Over the next four weeks, we'll be counting down the 20 most important Eagles for the 2020 season.
Nigel Bradham is gone, Kamu Grugier-Hill is gone.
And Nathan Gerry needs to really step up for the Eagles in 2020.
The Eagles used a fifth-round pick on Gerry out of Nebraska in 2017 and the last three years have been about his transition from a college safety to a modern-day NFL linebacker. It has been a gradual process.
But in 2019, Gerry finally began to play a major role on the Eagles defense, playing in all 16 games and starting two.
Here's a look at Gerry's play-time percentages on defense from the last three seasons:
2017: 20 snaps (2%)
2018: 134 snaps (13%)
2019: 620 snaps (61%)
In 2020, you can expect Gerry's usage to go up once again. In fact, he'll probably be the Eagles' linebacker who doesn't leave the field. Without Brahdam and Grugier-Hill, the Eagles are going to rely on Gerry and second-year linebacker T.J. Edwards quite a bit in 2020. They have other linebackers like Jatavis Brown, Duke Riley and draft picks Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley, but it'll be Gerry who starts the season as a starter.
Last season, Gerry was second on the team with 78 combined tackles, just three behind Malcolm Jenkins. He also had 2 1/2 sacks, 2 interceptions (1 returned for a TD) and 5 pass breakups. In 2019, Gerry was one of just seven linebackers to have 75+ tackles, with 2 sacks and 2 interceptions. The other six were De'Vondre Campbell, Jamie Collins, Neville Hewitt, Darius Leonard, Cory Littleton and Joe Schobert.
Not saying Gerry is in that class of linebackers, but he makes big plays.
Gerry does need to find some consistency. He had an up-and-down 2019 season. He was second on the team in tackles but according to PFF he also missed 16 tackles, which led the team.
As a former fifth-round pick entering the final year of his rookie contract, Gerry is still a great value in terms of salary. His base salary in 2020 is $825,000. Last year, his salary was $645K, which meant he took home and extra $559K in performance-based pay.
It's unclear if Gerry fits into the Eagles' long-term plans at linebacker, so this is an important season for him. And the Eagles will be relying on him too.
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Most important Eagles for 2020: Nathan Gerry comes in at 18 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia