It’s not the type of big move you’ve been waiting for, but Howie Roseman made a trade on Friday for a veteran defensive end.
The Eagles acquired 25-year-old Eli Harold from Buffalo for undrafted offensive lineman Ryan Bates from Penn State.
Harold (6-3, 243) was a third-round pick out of Virginia in 2015 and has played in 61 NFL games with 25 starts. He has nine career sacks.
After spending his first three NFL seasons with the 49ers, Harold played last season with the Lions. He signed a one-year deal with the Bills this past April. In 13 games with the Lions last season, Harold had a career-high four sacks.
This move will give the Eagles some more depth at defensive end, a position with questionable depth this season. After Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett, their top reserves are Vinny Curry and Josh Sweat. Despite a strong performance from Daeshon Hall on Thursday night, the Eagles are still trying to get deeper at the position.
The Eagles have great depth at defensive tackle this season, but defensive end is a different story. Last year, they came into the season with Chris Long and Michael Bennett coming off the bench. This year, their top guys are Curry and Sweat. That’s a considerable drop-off and adding Harold likely won’t do much to change that. But he could help.
There will be some question about how Harold fits in the Eagles’ 4-3 system. He’s primarily played in a 3-4 defense as an outside 'backer and the Eagles are listing him at 243 pounds. If that’s accurate, he’s easily their lightest defensive end. That’s important to note because DEs in this system are supposed to get after the quarterback, but they’re also supposed to stop the run on their way there.
The Eagles likely saw that Bates, despite looking solid, wasn’t going to make their roster, so they were at least able to flip the undrafted rookie (and local product) for a player at a position of greater need. That doesn’t mean Harold will make the Eagles’ 53-man roster, but he’ll have a better shot than Bates did.
After a few injuries, the Bills were desperate for O-line help. This seems like a depth for depth trade.
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