While the Philadelphia Eagles have plenty of holes in their roster, the linebacker position is almost always in question. Philadelphia has not had a definitive linebacker to anchor the defense for quite some time. Previous names include Nigel Bradham who is with the Denver Broncos and Jordan Hicks who is with the Arizona Cardinals. While they had their stints in Philadelphia, they did not perform well enough to be surefire leaders of the defense. It is not easy to find a linebacker with an elite skillset who can be a top linebacker such as players like Luke Kuechly was, yet Philadelphia must try.
Philadelphia’s odds with having a solid, reliable, and consistent linebacker has not been their favor. The top linebacker in 2020 for Philadelphia was Alex Singleton. Singleton turned out to be a better player than most people would have expected. Although he led the team in tackles and brought energy to the linebacker core, he is likely not the solution to Philadelphia’s linebacker problem. Since the Eagles’ salary cap situation is a tough subject, free agency options are narrow. While Philadelphia could draft a linebacker or two later in the NFL draft, looking at free-agent linebackers is their best bet, as of now.
After being released within the past week, Christian Kirksey is looking for a new home. Kirksey was one of the Cleveland Browns’ top linebackers during his time there. With two seasons where he had over 100 tackles, he proved that although he is not a big-name player, he has the potential to play like it. Kirksey’s 2020 season in Green Bay was up and down for the most part. He was a part of a defense that was expected to be much better than they performed, but Kirksey remained a solid player. Kirksey was able to pick up over 80 tackles throughout the regular season and postseason, but injury impacted him. Only playing in 11 games of the 2020 season his average production was not enough for Green Bay to keep him.
Kirksey signed onto a two-year, $13 million contract with Green Bay in 2020, but his release disregarded that. If Philadelphia were to sign him, his salary situation would not be too unbearable, but it could pose problems. Regardless, Kirksey has been in the league since 2014, so he has plenty of experience and he could be a solid player. Free agency is the best option for Philadelphia to acquire a reliable linebacker, so Kirksey should be considered. Since their cap situation is problematic, acquiring someone like him is not likely, but it is certainly not an option to rule out.
Tahir Whitehead is set to be an unrestricted free agent for 2021 after playing for the Carolina Panthers in 2020. After a down year with Carolina, Whitehead is not expected to return to Matt Rhule’s team. Whitehead has been rather dominant in the NFL since being drafted in 2012 by the Detroit Lions. After a slow start, he made a name for himself by racking up over 100 tackles each season from 2016-2019. His strong years in Detroit and former Oakland Raiders give him a chance to dominate again in Carolina with a one-year deal. Unfortunately, Whitehead had a tough 2020 season where he only had 51 total tackles. His 2020 season was not enough to be re-signed, so he is heading into free agency.
The former Temple Owls linebacker could see a reunion in Philadelphia happen as a free agent candidate. Whitehead has demonstrated on multiple occasions that he can be a playmaker on defense throughout an entire season. He has the potential to finally give the Philadelphia defense a spark at linebacker that hasn’t present for a while. Whitehead flies around the field and can be an absolute menace for opposing teams to worry about. In a defense that is still figuring out their identity, Whitehead may be the missing piece to a rather inconsistent squad. Coming off a difficult 2020 season, he will be a very possible and affordable name to pursue in free agency.
B.J. Goodson had a very productive year with the Cleveland Browns, it was probably the best year of his career, as well. Goodson signed onto a one-year, $2.4 million with Cleveland for 2020 and he excelled in his first year with Cleveland. The former New York Giant and Green Bay Packer finished the season as Cleveland’s leader in tackles. He was the Browns’ tackle leader in front of the Super Bowl XLVIII MVP Malcolm Smith, who will be a free agent, as well. Goodson had the best season of his career in 2020, where he was an important part of Cleveland’s playoff push. Although he very solid season, there is no definite sign that Cleveland will resign him this offseason.
While his personal best year is an intriguing element for teams to keep in mind, his asking price could increase. Even though his asking price will likely increase, it will not unattainable for Philadelphia. Despite the Eagles’ difficult salary cap situation, a player like Goodson could be possible. Goodson is not a high-profile player and his positive 2020 season just means that he is on the brink of being a special player. If Philadelphia is to pursue Goodson, then they should do so in a more analytical way. Philadelphia should sign a reasonable one-year deal to get see if his solid play can continue or improve. Although Cleveland may have thoughts of resigning Goodson, Philadelphia is capable of adding their name to the conversation.
Featured image courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer
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