Updated: Apr 17, 2019
For the past couple of years, the Eagles have been known to have a dominant defensive line, but is that dominant position group in danger of falling apart?
For starters, Brandon Graham, our star defensive end is currently in his contract year. He has not been as dominant as everybody expected this season, only recording 4 sacks in 13 games. Last year, he exploded with a career high 9.5 sacks, and caused the big strip-sack of Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII. The question is, is Howie Roseman willing to give Graham the money that he was expecting before the season started? Graham is making $8 Million this season, and will likely want a jump in pay to somewhere above $12 Million per season.
Another concern for the Eagles defensive line is that Chris Long is 33 years old. He is under contract for 2019, but will he play in 2019 or retire after this season? Since he was mulling retirement before this season, if he does end hang up his cleats and Bradon Graham leaves in Free Agency, we would be losing two crucial pieces of our dominant defensive line.
Howie Roseman will have another tough decision when it comes to Michael Bennett. Bennett has been a monster so far in what seems like a lost season for the Birds. The contract the Seahawks signed him to and what the Eagles inherited allows Roseman the ability to release Bennett this offseason with no dead money, meaning they would gain $7 Million in cap space they could use in Free Agency or re-signing other key players. Bennett is 33 years old, and there's no way of knowing if his play will start to decline next season or if he will continue to wreck havoc. Back before the season it seemed like a sure bet that Bennett would only be here a year, but since he has played so well the Eagles might end up keeping him if they want to let Brandon Graham walk.
On the bright side, the Eagles do have two talented young players at defensive end. Derek Barnett had 2.5 sacks in only five games before suffering a shoulder injury that would end his season. Last year he had five sacks while only playing a small amount of snaps.
Another young piece that the birds still have is Josh Sweat. A 4th-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, he went through knee surgery that dropped his draft stock and allowed the Birds to pick him up in the 4th-round. While he hasn't been producing big numbers, he was looking like he could be a potential starter in the future. Unfortunately, he suffered what seems to be a pretty serious ankle injury and was put on Injured Reserve.
With all these circumstances that are plaguing the Eagles, it might be time to draft or sign a defensive end in the offseason. The Eagles do have a lot of other needs, including at cornerback and left tackle, but we should not ignore the personnel group that got us into a successful position in the first place.