Over the next three weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 20 most important Eagles for the 2021 season.
11. Alex Singleton
For years now the Eagles have been unapologetic about their stance on linebackers. They’re not going to sink top resources into the position.
And because of the emergence of Alex Singleton last year, there’s plenty of reason to think they won’t change their stance any time soon.
It took an injury to Nate Gerry last season but eventually Singleton became a starter and had a tremendous season. Singleton started just 11 games and finished the season with 120 combined tackles to lead the team by a long shot. Singleton was a tackling machine.
In fact, in his 11 starts last season, Singleton averaged over 10 combined tackles per game. In a 17 game season at that pace, Singleton would have over 170 tackles. Sure, it’s unlikely he can hit that pace again and maybe he’ll never be a star. But those 11 starts proved he wasn’t a fluke.
The crazy thing here is that Singleton has had a really long road to the NFL. He went undrafted in 2015 and after a brief cup of coffee in the NFL, went north to Canada. In the CFL, Singleton became an All-Star player and Grey Cup Champion with the Calgary Stampeders.
Singleton came back to the NFL in 2019 but didn’t make the roster. At that point, he had a decision to either sign with the Eagles’ practice squad and wait his turn or return to Canada where he was already a star. Singleton stayed in Philly and eventually was promoted in October, becoming a special teams contributor. Last year, he made the team out of camp but it still took injury for him to get his shot.
He’s an easy guy to root for.
During his breakout season, Singleton had 120 tackles (75 solo), a pick-6, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 sacks, 5 TFLs and 7 QB hits. Last season, there were just seven players in the NFL with 75+ solo tackles, 1+ interceptions and 2+ sacks and Singleton was one of them. Some of those other names were Budda Baker, Roquan Smith, Blake Martinez and Joe Schobert.
Now, he’s returning as an incumbent starter. And even the addition of Eric Wilson this offseason shouldn’t supplant him. Singleton is a big key to the Eagles’ defense.
And because of his long route here, Singleton is still just 27 and won’t even be a restricted free agent until the 2022 offseason. That means the Eagles have at least a couple more years of Singleton at a cheap price. Even if the Eagles tender him at a second-round level in 2022, he’ll still be a bargain if he continues to play as well as he did last season.
We don’t know exactly how the Eagles’ linebackers will line up in 2021 but you can assume Singleton will have a major role along with Wilson, T.J. Edwards and some combination of Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley. The Eagles drafted Taylor and Bradley last season but they probably never expected Singleton to show star potential. It’s a quite good problem to have.
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