STAY OR GO: Defensive Ends
The defensive end position was one of the rare positives for the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles. Brandon Graham made his first Pro Bowl, Derek Barnett showed growth, and Josh Sweat continued to get better. However, with the Eagles in cap hell, there will be some big decisions regarding the two starters.
Graham had another great year for the Eagles as he made his first-ever Pro Bowl. He finished the year with eight sacks, 13 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. He continued to be a leader on the defense and had the third-best year of his career at 32-years-old.
Verdict: STAY. Graham is a high earner this year but has spoken of his desires to retire in Philadelphia. There have been talks about restructuring his contract and even extending him further down the line. Graham is Philadelphia through-and-through, a living embodiment of the city. He has shown no signs of slowing up, and remains one of the best defensive ends against the run. They need to keep him if they can.
Barnett played in 13 games last season and had a couple of minor injuries throughout the year. However, on a dreadful team, he showed some progress. The 24-year-old ended the year with 5.5 sacks and six tackles for loss. He has already signed his fifth-year tag and will make a little over $10 million.
Verdict: STAY. If the Eagles want to get younger, they need to keep a hold of Barnett. He is a starting defensive end in the league that will be 25-years-old heading into the 2021 season. The Eagles have not had much draft success recently, and failing to keep their last four First Round selections, before Jalen Reagor, past their fifth year is not a good look. They should extend Barnett to a three year, $21 million deal.
Sweat's stock amongst the fan base continued to rise in 2020 as he impressed with his best year as a pro. Two games that stuck out were his great performances against the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints. He heads into the final year of his rookie contract in 2021.
Verdict: STAY. It is hard to believe that Sweat won't be back after this season. He is likely to get an extension, and his performances will decide what he gets post-2021. For now, though, the 23-year-old is making a little over $1 million. He is a cheap player that will produce in a year that the Eagles will want their young talent to step up and take centre stage.
Avery's playing time in 2020 was limited due to injury and lack of use on the defense. However, his game against the 49ers stood out as he showed what he could do when given the opportunity. He had one sack, one tackle for loss, and five quarterback hits in the Eagles defense's best game of the year.
Verdict: STAY. Avery has confirmed that he will be changing positions in 2020, playing as a linebacker. The fact he is moving to linebacker, a position that the Eagles lack depth or quality in, means it is hard to see a player on less than $1 million let go.
Curry has been on one-year-deals the past two seasons and gradually seen his playing time decrease. He was the fourth choice defensive end this year and played in 11 games, starting three.
Verdict: GO. Curry is going to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and it is likely that the Eagles finally cut ties with him. The 32-year-old has spent eight seasons with the team and has sadly regressed. They will try and find alternatives to that spot in free agency or the back end of the draft.
I do not remember Ostman playing in 2020, although he played in three games. He has been signed to a futures contract with the team.
Verdict: GO. Ostman will likely be a camp body this pre-season. He was signed onto the practice squad in 2018 and has failed to break onto the main roster. The Eagles will likely add competition for his place on the practice squad.
Leo was selected by the Eagles as part of the NFL's International Player Pathway Program. The Australian was an international exemption on the practice squad last season, meaning other teams could not sign him. He has been given a futures contract.
Verdict: STAY. Leo will likely be placed on the practise squad unless he is eligible for international exemption again. He is a player they clearly like and want to see him develop similarly to Jordan Mailata.