After letting some big name free agents slip through their hands on day one, Eagles fans seemingly lost hope in the front office. Byron Jones signed with the Dolphins, Stefon Diggs got traded to the Bills, and most of the names Eagles fans wanted to target were off the market. The signing of Javon Hargrave only exacerbated the frustration of Eagles fans as the front office chose to superload a position of strength when there were glaring weaknesses on the roster. Then Darius Slay happened. The trade for Darius Slay was a phenomenal move by Howie and the rest of the guys. The Lions were in a poor position after they signed Trufant and were forced to trade Slay in a couple of hours. This allowed the Eagles to acquire Slay at an extremely low price. The birds followed this acquisition with a couple of strong depth signings. That being said, here are the grades for our free agency moves thus far:
Resigning DB Jalen Mills to a 1 year/ $5 million deal: A-
I’m still not sure how the Eagles managed to sign Mills for such a cheap price. Mills came back from his Lisfranc foot surgery in an emphatic way. He solidified his position as our CB1 and offered stability at a relatively unstable position. The move to safety is one that I, and many other Eagles fans, am excited to see. Mills played safety at LSU and excelled there. If it weren’t for off the field issues he would not have dropped to the 7th round. He has been told that he will assume the Malcolm Jenkins role. These are obviously huge shoes to fill. But if anyone can do it, it’s the Green Goblin. He has this gaudiness to him that makes him fit to be a CB, S, or LB. His tackling ability is top notch and he backs down to no man. Much like Jenkins, he embodies the Philly mentality. Losing Jenkins was gut wrenching and left a sour taste in the mouths of all Eagles fans, but the resigning of Mills should act as a mint.
Signing DT Javon Hargrave to a 3 yr/ $39 million deal: B+
The duo of Cox and Hargrave will give offensive coordinators literal nightmares. Fletcher Cox had a poor statistical season last year because of the constant double teaming he faced. If teams double him this year with Hargrave lined up right next to him? Good luck. Now this signing didn’t address our principal needs which is why it didn’t reach an A, but this is going to be fun to watch. Hargrave is a strong, bull of a man who simply knows how to attack the QB. He was shadowed by Tuitt, Watt, Dupree and many other talented defensive Steelers last year, but with more reps, he will prove how he is a force to be reckoned with. The move was a bit puzzling at first, but after watching some film, one can understand how disruptive Hargrave truly is. We already know that Schwartz rarely blitzes but with this signing, it seems as if he doesn’t even have to. Oh, and did I mention Malik Jackson is rostered and healthy as well? The best part of this signing is that we can finally see Cox getting one on one matchups. Because Schwartz rarely blitzed, Cox was the target of a lot of offensive gameplans and thus, a lot of double teams. This year will have a different narrative.
Trading for and signing CB Darius Slay to a 3 yr/$50 million deal: A
Darius Slay is a straight playmaker. The clear differentiation between him and Byron Jones is that Slay has a knack for locating and intercepting the ball. The Eagles haven’t had this type of talent at CB since Asante Samuel. Now, we’ve seen the Nnamdi Asomugha experiment fail and the same thing be done for the Byron Maxwell signing. But this just feels different doesn’t it? To make matters better, in the two games Darius Slay has faced Amari Cooper, he has been utterly shut down. Cooper has 0 TDs and averages only 21 yards per game when being followed by Slay. Darius Slay is the type of cornerback to welcome a challenge against opposing teams number one guy. In fact, he prides himself on doing just that. And in a 2020 schedule when the Eagles face Hopkins, Beckham, Thomas, Green, Kupp, Cooper (twice), McLaurin (twice), and Smith-Schuster, the acquisition of a true CB1 who is not afraid to cover any receiver in this league was crucial. The Eagles simply delivered. They covered up a hole that has been a detriment to this organization for years. And they only traded a 3rd and a 5th to do so. Howie has outdone himself with this signing, and the fact that Slay is in Philly for 3 more years is exciting to say the least.
Signing LB Jatavis Brown to a 1 year deal: B
This is the definition of a low-risk, high-reward type move. Jatavis Brown had a down year last year, but had more than 90 tackles in 2018. He’s athletic and most importantly, he’s young. He wasn’t a full time starter in Los Angeles, but a change of scenery may turn him into just that. With the departure of Nigel Bradham, the depth at the LB position has thinned and the Eagles were (and still are) in dire need of quality LBs. At the worst, Jatavis will come in an immediately help in Special Teams, but an impressive training camp could bump him into being a starting linebacker.
Signing S Will Parks to a 1 year/$1.6 mil deal: A
When two sides want to make something happen, chances are that it’ll happen. Philly native Will Parks wanted to come back to his hometown in such a great fashion that he took a paycut to play for the Eagles. He’s a physical, passionate player who in my eyes, should take over the Malcolm Jenkins role. He lacks elite coverage skills, but he makes up for it in tackling and athleticism. I would love to see him in the box, confusing the defense and acting as the wildcard for our defense. The cheap price tag is the most mind boggling part of this deal. Parks could’ve easily signed for more money elsewhere. Instead, he chose to come to Philadelphia. We should all respect that fact.
After receiving some criticism on day 1 of free agency, Howie has delivered in an emphatic way. Headlined by the Darius Slay move, the Eagles free agency period has improved the talent on the team without breaking the bank and has left them flexibility to sign a couple more role players. What Howie Roseman has done so far is remarkable. And draft season is only getting started…