5 pending free agents with ties to Eagles' DC Vic Fangio

5 pending free agents with ties to Eagles' DC Vic Fangio originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles’ new-look coaching staff will feature veteran coach Vic Fangio as their defensive coordinator.

Fangio, 65, has been coaching in the NFL since 1986 and has been a head coach once and a defensive coordinator for over 20 seasons. We’re already beginning to see his influence as the coaching staff comes together and that influence could extend to players.

Now, there’s no guarantee the Eagles will bring in a bunch of players with ties to Fangio but it’s not uncommon to see a couple join a team with a new coordinator.

Free agency begins next month with the tampering period on March 11.

Here are five pending free agents with ties to Fangio:

LB Andrew Van Ginklel: Van Ginkel played just one season under Fangio but he started 11 games for the Dolphins in 2023 and had 69 tackles, an interception and a career-high six sacks. Under Fangio, Van Ginkel (6-4, 242) showed off his versatility, playing some inside linebacker but also on the edge, especially after some injuries started piling up. That type of versatility could be intriguing for the Eagles as they start fresh with Fangio. And last offseason, Van Ginkel was thinking about leaving as a free agent when Fangio called him and told him that he was a good fit in his defense. Van Ginkel ended up being the highest-graded player on that Dolphins defense, according to PFF.

S DeShon Elliott: Like Van Ginkel, Elliott played just one season under Fangio with the Dolphins in 2023. But the 26-year-old started 15 games and had 82 tackles, 7 pass breakups and an interception playing next to fellow safety Jevon Holland in a defense that utilized three safeties. Elliott ended up having a nice season after previously playing for the Ravens and Lions. His contract in Miami in 2023 was a one-year deal worth just $1.77 million and he outplayed it. Elliott was actually mic’d up for the Dolphins game in Philly this past season. He seems like a fun guy to have on a team:

LB Josey Jewell: The 29-year-old is a former fourth-round pick out of Iowa who has played all six of his NFL seasons in Denver. He played under Fangio from 2019-2021. During that span, Jewell played in 33 games with 21 starts. It was Fangio who made Jewell a full-time starter back in 2020 and gave him the green dot for communication. Here’s what Fangio said about Jewell during the 2020 season:

“I think he’s gotten comfortable in the system—and he’s an instinctive player anyway—but it’s gotten to the point now because he’s gotten a lot of playing time that it’s really showing. I’ve been very, very pleased with his play.”

S P.J. Locke: The Broncos signed Locke as a UDFA out of Texas back in 2020 when Fangio was the head coach. For the first three years of his career, Locke was mostly a special teams player. But with Kareem Jackson missing time this season in Denver, Locke ended up playing a career-high 539 snaps and started 8 games. He played well too, with 53 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 PBUs and 1 INT playing across from Pro Bowler Justin Simmons. Locke’s position coach in Denver? Christian Parker, who is reportedly joining the Eagles' staff under Fangio. In a Q&A with The Denver Gazette last month, Locke went out of his way to praise Parker:

“He’s one of the smartest people, not even football coaches, I’ve ever known. There’s not enough words I can use for ‘CP’ to explain my development or our development. Selfishly, if everything works out and I’m here, I hope he’s here with me. He’s taught me so much about the game.”

In addition to the possibility of Locke, the Eagles should also give the Broncos a call about Justin Simmons. He's not on this list because he's under contract but he would be a really solid trade target for the Eagles. He's 30 now but is coming off another Pro Bowl season and would obviously be a perfect fit in Fangio's defense. Simmons is in the final year of his contract so a trade and extension could be in play.

OLB Malik Reed: Reed (6-2, 245 pounds) played for Fangio in Denver and then joined the Dolphins last offseason. Reed didn’t make the Dolphins roster but after a stint with the Raiders joined the Dolphins again on the practice squad in the playoffs. He didn’t sign a futures deal after the season and is now a free agent. The former UDFA from Nevada is 27 now and isn’t going to be a game-changer but he did play a role in Denver under Fangio. From 2019-2021, Reed played in 45 games with 34 starts and had 15 of his 16 career sacks. His best season came in 2020, when he started 13 games and had a career-high 8 sacks and 17 QB hits. The Eagles might need some depth at edge rusher and Reed would be a cheap option to try out.

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