If Eagles Want to Add Veteran DT, Here Are Their Best Free Agent Options

On Thursday when we found out Tim Jernigan's surgery for a herniated disc will keep him out 4-6 months, we looked at the Eagles' internal options to replace him (see story)

If Jernigan does miss the start of the season, the Eagles still have Haloti Ngata, Destiny Vaeao and Elijah Qualls as backup defensive tackles and can move Brandon Graham and Michael Bennett to that vacant position on passing downs.

That seems like the likely solution, although, it's also possible the team looks outside its building to add another veteran defensive end. If they did want to sign another free agent, it would take some maneuvering; after bringing back Darren Sproles, the Eagles have just $1.28 million in cap space, according to the NFLPA. 

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But it's probably worth just looking around to see what's out there. Spoiler: it's slim pickings this late in the league year. 

Johnathan Hankins 
Hankins is clearly the top available defensive tackle and it's a little surprising to see he's still out there. He's just 26 years old and is coming off a decent season in Indy, where he played 15 games, but was cut one year into his three-year deal. Hankins is more of a run-stuffer than he is a pass-rusher, but he's a good one. It's very possible the reason he's still available is because he wants more money than the Eagles would probably be willing to spend. 

Nick Fairley 
We put 30-year-old Fairley on the list, because he's a big name and would be a pretty good fit, but this one is unlikely. Because of a heart condition, Fairley wasn't able to play last season and it seems like his career is over. But if he does try to return, Philly would be a logical spot. He would be reunited with Jim Schwartz, who was the head coach in Detroit when he was drafted in the first round back in 2011. 

Jay Bromley 
After finishing out his four-year rookie deal with the Giants, Bromley is still on the market. The 25-year-old played in 47 games over the last three seasons. He's a better fit in a 4-3 than the 3-4 the Giants will now run, but he's not really known as a penetrator. 

Cedric Thornton
There's obviously familiarity here and that's why he's on the list. Thornton was with the Eagles from 2012-15, but he's probably not a great scheme fit. 

Terrell McClain
Washington recently cut McClain loose after just one season. The Cowboys are apparently somewhat interested in bringing him back, so he might be off the market soon. 

Frostee Rucker 
Great name, but a run-stuffer who is going to turn 35 early next season. He played and started all 16 games last season, but he'd have to want to keep playing and be cool with being a backup and possible deep reserve. 

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