After what seemed like a slow start from Howie Roseman, the Eagles have reshaped their defense in a matter of days with additions at every level.
It started with added depth on the defensive live with Javon Hargrave. The former 3rd rounder had outplayed his draft position and was rewarded with a 3 year $39 million dollar deal. He’s proven to be a good pass rusher as a 3-4 nose tackle, so moving him over to partner with Fletcher Cox as a tackle seems like a natural fit. He’s also a proven run stopper. This allows Maleek Jackson to bounce out to play the defensive end position, which gets a lot of playmakers on the line. You can combine that the depth of Hasan Ridgeway and Anthony Rush and the interior of the defense looks good.
The biggest splash is acquiring Darius Slay in a trade with the Detriot Lions. For a 3rd round and 5th round pick, the Eagles picked up one of the better and most competitive corners in football. He’s a Jim Schwartz guy from a long time ago and corner was the biggest need on the defense for the Eagles. He’s a sure tackler with 19 career interceptions who relishes playing top receivers man to man.
If there is an issue it is that they gave a 29-year-old a 3-year deal worth $50 million dollars, with at least $30 million guaranteed. Slay was very good on several bad Lions teams, so hopefully, he’ll be equally as good with some suitable backup.
Speaking of backup, he’s going to have an interesting situation behind him at safety. Malcolm Jenkins is gone back to the Saints after the Eagles management decided it was time to move on. In his place, the returning Rodney McLeod and the returning and position moving Jalen Mills. Mills has always had safety size and the right temperament for it but now has the opportunity to prove it.
To bolster that position as well as provide insurance, a Philly native comes home. Will Parks plays both corner and safety, and now for the Philadelphia Eagles. His versatility should provide Schwartz with a brand new toy for blitz packages and coverage disguises. He should also help to serve with filling the emotional void left by Jenkins’s departure, as he is active in the community and a vocal leader.
The final level is Jatavis Brown, a linebacker coming by way of the LA Chargers. A former starter, he was on the outs when it came to the Chargers depth chart. From a 97 tackle season to mostly playing on special teams, Brown is looking to restart with the Eagles and should find a place to play. Linebacker depth is weak, especially with the departure of both Kamu Grugier Hill and Nigel Bradham.
Whether or not these moves will work remains to be seen. The only guarantee that will be offered to Eagles fans this season is that the defense will have new faces on it at every level.