An extremely busy offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles is one that has been praised for the several "large-scale" moves the team made – the signing of linebacker/edge rusher Haason Reddick in free agency, an NFL Draft weekend featuring the first three picks in defensive tackle Jordan Davis, center Cam Jurgens, and linebacker Nakobe Dean along with, of course, the acquisition of wide receiver A.J. Brown, and the post-draft signings of cornerback James Bradberry and safety Jaquiski Tartt – has also featured moves that may have slipped under the radar just a bit.
This is the time to step back and examine some of those decisions and how they could impact the Eagles in 2022.
March 15: Agreed to terms on one-year contracts with WR Greg Ward and S Andre Chachere
Players like Ward are important to have, and his value in 2021 extended far beyond the playing field. Ward's time at wide receiver was reduced from the previous season, but he didn't let that impact his day-to-day relationship with the wide receiver room. It was a particularly young group last season and Ward was the veteran in the room whom every player respected. For a new head coach like Nick Sirianni to establish a culture, he needed players like Ward to show their selflessness.
As for 2022, Ward's picture is one of competition. The Eagles have a very talented group at wide receiver. But Ward is someone you never count out because he can help in many ways as a situational receiver and punt return man.
Chachere is a developing defensive back and a valuable contributor on special teams. Again, there is competition here as the Eagles significantly beefed up the roster, but isn't that what you want for a roster that is so promising?
March 18: Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with S Anthony Harris
In his first season as an Eagle, Harris became a leader in the secondary, a producer in the defense who had 72 tackles, three passes defensed, one interception, and two tackles for loss. Harris played hurt and he played well and he helped the entire defense learn Jonathan Gannon's scheme. Having Harris back helps the continuity into Year 2 with Gannon. The communication is already in place. Harris has a working and personal relationship with Marcus Epps, so the two of them enjoyed a positive spring, and Harris can help Tartt assimilate quickly into the secondary as he joins the team when Training Camp begins. Harris just fits here in so many ways and it was a good move to sign him back for 2022.
March 21: Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with WR Zach Pascal
The words you hear about Pascal – "tough," "productive," "leader," "hard worker," translate into success. He's a winner, having turned himself from a long shot to be an NFL player into someone who had good production with the Colts. Pascal will provide depth and he will help on special teams. Sirianni knows him from their days together in Indianapolis, so having the endorsement from the head coach and understanding the kind of player he's bringing into this locker room is important to know. How much Pascal plays and where he lines up among a wide receiver group that is so talented remains to be seen, but Pascal is going to help everyone in the room raise his game.
March 24: Signed DE Derek Barnett to a two-year contract
The idea up front is to bring the heat off the edge – and inside, for that matter – with waves of defensive ends and players like Reddick. So, the Eagles are hoping they have quality of depth and that's why having Barnett back is so important. He's an extremely popular player in the locker room and in the organization for his toughness, his tenacity, and the way he brings it on every snap. Whether Barnett starts or not is not the issue – it's that when he's on the field he is a threat to the quarterback. And with players like Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat and Reddick and some improving young players like Tarron Jackson and Matt Leo and even rookie Kyron Johnson expected to be employed in the summer as pass rushers, the Eagles think they have the depth to keep players fresh and chasing down quarterbacks. Barnett returned to the Eagles in a good situation for both him and the team, and that's encouraging for the defensive end picture.
March 26: Agreed to terms on a one-year contract with LB Kyzir White
All White did last season was lead the Chargers in tackles (a whopping 144 total tackles, playing 84 percent of the defensive snaps) and have one of the best statistical seasons of his career – bests in tackles for loss (7), quarterback pressures (8), along with interceptions (2) and forced fumbles (2). He entered free agency and didn't find a long-term fit, so signing with the Eagles and having a chance to win playing time at the WILL spot made sense. The Eagles have some real depth here with White, Davion Taylor, and Dean at the top of the list, so it's going to be fun to watch this group in Training Camp. White is a good football player with experience. He knows he has a chance to earn playing time in a defense that will give him a chance to make a lot of plays. He has good speed, good coverage skills, and obviously White finds the football.
April 8: Signed WR Devon Allen
The Eagles took a flier on a flier as they liked what they saw so much from Allen at Oregon's Pro Day that they promptly signed him. He's among the world's fastest men and is, at this moment, the very best in the world in the 110-meter hurdles. The Eagles know this is a developmental project with Allen, who hasn't played football since his days at Oregon in 2016. Can he make this talented roster at wide receiver or as a return man? We will see. But the signing illustrated the team's willingness to go outside the box to identify and develop talent. Every roster spot counts, so the Eagles value Allen's world-class speed and want to see if can translate to the football field. There is only upside to this signing.
May 6: Signed 12 undrafted rookie free agents
The list actually grew to 13 players, and the significance of this under-the-radar move is this: The Eagles know that this group of players is so important in so many ways. You can expect, based on history, that one or two players will make the 53-man roster and that another large number could make the practice squad. With only five draft picks, the Eagles knew they had to have success in the post-draft period and they feel they've done so. We will see in Training Camp and in the preseason the impact of this undrafted rookie class.
May 23: Claimed CB Jimmy Moreland off waivers
After having some big moments with Washington for two seasons – Moreland started 10 games in those two seasons and played more than 1,000 defensive snaps – he was waived and then claimed last September by Houston. Moreland played in seven games for the Texans and he is now looking for a bounce-back opportunity. The Eagles added someone for depth and competition behind their top three corners – Darius Slay, Bradberry, and Avonte Maddox. Through the course of a 17-game regular season, a defense is likely to need another three or four corners at some point in the season. Maybe Moreland can be one of those contributors.