Eagles’ Haason Reddick saved his NFL career with a decision

·3 min read

The decision that saved Reddick’s NFL career originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Haason Reddick felt like he had nothing to lose.

During the 2020 season, the former first-round pick’s career was floundering. He wasn’t a bad player but he hadn’t lived up to his first-round draft status in Arizona and the Cardinals had already declined his fifth-year option.

That’s when one decision changed the entire trajectory of his career.

“Man, it’s crazy,” Reddick said last week. “I think about it all the time.”

For the first 3 1/2 years in Arizona, Reddick was an inside linebacker and he wasn’t able to flourish. He missed playing on the edge, attacking quarterbacks.

“Hell yeah,” Reddick said. “That’s an easy question man. Hell yeah, man.”

Reddick figured that even if he failed as an edge rusher in the NFL, at least he’d go down on his terms.

“I remember having a conversation with my dad before I was making the decision whether I wanted to go back to the edge or not,” Reddick said. “I remember telling him I feel like if I don’t do this, I feel like if I don’t ask them to put me back, after this it’s either no more football, no more NFL for me or I’ll be just a special teamer, somebody that’s looked at as a special teamer.”

So Reddick first went to his position coach Billy Davis (yes, the former Eagles DC) and then to defensive coordinator Vance Joseph to ask about a change.

It worked.

Reddick switched positions and when Chandler Jones went down got to show that he still had the juice off the edge he once showed at Temple. Reddick had 12 1/2 sacks that season and then 11 in Carolina in 2021. The Eagles signed him to a three-year, $15 million deal this offseason.

While Reddick offers plenty of versatility, the Eagles would be crazy if they don’t let Reddick get after quarterbacks in 2022.

Reddick kept mum when asked about his role in Jonathan Gannon’s defense, but said he had a much better sense of that role for this season. And he said his role is “most definitely” tailored to his skillset.

And Reddick clearly thinks his skills translate better when he’s allowed to attack quarterback from the edge.

“My instincts, my reactions, they take over better on the edge,” he said. “It’s not as much thinking as inside linebacker.”

Of course, the one benefit from his first three years in the NFL is that he learned a lot about defense in general while playing as an inside linebacker in several different defenses. Because of all that, he not only has the ability to do more than some average edge rushers, but he understands a lot more of what his teammates are doing too.

Because of his time at linebacker, Reddick has a deeper appreciation for the guys who play those roles.

While Gannon and Reddick have kept Reddick’s role close to the vest, it’s clear the Eagles paid him $15 million per season to rush the quarterback from the edge. That’s the thing he’s done best in his NFL career and it started with one back-against-the-wall decision.

What’s the lesson from his story?

“Just never give up,” Reddick said. “It’s so Philadelphia when you think about it, right? Underdog story, being overlooked, having grit, continuing to push through, all the ups and downs.”

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