Veteran LB Zach Brown Signs with Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - After the NFL Draft ended last weekend, Howie Roseman insisted "talent-acquisition season" had not ended.
"I think it's fair to look at those two groups [LB and secondary] and say that [adding there is] probably something that we would have liked to have done," Roseman admitted. "... We need some of our young guys to take a step up at both those spots. They have been here. We are hopeful that that's the case, and again, talent-acquisition season has not ended. We have a long way to go before we play a game, and then we have a long way to go before the trade deadline. We're not going on vacation now; we're going to continue to try to do whatever we can to support Coach [Doug Pederson] and his staff, and we take that part of it seriously."
The Eagles' executive vice president of football operations has made good on that assessment over the past week at the team's two most obvious need positions, first acquiring safety Godwin Agwebuike off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers and then making a far bigger splash on Friday morning, agreeing to a one-year deal with former Pro Bowl linebacker Zach Brown, reportedly worth $3 million.
Brown, who spent the past two seasons down I-95 with the Washington Redskins, projects as the replacement for Jordan Hicks as Jim Schwartz's middle linebacker.
The two are different types of players, however. Hicks, who left for Arizona in free agency, was a three-down option, perhaps a bit undersized for the middle but an excellent coverage LB. He was the team's only three-down option in the dime until injuries took their toll and Schwartz shifted that role to Nigel Bradham late last season. Hicks and Bradham were the two three-down LBs in the nickel defense.
Brown, who made the Pro Bowl in Buffalo back in 2016, is a bigger, more physical player at 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds and really is best suited for a two-down role.
Bradham returns as one of the nickel 'backers with Kamu Grugier-Hill likely battling free-agent pickup L.J. Fort for both the weakside role in the base defense and the nickel spot next to Bradham. The depth includes Nathan Gerry, veteran Paul Worrilow, who missed last season with a torn ACL, and special-teamer B.J. Bello.
Brown, who will turn 30 in October can also play on the weak side if needed and is dominant when the defensive tackles can keep blockers off of him. He has amassed 631 tackles, 17 1/2 sacks, seven interceptions, and 20 pass deflections in 94 career games (74 starts) over seven NFL seasons, starting in Tennessee as a second-round pick out of North Carolina before moving on to the Bills and Redskins.
In 2018 with Washington Brown complied 96 tackles in all 16 games, including a season-high 11 when the Eagles routed the Redkins in Week 17 en route to the postseason. The prior season Brown was the NFL's tackle leader before missing the final three games with injury.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen