Off-ball linebacker is set to be one of this year’s deepest positional markets. The Eagles are set to send both their regulars — Kyzir White and T.J. Edwards — to free agency. Edwards is expected to draw interest, and an NFC East bidding war could commence. Edwards wants to stay with the Eagles, per InsidetheBirds.com’s Geoff Mosher, but the former UDFA is set to receive interest from three or four teams. One of the interested parties looks to be the Giants, whom the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy notes are believed to have the productive Eagle on their radar. The Giants, whose linebacker plan has not stabilized since Blake Martinez‘s ACL tear early during the 2021 season, have multiple needs at the position. There will be several ILB types available, however, even if Tremaine Edmunds‘ Bills ties do not lead him to a reunion with Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen.
As for the Eagles, they have most of their defense headed toward free agency. It will be interesting to see if Edwards, who has graded as a top-10 off-ball ‘backer (via Pro Football Focus) in each of the past two seasons, will be a priority as the Eagles attempt to reconstruct their defense. Here is the latest from the NFC East:
- Another of those off-ball linebackers set to be available, Leighton Vander Esch remains in the Cowboys‘ plans. The team has engaged in talks with the former first-round pick, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill notes the sides have not made much progress on a deal that would keep him off the market (Twitter link). Ditto Donovan Wilson, whom Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said the team wants to bring back. Jones called keeping the Cowboys’ Wilson-Jayron Kearse–Malik Hooker safety trio together “a priority,” Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Safety resides as a deep position on the market as well, and although Wilson is coming off his best season, it might not be too costly for the Cowboys to re-sign the former sixth-round pick. Vander Esch signed a one-year, $2MM deal with Dallas in 2022; he played 746 defensive snaps last season, his most since his Pro Bowl rookie year.
- Staying in Dallas, the team is expecting to lose tight end starter Dalton Schultz in free agency. But the key Dak Prescott auxiliary target did field an offer from the team. Schultz turned down a “pretty solid” multiyear extension offer, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. With Evan Engram off the market, Schultz can be safely viewed as the top tight end available. It makes sense, after the Cowboys franchise-tagged Schultz last year, that he would want to explore what else is out there.
- The Cardinals are handing the defensive play-calling keys to the NFL’s youngest active coordinator, the recently hired Nick Rallis. Prior to Jonathan Gannon taking the former Eagles linebackers coach to the desert, Zach Berman of The Athletic notes Philly had interest in the 29-year-old assistant for its defensive coordinator job (subscription required). Rallis spent the past two seasons with the Eagles.
- Jerry Jones laments not drafting enough options at quarterback in the years since Troy Aikman‘s retirement (in 2001), and Gehlken notes the Cowboys should be monitored regarding the selection of a Prescott backup. Cooper Rush is a free agent, as is a quarterback the Cowboys drafted before he enjoyed a memorable stay with another team (the Jets’ Mike White). The Cowboys, who have only drafted eight QBs since Jones bought the team in 1989, have selected one QB (current XFLer Ben DiNucci, in the 2020 seventh round) since Mike McCarthy‘s arrival.