Sweat lands on most important Eagles list after breakout season

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Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2022 season.

25. Quez Watkins
24. Gardner Minshew
23. T.J. Edwards
22. Marcus Epps
21. Landon Dickerson
20. Jake Elliott
19. Brandon Graham
18. Jordan Davis
17. Kyzir White
16. Avonte Maddox 
15. Nakobe Dean
14. Fletcher Cox
13. James Bradberry
12. Miles Sanders
11. Josh Sweat

Josh Sweat’s first Pro Bowl season didn’t have the ending he wanted. After a career year, Sweat was forced to sit out the playoff loss in Tampa after a life threatening condition earlier in that week.

Sweat, 25, during the week had internal bleeding in one of his arteries that presented as abdominal pressure. He had to got to the hospital, where doctors cauterized the leaky artery.

“Yeah, it was serious. Just had like a little bit of internal bleeding. Not a little bit … a lot,” Sweat said this spring. “It was enough to pretty much keep me out. Find now, took care of the issue and back to 100 (percent), ready to start working again. No more issues.”

Would the Eagles have won in the wild card round if Sweat played? Probably not. That game against the Bucs wasn’t exactly close. But they clearly missed him because Sweat has become a big part of the Eagles’ defense.

In 2021, Sweat didn’t get off to the fastest start but in his first year as a full-time starter finished with 7 1/2 sacks, 45 tackles, 13 QB hits and 7 tackles for loss. He was named an alternate for the Pro Bowl and was later added to the Pro Bowl roster for the first time in his career.

Sweat’s next goal is to make the Pro Bowl team outright. Some more consistency would help. Sweat had just 1 1/2 sacks through his first seven games, but finished the year strong. During the Eagles’ four-game winning streak in December to punch their ticket into the playoffs, Sweat had four sacks in four games.

The former fourth-round pick from Florida State has been in the NFL for four seasons and has shown improvement in each of those seasons. He went from a near-redshirt as a rookie, to a small part of the rotation in Year 2, to a bigger part of the rotation in Year 3, to a starter in Year 4.

In his four-year NFL career, Sweat has 17 1/2 sacks and all of them have come in the last three years. That’s the highest sack total for an Eagles player drafted in the fourth round or later since Trent Cole piled up 85 1/2 from 2005-14 as a fifth-round pick.

Sweat was also rewarded in September with a three-year extension worth $40 million. That APY of $13.3 million ranks Sweat as the 25th highest-paid edge player in the NFL. If he keeps improving, he can make that look like a bargain by the end of the contract in 2024.

With an aging Brandon Graham and an average Derek Barnett as their other top defensive ends, the Eagles will be relying heavily on Sweat in 2022. And because of his versatility, Sweat can be utilized as a 4-3 defensive end but can also be deployed as a standup edge rusher when the Eagles use an odd-man front, something we think they’re going to do more of this upcoming season.

No matter what the defense looks like, Sweat is going to be a big part of it.

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