The Eagles continued bolstering their defense in the early days of 2022 free agency by agreeing to terms with safety Anthony Harris, who enjoyed a solid debut season in Philadelphia in 2021, on a one-year deal.
Harris along with linebacker Haason Reddick, who signed a three-year contract on Thursday as the Eagles landed their top free-agent target, figure to play major roles in Jonathan Gannon's defense that last season held opponents to 18 or fewer points in a regular-season-high 10 games. And with the pass-rush punch of Reddick – a double-digit sackmaster the last two seasons with Arizona and Carolina, respectively – added to the return of Harris, the Eagles believe they've taken steps forward as they prepare for 2022.
Of course, the Eagles are far from finished improving the roster. This is a process that started during the 2021 regular season with the contract extensions of tight end Dallas Goedert, cornerback Avonte Maddox, Pro Bowl defensive end Sweat, and tackle Jordan Mailata – all of whom would have entered the free-agent market this offseason otherwise. And the Eagles will continue to build long into the regular season as General Manager Howie Roseman has demonstrated throughout the years his relentless pursuit of improvement – with proven success. Early on, though, the focus has been on the defense with very positive results.
Harris joined the Eagles last season as an unrestricted free agent and helped teach the entire defense Gannon's scheme, having spent time with the defensive coordinator when the two were in Minnesota. That mission accomplished, Harris helped spearhead the defense's weekly improvement with his on-point communication, his ability to be in the right place as the scheme demanded, strong tackling, excellent leadership, and fine production. Harris finished the season with 72 total tackles, two for loss, three passes defensed, and an interception.
Roseman has done through the first few days of free agency what he has said many times is the approach the Eagles would like to take – retaining key players who were on last year's roster while also being open to adding other players who fit the scheme and culture, but not forcing or overextending simply for the sake of filling a perceived need.
"We can't force what's not there and if you do force what's not there, then you've wasted one of these resources," said Roseman prior to the 2022 NFL Combine. "If you make a decision or you're paying a position that you're forcing, you can't rebound from that. That's gone."
So, nothing is "gone" for the Eagles. They're building the defense, they will certainly add to the offense, and they are far from finished building on a roster that reached the playoffs in 2021 in Head Coach Nick Sirianni's first season at the helm with salary cap room and 10 draft picks beginning with three selections in the first round.
What's next? We have to sit back and see as Roseman continues to work the phones, exploring options and making the roster better – one step after another in an operation that will not be finished until well into the regular season, if at all.