Free Agents Eagles Should Pursue After 2021 NFL Draft

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMay 10, 2021

Free Agents Eagles Should Pursue After 2021 NFL Draft

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    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    During the 2021 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles addressed many of their biggest needs. They bolstered their receiving corps with the addition of DeVonta Smith, and they used six of their nine selections on defensive players, which should help them improve on that side of the ball.

    However, that doesn't mean Philadelphia is done adding to its roster this offseason, even if it still doesn't have a ton of financial flexibility. (The Eagles currently have $4.3 million of available cap space, per Over the Cap.)

    There are still decisions Philadelphia will need to make that could free up some cap space. And if that happens, it could have the ability to sign some free agents. While the top names are no longer on the market, there are still some available players who may make an impact in 2021.

    Here's a look at three free agents the Eagles should consider signing this offseason.

Richard Rodgers, TE

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    It's becoming increasingly likely that Zach Ertz won't be with the Eagles when the 2021 season begins. Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia noted there's a "very good chance" he will depart in the offseason.

    If that happens, the Eagles will need another tight end to serve in the No. 2 role behind Dallas Goedert. And Richard Rodgers, who spent the past three seasons in Philadelphia, could be the free agent who makes the most sense for the Eagles to sign.

    After notching only one catch over his first two seasons in Philadelphia, the 29-year-old flashed his potential in 2020, hauling in 24 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games, as Ertz and Goedert each missed time due to injury. He could provide solid depth again for the Eagles.

    Another free-agent option for Philadelphia could be Trey Burton, who played for the team from 2014-17. But Rodgers may be a bit more affordable, which is something the Eagles will likely consider.

Steven Nelson, CB

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Despite cornerback being one of the Eagles' top needs heading into the draft, they didn't address the position until the fourth round, when they selected Zech McPhearson with the No. 123 overall pick.

    And while the Texas Tech product could develop into a strong player, he's unlikely to be ready to be the No. 2 cornerback alongside veteran Darius Slay in 2021.

    If Philadelphia is going to make one more big free-agent signing, it should be a cornerback such as Steven Nelson, who has been a solid player over his first six NFL seasons. He spent the past two years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, making 30 starts and recording three interceptions and 17 pass deflections.

    The 28-year-old could slot into a starting place for the Eagles, allowing them to move Avonte Maddox to a depth role and giving McPhearson time to make the transition to the NFL level. Philadelphia doesn't currently have much depth at cornerback, so this is a signing that would help fix that.

    Even if the Eagles don't immediately return to contending next season, it could be worth signing Nelson to a multi-year deal, as he could prove to be a valuable player as they continue to build a defense that will help them have success in the future.

Cre'Von LeBlanc, CB

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Even if the Eagles do sign Nelson, or another free-agent cornerback, it may still be worthwhile for them to bring back Cre'Von LeBlanc, who played 21 games for them over the past three seasons.

    The 26-year-old defensive back would also be a low-cost depth signing who could be valuable for the team.

    LeBlanc has recorded 30 tackles and five pass deflections during his time in Philadelphia. Not only would he provide depth to an Eagles secondary that could use it, but he's also a strong special teams player, which is another reason the team should consider re-signing him before the 2021 season.

    This wouldn't be a flashy signing, but Philadelphia isn't in the financial situation to make those types of moves (especially if it found a way to bring in Nelson or a similar player). But it's a move that could end up making a difference if the Eagles experience injury woes in the secondary this year.

    If Philadelphia makes several additions, then its group of cornerbacks will be much improved ahead of the 2021 season.