In the first month of free agency, the Eagles addressed their defense by signing four players on the defensive side of the ball.
Going into free agency, experts predicted that the Eagles would solve their running back issue by linking them to free agent running back Tevin Coleman. However, general manager Howie Roseman and the rest of the Eagles front office went in a completely different direction.
Defensive tackle Malik Jackson, linebacker L.J. Fort, safety Andrew Sendejo, and defensive end Vinny Curry all ended up signing contracts with the Eagles in the first month of free agency.
Malik Jackson was the Eagles very first signing when the legal tampering period started on March 11.
Jackson signed a three-year, $30 million deal. Jackson was a fifth-round draft pick out of the University of Tennessee in 2012. He had previously played for the Broncos and Jaguars, and he replaces the departing Timmy Jernigan in the middle of the line. Before coming to Philadelphia, Jackson was a 2017 Pro Bowler with Jacksonville and a Super Bowl Champion with Denver.
Jackson had a down year in 2018 compared to his 2017 Pro Bowl year. He recorded only 32 total tackles and 3.5 sacks. Despite his down season, Jackson is an above average run defender and pass rusher that will exceed on the Eagles defensive line. Jackson has posted career totals of 239 tackles, 32 sacks, six sacks, three fumble recoveries, and 23 pass deflections.
The Eagles then signed linebacker L.J. Fort to a three-year deal that can reach up to $10 million with incentives.
Fort was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012 by the Cleveland Browns, and the Eagles will be Fort’s seventh team since coming into the league. He was not one of the top free agent linebackers when free agency started, but Fort is a solid and serviceable linebacker that will add depth to a Philadelphia that lost Jordan Hicks to free agency.
2018 was a breakout season for Fort as he recorded 48 combined tackles and one sack. According to Pro Football Focus, Fort was the second-best inside linebacker in the AFC North last year with a 74.2 overall grade. Fort has career totals of 83 tackles, three sacks, one fumble recovery, one interception, and one defensive touchdown.
The Eagles third defensive signing of the offseason was former Minnesota Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo.
The Eagles and Sendejo agreed to a one-year deal. Since entering the league, Sendejo bounced around between a few teams before signing with the Vikings in 2011. Sendejo’s final year in Minnesota was cut short as he suffered a groin injury in Week five and missed the next six games before being placed on injured reserve on November 27.
Sendejo will add depth to Eagles safety unit that will send out Rodney McLeod who is coming off of a knee injury and Malcolm Jenkins who had played every single snap last year. Sendejo will essentially be the Eagles’ new Chris Maragos, but he will be an upgrade when it comes to playing defense. Sendejo has racked up 371 total tackles, one sack, six interceptions, one forced fumble, and three fumble recoveries in his career so far.
The final signing for the Eagles was a very familiar face to the organization and the city as they signed former defensive end Vinny Curry to a one-year deal.
After winning a Super Bowl in 2017 with the Eagles, Curry signed with the Buccaneers as a free agent. After a disappointing season, the Bucs cut Curry. The signing will bring depth to the Eagles edge rushers.
As Chris Long’s decision to retire or return for another season awaits, the Curry signing was needed as they are thin at the defensive end position. Curry had a good start of his career with the Eagles, and he will look to get back into that form. Curry has recorded 151 total tackles, 24.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery so far in his career.
Roseman and the rest of the Eagles front office had a plan in mind when they were entering free agency.
In 2018 the Eagles ranked 23rd in total defense and Roseman was not happy with that. He wanted to get the defense backed to their 2017 form when they had a top-five defense and won the Super Bowl. With the Eagles adding key players and depth on defense they will be contenders in the NFC as they look to get back to the Super Bowl.