penny may even threaten the 1,000-yard rushing barrier running behind the league’s best offensive line.
Best Value: S Terrell Edmunds
A five-year starter in Pittsburgh, Edmunds decided to make the cross-state trek to Philadelphia in free agency, agreeing to terms on a 1-year deal worth $1.94 million, $600,000 of which is guaranteed. Edmunds – another former first-round pick – isn’t your ordinary bargain-bin signing lurking on the open market during free agency’s second wave. Rather, the 26-year-old brings with him an influx of experience, appearing in 79 career games (75 starts). So, why is it that an established defender with youth on his side was available that deep into free agency? Well, for one, the safety market yielded lukewarm interest. Unlike Penny, Edmunds wasn’t available due to durability concerns, but rather due to a largely one-dimensional skill set in a league that demands multi-tool defensive talent to combat the growing list of cutting-edge offenses. Edmunds, is a smart, physical defender and an improved tackler who is most effective around the line of scrimmage. Teams can – and presumably will – look to exploit his coverage inadequacies and isolate him in space. Blemishes aside, it’s not often a team can land a 26-year-old player with 75 starts on his resume at that price point. As the old adage goes, you get what you pay for; and while Edmunds hardly projects as an All-Pro, few would argue that the Eagles have identified a strong leader and capable starter.
Favorite Fit: DT Kentavius Street
If you have been paying attention, one would be remiss to ignore the common thread adjoining this crop of Eagles’ free agents; a blueprint that pursued low-cost, moderate upside free agents. Lottery tickets in the literal sense. Street, 26, fits the profile as a snake-bitten, albeit intriguing prospect, who found his way to Philadelphia via a modest $1.265 million deal, with $600,000 guaranteed. The 6-foot-2, 287-pound defensive lineman, who tore his ACL during a pre-draft private workout with the New York Giants, navigated his way through three injury-riddled seasons before ultimately rounding into form with the San Francisco 49ers in 2021. Last season, Street accrued career highs in tackles (29), sacks (3.5) and snap share percentage (46) in a part-time role with the Saints, suggesting he has shed the “injury prone” label and has turned the corner. Coming out of N.C. State, Street stood out as a scrappy power interior player despite a less-than-ideal frame.
While Street also lacks the desired length for the position, he boasts a quick first-step and typically wins the leverage battle. He also provides inside-outside versatility. Though hardly classified as a pure pass-rusher in the traditional sense, Street can be disruptive and does push the pocket, a critical trait in which the Eagles covet in interior linemen. At best, Street slots in as the team’s fourth defensive tackle – the team will likely address the position in the draft – but the Eagles have undoubtedly mined an enticing reclamation project. Assuming Street continues to trend in the right direction, I envision a role akin to Hassan Ridgeway, though I believe Street offers more tangible production.
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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