Eagles' Top Players to Prioritize in 2024 NFL Free Agency

Eagles’ Top Players to Prioritize in 2024 NFL Free Agency

The closer we get to the legal tampering period starting March 11, the more money the Eagles seem to be coming up with.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman

That’s an exciting development for a Philadelphia team that ended the season in disappointing fashion. After looking like a real threat to get back to the Super Bowl for the first 11 games of the season, they ended the season by losing six of their last seven games.

The offseason so far has been marked by the retirement of Jason Kelce. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN also reported that Fletcher Cox will, “probably retire at some point this offseason.”

In other words, Eagles fans are likely looking forward to some good news. That should come in the form of a few key signings in free agency that can help make sure another late-season collapse doesn’t happen again.

Between the salary cap rising to $255.4 million and the Eagles making some roster moves, general manager Howie Roseman now has $39.7 million in cap space to spend this offseason.

Given their team needs and budget, here are three free agents who should be top priorities when the market opens.

S C.J. Gardner-Johnson

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 21: C.J. Gardner-Johnson #2 of the Detroit Lions defends in pass coverage during an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field on January 21, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

General manager Howie Roseman shouldn’t have many regrets with this roster that he has built. The Eagles might have collapsed but its still a strong roster that won the NFC two years ago.

However, the decision to let C.J. Gardner-Johnson could be one that stings.

Gardner-Johnson put together a career year in a one-year stint with the Eagles in 2022. He registered career highs with 67 tackles and six interceptions while playing both safety and the slot for Philadelphia’s deep playoff run.

Then the Eagles let him walk on a reasonable one-year, $6.5 million contract last offseason.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported that he has a Gardner-Johnson reunion in Philly on his radar. He added that “the Eagles realized they missed the talented safety in the secondary.”

Fowler also noted the Titans as a potential suitor for the safety. Dennard Wilson is now the defensive coordinator there after serving as the defensive backs coach for the Birds in 2022.

Gardner-Johnson’s market will be interesting he only played in two games with the Lions. He missed Weeks 3-17 with a torn pec.

The Eagles just released Kevin Byard after trading for him at the trade deadline. The move cleared around $13 million in salary cap space.

That savings could go directly toward bringing Gardner-Johnson back into the fold.

EDGE Andrew Van Ginkel

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 8: Andrew Van Ginkel #43 of the Miami Dolphins lines up before a play during an NFL football game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium on January 8, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

There were a lot of reasons for the Eagles sharp decline in 2023 and many of them have already been addressed with their coaching changes. However, the drop in pass rush production in one year was a major cause.

The Eagles were historically good at getting to the quarterback in 2022. They had 70 sacks and posted a pressure rate of 25.5 percent. There was going to be some regression to the mean in 2023, but their numbers went down to just 43 sacks and a 22.4 percent pressure rate.

Cap constraints made it impossible for the Eagles to keep their collection of pass-rushers together. They lost Javon Hargrave to the Niners while Ndamukong Suh and Robert Quinn weren’t brought back.

Now that the Eagles have some breathing room, it would be good to add at least one veteran who can help enhance their pass rush.

Andrew Van Ginkel would be a great fit. He just finished his best season (six sacks, 55 total pressures) with Vic Fangio serving as the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator.

With Fangio coming to Philadelphia in the same role, they should bring Van Ginkel with him.

LB Josey Jewell

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 24:  Linebacker Josey Jewell #47 of the Denver Broncos lines up against the New England Patriots at Empower Field at Mile High on December 24, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Roseman has not made a habit of using valuable resources on off-ball linebackers. He didn’t take Nakobe Dean in the draft until he fell to the third round and they let both Kyzir White and T.J. Edwards leave in free agency last season.

Instead he signed Zach Cunningham to a one-year deal worth less than $2 million.

There’s some validity to the argument that paying out big money to linebackers isn’t good team-building, but the return on small investments has not been good.

The Eagles were searching for answers at linebacker throughout the season. That’s why Philadelphia brought in Shaquille Leonard in December.

With more cash on hand in 2024, Roseman doesn’t have to hit on a linebacker signing from the bargain bin again.

Targeting someone like Josey Jewell would give them a reliable starter who is still not going to break the bank. The 29-year-old carries a Spotrac market value of two years, $15.3 million.

Jewell is a versatile backer who has chalked up over 100 tackles in three of the last four seasons with a handful of sacks and tackles for loss. He isn’t a liability in coverage and can be a three-down player.

Signing him would bring some consistency to the position without blowing their free agent budget.

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