The Philadelphia Eagles biggest need is undoubtedly at safety, but they also have a sizeable need for another edge rusher on defense in order to help alleviate some pressure off of the expected upgrades in the secondary. Most mock drafts have the Eagles snagging an outside linebacker in the first round, but it looks like the team could choose to address the position in free agency instead. They signed Connor Barwin last offseason, but he hasn’t been as consistent of a pass rusher as they hoped.
Birds 24/7′s Tim McManus reports that the Eagles have interest in Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson and Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Mike Neal, who rejected an offer from the Pack and wants to hit free agency. Both players would make sense for the Eagles, though I wonder if they should go for a faster edge rusher at the outside linebacker position. Neal is a converted defensive lineman who played well as an OLB last season, and he’s expected to receive interest as a young, cheaper option to the premium pass rushers on the market.
Meanwhile, Michael Johnson is one of the premium pass rushers on the market, and I have him as one of the top ten free agents overall. He has great size, is athletic, puts consistent pressure on the quarterback, and there aren’t many 4-3 DEs who played the run better. He can fit as a 3-4 OLB, but his best fit is in the 4-3. Most people have Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings picking him up, but it’s interesting to see that the Eagles have interest as well. I doubt they end up paying what it takes to sign him, so Neal looks like a more likely option.