Eagles' Free-Agent Signings Who Will Make Biggest Impact Next Season

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2021

Eagles' Free-Agent Signings Who Will Make Biggest Impact Next Season

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Howie Roseman did not have an easy job trying to improve the Philadelphia Eagles roster this offseason. 

    The team was set up for success in the draft with the trade of Carson Wentz and a trade down from the No. 6 pick, but Roseman's hands were fairly tied in free agency. Like many teams who were hurt by the falling salary cap, the Eagles found themselves among the most cash-strapped teams. 

    It led to plenty of departures. Wentz, Jalen Mills and DeSean Jackson are among those who won't be donning the Eagles' colors next season. 

    But the cupboard of incoming free agents isn't completely bare. Roseman was able to find some bargains out on the market who should be able to help. 

    Specifically, they are going to count on a few defenders to improve a defense that struggled last season. If they end up playing to their potential, the Eagles will be glad they brought them in. 

S Anthony Harris

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    Simply put, Harris was one of the best value signings in free agency this year. Had he hit the open market after his stellar 2019 campaign, he would have likely brought in a big-money, long-term contract.

    Instead, he played out a year on the franchise tag in Minnesota to somewhat disastrous results for his value. Harris' output was down statistically in every category, but he still managed to play every snap for the Vikings on an incredibly young secondary that just wasn't very good. 

    Minnesota (97.0) was just marginally better than the Eagles (102.4) in terms of passer rating allowed. 

    Although Harris' ball production was down (zero interceptions and seven passes defended), he was still a sure tackler for the Vikes. He racked up 104 tackles with only 10 misses on the season. That would have made him the Eagles' second-leading tackler last season. 

    With Mills leaving to play in New England, the Eagles were in desperate need of a proven safety. They got one who is still in his prime (even if it's close to the end of it) and has the potential for a bounce-back season given his familiarity with defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who was a Vikings defensive backs coach from 2014-2017. 

LB Eric Wilson

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    Harris wasn't the only Viking who Gannon reunited with. They also brought in former Minnesota player Eric Wilson to round out a linebacker corps that needed some help. 

    Wilson isn't a perfect linebacker by any stretch. He really only has one year as a full-fledged starter under his belt, but he does some things that should help an Eagles defense that was short on dynamic players last year. 

    Playing mostly outside linebacker, the 26-year-old had three interceptions, three sacks, eight pass deflections and nine quarterback hits. He may have only been graded out as the 48th linebacker out of 83 by Pro Football Focus, but that's a lot of havoc created by a linebacker who doesn't get much press. 

    Linebacker coach Nick Rallis is excited to work with him—he too worked with Wilson in Minnesota. 

    "I've seen Eric really project into a great leader since being here," Rallis said, per Mike Kaye of NJ.com. "Back in Minnesota, he was in a room where he had some older guys with him. He definitely led by example, but he was the younger guy. Now coming in, he's actually one of our older linebackers. He's done a phenomenal job of taking guys along and helping lead."

    That should give him a head up as he tries to carve out his role on the defense and build on his strong 2020 campaign. 

Edge Ryan Kerrigan

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    Roseman again went to the free-agency well to find defensive help on the cheap, inking veteran pass-rusher Ryan Kerrigan to a one-year, $2.5 million pact. 

    The Eagles pass rush wasn't a problem last season. Despite not having one player over 8.5 sacks, they were third in the league with 49 as a team. The addition of Kerrigan should help them continue that trend. 

    Gannon will now have a stable of edge defenders to call upon to get after the quarterback that includes Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett and Kerrigan. 

    The only loss at the position was Vinny Curry. When compared with Kerrigan, the Eagles got the better end of that transaction. Curry had three sacks and 13 total pressures while playing 28 percent of the snaps last season. 

    Kerrigan was able to amass 5.5 sacks with 13 total pressures and was on the field 38 percent of the time. The addition of the 32-year-old should help the Eagles continue to get after quarterbacks in 2020 while adding another veteran voice to the room with Sweat and Barnett continuing to develop. 


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