As free agency rapidly approaches, Howie Roseman has already pulled off a major move.
On Wednesday, the Eagles acquired veteran defensive end Michael Bennett in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. Bennett then did some confirming of his own.
In the trade, the Eagles get Bennett and a seventh-round pick, while the Eagles give up a fifth-rounder and wide receiver Marcus Johnson, per ESPN.
The trade won't become official until the new league year begins on March 14.
Bennett, 32, has played nine seasons in the NFL and is coming off a year in which he picked up 8½ sacks. He'll turn 33 in November.
Because of Vinny Curry's expensive contract, the future of the veteran Eagle has been in question over the last few weeks (more on him here). That future in Philadelphia looks much cloudier after the acquisition of Bennett.
The Eagles obviously aren't anywhere near finished making moves. Before getting Bennett, they were set to be around $10 million over the salary cap. Bennett comes with three years left on his current contract. This year's base salary is just $1.65 million, but he also has a roster bonus of $4 million due to him, according to OverTheCap; both amounts will count against the Eagles' cap. The base salaries of his final two years of the contract are $6 million and $7.5 million.
Basically, the Eagles are getting an upgrade in Bennett over Curry and it will cost them less. But there's still work to be done.
Even if Curry is on his way out, as expected, Bennett will still help make the Eagles' defensive line group one of the most formidable in the entire league. The Eagles will add Bennett to a group that includes Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Tim Jernigan, Derek Barnett and Chris Long (see player reaction).
Since he was reinstated to his role of power, Roseman has stressed the importance of building along the team's offensive and defensive lines. The defensive line is extremely important to the way Jim Schwartz runs his defense. While Curry is likely gone and Beau Allen is likely to leave in free agency, the Eagles' defensive line is extremely impressive.
Bennett has been a Pro Bowler in each of his last three seasons. During his nine-year career, he has 54 career sacks but has just one season with double-digit sacks. That came in 2015. Still, he's a really good player and his versatility is something the Eagles will like a lot and utilize.
While Bennett's 8½ sacks in 2017 weren't eye-popping, he was extremely disruptive. He had 16 QB hits and 44 QB hurries in 2017, according to ProFootballFocus. To put that into perspective, Graham had four QB hits and 45 QB hurries and was the Eagles' best pass-rushing defensive end. Now the two will line up together with Cox and Jernigan. Not bad.
Everything was falling in line for the Giants to draft an elite pass rusher at No. 6 who was supposed to be a top-three player.
Then Dave Gettleman did Dave Gettleman things.
The Giants reached for their quarterback of the future, taking Daniel Jones out of Duke. The G-men tabbed Jones as Eli Manning’s eventual successor when he’s done, whenever that finally happens. (If it ever happens.)
It also means that the Giants are one team now out of the Josh Rosen sweepstakes. Washington would be a prime landing spot for him.
Anyway, Giants fans this offseason have watched their franchise ship away talented players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon. Now, they watched their team take a QB too early.
They weren’t happy about it, but the rest of the internet was:
I’m not moving off the idea that the Eagles will take a lineman with their first-round pick on Thursday night.
I am still leaning toward a defensive lineman at 25, but I think OL is definitely in play too.
Here’s another possibility of how things could go for the Eagles over the entire seven rounds:
Round 1 (25): Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma Before you start yelling at me, saying Ford will be off the board by the time the Eagles are on the clock, let me say this: You might be right. I think Ford is a no-doubt-about-it first-round pick and I’d agree there’s a good chance he’s gone in the teens. So maybe it takes a modest trade up. I’d be on board with that. And if he falls to 25, that would be great for the Eagles.
Ford offers real versatility after playing guard and tackle during his time in Norman. Joe Douglas wouldn’t say last week if they saw Ford as a guard or tackle, but said they know where he’d begin. That means they’ve at least thought about him in an Eagles uniform.
Ford would come in and be able to play and likely start at guard. He could be at right guard if Brandon Brooks isn’t all the way back from his Achilles tear or he could simply beat out Isaac Seumalo for the starting left guard spot. Then, if Jason Peters can’t stay on the field, he could possibly even play there too. At the very least, he could provide some depth as a rookie before growing into a starting role. If Ford is gone and the Eagles stay at this pick, Dalton Risner could be another potential first-round offensive lineman with versatility.
Round 2 (53): Darnell Savage, S, Maryland My biggest problem with the possibility of taking a safety in the first round is that there might be more value in taking one in the second. Savage is one of the guys who might still be on the board at 53.
Savage is sort of a hybrid type of defensive back who could play corner and safety. We all know how much the Eagles value versatility. The most intriguing part of Savage’s game is his coverage ability; that’s something the Eagles love in their safeties. At 5-foot-11, 198 pounds, Savage is undersized, but I don’t care. He ran a ridiculous 4.36 at the combine to go along with a vertical jump of 39.5 and a broad of 126. He tested well across the board.
The Eagles could use some safety help. Malcolm Jenkins isn’t getting any younger and there’s no guarantee Rodney McLeod is back for the 2020 season. It would be a perfect time to draft his replacement and that replacement could be the third safety in 2019.
Round 2 (57): Zach Allen, DE, Boston College I get that Allen isn’t the most exciting or athletic defensive end prospect in this draft, but he’s a solid and consistent college player and at 6-4, 281, would be a fit in the Eagles’ 4-3. He doesn’t explode off the screen with athleticism, but he’s an instinctive player who had 16 1/2 sacks and 40 1/2 TFLs in his last three years at BC.
Douglas really seems to value high-effort players and Allen is definitely one of those. Watching him, it’s clear he doesn’t give up on plays and is always finding a way to make an impact without being a tremendous athlete. In other years, I think he’d be a higher pick, but the depth of this class has pushed him into the later stages of the second round.
Defensive end is a need for the Eagles in this draft. Derek Barnett is a young starter but Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry are on the wrong side of 30. Michael Bennett is gone. No one knows if Chris Long will be back this season. And Josh Sweat is still an unknown. The Eagles need an infusion of youth at one of the most important spots on the field.
Round 4 (127): Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia The Eagles don’t have an immediate need for a starting receiver, so maybe they take a player with a lot of upside, a guy who is still learning the position, but could end up being special. That’s what Hardman is to me.
He’s just 5-10 and 187 pounds, but he ran a 4.33 in the 40 at the combine and is an explosive option on Day 2 or 3. Still learning the position, Hardman caught 60 balls for 961 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2017-18 but was also used as a gadget player. He also returned punts and kicks, which is another big positive for an Eagles team that doesn’t have either right now.
Receiver is an under-the-radar need for the Eagles right now. DeSean Jackson is 32, Alshon Jeffery is 29 and Nelson Agholor is back on a one-year contract. And after that, the Eagles don’t really have much depth at all. Hardman would instantly become a depth/rotational/gadget player, who could possibly take over for Nelly in 2020. And he would immediately become their best option as a returner.
Round 4 (138): Daniel Wise, DT, Kansas In four years at KU, he finished with 17 sacks and 43 TFLs as a disruptive interior pass rusher. He comes from a football family (he’s the brother of Deatrich Wise Jr. and son of Deatrich Wise Sr.) and had a solid college career.
The Eagles are set with Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson as their starters, but they could definitely use more depth and a rotational player. Wise would play immediately in a reserve role.
Round 5 (163): Karan Higdon, RB, Michigan The Eagles need a running back, but I still wouldn’t be surprised to see them wait it out until later in the draft. Higdon didn’t catch the ball out of the backfield much but rushed for over 1,100 yards in 2018 and had a career average of 5.6 yards per carry with 27 touchdowns during his time at Michigan.
He’s just 5-9, 206 pounds, but offers pretty good explosiveness and is pretty tough for his size.
The Eagles added Jordan Howard but that shouldn’t stop them from drafting a running back. Higdon would need to prove himself as a pass protector and pass catcher before he could get on the field for third downs.
Round 6 (197): Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, Washington Definitely a new-school linebacker at 6-0, 230 pounds, but he’s quick and is always all over the field.
If he doesn’t play defense, his athleticism would allow him to become a dynamic special teams player from Day 1. Even if that’s all he ever became, that would be fine for a sixth-round pick. And he has more upside than that in the right scheme.
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