Philadelphia Eagles pre-free agency position group breakdown: Linebackers
Philadelphia Eagles’ Mychal Kendricks, right, and Nigel Bradham, left, stepped up after Jordan Hicks’ season-ending injury in October. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Like many other position groups on the team, the Philadelphia Eagles linebackers weathered a significant injury this season en route to a Super Bowl title.
Jordan Hicks’ late October Achilles tear robbed the Birds of a leader, young talent and one of the NFL’s rising playmakers, but other players snatched hold of an opportunity to shine. Nigel Bradham took over signal-calling duties and led the team in tackles. Mychal Kendricks stepped into a larger role and held his own. Even veteran Dannell Ellerbe, who joined the team in November, played a part in the championship run.
And now the Eagles face significant questions as they look ahead to a title defense. Philly’s future at linebacker is more uncertain than at any other position, in part because of HIcks’ injury history and Bradham’s impending free agency.
So let’s take a look at the landscape of the position as the Birds look ahead to the start of free agency March 14.
Note: Contract info from Spotrac.
Philadelphia Eagles’ Jordan Hicks reacts during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
(Starters in italics)
Hicks has been the centerpiece of this linebacking corps the past few years, but he missed the final eight games of his rookie year in 2015 and the final nine regular-season games this season with that torn Achilles. Considering the roster’s current construction, Hicks remains an important part of the defense, despite his habit of landing on the injured reserve list. That fact might make some Birds fans sweat and could convince the team to invest in reinforcements.
Kendricks is also an interesting case. He asked the team to trade or release him last offseason because he was unhappy in a limited role, but the Eagles denied that request and Kendricks earned more playing time after Hicks’ injury. Despite the value of Kendricks’ athleticism and the need for depth, the Eagles might revisit the idea of releasing the six-year veteran, because doing so would save $4 million in cap space.