NFL free agency 2019: 5 defensive targets that make sense for the Eagles


We took a look at five free agent targets that would make sense for the Eagles on the offensive side of the ball (see story)

Today, I’ll take a look at five names on defense: 

Dante Fowler Jr., DE  

If the Eagles can’t afford to keep Brandon Graham, I think they should really prioritize trying to get Chris Long to stay in 2019, but they might need to go out and get a replacement. Fowler is a former first-round pick who was traded mid-season to the Rams. 

Fowler (6-3, 255) hasn’t lived up to his draft status, but has 16 sacks since 2016 (he missed his rookie season after tearing his ACL). Not sure what kind of market there will be for Fowler, but because he doesn’t turn 25 until August, the Eagles should have interest. He has untapped potential and is still young enough to improve. 

Johnathan Hankins, DT 

Last season with the Raiders, Hankins played at a $3 million cap hit figure, which is the same the Eagles had to pay for Haloti Ngata. But Hankins is still just 26 and might be a decent option to help solidify the defensive tackle rotation. The Eagles didn’t get much out of that position in 2018. Sure, Hankins isn’t a great pass rusher, but he’s pretty good against the run and I think he’d be better than Ngata was in 2018. 

Last offseason, the market Hankins wanted clearly didn’t develop. He didn’t sign with the Raiders until Sept. 13. It would be ideal for him to actually have a training camp with his next team. 

C.J. Mosley, LB

The Ravens drafted Mosley in the first round back in 2014 when Joe Douglas was still in Baltimore, so this was a pretty easy connection to make. He’s been a Pro Bowler in four of his first five seasons and has become one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL. So he won’t be cheap and Spotrac estimates an average salary of $9.7 million coming Mosley’s way. That’s probably way too much for a defense that is rarely in base and uses a ton of nickel and dime. Not to mention, Nigel Bradham is under contract for $9 million this season. 

Sure, perhaps the Eagles could make a switch, cut Bradham and swap him with Mosley, then bring back Jordan Hicks on the cheap or draft a linebacker to play next to Mosley. Unlikely, but intriguing. 

Tre Boston, S 

The Eagles have some questions at the safety position. Malcolm Jenkins will be back and he’s been the Eagles’ defensive stalwart on the back end, but Rodney McLeod is expensive, especially coming off an MCL tear. And Corey Graham is likely going to retire. Even if McLeod is back, the Eagles still need a reliable third safety. 

Boston, 27, didn’t get the kind of deal he hoped for last offseason. He played 2018 in Arizona on a one-year contract worth $1.5 million. If a market doesn’t develop for him this season, the Eagles could get a relative bargain. 

Blake Countess, S

I always found it curious that the Eagles let Countess get away after drafting him in the sixth round back in 2016. I remember Howie Roseman really liked him and it was always odd he left to join the Rams’ practice squad. But he eventually made their active roster and played in every regular season game over the past two seasons, becoming a solid contributor.

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