INDIANAPOLIS — If you’re hoping this is the offseason where the Eagles finally start to value the linebacker position and put forth significant resources to improve it, I have some bad news for you.
Probably not gonna happen.
After releasing Nigel Bradham last week, the Eagles have a noticeable hole at linebacker but it doesn’t seem like they’re going to veer from their recent strategy.
In other words, don’t expect a high-priced free agent or a high draft pick.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman this week in Indianapolis at the combine explained the organization’s thinking at linebacker:
You have a limited number of resources, whether it’s draft picks and money, we talk about it all the time. You’ve got to figure out, what are your priorities? What are the things you decide you have to have? And then there are things you’d like to have or want to have.
“For us, as we go forward here, there are certain positions on our team that we’ve committed huge resources to, whether it’s picks or money. And we gotta figure out what position we can scout, that we can try to find.
That doesn’t mean that if there’s an opportunity to get a player at a particular position that maybe in the past we’ve seemed to undervalue, that we wouldn’t look at that. Because we would. But I think we have to make sacrifices somewhere going forward and we’re going to continue to have to do that.
This is where I’d normally read between the lines but that probably doesn’t need much explaining. The Eagles have and will continue to “sacrifice” at the linebacker position.
Roseman basically admitted it’s up to his college and pro scouts to find him some bargain bin options at linebacker, which hasn’t exactly worked out perfectly in recent years.
Think about the only linebackers the Eagles have drafted since Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz took over:
2016: Joe Walker (7th round)
2017: Nathan Gerry (5th round)
The Eagles last season didn’t draft a linebacker but instead signed T.J. Edwards out of Wisconsin after he went undrafted. That’s kind of been their MO at ‘backer.
And now think about all the bargain bin linebackers the Eagles have signed during the last four years:
2016: Deontae Skinner, Brandon Hepburn, Najee Goode, Nigel Bradham, Stephen Tulloch
2017: Goode, Steven Daniels, Carlos Fields, Dannell Ellerbe
2018: Corey Nelson, Paul Worrilow, LaRoy Reynolds
2019: Alex Singleton, Worrilow, L.J. Fort, Zach Brown, Chris Worley
Really, the only guy in that bunch that worked out as a defensive player (some of those guys were special teamers) was Bradham. They had to pay him a more significant contract but just released him last week when his extension got too pricey.
While there’s some validity to the Eagles’ strategy when it comes to linebacker, it would probably behoove them to put slightly more resources into the position.
But I wouldn’t count on that happening.
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