Monday, December 4

Grading each Eagles move in 2022 free agency: Haason Reddick signing necessary in surprisingly inactive period

The first week of free agency has been a change of pace for the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans. No longer confined in salary cap hell thanks to the dead cap hit the franchise carried from the Carson Wentz trade, the Eagles had some money to spend in the first wave of free agency.

Philadelphia was going to spend some money to improve a playoff roster from last year right? The Eagles were active on the first day of free agency, bolstering the pass rush with the signing of Haason Reddick. Since, it’s been crickets.

No fault of the Eagles for trying. They had a trade in place for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley, but the Falcons nixed the deal in good faith after Ridley was suspended a year for gambling. Philadelphia was also in on safety Marcus Williams before the Baltimore Ravens swooped in with a better offer. They were also in the JuJu Smith-Schuster market before he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Philadelphia also kicked the tires on upgrading at quarterback, but Russell Wilson nor Deshaun Watson would waive their no-trade clauses to come to the Eagles (the Eagles knew Watson wasn’t interested since August). The Eagles will roll with Jalen Hurts and will look to upgrade the offense in the draft with three first-round picks in the teens.

Having four of the first 51 picks and five of the first 83 picks are part of the reason why the Eagles weren’t as active in free agency as in years past. There’s still work that needs to be done with this roster, as the opportunity to compete for the NFC East title is there for the taking in 2022.

General manager Howie Roseman doesn’t have a high mark through the first wave of free agency, but there’s plenty of time to improve the grade. Here are the grades for each free agent signing on the Eagles thus far.

Free agent signings

Haason Reddick, EDGE


  • Grade: TO
  • Contract: Three years, $45 million

Reddick was the edge rusher the Eagles targeted once the legal tampering period started, and easily convinced the Camden native and Temple product to return to play for his hometown team. The Eagles had just 29 sacks last year (tied for second-fewest in the NFL), despite finishing tied for 15th in pressures with 197. This unit needed an upgrade on the edge to complement Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham.

Reddick has 23.5 sacks over the past two seasons (fifth-most in the NFL) and his eight forced fumbles are tied for the third-most in the league during that span. He finished with 68 tackles, 11 sacks, two forced fumbles, and 18 quarterback hits in 2021. Reddick also recorded 42 pressures in 2021 (eight fewer than in 2020) and 10 missed tackles, but demonstrated he can get to the quarterback on a consistent basis.

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A player like Reddick is what the Eagles pass rush needed, someone whose production matched the talent. Since lining up on the edge two years ago, Reddick has been one of the best pass rushers in the league. Reddick and Aaron Donald are the only two players in the NFL with 100 tackles, 20 sacks, and eight forced fumbles over the last two seasons.

Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon needed a more consistent pass rush in order for his defense to thrive, which he’ll get with Reddick, Sweat, and Graham on the edge. Another high draft pick on a pass rusher and the Eagles will have one of the best young edge rushing units in the league.

Zach Pascal, WR


  • Grade: C
  • Contract: One year, amount not disclosed

Pascal provides the depth the Eagles wide receiver group needs, but he doesn’t make this offense any better. A favorite of head coach Nick Sirianni, Pascal finished with 38 catches for 384 yards and three touchdowns in an underwhelming 2021 campaign.

A good blocker on screens and in the run game, Pascal fits the run-first offense the Eagles demonstrated throughout most of last season. He also has plenty of experience in the slot, as 72% of his snaps from him came from lining up in the slot last year.

Pascal is the No. 3 wide receiver behind DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins, but that doesn’t improve the pass catchers for Hurts. He just adds veteran depth in the room, which was necessary this offseason. The Eagles will have to find that No. 2 wide receiver early in the draft if they really want Hurts to have a chance to succeed throwing the football.


Fletcher Cox, DT


  • Grade: B.
  • Contract: One year, $14 million

In one of Roseman’s oddest moves to date, the Eagles released Cox as a post-June 1 designation to save salary cap space. Cox was a free agent for a few days, but was in serious talks with Philadelphia on a possible return. The Eagles were able to bring back the 31-year-old defensive tackle on a one-year deal, essentially taking a year-to-year approach with Cox.

Cox isn’t the same player he once was (3.5 sacks, 41 pressures, 12 quarterback hits), but allowing him to walk would have put the Eagles severely thin at defensive tackle. Javon Hargrave and Milton Williams would have been the top two defensive tackles on the roster if Cox didn’t return.

Should the Eagles have allocated that $14 million elsewhere and improve at cornerback and linebacker? Perhaps that was a possibility, but the Eagles can add a defensive tackle in the draft to develop for a year under Cox before severe ties with him. Philadelphia can also address those positions in the draft and have the defensive tackle rotation set for 2022, pushing off getting younger at that position next offseason.

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Bringing Cox back was the best move for a defensive line that just added Reddick. Maybe Cox has a bounce-back year with more pressure coming off the edge.

Boston Scott, R.B.


  • Grade: B+
  • Contract: One year, $1.75 million

Hard for the Eagles to find a better complementary running back to Miles Sanders than Scott, a key part of the running game over the last several seasons. Scott was a value No. 2 running back for the top rushing offense last season, finishing with 373 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns — averaging 4.3 yards per carry.

The Eagles got Scott back for a cheaper amount than the right of first refusal tender of $2.433 million (Scott was a restricted free agent) — a value he should outperform in 2022. This was a good move bringing Scott back.

Anthony Harris, S.


  • Grade: B-
  • Contract: One year, amount not disclosed

Philadelphia needed to bring one of its two starting safeties back from last season, and chose the right one in Harris. Injuries limited Harris to 14 games last season, as he compiled 72 tackles, one interception, and three passes defensed.

Harris allowed opposing quarterbacks to compete 57.8% of their passes when he was the primary defender in coverage, as they had a 77.8 passer rating. The lack of playmaking in the secondary affected Harris, but he can help out this defense if he’s healthy in 2022.

The Eagles wanted to upgrade at safety — and still need to even with Harris back in the fold. Harris is a complimentary starter instead of a top option, yet can play his way into a valuable contributor with the right pieces around him. He’ll look much better on this defense with a good No. 2 cornerback and a playmaking safety in the secondary.

Greg Ward, W.R.


  • Grade: C
  • Contract: One year, amount not disclosed

There’s no issue with bringing Ward back to the wide receiver room, as he had just seven catches for 95 yards last season — but three touchdowns. Ward proves value as a team leader and has good chemistry with Hurts, which is why Philadelphia brought him back.

No guarantee Ward makes the team, but he’s been doubted before. The Eagles had to improve at wide receiver, so bringing Ward back was underwhelming.

Andre Chachere, CB


  • Grade: B.
  • Contract: One year, amount not disclosed

Chachere was one of the special teams aces on the Eagles last year, a bright spot on a very disappointing unit. He was fourth on the Eagles in special teams tackles (five) and adds depth to a cornerback position that has a lot of young players. Chachere has a place on the 2022 roster.

Being an exclusive rights free agent made it a no-brainer Chachere would return. Another year in the Eagles system bolsters the special teams unit — and Chachere’s stay in the NFL.

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Overall grade: C

The Eagles had a laundry list of items that needed to be taken care of in free agency, and Roseman deserves credit for taking care of the pass rush by landing Reddick. Philadelphia had an advantage in Haason Reddick wanting to play for the team he grew up watching, making the Eagles a perfect match.

Unfortunately, the Eagles struck out everywhere else. They tried to get a veteran wide receiver in to help the passing game and make life easier for Jalen Hurts and the best option Philadelphia could come up with was Zach Pascal. The Eagles had a deal for Calvin Ridley fall through due to unforeseen circumstances, but JuJu Smith-Schuster, Robert Woods, and Allen Robinson were not interested in joining Philadelphia.

Is that because Hurts is the quarterback? No, there were better opportunities to get targets elsewhere and the Eagles threw the ball just 50.13% of the time in 2021 — last in the league. The Eagles still could land a veteran wideout on the trade market or use a high draft pick and continue to build a young unit led by DeVonta Smith.

Philadelphia also failed to secure Marcus Williams at safety, as he chose a better offer from Baltimore. Williams would have been a massive upgrade in the secondary. Instead, the Eagles are running it back with Harris and an unknown at the other safety position. There’s still plenty of questions that need to be answered in the secondary, as the Eagles don’t have a starting No. 2 cornerback as well (Zech McPhearson is in line to start opposite Darius Slay with Avonte Maddox in the slot).

The Eagles took care of their own free agents long before the offseason by re-signing Jordan Mailata, Avonte Maddox, and Dallas Goedert — three young players who would have received huge contracts if they were available in March. Roseman deserves praise for getting those deals done, but the first wave of free agency was disappointing considering how aggressive the general manager has been in the past.

Perhaps Roseman knows the Eagles are still a roster in transition and are a year or two away from competing for a Super Bowl. The Eagles are going to address wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback, and safety in the second wave of free agency and the draft — the latter which the offseason will really be judged.

If the Eagles hit on these first round picks — or trade one for first-round draft capital for 2023 (potentially setting themselves up for the next franchise quarterback) — Philadelphia will be in Super Bowl contention sooner than many think.

The NFC East has a door open with the Dallas Cowboys slight decline. It’s time for the Eagles to enter the room.

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