PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles' top tackler has signed his tender as an exclusive rights free agent.
While largely a formality, it means Alex Singleton, 27, will be back in 2021, perhaps quarterbacking Jonathan Gannon’s defense all for the cost-effective price of $850,000.
Exclusive rights free agents are players with two or fewer years of league service time with existing contracts that have expired. Unlike restricted or unrestricted free agents, however, they can only negotiate with their current teams unless tenders are not offered.
In the case of the Eagles, they tendered all three of their ERFAs and Singleton was the first to sign. The others who will be inking their 2021 contracts eventually are receiver Greg Ward and running back Boston Scott.
Singleton was one of Philadelphia’s few feel-good stories in 2020, having a breakout season after being forced into the lineup due to injuries to Nate Gerry and T.J. Edwards.
Ultimately, Singleton became a defensive leader, finishing with 120 tackles in just 11 starts to lead the team. He was 15th overall in the NFL in tackles despite not becoming a full-time starter until Week 6.
Before catching on with the Eagles in 2019 as a solid special-teams player, Singleton bounced around NFL training camps with Seattle, New England, and Minnesota. He then went to Canada and became a star with the Calgary Stampeders.
Singleton qualified for dual citizenship in Canada because his mother was born in Toronto and the Montana State product developed into a two-time CFL All-Star and the league’s Outstanding Defensive Player in 2017. Singleton also won a Grey Cup with Calgary in 2018.
Having accomplished everything he set out to do in Canada, Singleton wanted to give the NFL another try and signed with the Eagles where he quickly impressed former linebackers coach Ken Flajole and ex-special teams coordinator Dave Fipp with his physicality and football IQ.
Although Flajole and long-time defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz are gone, replaced by Gannon and LB coach Nick Rallis, Singleton is expected to get every opportunity to hold down his starting job this summer.
Other LBs in the mix are Edwards and a pair of 2020 draft picks - Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley --as well as Joe Bachie and Rashad Smith. The new coaching staff has also moved Genard Avery from defensive end to outside LB.
On the free agency front, the Eagles have also been rumored to be interested in 2020 New York Jets starter Neville Hewitt.
READ MORE ON HEWITT: Eagles expressing interest in LB Neville Hewitt - Sports ...
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Thursday on The Middle with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, former Eagles OT Barrett Brooks streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and SportsMap Radio. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.