The first Eagles shoe has dropped at the trade deadline, and the assumption is that there will be an even bigger shoe to fall before 4 p.m. on Tuesday when the time to make a deal expires for all 32 NFL teams.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman made his first trade since the offseason by acquiring Genard Avery from the Cleveland Browns for an undisclosed draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. To make room for Avery, the Eagles released defensive tackle Bruce Hector, who had just been added to the roster from the practice squad last Friday and played 48 percent of the defensive snaps in Sunday’s 31-13 win over the Buffalo Bills.
A noted wheeler and dealer, Roseman may just be getting warmed up.
The Eagles have been linked to several players, including cornerbacks Darius Slay (Lions), Chris Harris (Broncos) and Patrick Petersen (Cardinals), receiver Robbie Anderson (Jets) and others.
Head coach Doug Pederson talked about the trade deadline on Monday.
“It's a little tricky because whoever - if there's a move to be made a person has to be the right fit,” said Pederson, “has to be the right timing. Has to be able to come in here and help us win and just add to our culture and add to the roster.”
After how badly Orlando Scandrick torched the front office and some of his former teammates after being released twice this season by the Eagles, the team must make sure they have someone who doesn’t try to destroy the culture Pederson has worked hard to cultivate during his four years on the job.
“It has to be right,” said Pederson. “We have to do what's right for the Philadelphia Eagles and our team. Making sure that if it happens, the player coming in here is somebody that can help us, but, at the same time, I look at our roster, where we are, and the guys that are on the horizon as far as coming back and helping us out, too, that's a part of this, as well.”
Typically Roseman’s targets aren’t ones being mentioned publicly.
Two years ago, he acquired running back Jay Ajayi from the Dolphins at the deadline, a name no one had linked with the Eagles.
Same thing happened last year when Roseman made a deal with the Lions to bring in receiver Golden Tate, another surprise name.
And there was Monday’s trade for Avery.
Avery wasn’t on anyone’s radar nationally or locally as a player the Eagles were pursuing, and it’s a safe bet that very few Eagles fans and media were even that familiar with Avery.
Someone who was, however, was Eagles Director of Football Operations Andrew Berry, who was a member of the Browns’ front office when Avery was picked in the fifth round 2018 NFL Draft out of Memphis.
Avery had a solid rookie season and looked like a blossoming star while playing linebacker. He made five starts, played all 16 games, and was on the field for 600 snaps. He made 4.5 sacks, had 14 quarterback hits and collected 40 tackles.
A change in the Browns’ coaching staff that saw Steve Wilks as the new defensive coordinator changed Avery’s role. Cleveland went from playing with thee linebackers on the field to just two, so Avery became the odd man out, having played just two games and being mostly inactive.
The Eagles list him as a defensive end, even though Avery is undersized at 6-0, 250 pounds. In college, Avery was listed as a linebacker and he made 21.5 sacks and had 44 tackles for loss in his four years at Memphis, including 8.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss as a senior.
The Eagles traded for Eli Harold during training camp, sending undrafted offensive lineman Ryan Bates to Buffalo for Harold.
Harold had been a linebacker his entire NFL career, though he had played defensive end at the University of Virginia, and was released prior to the season and, after entering the league in 2015, is a free agent.
Whether or not Avery can adjust to playing defensive end to help the Eagles going forward is debatable.
He is one of six defensive ends now on the roster, with starters Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett and reserves Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Daeshon Hall, and Shareef Miller.
Contractually, Avery is under team control through 2021 at a salary cap number well below $1 million.
So if he can contribute, this is an under-the-radar deal that could pay dividends.