When the new league year begins on Wednesday at 4 p.m., the Eagles will officially trade Michael Bennett to the New England Patriots.
Maybe then they'll try to replace him.
The Eagles already re-signed Brandon Graham to a three-year deal, so he's going to be one starter at defensive end and the other is expected to be former first-round pick Derek Barnett (see story). After that, we know Josh Sweat will be back for his second season, but Chris Long will turn 34 soon and has been noncommittal about his future. Long has been a productive player and the Eagles would probably like to have him back. He has mentioned that he still wants to be a contributing player, not just a "locker room guy."
I think there's a really good chance the Eagles use the draft in April to restock their defensive line. In fact, I'd be pretty shocked if one of their first three picks doesn't go toward a defensive lineman. But thanks to the NFL calendar, free agency is up first.
Three of the top defensive ends who were pending free agents - DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney and Frank Clark - were all franchise-tagged. But here are 10 more names that might draw some interest:
Trey Flowers (Age: 25)
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Just because the Patriots traded for Bennett, it doesn't mean they won't try to re-sign Flowers, who will be 26 by the time the 2019 season starts. The former fourth-round pick had 7½ sacks in 2018 and was one of the Patriots' best defensive players. The problem here for the Eagles is that Flowers might cost too much. Spotrac estimates his future contract at five years, $78 million, which comes out to $15.7 million annually.
Ziggy Ansah (Age: 29)
While Ansah has been a very productive player, he will be 30 by the start of the season. But Jim Schwartz was the head coach in Detroit when the Lions drafted Ansah back in 2013, so it's easy to make this connection. Spotrac estimates his contract to be four years, $54 million ($13.6 miller per year). That's not as much as Flowers, but would still be a major splash from the Eagles if they want to get him.
Dante Fowler (Age: 24)
The former No. 3 pick has never lived up to that draft status, but he's still really young. His best year came in 2017, when he picked up eight sacks with the Jaguars. He was traded to the Rams midway through last season. Spotrac estimates his contract will be around $9.1 million per season, which is a lot for a guy who hasn't had a ton of NFL production.
Update: Fowler signed a one-year deal to stay in LA.
Vinny Curry (Age: 30)
The former Eagle lasted just one season in Tampa Bay after signing a three-year, $23 million contract. There's a ton of familiarity here and while Curry has never been a greatly productive player, he is solid and the Eagles would know what they're getting.
Cameron Wake (Age: 37)
Yeah, Wake is in his late 30s now, but if the Eagles are looking for a one-year player, he still had six sacks in Miami last year. He's spent his entire career with the Dolphins but if he's looking to try to get a ring before he retires, the Eagles might offer him a decent shot.
Bruce Irvin (Age: 31)
His 2018 season was split between the Raiders and the Falcons and he totaled 6½ sacks. He was once a first-round pick by the Seahawks, but he has never had a double-digit sack season. Still, he's been a good player for many years.
Andre Branch (Age: 29)
Branch has spent his last three years in Miami and is coming off a 2018 season where he had just 1½ sacks. The good news is that might drop his price tag a little bit. He'll be 30 by the start of next season.
Alex Okafor (Age: 28)
After spending his first four seasons in Arizona, Okafor was a starter for the Saints the last two seasons. His 2017 season ended early with a torn Achilles, but he started every game in 2018. Okafor was reportedly able to opt out of his contract because he got three sacks last season.
Kerry Hyder (Age: 27)
After a really impressive 2016 season (eight sacks as a rotational player), Hyder tore his Achilles and missed the entire 2017 season. He returned in 2018 but played in just seven games and had just one sack. The Lions didn't tender him this offseason, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Kony Ealy (Age: 27)
The former second-round pick has been bouncing around the last few years, but might still have some potential. In 2018, he played in just three games for the Raiders and has just one sack since the start of the 2017 season. Ealy wouldn't be a top priority, but might be worth kicking the tires on.
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