Eagles Position Examination: Defensive Tackles (Time to Find Next Fletcher Cox?)

The Eagles DTs are a collection of mostly free agent signings, except for Cox who arrived in the first round nine years ago
Author:
Publish date:

Fletcher Cox isn’t getting any younger.

Still productive, yes. Very much so, with 21.5 sacks in the last three seasons.

He’s still very available, too, having missed just four games since being drafted in the first round back in 2012. Four games! That means he has played in 140 of a possible 144 games, with 134 starts.

Cox, though, is now 30, and where did the time go?

As for the other defensive tackles, the Eagles have a collection of free agents in Malik Jackson and Javon Hargrave, an undrafted free agent in Raequan Williams, and a journeyman in T.Y. McGill, who is a restricted free agent.

Hassan Ridgeway, who came in a trade two years ago from the Colts, is also a restricted free agent who has been limited to just 14 games in his two seasons due to injury.

It’s time to find the next homegrown defensive tackle.

The following is a closer inspection of the Eagles' defensive tackle group and is part of a series that has so far looked at each position group on offense and defensive ends.

To see more on those groups, please go to www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles

DEPTH CHART

DT 1: Fletcher Cox

DT 2: Malik Jackson

Others: Javon Hargrave and Raequan Williams

Notes: Hargrave has a huge salary cap hit at $15.2 million in 2021 and $15.4M in 2022, but it would be unlikely the Eagles try to move on after signing him just last year…Williams played in just six games and only seven percent of the defensive snaps but had his first career sacks. He could be in line for playing time under new DC Jonathan Gannon.

FREE AGENTS

Ndamukong Suh had a nice season with the Bucs, piling up six sacks at the age of 34, but the Bucs had to pay him $8M for his one season there. Probably too old and too expensive for the Eagles, who once took a chance on 34-year-old Haloti Ngata at the end of his career and that didn’t work out well.

Had Ridgeway shown even the slightest ability to stay healthy, he would make sense to return, but that would be counting on a player who has been injury prone. But McGill, who is 28, could be back as a depth piece.

Steelers DT Tyson Alualu is 34 and due for regression but could be someone who may be rejuvenated by playing next to his former teammate, Hargrave.

Kansas City’s Tanoh Kpassagnon can play inside and out but hasn’t quite lived up to his status as a second-round pick from Villanova in 2017. He played high football at Wissahickon, just outside of Philadelphia.

DRAFT

The best defensive tackle in the draft is Alabama’s Christian Barmore, who can play both inside and outside and has good size and explosion at 6-5, 310 pounds. Taking him at No. 6 might be a stretch, but it might make sense, too, giving he Eagles a potential homegrown talent like Cox.

If Barmore is still there in round two for the Eagles, they should pounce.

Iowa’s Daviyon Nixon, USC’s Jay Tufele, and Florida State’s Marvin Wilson should also be available on day two.

TRADE

Bengals veteran Geno Atkins is probably available, but he costs too much and is 33. There could be a low-level deal that gets made, sort of similar to the acquisition of Ridgeway, which cost the Eagles a seventh-round pick and happened as the final day of the draft was going on in 2019.

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.