The 2018 NFL Free Agency period isn’t even a week old yet, but it has already been one of the most hectic in recent memory. And even after winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history, the Eagles have managed to get even better.
They started their offseason with a bang, trading for three-time pro bowl defensive end Michael Bennett. Bennett comes from the Seattle Seahawks and bring with him an impressive resume and some unstoppable pass rushing skills.
The Eagles had one of, if not the, best defensive lines in all of football last season. The starting combination of Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Timmy Jernigan, and Vinny Curry struck fear into opposing teams offensive lines. And that isn’t even including other pass rushers such as Chris Long, Derek Barnett or Beau Allen, who just signed a new deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the trade for Bennett, along with the signing of former Lions’ defensive end Haloti Ngata, will add more depth to what already seems unstoppable. However, defensive line wasn’t the only position group that has gotten an upgrade.
At defensive back, the Eagles added cornerback Daryl Worley in a trade with the Panthers where they sent over wide receiver Torrey Smith. While the loss of Smith is an emotional one, last season Mack Hollins showed that he is capable of stepping up when needed. However, the loss of Patrick Robinson to the Saints‘ means Worley will need to learn the playbook quickly, as he looks to continue where Robinson leaves off.
Worley is from the area, having gone to high school at William Penn Charter School. Therefore, he should fit right into coach Jim Schwartz’s gritty and aggressive defense. However, don’t expect Worley to be thrusted into the starting lineup right away. Worley will most likely be competing with a pair of second-year cornerbacks in Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas for the third cornerback slot.
And if there was any thought that the Eagles may not have one of the best defenses in the league, they even managed to upgrade at linebacker. The re-signing of linebacker Nigel Bradham is huge, as he was a leader last season both on-and-off the field. The Eagles also signed former Broncos’ linebacker Corey Nelson to a one-year deal, adding more depth to one the most impressive linebacking corps. Not to mention, middle line baker Jordan Hicks will be coming back from the injured reserve.
Oh, and we are still over a month away from the NFL Draft.
With all the success the Eagles have had as of recent, it can be hard to remember that there have been some key departures as well.
Torrey Smith, Beau Allen, and Patrick Robinson are not the only Eagles to have left the nest over the past couple days. Punter Donnie Jones wrapped up his 14-year career when he announced his retirement on February 27th. This was followed by the announcement that tight ends Trey Burton and Brent Celek were also both on their way out. Burton has gone on to sign a four-year contract with the Bears, while Celek was released from the only NFL team he has known through his eleven-year playing career.
Celek’s release is especially emotional. As the longest tenured Eagle on the entire roster last season, Celek didn’t see much on time on the field, but his legacy and impact on the city of Philadelphia has firmly cemented him as one of the most beloved athlete’s in the city’s history.
For Eagles fans, it’s still hard to believe that they are the defending Super Bow Champions. But if there is any better feeling than winning the big one, it’s winning the Super Bowl and continuing to get better every day.