Jordan Hicks

Who's still left? Updating statuses for all Eagles' free agents

Who's still left? Updating statuses for all Eagles' free agents

The craziness of free agency has finally died down, so it’s time to take a breath and take stock of the Eagles’ free agents. 

So far, several Birds from the 2018 team have re-signed, others have signed elsewhere and plenty are still on the open market. 

Here’s a complete look: 

Brought back 

Brandon Graham: Graham never made it to free agency, signing a three-year, $40 million deal before the new league year. Just the first two years of the contract are guaranteed, but it was still a nice payday for the 30-year-old defensive end. 

Ronald Darby: He’s still rehabbing from a torn ACL, but Darby is back for the 2019 season to join a crowded cornerback room. His deal is reportedly worth $8.5 million. There’s some question as to whether or not he’ll be ready for the opener. 

Paul Worrilow: Worrilow didn’t make it to free agency either. The veteran linebacker was re-signed back in January. He tore his ACL early in OTAs, so he’s far along and could factor into the linebacker rotation. 

Nate Sudfeld: The Eagles slapped a second-round tender on the restricted free agent. It all but guarantees he’ll be back for 2019 at a salary just north of $3 million.  

Rick Lovato: The long snapper signed a one-year deal. He was an exclusive rights free agent. 

Jake Elliott: Ditto. Elliott signed a one-year deal too. 

Signed elsewhere 

Golden Tate: Tate talked a lot about wanting to win, but then cashed out with a four-year, $37.5 million deal to join the directionless Giants. He spent just half a season with the Birds, but will now see them twice per season for the next several years. 

Jordan Hicks: The Eagles would have welcomed Hicks back, but not with the deal he got. Hicks signed a four-year, $34 million contract to join the Arizona Cardinals. It includes $20 million guaranteed for the former third-round pick. 

Jordan Matthews: Matthews’ second stint as an Eagle came to a close when he agreed to a one-year deal with the 49ers. The Eagles brought back Nelson Agholor for $9.4 million and he will be their slot receiver. 

Nick Foles: The inevitable happened and Foles is no longer an Eagle. He got a huge four-year, $88 million contract with over $50 million guaranteed with the Jaguars. At least he left the NFC.  

Still available 

Jay Ajayi: He’s recovering from an ACL tear and had knee issues before the injury, but Ajayi might be a cheap option for 2019. We’ll see where he ends up, but the Eagles will at least know how his recovery is going.  

Haloti Ngata: The 35-year-old played better down the stretch, but he wasn’t worth the $3 million the Eagles paid him in 2018. Can’t imagine he’ll be back. 

Mike Wallace: For a while, I thought maybe Wallace would be back on a cheap deal. But after trading for DeSean Jackson, the Eagles have found their deep threat. 

D.J. Alexander: Alexander was a key special teams contributor when healthy, but he missed four games in 2018. He is a former special teams Pro Bowler, but the addition of L.J. Fort might not bode well for the 27-year-old’s chances to return. Still a chance, though. 

LaRoy Reynolds: Another special teams linebacker, at least Reynolds played limited snaps on defense in 2018. Wouldn’t be the worst thing to bring him back. 

Darren Sproles: Sproles is 35 now and his initial plan was to retire. We haven’t heard otherwise yet, but we know he was thinking about one more season. Doug Pederson said he would welcome Sproles back, but I wouldn’t count on that happening. 

Richard Rodgers: The Eagles might sign a veteran tight end to be their third behind Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, so Rodgers is still a possibility. But maybe the Eagles would be happy with Josh Perkins or Will Tye, who are already on the roster. 

Chance Warmack: The Eagles need depth on the interior of their line, but I don’t want to hear the collective groan from all Eagles fans if they bring Warmack back. 

Corey Graham: My guess is Graham finally retires. He was really close after the 2017 season and I think this time it sticks.  

Tim Jernigan: The Eagles didn’t pick up Jernigan’s option, a move that saved them $7 million in cap space. Perhaps they could bring him back on a cheaper deal, but Malik Jackson is definitely the new starter next to Fletcher Cox. 

Chris Maragos: A significant knee injury suffered in 2017 kept Maragos out all of last season and he needed another surgery late in the year. Heckuva career for an undrafted safety.  

Stefen Wisniewski: The Eagles declined Wiz’s option and will save $3 million because of it. He’s on the market and maybe he’ll find that starter job he’s been coveting since he arrived to Philadelphia.

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Source: Jordan Hicks going to Cardinals as a free agent

ap_jordan_hicks.jpg
AP Images

Source: Jordan Hicks going to Cardinals as a free agent

Former Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks is heading to play for the Arizona Cardinals after four seasons in Philly, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

The deal is a four-year contract that can be worth up to $36 million including incentives, according to a league source. It includes a $12 million signing bonus and $20 million guaranteed. NFL Network first reported the deal. 

That’s a nice deal for Hicks, 26, who has been a productive player in the NFL when healthy, but his availability has been a problem. Of his four NFL seasons, he’s played just one complete year. He tore his Achilles in 2017 and missed more time with a calf injury in 2018. 

Hicks played and started 12 games in 2018, but once he returned from his calf injury, he was in a more limited role. He played every defensive snap before the injury, but Nigel Bradham took over that responsibility and never gave it up. 

Through his first two NFL seasons, Hicks had seven interceptions and four fumble recoveries. In the last two seasons, he had zero INTs and two fumble recoveries. Hicks was a third-round pick made by Chip Kelly in the 2015 season. 

Without Hicks, the Eagles are left with Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry and Paul Worrilow at linebacker. LaRoy Reynolds and D.J. Alexander are also set to become free agents. 

These days the Eagles aren’t in their base defense very often. Instead, they are normally in nickel, which means two linebackers on the field. For part of the 2018 season, that meant Bradham and Grugier-Hill. That is likely the answer for now unless they replenish in free agency or the draft. 

The only player left from Chip Kelly’s 2015 draft class is first-round pick Nelson Agholor, whose future is at least up in the air. 

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NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles’ linebackers

NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles’ linebackers

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp continue the 2019 edition of Stay or Go, trying to figure out the future of the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Today, they’ll look at the linebackers. 

Jordan Hicks

Roob: This is a curious one. We all know Hicks can play. We all know he can’t stay healthy. I think this works in the Eagles’ favor. Nobody is going to give him a big free agent deal now, so I expect the Eagles to bring him back on a bargain-basement prove-it contract. Really, a no-risk move. If Hicks stays healthy and plays, great. If he doesn’t, no harm done.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: There’s probably a realistic scenario where Hicks doesn’t get a deal elsewhere and he comes back on the cheap with a prove-it deal. But I can’t shake what happened this season, when Nigel Bradham seemed to play much better in Hicks’ role. That’s why Hicks didn’t take back his old role when he came back in 2018. It’s a shame Hicks can’t stay healthy, but I just don’t think they can rely on him. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Probably not a good sign Hicks, a free agent, was replaced in the Eagles’ dime package down the stretch. Still, I think it would be a mistake to let him go. Injuries in three of four seasons, sure, but Hicks is a bright, young playmaker —  five sacks, seven interceptions, six fumble recoveries in 45 career games. If the market is soft, the Eagles should bring him back on a prove-it deal.

Verdict: Stays

Nigel Bradham

Roob: Bradham was very good the second half of the season, and his improved play was one of the reasons the defense as a unit played significantly better the second half of the season. After the first month of the season, Bradham became an every-down player and was on the field for 99 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps the last 14 games (916 of 928). Very versatile and very valuable guy.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: The Eagles could cut Bradham to save cap room, but why would they? He got off to a slower start this past season, but really started to play better when the Eagles really needed him. He’s gotta be their guy at linebacker going forward. He basically takes over as the LB who never leaves the field. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Midway through the season, I was certain Bradham was gone. He really elevated his game in the second half though. That’s two years in a row where he’s been the Eagles’ most important linebacker. Nine million dollars might seem like a tall figure, but what's the alternative? The team needs him for now.

Verdict: Stays

Kamu Grugier-Hill

Roob: Grugier-Hill is another one who I thought was essentially a special teamer and emergency linebacker, but he was fine on defense this year, playing about a third of the defensive snaps after barely playing defense the year before. All these young, special teams-playing linebackers serve an important role with cheap contracts. That’s great value.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: KGH is a player. Sure, he made headlines for calling the Cowboys chokers, but his play all season was really good. He played well when he was in there on defense and is still a huge special teams contributor. As the weakside guy, he doesn’t play a ton on defense, but he still managed to make plays and he’s a great special teamer. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Grugier-Hill led the Eagles for the second straight season with nine solo special teams tackles. He also did a respectable job as the team’s third linebacker, recording a sack, an interception and a forced fumble. KGH is a great insurance policy, maybe more. He’ll be 25 with a year left making the minimum, though an extension might be in order.

Verdict: Stays

Nate Gerry

Roob: Although he’s mainly a special teamer, Gerry played well enough in his linebacker cameos — 134 snaps the second half of the season — to really open some eyes. Ideally, your special teams linebackers should be viable backup position players, and the Eagles should feel comfortable in Gerry’s ability to play defense if he has to.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: He didn’t have many defensive plays this year, but he is a good special teams player. He’s entering Year 3 in 2019 and is still cheap. He might never be a starter, but he’s still valuable to have. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: There were some moments where Gerry showed a real nose for the football. It was only his second season at linebacker, so he’s still learning. Not sure he’ll ever be more than a competent part-time player, but Gerry is only turning 24, has two years on his contract and was third on the team in special teams snaps. He gets another season.

Verdict: Stays

D.J. Alexander

Roob: Alexander didn’t play any linebacker this year, but his 237 special teams snaps made him one of four players on the team who played more than half the team’s special teams. Alexander is an above-average special teamer who’s actually made a Pro Bowl in the past for his special teams work. We’ll see some changes at linebacker, but no reason for Alexander not to re-sign here.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Alexander didn’t play at all on defense in 2019, but he’s another core special teams player. Injuries kept him off the field some in his first season with the Eagles. He’s a free agent, so the Eagles will need to re-sign him. Maybe they don’t. But I think he’s worth bringing back to keep some stability for Dave Fipp’s unit. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Was fourth among linebackers in special teams snaps and saw zero action on defense. I think Alexander will sign elsewhere as a free agent. Teams need guys like him. The Eagles have a bunch already, not to mention will probably want to take a look at some players with more upside.

Verdict: Goes

B.J. Bello

Roob: Bello spent some time on the practice squad, some time on the active roster, played some special teams, never got on the field on defense. He’s still on his rookie contract from his stint with the Browns so there’s no reason he won’t be in camp with the Eagles, but ultimately I don’t see him sticking.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: He’s under contract, but I didn’t see much from Bello. He’ll be in camp this summer with a chance to make the roster. He’ll have a shot, but I’m thinking the Eagles move on. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: There’s something to be said for a prospect who fought his way to the 53 after three months on the practice squad. Then again, he was inactive for the final game. Bello will get a longer look, but I imagine will fall victim to increased competition in camp.

Verdict: Goes

LaRoy Reynolds

Roob: Reynolds was quietly a very important piece of the Eagles’ special teams units. Reynolds has bounced around the league, but he’s only 27 and incredibly played 400 special teams snaps this year — 83 percent. He and Grugier-Hill were the only Eagles linebackers to play every game. Reynolds is a free agent, but unless he wants some sort of outlandish contract I’d definitely bring him back.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Reynolds actually played a little bit on defense at times this season and was a special teams contributor, but he’s a free agent too. If I had to pick between Reynolds and Alexander, I’m sticking with Alexander, who is a year younger and has been a Pro Bowl ST player before. But I think they can bring both back and if Hicks is gone, Reynolds could have an even bigger role. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: This might surprise people: Reynolds played the most special teams snaps on the team in 2018, on the field for over 80 percent, and only Grugier-Hill came particularly close. Reynolds is due to become a free agent, though I wonder if he’ll even hit the market.

Verdict: Stays

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