A breakdown of the Philadelphia Eagles' 2018 free-agent signings.
Mike Wallace, WR
The Eagles signed speed wide receiver Mike Wallace to a one-year deal worth upwards of $4 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Here’s a closer look at the signing:
Grade: B. The Eagles needed a deep threat after trading receiver Torrey Smith to the Carolina Panthers, and got one by signing Wallace. The former Steelers receiver had 52 catches for 748 yards with 4 touchdowns to pace the Baltimore Ravens last season. He was able to stretch the field, totaling eight plays of 50 yards or longer in his two seasons in Baltimore, which topped the NFL, and has 115 catches of 20-plus yards over nine NFL seasons.
What it means: Wallace will compete with second-year wideout Mack Hollins for snaps on the outside opposite Alshon Jeffery. Hollins was effective in a limited role last season, catching 16 balls on 22 targets for 226 yards with a touchdown. The Eagles also spent a fifth-round pick last April on burner Shelton Gibson out of West Virginia. While Hollins showed promise, this gives coach Doug Pederson some depth and options at receiver, and allows Nelson Agholor to remain primarily in the slot, where he thrived last year.
What’s the risk: Wallace publicly campaigned to get the ball more last season -- an action that, while understandable to an extent given the receiver struggles in Baltimore, would not have been received well in the Eagles locker room. A big key to Philadelphia’s success was a result of individuals like Jeffery sacrificing their own numbers for the overall health of the offense. It worked because of a selfless culture that Pederson helped establish, and one that Wallace will have to accept. Wallace had three drops last season, per ESPN Stats & Information, the same number as Smith. Overall, this move is a win for the Eagles, who add a potential difference-maker without having to commit to him for the long term.
Nigel Bradham, LB
The Eagles have re-signed Bradham to a five-year, $40 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Here’s a closer look at the signing:
Grade: B-plus. Bradham really stepped up as both a player (85 tackles, five tackles for loss) and a leader for the Super Bowl champion Eagles in 2017, particularly after middle linebacker Jordan Hicks was lost for the season with an Achilles rupture. Bradham brings a level of physicality and aggressiveness that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz needs out of his linebackers, and he should continue to clean up behind the Eagles’ stout defensive line.
What it means: The Bradham signing provides the Eagles' front office more wiggle room when it comes to Mychal Kendricks, who has been the subject of trade speculation for multiple seasons and requested to be moved last offseason. Kendricks has two years left on his deal and is scheduled to count $7.6 million against the cap. Kendricks stepped up last season, and the Eagles have to weigh whether they want to remove a good player from a rather thin linebacker corps, but re-signing Bradham at least gives them some flexibility.
What’s the risk: It’s a good amount of money to invest at linebacker, which isn’t typically an organizational priority in terms of asset allocation. And Bradham has had a couple of run-ins with the law. He was charged with aggravated assault, a second-degree felony, following an incident at the Hilton Bentley Miami in South Beach in July 2016. He accepted a deferred prosecution program last July, and the case was closed in January. A separate case, for which he faced a misdemeanor gun charge for bringing a weapon to the Miami airport, was closed in October. He can’t afford those types of missteps moving forward.
Corey Nelson, LB
Nelson intends to sign a one-year deal with the Eagles, a source tells ESPN's Josina Anderson. He played the past four seasons with the Broncos. Here's a closer look:
Grade: B. The Eagles went into the offseason looking to upgrade their special teams, and did so by signing Nelson, who was considered one of Denver's top special-teams players. It also gives them some options at linebacker as they retool the position.
What it means: According to the Denver Post, the Broncos matched the Eagles' offer but Nelson is seeking a larger role. There is certainly opportunity in Philly. Pending free agent Nigel Bradham could end up being too expensive for the Eagles, and there's been trade buzz around fellow outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks for multiple seasons now. Depending on how everything shakes out, Nelson could have a shot at significant playing time.
What's the risk: He's coming off a torn biceps that landed him on injured reserve back in October. Prior to that, he appeared in 53 straight games. There's minimal risk considering Nelson will be on a one-year deal. The only issue would be if they lost both Bradham and Kendricks and were relying too heavily on Nelson filling one of those voids.
Haloti Ngata, DT
The Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to a one-year deal with veteran defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen. Ngata played the past three years for the Detroit Lions. Here’s a closer look at the signing:
Grade: B. The Eagles get a former All-Pro run-stuffer who should have enough in the tank to positively contribute in 2018. With Beau Allen set to hit the free-agent market, this will ensure the team’s quality depth at the position remains intact.
What it means: Ngata joins a defensive line rotation that includes Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Destiny Vaeao and Elijah Qualls. Add in the fact that DE Michael Bennett, recently acquired from the Seattle Seahawks, often kicks inside on passing downs, and you’re talking about a lot of bodies vying for reps. But defensive line depth was huge for the Eagles last season. They had seven defensive linemen play at least 400 snaps, per ESPN Stats & Information, most in the NFL.
What’s the risk: Ngata is 34, so there’s some obvious questions about how much tread he has left on the tires. He has also dealt with multiple injuries during the past few seasons, including a biceps injury in October that landed him on injured reserve.