Making Sense of the Ryan Kerrigan Signing

Why are the Eagles signing an aging edge rusher?
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PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles couldn't stop Ryan Kerrigan over the years so the decision was made to get into the Kerrigan business Monday, agreeing to a one-year deal with the veteran edge rusher with a reported $3.5 million.

The marriage of convenience raised a few eyebrows because Kerrigan will turn 33 by the time the 2021 season actually rolls around, not exactly the young, up-and-coming player a team in "transition" should be concerning itself with.

And remember, this is an Eagles organization that has struggled in the shadow of Super Bowl LII to successfully navigate the better to give up on a player a year early than a year late equation.

With 16.5 percent of the 2021 salary cap still tied up in Carson Wentz, the goal is to get younger and more cost-effective for 2022 when Philadelphia has the money and draft capital to become a contender again if the right decisions are made.

So shouldn't the end game be trying to figure out who the heir apparent to Brandon Graham is?

Or maybe if Derek Barnett and/or Josh Sweat are long-term answers in contract years for both?

Maybe finding out if any of the young talents like Joe Ostman and rookie sixth-round pick Tarron Jackson have futures at DE or Genard Avery and Patrick Johnson could be hybrid rushers?

Instead, Kerrigan is too good not to play in 2021, and if he performs, you're talking about making decisions on a 34-year-old come 2022.

While Kerrigan played a career-low 38 percent of the snaps for Washington last season, that was due to the presence of impact playmakers Chase Young and Montez Sweat.

The veteran still piled up an impressive 5.5 sacks and five tackles for loss in those limited opportunities. Expect that 38 percent to tick up to about 50 or so with the Eagles as a hybrid DE/stand-up rusher that new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon seems keen on inserting into the game plans.

The Eagles don't have much cap space at the moment but will be getting some help post-June 1 when the Alshon Jeffery and Malik Jackson savings are factored in and a potential release of Zach Ertz would kick in even more money.

Kerrigan's deal has to count less than that $4M under the cap, and will likely be another Howie Roseman voidable year trick. The other savings will allow the Eagles to sign their draft picks in the coming weeks.

Kerrigan is just the latest one-year, prove-it veteran signed in free agency and the second post-30 player the Eagles have signed, joining backup quarterback Joe Flacco. Projected starting safety Anthony Harris will also turn 30 in-season.

As stated from the start this isn't "The Process" but the Eagles also aren't convincing themselves they are contenders again here as much as a good player became available unexpectedly due to a soft market.

On paper, the edge for the Eagles is now clearly the strength of the team with Graham, Barnett, Kerrigan, and Sweat. Meanwhile, a third-down NASCAR package of Graham sliding inside next to Fletcher Cox with Kerrigan on the edge opposite Barnett or Sweat looks daunting for opposing offensive lines.

Furthermore, the impressive front could be the way Gannon makes up for the deficiencies at cornerback after Darius Slay.

With no CB help coming via the draft until fourth-round pick Zech McPhearson and free agent Steven Nelson perhaps a little too pricey, the Eagles went Door No. 2.

"Listen, we're always going to build this football team and we're going to start with the line of scrimmage," general manager Howie Roseman said after the draft. "Right or wrong, as long as I'm here, that's going to be the priority."

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.