NFL free agency begins this week so we’ll be tracking all the Eagles’ news and rumors that pop up along the way:
And another one
Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson is signing a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions. That means the Eagles will have to replace both safeties from the Super Bowl team.
Another one leaves
Eagles starting guard Isaac Seumalo has reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers. This likely sets up a scenario where backup center Cam Jurgens has a chance to become the Eagles’ starting right guard in 2023.
Weak safety market
As Eagles fans continue to hope that free agent C.J. Gardner-Johnson will return to the Eagles, it’s worth pointing out how weak this safety market has been. ESPN’s Adam Schefter just reported that Julian Love is going to the Seahawks on a two-year, $12 million deal. Aside from Jessie Bates, four-year, $64 million contract, safeties just aren’t getting a ton.
Here’s a look at the top APY for safeties in free agency (thanks to the Spotrac tracker):
Jessie Bates: $16M
Vonn Bell: $7.5M
Juan Thornhill: $7M
Donovan Wilson: $7M
Jimmie Ward: $6.5M
Julian Love: $6M
Marcus Epps: $6M
Jordan Poyer: $5M
Jabrill Peppers: $4.5M
Andrew Wingard: $3.2M
Damontae Kazee: $3M
Some new additions
The Eagles signed running back Rashaad Penny earlier in the week but have now added two external free agents on one-year deals. First, they agreed to terms with cornerback Greedy Williams. And then early on Friday, they reached terms with backup quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Here’s a look at all their moves so far:
And as a reminder, here are the 2022 Eagles who are still free agents: S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, TE Tyree Jackson, DT Linval Joseph, WR Zach Pascal, DE Robert Quinn, OL Isaac Seumalo, DT Ndamukong Suh
Minshew on the move
The Eagles will have a new backup QB in 2023.
C.J. Gardner-Johnson is still a free agent and seemed frustrated when he tweeted this and quickly deleted it on Thursday afternoon:
Earlier on Thursday, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark reported that the Eagles were “trying hard” to keep their 25-year-old safety. We’ll see.
Steichen wants Minshew?
The Eagles will need a backup quarterback behind Jalen Hurts but it looks like it’s possible that Gardner Minshew is on the move. The former Eagles backup is a free agent and is still available a few days into this process.
With Indianapolis, it’s very unlikely Minshew would be the starter. The Colts have the No. 4 pick in the draft and are expected to find their next franchise quarterback. But perhaps it’s a better situation for Minshew than coming back to Philly where there’s already a no-doubt franchise quarterback in place. And the Steichen connection would certainly go a long way. It makes sense.
CJGJ to the Broncos?
After the Eagles found a way to keep Slay, most fans have turned their attention to safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The 25-year-old safety is still available a few days into free agency, which seems to indicate that his market has not developed the way he and his agent originally hoped. But there’s still interest out there:
The Broncos connection makes plenty of sense. Denver’s new head coach Sean Payton was the head coach in New Orleans for Gardner-Johnson’s first three seasons in the NFL. With the Saints, Gardner-Johnson was a nickel corner and didn’t change positions to safety until coming to Philly.
Slay isn’t leaving
After a wild day, Darius Slay isn’t leaving after all. The Eagles planned to release Slay but a change of heart got the two sides back at the negotiating table and they figured out a way to keep their Pro Bowl cornerback. So the Eagles will run it back with Slay and James Bradberry in 2023.
Don’t close the door on Slay?
The Eagles are expected to release Darius Slay but the Pro Bowl cornerback apparently isn’t ruling out a possible return to Philly. Interesting day.
And he probably shouldn’t. Keeping Slay is still a possibility.
Cox is back
Eagles longtime defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is returning to the Eagles on a one-year contract worth $10 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who noted that Cox turned down bigger deals to return to Philly.
So Javon Hargrave left for San Francisco but the Eagles will have Cox, Jordan Davis and Milton Williams back in the middle of their defensive line in 2023.
Cross Brissett off the list
It would have made some sense for the Eagles to go after Jacoby Brissett. But instead, Brissett is going to a different team in the division. Brissett is signing with the Washington Commanders, ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported.
This probably makes more sense for Brissett, who will go to a team where he’ll at least have a chance to compete for playing time.
Can they keep CJGJ?
One of the Eagles’ most important free agents is C.J. Gardner-Johnson and after the decision to move on from Darius Slay, the Eagles are making a strong push to keep the 25-year-old safety:
We saw Jessie Bates get a contract with the Falcons with an APY of $16 million, which should be out of the Eagles’ price range for Gardner-Johnson. But if they can find a number that works for both sides, getting CJGJ back for the future would be a big move. Gardner-Johnson is still a very young and versatile defensive back who is viewed as an ascending player.
Moving on from Slay
The Eagles are planning to release Darius Slay later this afternoon, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. The Eagles are designating this as a post-June 1 cut, which will eventually save $17 million in cap space this season.
More on that decision here.
The free agency period is well underway and that’s before free agency has technically started. The new league year begins at 4 p.m., which is when all these deals you’ve been hearing about can become official.
Here’s an update of the 2022 Eagles who are still available: DT Fletcher Cox, S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, DT Linval Joseph, QB Gardner Minshew, WR Zach Pascal, DE Robert Quinn, RB Miles Sanders, OL Isaac Seumalo, DT Ndamukong Suh
Two more Eagles staying
The news keeps on coming. This time cornerback James Bradberry has agreed to a three-year deal to stay in Philadelphia. This one is a bit of a surprise. It seemed like Bradberry was gone but his three-year deal is worth $38 million, according to a source. That’s an APY of 12.67 million, which ranks 16th in the NFL. That’s well under his projected contract.
And Boston Scott is also back. The Giant Killer is back on a one-year, $2 million deal. The Eagles’ backfield will have Scott, Kenny Gainwell, Rashaad Penny and then perhaps Trey Sermon. Miles Sanders won’t be back but that’s not a bad rotation.
Another defensive player leaves
The day after T.J. Edwards left in free agency, his fellow linebacker Kyzir White is gone too. White is reportedly signing with the Arizona Cardinals. It’s a reunion with former DC Jonathan Gannon, who is now the head coach in Arizona.
This means the Eagles will have two new starting linebackers in 2023. Nakobe Dean and ???
Eagles add a running back
The Eagles have reached terms with their first outside free agent this offseason. They’re giving a one-year deal to RB Rashaad Penny, who has been very good when healthy. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he hasn’t been healthy very much during his career.
We don’t know numbers yet, but expect it to be a low-risk, high-reward move for the Eagles. And it almost certainly ends Miles Sanders’ tenure in Philly. Sanders is aware of that:
Giants land a playmaker
The Giants have traded for star tight end Darren Waller, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported. This is a huge move and the Giants gave up a third-round pick (No. 100), according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. It’s the same pick the Giants got for Kadarius Toney.
Waller is a former Pro Bowler who is 30 now and played just 9 games last year and 11 games in 2021. But when he was at his best in 2020, he caught 107 passes for 1,196 yards and 9 touchdowns. If he ends up being healthy, then Daniel Jones has a huge weapon.
Eagles connection in Pittsburgh
The Steelers are signing former Eagles offensive lineman Nate Herbig to a two-year, $8 million deal, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported.
Herbig, 24, was a restricted free agent last year but was eventually waived by the Eagles and claimed by the Jets. The former UDFA started 11 games in New York last season and is now moving on to Pittsburgh, where former Eagles front office member Andy Weidl is the assistant GM. In three years with the Eagles, from 2019-2021, Herbig played in 33 games and started 17. He’s a solid player who has carved out a nice career after going undrafted out of Stanford in 2019.
Former Eagles get paid
We finally have some contract details for three former Eagles who are leaving in free agency:
Kelce gets his bag
The Eagles are bringing Jason Kelce back for a 13th season but it isn’t going to be cheap. His new one-year deal is worth $14.25 million in 2023, a source said. This keeps him as the highest paid center in the NFL.
Interest in Brissett?
The Eagles are in need of a backup quarterback behind Jalen Hurts because Gardner Minshew is a free agent. And according to Aaron Wilson, the Eagles are one of the teams who have shown interest in veteran Jacoby Brissett.
Nick Sirianni loves Brissett. We heard that from him last summer when the Eagles practices against the Browns in Ohio. But the problem here might be money. Brissett played pretty well for the Browns last season while they waited for Deshaun Watson’s suspension to end. And he might have played himself out of the Eagles’ range. Spotrac estimated Brissett’s value at $5.4 million, which might be too much for the Eagles. But if they can get Brissett’s number low enough this would make a ton of sense.
We saw a few backups leave the market on Day 1: Case Keenum, Mike White, Jarrett Stidham and Sam Darnold all found new teams. The Eagles really value the QB position and a backup on a team with playoff aspirations is a big deal.
More folks leaving
After Javon Hargrave and T.J. Edwards started off the exodus, two more Eagles are leaving.
Andre Dillard —> Titans
Marcus Epps —> Raiders
Dillard’s three-year deal is reportedly worth $29 million, while Epps got a two-year deal worth $12 million. Dillard wasn’t going to return as a backup in 2023. Epps was a starter in 2022 and fellow starting safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson is also a free agent.
Javon Hargrave got PAID. The former Eagles DT is heading to San Francisco on a massive deal.
The legend returns
Jason Kelce announced some big news: He’s back!
The Cunningham connection
The Bears struck first in free agency, landing T.J. Edwards on a three-year deal. But the team with the most cap space this offseason might not be done signing former Eagles.
Cunningham was hired as the Bears’ assistant general manager last offseason. He was previously the Eagles’ Director of Player Personnel and has been with the Eagles since 2017. So he played a big role in constructing the Eagles’ roster and now with a ton of cap space in Chicago, the Bears can bring a few of those players aboard.
Bradberry weighs in
James Bradberry is one of the Eagles’ top pending free agents. It seems likely that he’ll sign elsewhere but the Eagles apparently want to be in the loop.
The part that the Eagles want the ability to match is certainly interesting. Not sure if they’d be able to keep him even if they get that chance. But it’s clear the Eagles would like to have him back if possible.
A ‘strong effort’
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler had a bunch of pre-free agency nuggets, including this one on C.J. Gardner-Johnson:
“The Eagles have several key players they could bring back, and though it appears they are waiting for markets to develop before reacting, some around the league believe they’ve made a strong effort to re-sign safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who appears set for the open market. That could open the door to re-sign cornerback James Bradberry or another player.”
Gardner-Johnson is getting his first chance to test free agency and it sounds like he’s going to hit the open market on Wednesday. It sounds like the Eagles were prepared to pay CJGJ but if he leaves for a better deal elsewhere, then perhaps the Eagles can funnel that money into another player like Bradberry or someone else.
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