Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Figuring out a crowded DE group

NBC Sports Philadelphia Staff

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp bring back Stay or Go with the 2020 version, trying to figure out the future of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Today, we'll look at defensive ends: 

Brandon Graham 

Roob: The Eagles are fortunate Graham, now 31 and 10 years into his career, is still playing at a high level. There were a few points in his career where it looked like B.G.'s days here were numbered, but he was the Eagles' most consistent pass rusher this year and his 8 ½ sacks were the second-most of his career. He's signed for a couple more years and if he keeps playing the way he did this year he'll be here for both of them.

Verdict: Stays 

Dave: Another solid year for Graham in 2019. He's over 30 now but is entering the second year of a three-year deal he signed last offseason. He's never been a Pro Bowler and might never get there but he's been consistently good and was good again last season. He'll be back in 2020 and starting at LDE again. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: After a disappointing 2018, awarding Graham a big extension at 31 seemed like a questionable decision. He bounced back though, registering 8.5 sacks and finishing tied for ninth in the NFL with 15 tackles for loss. The new deal makes him difficult to move, but seeing as he's the club's best defensive end... 

Verdict: Stays

Derek Barnett

Roob: Three years in, we still don't know exactly what we have in Derek Barnett. He had a career-high 6 ½ sacks and has 14 in three seasons. Not terrible production. Plays very hard. Great effort. Injured too often. Way too many penalties. Not a bad player but also not what you expect from the 14th pick in the draft. Barnett has been good and the Eagles need him to be better

Verdict: Stays

Dave: While Barnett had his best season in 2019, he hasn't really lived up to being a first-round pick. He had an ankle injury that kept him out two games but managed to start 14 and had 6 1/2 sacks. He's a tough player with a high motor who shows flashes of being a really good pass rusher. But the Eagles need more from him entering Year 4. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Some will say Barnett isn't living up to his status as the 14th-overall pick in 2017, and a penchant for dumb penalties isn't doing him any favors with fans. In reality though, he was off to a fast start in '18 with 2.5 sacks in four games prior to injury, and this season his 22 quarterback hits tied for 14th in the NFL to go with a respectable 6.5 sacks considering he missed two more games. Keep in mind, he only turns 24 this year, so if he can just stay healthy, there's a lot to build on here. 

Verdict: Stays

Vinny Curry 

Roob: Curry came out of nowhere to record four sacks the last month of the season and 5.0 overall, second-most of his career. He was really good down the stretch. He's a free agent and not looking for a ton of money, he likes it here, and he's played alongside B.G. and Fletcher Cox for most of the last decade. His future will depend on what the Eagles think of their younger pass rushers, like Shareef Miller, Josh Sweat, Genard Avery and Joe Ostman, along with Daeshon Hall, who tore his ACL late in the season. I'd keep him, but not sure there's going to be room.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: I give a ton of credit to Curry for finishing the season as strong as he did. He had four sacks down the stretch and five on the season. He played a lot better than I ever expected, so maybe the Eagles try to bring him back. But if Howie Roseman is serious about getting younger and not hanging on to players for sentimental reasons, this would be an easy area to prove it. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: Curry's return to Philly got off to a slow start, but he turned it on late with 4.0 sacks in the final six games. A free agent, he would probably prefer to stick around -- the problem is he'll be 32 and the Eagles have quite a bit of young talent to work into the lineup. Not a fun decision for the front office, but an easy one.

Verdict: Goes

Josh Sweat 

Roob: Sweat was a decent rotational player and playing on a rookie 4th-round deal he's cheap. Is he ready to be that 3rd DE behind Barnett and Graham? He played fewer snaps than Curry and by the end of the year he was playing significantly fewer snaps than Curry. Is he ready to become a more consistent, productive player? 

Verdict: Stays

Dave: We saw really good flashes from Sweat in Year 2 and I think the Eagles might actually have something there. He played in all 16 games and had 4.0 sacks and 10 QB hits. There's a chance the Eagles could draft a defensive end but if they don't, Sweat could be the third guy in the rotation next year. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Sweat's numbers -- 4.0 sacks, 10 quarterback hits, 7 tackles for loss -- were quite comparable to Curry's -- 5.0 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, 5 tackles for loss. The difference is Sweat is nine years younger and played almost twice as many snaps on special teams. Plus, he's still on his rookie contract. 

Verdict: Stays

Shareef Miller 

Roob: Miller never got on the field this year as a rookie 4th-round pick, and it's tough to figure out where he fits in moving forward behind all the more experienced pass rushers on the roster. I don't think he has a roster spot locked up. It's going to be a big training camp for the Philly native.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: It was a redshirt rookie season for Miller. It wasn't what he expected but I think the Eagles always had a minimal role in mind for him in his first season. Thinking back to training camp, there were some glimpses that he could be a good pass rusher. This will obviously be a big spring and summer for Miller but they invested in him and I think he sticks around. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Typically, it's a bad sign when a fourth-round pick can't get on the field at all -- Miller played two snaps all season. In this case, the redshirt year was expected. This can go one of two ways now. Maybe he can't play at all and gets cut out of training camp. If the Eagles' plan comes to fruition though, he may just crack the rotation in 2020. 

Verdict: Stays

Genard Avery

Roob: The Eagles brought Avery in for a reason, but he only played 33 snaps in nine games and didn't even dress out for the Seahawks game. Avery does have two years left on his contract, and the Eagles gave up a 4th-round pick for him, so he's not going anywhere. It's just tough to figure out what his role is going to be.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Early returns on giving up a fourth-round pick for Avery weren't good. He was even a healthy scratch in the playoff game. But he has two years left under contract and I can't imagine the Eagles would give up on him so soon after parting with a draft pick to get him. And, like Roseman, I'm interested to see what he looks like with an offseason. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Avery was only on the field for 32 snaps after arriving from Cleveland, but Howie Roseman swears the trade was made for the future. Considering the kid basically had to learn to play a brand new position, the story checks out. He's 25 with sub-4.6 speed, so he's going to get a long look this offseason at the very least. 

Verdict: Stays

Daeshon Hall 

Roob: Hall had a big preseason and made the roster, then played sparingly – just 51 snaps on defense and 71 more on special teams. Then he tore his ACL on the last play of the regular season, so who knows when he'll even be healthy. Considering the injury and all the other DEs on the roster I don't see how he stays.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: It was tough to see Hall tear his ACL on the last play of the Giants game. He now faces a lengthy rehab with an uncertain future. He didn't play very much this season after having a great preseason, so it's hard to see the Eagles sticking with him. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Like many Eagles preseason darlings before, Hall couldn't convert August production into regular season playing time. Then tore his ACL in late December, making it unlikely he'll even be able to compete for a job. Of course, if he winds up on PUP to start 2020, he becomes an afterthought until November anyway. Here, but probably never reaches the field. 

Verdict: Stays

Joe Ostman 

Roob: Another tricky one. Ostman was having a strong preseason and looked like he had a shot at the 53 before he suffered a torn ACL during the open practice at the Linc. He's got some skill, and his rehab seems to be going great, but is there a spot for him in this crowded group? You know what? I love Ostman's effort and what he brings to the table so much I'm keeping him.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: The Eagles love Ostman and he was looking really good this summer before he tore his ACL. I think there's a good chance the Eagles keep him around on the practice squad, but I'm not buying his chances to crack the 53-man roster just yet. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Ostman was making so much noise in OTAs and training camp, many observers believed he had a legit shot to crack the 53-man roster. Then he tore his ACL, ending his season. Undersized and not especially athletic to begin with (compared to his peers anyway), it's hard to envision his cracking a crowded field, one the Eagles may even add to in the draft. Practice squad material, maybe, but again, there are a lot of bodies here. 

Verdict: Goes

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Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Figuring out a crowded DE group originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia