11 Philadelphia Eagles who must leave before the 2022 season – NBC10 Philadelphia
11 Eagles who are due to leave in 2022 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Pretty soon, Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni will sit down and figure out who should go and who should stay.
We thought we would help them.
With the 2021 season in the rearview mirror, here’s a look at 11 players (and a manager) the Eagles need to leave. Some are slam dunks. Some are tough calls. Some have had disastrous seasons. Some actually didn’t play badly but are getting old or too expensive. A few are Super Bowl heroes.
But everyone’s time is finally coming, and this group has to leave for one reason or another.
JJ Arcega Whiteside: Sixteen captures in three years. JJ Arcega-Whiteside is just the third WR in NFL history drafted in the first two rounds to play at least 40 games in his first three seasons and catch 16 or fewer assists. The other two were Bobby Crespino of the Browns (6 catches from 1961 to 1963) and Gerald McNeill, also of the Browns (14 catches from 1987 to 1989). JJAW was therefore the least productive WR drafted in the first or second round in over 30 years. I give him credit for working hard to become a functional member of the special team so that he could at least help the team in some way. But that’s not why the Eagles drafted him. It is time to move on.
Derek Barnett: One of the biggest underperforming first-round picks in Eagles history, all Barnett has to show for five seasons is 21 ½ sacks. That is exactly 10 less than Mike Mamula in his first five seasons. Of 74 defensive ends drafted in the first half of the first round since sacks became an official sack in 1982 that have started at least 45 games, only 16 have had fewer sacks in their first five seasons. Barnett earned just under $23 million and hit a high of $10.05 million this year. He managed just two sacks, tied for 168th in the league. Barnett will have $7.25 million in dead money if the Eagles release him, but that’s a decision they have to make.
Brandon Brooks: This one hurts because Brooks is a Hall of Fame guy and played at such a high level for the Eagles from 2016 to 2019. But he’s played two games in the past two years, hasn’t finished a healthy season since 2017, turns 33 next summer, and he plays in a position where the Eagles now have some depth with Landon Dickerson, Isaac Seumalo, Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig and Sua Opeta. Cutting Brooks would create $15.74 million in dead money, but keeping him would count $19.44 million against the Eagles cap. I just don’t see Brooks as part of the future of this team.
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Michael Clay: The Eagles special teams, so good under Dave Fipp, have really struggled this year. Arryn Siposs ranked 30th out of 36 punters and the Eagles ranked 28th in punt return average, 29th in kick return average, 24th in punt return and 28th in coverage kick. The one area of special teams where the Eagles weren’t among the worst in the NFL was kicking the field goal, and Clay has repeatedly said he’s not a kicking coach and that it had little to do with Jake Elliott’s success. The Eagles’ special teams woes caught up with them in the wild card game with Jalen Reagor’s fumble, a few weak punts and putrid production in the second leg.
Jordan Howard: It really has less to do with Howard, who gave the Eagles everything he had when he was healthy, than it has to do with Kenny Gainwell, who needs to be more involved on offense alongside Miles Sanders. And Boston Scott too. Howard gave the Eagles a good boost midway through the season, but frequent injuries are a concern. If the Eagles get screwed up and need a back and he’s available, I’m fine with bringing him back. But Gainwell in particular needs more keys. He played every chance he had. Howard is a bruised inside runner, but Gainwell is a more versatile player as a runner and receiver and is only 22 years old.
Ray Didinger and Seth Joyner break down the Eagles’ loss to the Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs.
Ryan Kerrigan: Despite his 1 ½ sacks against one-legged Tristan Wirfs in the joker game, it was a disastrous season for the former four-time Washington Pro Bowler. Kerrigan finished the regular season bagless, three tackles and one tackle for loss in 330 snaps in 16 games. Kerrigan and Zach Wood of the Saints were the only defensive ends in the NFL to go at least 16 games this year without recording a sack. And Wood didn’t play a single defensive snap. I don’t mean Kerrigan was just going through the stages this year, but… sometimes you can just tell when a player is ready to move on to the next phase of their life.
Anthony Harris / Rodney McLeod / Steve Nelson: These three guys played hard this year and gave it their all. McLeod in particular was a terrific Eagle for six years and was a key part of that Super Bowl defense, and I have tremendous respect for him as a person and as a player. But McLeod turns 32 this summer, Harris turns 30 and Nelson turns 29 on Sunday. They are all free agents. The Eagles need to get younger, faster and more athletic in the secondary. They need elite playmakers at the back to take on the fast, young WRs they face most weeks. Darius Slay had a terrific year, as did Avonte Maddox in the slot. But the Eagles the past four years have ranked 25th, 22nd, 29th and 20th in interceptions. This must change. This secondary needs a good overhaul.
Jalen Reagor: Only six WRs in NFL history have been drafted in the first round, started at least 20 games in their first two years, and totaled less than 700 career receiving yards. Only three since 1977: Darrius Heyward-Bey of the Raiders in 2009 and 2010, Nelson Agholor in 2015 and 2016 and Jalen Reagor in 2020 and 2021. Reagor this year became only the sixth WR drafted in the first round since 1977 to start at less than 12 games and have less than 300 yards and only the third who was not a rookie – with Tex Coulter of the Giants in 1947 and Larry Burton of the Saints in 1976. I don’t care about the cap of $ 7.84 million reached. He has to go. Must. Come on, Howie!
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Hassan Ridgeway: When was the last time you noticed Ridgeway in the field? He had a sack, a tackle for loss, three quarterback hits and a tackle for loss in Game 1 against the Falcons and then…nothing. Ridgeway has played 373 defensive tackle snaps this year – just 83 less than Milton Williams – and barely caused a ripple. He had a sack late in the Lions game once the Eagles were leading 38-0. But for a six-year veteran, he was essentially invisible after Game 1. Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox and Milton Williams will all be back next year, but Jonathan Gannon is playing four guys on the inside and four guys on the outside, so the Eagles need to get through the defensive line, and it will be important to replace Ridgeway with someone who can have at least some impact.
General Avery: The Eagles need to significantly improve their linebacking corps, and while I think TJ Edwards and Davion Taylor will have defensive roles next year, I expect Alex Singleton to return to a smaller role as that special team. Avery, a 2019 trade deadline acquisition, has played a lot this year — 358 snaps, 3rd most among linebackers, with very little impact. Avery, who cost the Eagles a 4th round pick, is a free agent and that experiment needs to end.
Arryn Siposs: Siposs got off to a good start and averaged 46.3 yards per punt in 10 games. Over the past eight games, he’s averaged 40.3, the worst in the NFL in the second half of the season. That’s the lowest average by an Eagles punter in the second half of a season since 2002, when Lee Johnson averaged 38.8. Siposs finished 30th out of 36 punters with an overall average of 43.9 and his net was 38.7, which ranked him 31st out of 36 punters. His inconsistency was on full display in Tampa, when he hit a 58-yard and a 49-yard, but also a 27-yard and two 36-yards. He is a handicap and must be replaced.