For as long as Howie Roseman has been the general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, the organization has placed an emphasis on acquiring players who can affect the opposing quarterback. Following Roseman's press conference at the start of the NFL Combine two weeks ago, it didn't take much reading between the lines to know that the Eagles were going to enhance their pass rush this offseason.
"For us, we want to get pressure on the quarterback," Roseman said. "It's a priority to us. We'll have opportunities this offseason to do it, and I would be very surprised if we didn't do something there."
The first step for that is coming in free agency, as the Eagles have announced they've agreed to terms on a three-year contract with versatile veteran linebacker/edge rusher Haason Reddick, who grew up in nearby Camden, New Jersey, before moving on to play his college football at Temple University. The 13th overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, Reddick has been a force these last two seasons, recording 12.5 quarterback sacks in 2020 with Arizona before moving to Carolina on a one-year contract and again reaching double digits in sacks with 11. Only four players in the league had more sacks over the past two seasons (23.5) than Reddick.
Reddick, who moved around the defense in both Arizona and Carolina and who possesses the versatility that Gannon loves in his players, has 31 quarterback sacks and 11 forced fumbles in 80 NFL games.
Take a look at the Eagles' newest free-agent addition, Haason Reddick!
While free agency officially opened at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, the Eagles' work toward building the 2022 roster started well before the start of the offseason. During the 2021 season, the Eagles extended four members of the 2018 Draft Class – tight end Dallas Goedert, cornerback Avonte Maddox, defensive end Josh Sweat, and tackle Jordan Mailata. The Eagles earmarked that quartet as cornerstone pieces of the team's present and future. Without the in-season extensions, those players would have hit the free-agent market on Wednesday making the job of building upon last year's successes – a playoff appearance with a first-time head coach and a 23-year-old quarterback – tougher.
Now, the Eagles add Reddick to the mix. The respected Pro Football Focus pegged Reddick as a player who expected to draw a lot of attention in free agency, which he has. Said PFF: "Reddick has an explosive first step and wins with his speed and quickness off the edge. His 99 quarterback pressures over the past two years are tied for 15th among edge rushers."
Only 27, Reddick fits the profile of what the Eagles ideally want in free agency: He's just reaching the prime years of his career and he's been a proven, productive player. He began his career in Arizona playing a hybrid inside linebacker position for the Cardinals before moving to the edge, and he's also lined up from the defensive end position in certain defensive looks with Carolina. After three seasons in Arizona trying to find the right positional fit with the Cardinals, Reddick blossomed in 2020 and has only gotten better and better.
In that 2020 season, Reddick was a force. He recorded two sacks of Dallas quarterback Andy Dalton in a Week 6 win over the Cowboys. Late in the season, Reddick was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after destroying the Giants with five quarterback sacks and three forced fumbles and followed that up two weeks later with another 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble against San Francisco. Reddick recorded sacks in seven games that season and then, after entering free agency and signing with Carolina, recorded at least half a quarterback sack in nine of the 16 games he played in during the 2021 campaign.
The Eagles saw how devasting Reddick was in 2021 when he had two quarterback sacks, two tackles for loss, and eight combined tackles in the Eagles' 21-18 comeback win over the Panthers in Week 5. Reddick also had a quarterback sack and four total tackles for Arizona against the Eagles in 2020 when the Cardinals defeated Philadelphia 33-28 in a Week 15 game in Arizona.
How will the Eagles use Reddick? That remains to be seen, of course. The reality is that they could look to use him in a variety of ways to take advantage of his unique pass-rushing skills.