PFF: Eagles Land 2 Top-50 Free Agents, Lose One
Philadelphia Eagles fans can expect Howie Roseman to be more active in free agency this season than they were last season, but they could also lose some of their free agents.
Pro Football Focus’ Arjun Menon sees the team losing cornerback Steven Nelson (No. 45) in the Top-50 free agents, predicting that he will land in Atlanta with the Falcons.
Nelson had a bit of a down year in 2021, as he allowed a 65.2% completion percentage when targeted and four touchdowns. He allowed the highest passer rating when targeted since his rookie season (103.5), and 46.4% of his receptions allowed went for a first down or touchdown.
He also predicts that Philadelphia will replace Nelson, by targeting cornerback D.J. Reed Jr. (No. 48).
Reed was cut by San Francisco and picked up by Seattle and ended up having a solid season. He played in 14 games for the Seahawks, finishing with 78 tackles and two interceptions.
Menon predicts Philadellphia signs Reed to a three year, $24 million ($13.5 million guaranteed) contract.
In 2021, Reed finished with a 78.6 PFF grade, sixth-best in the NFL. He’s primarily spent time in zone-heavy schemes, which is why the Eagles make a lot of sense as a landing spot. Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon runs a relatively basic scheme that plays a lot of zone coverage. This can help to mask some of Reed’s weaknesses, which includes his lack of height (5-foot-9).
Nelson will be 29-years-old, while Reed is just 25, and would be a nice pairing with Daious Slay and Avonte Maddox.
Menon also predicts the Eagles will lock up Baltimore Ravens edge rusher, Justin Houston, with a one-year, $7 million (fully guaranteed) contract.
Houston is one of those edge rushers who is better than the public’s perception. After sitting out for most of the offseason, he signed a one-year deal with the Ravens and turned in a solid season. Even at 32 years old, he recorded 45 pressures and 4.5 sacks. Given that pressures are more stable from year to year than sacks, we can expect him to produce this same type of performance in 2022 with a little more sack luck heading his way.
The Eagles make a lot of sense for Houston, as they are an analytically-minded team that probably understands the value of pressure numbers. Houston’s pressures are usually above average for his position. Houston can provide quality depth as a rotational pass-rusher.
Derek Barnett is a free agent and isn't expected to be retained. Brandon Graham is coming off an Achillies injury and one year left on his contract, making Houston a perfect target in free agency.
NFL free agency begins on March 16.