Eagles still have holes to fill after start to free agency
fThe Philadelphia Eagles improved their biggest strength, weakened a thin secondary and still have to fill several needs.
The team has added former Steelers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, released standout safety Malcolm Jenkins and retained starting safety Rodney McLeod, starting cornerback Jalen Mills, defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld so far in free agency.
The Eagles previously announced they wouldn’t keep nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters.
The agreement with Hargrave on a three-year, $39 million contract was reached on Monday, according to a person familiar with the deal. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract can’t be announced until Hargrave passes a physical.
The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Hargrave bolsters an interior line that features five-time Pro Bowl tackle Fletcher Cox. Hargrave switches from a 3-4 alignment to a 4-3 and joins Cox, Malik Jackson, Anthony Rush and Ridgeway on the inside.
Hargrave, a third-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2016, had 14 1/2 sacks in 63 games for the Steelers. He played a career-best 60 percent of the defensive snaps last season.
The decision to release Jenkins was announced Tuesday.
“Malcolm Jenkins has been an outstanding player for us and we are proud of everything he accomplished both on and off the field during his time in Philadelphia,” the team said in a statement. “Malcolm was a great teammate and leader, as well as one of the toughest and most reliable players to ever play in our city. After thorough discussion with Malcolm and his agent, Ben Dogra, both sides agreed on the difficult decision to turn the page on what was an incredible six-year relationship. We wish Malcolm and his family all the best as he pursues his next opportunity.”
Jenkins played every snap since the start of the 2017 playoffs and was an integral part of the Super Bowl championship team that season. The 32-year-old Jenkins had one year left on his contract at $7.6 million but had already stated he wouldn’t play without a new deal.
Jenkins has been a strong voice in the players’ union, a leader in the players’ social justice initiatives and an activist in the community.
The Eagles gave McLeod a two-year contract and Mills, Ridgeway and Sudfeld got one-year deals.
Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill and running back Jordan Howard are both headed to Miami. Grugier-Hill started 16 games over the past two seasons. Howard had 525 yards rushing and six touchdowns in 10 games last season.
Cornerback Ronald Darby and wide receiver Nelson Agholor, key contributors on the Super Bowl team, are free agents and not expected to return. The team announced it wouldn’t tender restricted free agent running back Corey Clement. He had 100 yards receiving and a TD in Philadelphia’s 41-33 win over New England in the 2018 Super Bowl.
The Eagles have holes at linebacker, in the secondary and lack a No. 1 wide receiver. They entered free agency with nearly $42 million available under the salary cap and have 10 picks in next month’s draft, including seven in the first four rounds.