STAY OR GO: The Linebackers
The Eagles linebacker group was the cheapest and by far the worst in the NFL last season. Their struggles led to the downfall of the Eagles once proud record of being the best team against the run, and they were regularly torched by tight ends. With a new defensive coaching staff with the team this year, they will have some interesting decisions to make.
Gerry was one of the main villains of the 2020 season. Despite his constant struggles against the run and covering receivers, Jim Schwartz stuck with the former-fifth round pick. His season ended early due to injury, and the Eagles linebacker play did improve.
Verdict: GO. There is no reason for the Eagles to keep Gerry. They decided against franchise tagging him, and with the tape, he showed last year, it is hard to reason with keeping him. His time in Philly will come to an end as he is an unrestricted free agent.
The Eagles traded for Riley a couple of years ago. Riley impressed the coaching staff very quickly and became a special teams captain. Despite his play on special teams, his defensive performances were below par as he was a big contributor in the Eagles linebacker struggles.
Verdict: GO. Riley is an unrestricted free agent, and it is hard to see them extend him. They already have four linebackers contracted on the team that will be on the roster in 2021, and his play on defense does not warrant a new deal.
Singleton was the unsung hero of the 2020 season. His performances helped revitalise the linebacker core, and he was one of the best players for the Eagles. Singleton shone in the win over the San Francisco 49ers with a pick-six, and he also had impressive stats. He started 11 games, had 120 total tackles, two fumble recovers, two sacks and five tackles for loss as he became a mainstay on the Eagles defense.
Verdict: STAY. The Eagles must keep Singleton. Not just because of his play last season, but because he is owed less than $1 million. He is proof that hard work can go a long way, and he is the fighting underdog that Philadelphians will love. His contract runs out after 2021, so he will be playing for his future next season.
Edwards played in his second season for the Eagles last year and once again impressed. He now has two years of NFL experience which will be vital heading into 2021. He started 12 games in 2020 and had a pair of sacks and forced fumbles to add to his resume.
Verdict: STAY. Similarly to Singleton, Edwards has proven to be a solid linebacker in the NFL and is on a cheap contract. Depending on what the Eagles do in the draft, he could be starting once again next season. Edwards is also out of contract after the season. So expect he and Singleton to be playing at 110% on every snap.
Bradley saw his playing time limited in 2020 due to Jim Schwartz's love for Nate Gerry, and his hate for playing rookies. He mostly featured on special teams, but should see his snap count rise significantly in 2021.
Verdict: STAY. One year removed from being drafted, it is hard to imagine the Eagles cutting Bradley. He looked like a hard-hitting player when he played and will be chomping at the bit to play more next season. Depending on free agency and the draft, the Temple graduate will be a more prominent name on the Eagles defense next season.
The Taylor pick was somewhat ignored on draft night due to the Eagles selecting Jalen Hurts, but drafting Taylor proved to be the more head-scratching pick. He was very much a project player who had barely played in the position, and it is fair to say the Eagles jumped the gun for him. We barely saw him on the field in 2020, mainly because he was not ready. What is more concerning about Taylor is the fact other teams had him as an undrafted prospect.
Verdict: STAY. Having spent such a high pick on Taylor, the Eagles have to commit to him. He could end up being great, but for a team that needs young talent to make an impact now, the pick still does not make much sense. Taylor needs to show signs of growth and promise next season.
Bachie was signed by the Eagles to fill in for their injury crisis and he played in four games in the back end of the season.
Verdict: DECIDED IN CAMP. Bachie was on the New Orleans Saints practice squad before joining the Eagles and will get the chance to prove why he should make the team. He will likely battle it out for a place on the practice squad.
Smith was another undrafted free agent signed by the Eagles last season. He spent the second half of the season with the practice squad and was elevated for a couple of games.
Verdict: STAY. The Eagles obviously liked Smith enough to keep him around for the second half of the season. He should be on the practice squad heading into next season with the hopes of continuing to develop just like Singleton and Edwards did.