Eagles Stay or Go 2021: Defensive ends

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Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro
·6 min read
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Eagles Stay or Go 2021: Might be time for turnover at DE originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro bring back Stay or Go in 2021, trying to figure out the futures of every Eagles player on the roster.

Today, we’ll look at defensive ends:

Genard Avery

Roob: Avery cost the Eagles a 4th-round pick in this year’s draft and produced exactly 1 1/2 sacks in 1 1/2 seasons after coming over from the Browns. The Eagles never had any idea what to do with him, and he averaged 8 1/2 defensive snaps in the 19 games he played. What a waste of a draft pick. He’s under contract for another year but counts nothing against the cap if he gets cut. Which he should.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: The Eagles traded away a 4th-round pick during the 2019 season to get Avery from the Browns and it has mostly been a waste. In 19 games with the Eagles he has just 2 sacks and 8 QB hits and most of that came in one game against the 49ers in the 2020 season. The Eagles don’t have an excess of defensive ends but I’m also not sure how Jonathan Gannon will view Avery. But as a cheap rotational player, I’m at least intrigued to see how the new staff uses him.

Verdict: Stays

Derek Barnett

Roob: One of the more interesting names in the entire Stay or Go series. It’s obvious he’s not going to play here on the $10 million tender the Eagles would owe him, so their options are to let him walk or try to negotiate a more sensible deal. But how much? I think Barnett will have some value on the open market, and it doesn’t make sense for him to sign a lesser deal if he thinks he can get more as a free agent, and it doesn’t make sense for the Eagles to get into a bidding war for a guy who’s averaged under 5 sacks per season as the 14th pick in the 2017 draft.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Barnett is scheduled to play the 2021 season on a fifth-year option, which comes with a salary and cap hit of over $10 million. It’s hard to imagine that happening. While Barnett hasn’t become a star, he’s a decent player when he’s been able to stay on the field. The Eagles can’t afford to pay him the $10 million but if they can come to an agreement on a new contract that makes sense. If they can’t, then they need to cut him.

Verdict: Stays

Vinny Curry

Roob: Vinny’s still a decent backup, but the last thing the Eagles need at this point is a 33-year-old backup pass rusher. If I was a playoff contender looking for a cheap, experienced pass rusher for depth, I’d sign Vinny. But the Eagle have to get younger and cheaper, and a 33-year-old backup edge rusher doesn’t make any sense.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Thanks for the memories, Vinny. Curry has been a solid player for the Eagles and helped them win a Super Bowl a few years back. But he’ll turn 33 before the start of the season and the Eagles shouldn’t bring him back in free agency. If they were a contender this year, then sure. But they’re not. Hopefully if Curry wants to keep playing, someone else will pick him up.

Verdict: Goes

Brandon Graham

Roob: I expect B.G. to survive what should be a purge of older veterans this offseason, mainly because there’s no cap benefit to cutting him but also because he’s still their best pass rusher. This will be Graham’s 12th season, and his three best seasons have all been since 2017. At some point, Graham will retire, hopefully without ever playing for another team. For now, it’s hard to imagine this team without him.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: A post-June 1 cut or trade would save the Eagles a lot of cap space and they obviously want to get younger. But Graham is still one of their best players so if you’re stuck paying someone, they should feel better that it’s going to him. The Eagles need to begin to prepare for life after Graham but that shouldn’t happen until at least after this upcoming season.

Verdict: Stays

Matt Leo

Roob: The 6-7, 275-pound Leo spent this past year with the Eagles as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program. He’s a 28-year-old Australian who’s never played in the NFL, and he’s a great story, but if he ends up making the team the Eagles are really in trouble.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: The Eagles had Leo on their practice squad as an international exemption. He looks the part but is still really raw and has a long way to go before being able to play in the NFL. But because of his late start, Leo is already 28. He won’t be on the roster in 2021.

Verdict: Goes

Joe Ostman

Roob: Osman was one of 26 Eagles who made their NFL debut in 2020. He got into three games and played 29 snaps and everybody that’s met Joe was happy for him because he tore his ACL during 2019 training camp and missed the entire season and fought his way onto the field for the first time. But good stories don’t win Super Bowls. The Eagles need to be better.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: The Eagles love Ostman for obvious reasons. He has been a great scout team player over the last few years and has really helped Jordan Mailata’s growth and development. He did everything he could to make the roster out of camp last year and still didn’t. The Eagles might want to keep him on the practice squad but if he couldn’t make the 53 last year, not sure how he does it in 2021.

Verdict: Goes

Josh Sweat

Roob: One of a small handful of promising young players on the Eagles’ roster, Sweat had 6.0 sacks in 14 games before a wrist injury ended his season a couple weeks early. Sweat, who turns 24 next month, is cheap and productive and that’s exactly the kind of players the Eagles need to start building around.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: The Eagles don’t really have a ton of good young players but Sweat is one of them. It’s hard to believe but he’s entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. The former 4th-round pick had a career-high 6.0 sacks in 2020 as a part-time player. I expect Barnett to be back but if he isn’t, go ahead and pencil in Sweat as a starter this season. Either way, he’ll be an important part of the DL rotation.

Verdict: Stays

Stay or Go: Wide receivers

Stay or Go: Cornerbacks

Stay or Go: Running backs

Stay or Go: Linebackers

Stay or Go: Defensive tackles

Stay or Go: Interior OL

Stay or Go: Specialists

Stay or Go: Offensive tackles

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