Connections Could Aid Eagles

Ed Kracz

The new coaches are supposed to bring new ideas, but maybe that is not all that the four assistants the Eagles hired from outside the organization will deliver. Perhaps they will help lure a few players from their previous places of employment.

The connections could draw a free agent or two and, in the case of receivers coach Aaron Moorehead and pass game analyst Andrew Breiner, a draft pick or two.

The two other new coaches, senior offensive assistant Rich Scangarello and Marquand Manuel, who will work with the defensive backs, may provide some nice intel on free agents from the Broncos and 49ers, two teams Scangarello spent time with recently, and in Manuel’s case, the Falcons.

It may not add up to anything, but here’s a rundown on those connections that could interest the Eagles as the offseason begins to pick up steam in early March.

Scangarello’s ties to the Broncos include linebacker Von Miller, cornerback Chris Harris, and defensive tackle Shelby Harris.

The Eagles don’t particularly value linebackers, but Miller would be worth giving a long look. Yes, he will be 31 in March and his string of five straight double-digit sack seasons ended last year, when he had eight, but he can still punish opposing offenses.

The Eagles acquired linebacker Connor Barwin in 2013 and year later, he gave them 14.5 sacks. Granted, Philly was transitioning to a 3-4 defense after just hiring Chip Kelly as its head coach, but Barwin continues to be a resource, having just been hired as an assist to general manager Howie Roseman. 

Like Barwin, Miller is a standout in the community and could, at some point after his career ends, return to the Eagles on their staff after building a relationship right now.

Harris is a cornerback the Eagles were interested in acquiring at the trade deadline last year and he could still be on their radar. 

With Scangarello on board, maybe that will give the Eagles the inside track on landing Harris, who has 20 career interceptions and has had at least one pick in all nine of his NFL years.

Shelby Harris had a career high six sacks last year and the Eagles certainly could use another defensive tackle to rotate with Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson.

Scangarello spent 2017 and 2018 with the 49ers and wouldn’t you know it, but defensive end Arik Armstead is a free agent. Now, Armstead waited until the fifth and final year of his rookie contract before having a breakout season, notching 10 sacks in 2019, which was one more than he had in his first four NFL seasons after being taken 17 overall in 2015 out of the University of Oregon.

So there is a risk there, and Armstead would command a ton of money, but the Eagles need at least one and maybe two pass rushers to add to their rotation.

Manuel was with the Falcons from 2015-18. Think he knows a little bit about linebacker Vic Beasley? 

Beasley is a free agent linebacker who could find a role as a pass rusher in Philly. He isn’t what he was four years ago, when he had 15.5 sacks, but he had a late flurry of them last year and ended with eight. He will be 28 in July.

Manuel may also believe defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn still has something left despite turning 32 this July. Yes, the Eagles are trying to get younger, but as a stopgap, Clayborn might do OK. He had four sacks last year and 9.5 three seasons ago.

Moorehead coached receiver Kalija Lipscomb at Vanderbilt the past two seasons. Lipscomb is probably a day-three draft pick, but he did produce for the Commodores, catching 198 passe for 2,356 yards and 22 touchdowns in four seasons. He is a precise route runner, but speed is his issue.

There’s another receiver that Breiner may know well from his two seasons at Mississippi State and that is Isaiah Zuber, who is a considered a third-day draft pick.

There is a slew of other talent that Breiner certainly knows from Mississippi State, including cornerback Cameron Dantzler, a 6-2, 185 athlete who could be a day two draft pick, center Darryl Williams and defensive lineman Chauncey Rivers.

It may mean nothing, or it may mean everything when it comes to the four new assistants and their connections.