NFL Free Agency 2019: A Comprehensive Look at Eagles' Defensive Ends

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp continue the 2019 edition of Stay or Go, trying to figure out the future of the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Today, they'll look at the defensive ends. 

Brandon Graham

Philadelphia Eagles

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Roob: This is one of the Eagles' most interesting decisions this offseason, and I think it'll come down to money. Brandon Graham wants to be back and the Eagles would love to have him back, but the number has to be reasonable. Maybe someone out there will give Graham a huge deal, but I'm thinking he doesn't get the offer on the open market that he wants and he winds up back in Philly for another year.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: If that's it for BG, it'll be hard on all sides involved. I think the Eagles ought to try to keep him, but the fact that he's about to be a free agent and the sides never reached a deal, makes me think they won't. Not sure how much Graham will fetch on the open market, but I think it'll be more than the Eagles are willing to pay. If he doesn't find that big offer, I wouldn't rule out a return. But for now … 

Verdict: Goes  

Kulp: It's telling the Eagles and Graham didn't get a deal done last offseason. That's not to say he couldn't be back. Actually, a crowded crop of free agent pass rushers – many of them younger than Graham turning 31 – may drive his value down. I think the Eagles are interested if the price is right. Unfortunately, a lot of those guys will never hit the market, and Graham will command a premium.

Verdict: Goes

Michael Bennett

Roob: It's a tricky balance trying to keep your best players but also understanding that you have to get younger. That's a big challenge facing the Eagles on the D-line. Bennett's 33 but coming off one of his best NFL seasons, with nine sacks - second-most of his career. He's going to drop off at some point, but right now he's too productive to think about replacing.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: I'll be honest. Early last season, I didn't think Bennett would be back. He wasn't playing as well as I expected and it just didn't seem like the trade was going to work. But after he really picked it up, his $7 million cap number in 2019 looks like a relative bargain for a guy who was their best defensive end and had nine sacks while playing through a tough foot injury.  

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Far and away the Eagles' best end last season. Bennett finished fourth among all NFL players with 30 quarterback hits and just outside the top 10 with 15 tackles for loss. Bogus penalties also reduced his sack total from 11.0 to 9.0. The three-time Pro Bowler is only due $7 million, so unless he causes a stink over his contract, this is a no-brainer.

Verdict: Stays

Derek Barnett

Roob: Barnett has been OK so far in parts of two seasons, although as the 14th pick in the draft you expect a little more. But he's only 22 years old, and has shown enough flashes that you expect him to become a double-digit sack guy. But while 7 ½ sacks in 21 games isn't bad production for a young defensive end, there are 45 active players who've had more.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: He's entering Year 3 of his rookie contract and was actually playing pretty well in 2018 before he hurt his shoulder. He tried to play through the pain for a few games and I saw the drop-off. If he's healthy, he'll probably be a starter in 2019. I'm thinking Barnett on one side, Bennett on the other. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: With 2 1/2 sacks through the Eagles' first four games, Barnett's sophomore season was off to a promising start until a shoulder injury struck. Heading into his third season with 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 25 career games (including postseason), there's still hope the former 14th-overall draft pick blossoms into a star.

Verdict: Stays

Chris Long

Roob: Long was very good this year, with 6 1/2 sacks as the third defensive end - his most sacks since 2013 with the Rams. He's got tremendous value here not just on the field but as a leader off the field and a true force in the community. But Long is 33 now, he has two rings and he's coming off his 11th season. He just has so many non-football interests I think he may retire. Hope not.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: This is hard because I'm basically trying to decide whether or not a guy wants to retire. Long will be 34 by the start of the 2019 season. The Eagles probably wouldn't mind bringing him back for another year for the right price, but I'm guessing he hangs ‘em up. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: After a slow start, Long seemed to get a second wind later in the season with 6.0 sacks over the Eagles' final 11 games. He also finished third on the team with 20 quarterback hits. But if you're truly on the fence as to whether a 34-year-old pass rusher is worth the $5.6 million he's due to earn in 2019, remember: Long is a leader, and depth at the position could be an issue.

Verdict: Stays

Josh Sweat

Roob: Sweat had one tackle to show for the nine games and 68 snaps he played before getting hurt, and I expected a little more production. He was a pretty highly regarded player at Florida State and came in with a pretty good reputation. Sweat will be back in 2019 and will get every chance to win a spot in the defensive end rotation.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Sweat didn't play much before his rookie season ended with an ankle injury. It was a little disappointing that he couldn't become a bigger part of the rotation once Barnett went down; he played just 68 total snaps as a rookie. But he's entering his second season and it's too early to give up on him. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: I'm usually one to give second-year players the benefit of the doubt, especially a fourth-round pick. I just didn't see anything to make me believe Sweat is going to make the leap next season. Expect plenty of competition, as the history with these types of raw, undersized projects isn't great.

Verdict: Goes

Daeshon Hall 

Roob: Interesting guy. He's only 23 and a former third-round pick who's already with his fourth team. Why not bring into camp next summer just because he's a young guy at a position of need who was pretty highly regarded coming out of Texas A&M last year. He only played 16 defensive snaps this year (and had half a sack). Worth a long look but ultimately facing an uphill roster battle.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Hall is really intriguing to me. He was a third-round pick in 2017 and showed me a little something once he got to Philly last season. He made a few plays, but we haven't seen enough. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when he gets a full offseason here. I think he snatches the final spot. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Hall played a bunch of snaps for the Eagles - his fourth team in 2018 - including on special teams, to minimal impact. Of these back-end roster types, practice squadder Joe Ostman is the most intriguing to me. He's undersized, but described as a relentless worker in incredible shape. The push for the last defensive end spot will come from all directions.

Verdict: Goes

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