Ranking Philadelphia’s Defensive Free Agents now hitting the open market

The Philadelphia Eagles have a lot of decisions to make on their defensive free agents. With limited cap space, who will be prioritized?

The Philadelphia Eagles enjoyed a dominant defensive season, highlighted by 78 sacks (including the postseason). The team tooled up in the 2022 offseason to achieve all this, signing numerous veterans to one-year deals. But now, those assets are becoming free agents, in addition to several expiring Philadelphia stalwarts.

How will they be prioritized this offseason? Let’s rank the 10 defensive starters or contributors hitting free agency.

10. Robert Quinn, DE

The Eagles traded a fourth-round pick for Quinn in October, a questionable decision at the time. He tallied just two tackles and zero sacks in his six games with the Eagles. The Bears did well to get a fourth-round pick, as Quinn will be 33 by the start of next season.

There may not be much market for Quinn at this point of his career despite his 18.5-sack season in 2021. With an annual bounty of free agents to pick from, Quinn may need to wait into the summer for an injury.

9. Linval Joseph, DT
8. Ndamakung Suh, DT

You can all but loop these Joseph and Suh together. Both were mid-season acquisitions. Veterans signed to fix a then-ailing run defense. Joseph is 34, Suh is 36, and both played extremely well in rotational roles, filling gaps up the middle.

They were never going to be fantasy stars or sack artists at this point in their careers, but they led by example for a young first-round DT in Jordan Davis. Don’t expect either back, as retirement seems like a strong possibility.

Neither is on the IDP radar, regardless.

7. Kyzir White, LB

White had a much better season than most expected. While it wasn’t spectacular, the former Charger certainly lived up to his one-year, $3 million contract. White was a streamable option but also flashed a dangerous floor.

White recorded his second consecutive 100-tackle season, albeit with 34 fewer tackles than in 2021. His TFLs also dropped from seven to three, likely due to a relative decrease in consistent snaps.

The Eagles also employed a less blitz-heavy approach with their linebackers than the Chargers had. In many ways, it was often familiar to Ernest Jones’ usage for the Rams — too spotty to trust.

He will likely seek out a similar role elsewhere as Nakobe Dean gets a chance to play more in 2023.

6. Fletcher Cox, DT

The Eagles should try to bring back club legend Cox, despite him being #6 on this list. He was getting to the passer in stints, but he did take a lesser role as age seemed to creep up this year compared to past seasons.

Cox has been contemplating retirement for some time, and it feels like this could be the time it comes at 32 years old. Ideally, Cox returns on a one-year deal to try and replicate his seven-sack season.

Cox can still have some value in leagues that specify a DT, but the best of the Eagles legend is certainly in the past. He saw his lowest snap total since 2012, his rookie season. A rotational role leaves a bottomless floor and a limited ceiling in fantasy.

5. James Bradberry, CB

Bradberry was well off the IDP radar because he was too darn good this year. His tackle numbers were low as quarterbacks avoided him, and it worked for Philadelphia. It’s a shame his tenure will be marred by the holding call in the Super Bowl, but he still was a tremendous signing for the Eagles, however, in doing so likely priced himself out of a return.

4. Javon Hargrave, DT

Hargrave was sensational in 2022, with 60 tackles and 11 sacks. The latter was a career-high. Interior pressure among the defensive line is a rare treasure in the NFL, echoed by both Super Bowl teams boasting a premium there (Chris Jones). Expect the Eagles to try and retain Hargrave, who would be a brutal loss to this unit.

However, if the former Steeler is looking for a final payday, Philadelphia may not be the suitor with the deepest pockets. Hargrave is certainly a tier above other free agents for his position. Either way, it will be tough for Hargrave to replicate his success wherever he is after posting his best season yet. Expect some regression.

3. Brandon Graham, DE

Graham also had a great season, with 11 sacks at age 34. It was a career-high total, but it won’t raise his market too much. Graham can return on a team-friendly deal due to his age and history in Philadelphia, which shapes up well for all sides.

For fantasy, the floor was bottomless. But Graham can be streamed in certain situations if he’s back at all.

2. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, DB

Gardner-Johnson had six interceptions in five weeks before his regular-season injury, limiting him to just 12 games. The former Saints defensive back is just 25 years old and is a top priority as a vocal locker room leader and a versatile presence on the field. Gardner-Johnson also allowed a 78.9 passer rating when targeted.

IDP pundits know the value Gardner-Johnson provided, though fantasy platforms will likely limit him to a safety designation in 2023. The Eagles are expected to push to resign Gardner-Johnson as a young standout among a sea of lesser free agents.

1. T.J. Edwards, LB

Edwards broke out in 2022 with 159 tackles, tied for the seventh-most in the NFL. Few contributed more consistently to the Eagles’ success than Edwards. Originally undrafted out of Wisconsin, Edwards will receive the first payday of his career.

Edwards was FantasyPro’s LB5 in 2022, averaging just over 14 points per game. He has flashed this upside in years past with good efficiency down the stretch, but defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon finally unleashed Edwards in an every-down role.

As an LB he may not break the bank, but with Kyzir White likely to walk, the Eagles could ill afford to lose someone of his stature. With Nakobe Dean still a relative question mark, Edwards is a known commodity. Expect an extension in the coming weeks and plenty of fantasy production to follow.

A shortened version of this article first came out in The IDPGuys Newsletter. It comes out every Wednesday morning straight to your inbox. Click here to sign up!

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