Thursday, September 22, 2022

NFL Insider: Eagles could land 5-time All-Pro defensive lineman

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Five-time All-Pro defense tackle Ndamukong Suh remains a free agent but has been contacted by three to five teams, according to Heavy NFL insider Matt Lombardo. Most recently, the 35-year-old played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he earned his first Super Bowl ring. According to Lombardo’s report, he is open to a return to the league but only if he sees it as a good opportunity to pursue a second ring.

While not the best pick, the Eagles crack the list of teams that would make sense for Suh, with the others being the Buccaneers, Rams and Chiefs. The Eagles make the list because they’ve catapulted themselves to contender status, but the move would likely only make sense if the Eagles suffer an injury to one of their key center backs.

It’s easy to write off a defenseman at the age of 35, but Suh still had plenty of productivity left in him last season with the Bucs. Suh amassed six sacks, equal to his total from a year ago, and released a tally that is very impressive for an interior designer.

His total tackles fell from 44 to 27, but he recovered from a fumble and recorded 13 quarterback hits. Last year, Pro Football ranked Focus Focus Suh defensively at 49 overall, with a 50 run defense rating and a 54 pass rush rating. Those are pullbacks from his prime, but good enough to make him valuable as a deep defender Candidate.

To put those grades in perspective, so far this season, all Eagles inside linemen have achieved 58 or higher on defense, 53 or higher against the run, and 52 or higher as a pass rusher.

So Suh can still play, but he doesn’t add a ton to the Eagles unless they suffer an inside-line injury, see a starter’s game drop significantly in the first two weeks, or decide to throw a defensive tackle in stop kicking the defensive and shake up their defensive alignment.

Following the season-ending defensive end Derek Barnett’s injury in the season opener, there is one conceivable concussion that could result in the Eagles looking for a centerback rather than pursuing a defensive end.

If newly acquired defenseman Janarius Robinson doesn’t appear in the rotation, the Eagles could decide how best to utilize their available roster by calling more games with three downlinemen instead of four in Gannon’s amoeba-like scheme.

Finally, any ranking of the Eagles’ top edge rushers must be topped by Haason Reddick, who is listed as a linebacker and does his best work as a stand-up rusher. You would then go to Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat, then it would be interior rushers like Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave, both of whom have the skills to theoretically play defensive ends in a 3-4 scheme. Graham is strong against the run and could hold his own as an end in this alignment as well.

In a 4-3 scheme, Suh would likely be fourth or fifth on the depth chart in defensive tackles and only came on the field occasionally — and generally on situational spots like goal-line or short yardage downs.

But in a 3-4, Jordan Davis is the only other true nose tackle on the list, so Suh would be second on the depth chart. So essentially, you could think of the Eagles defensive front as having two depth charts. One for a 4-3 and one for a 3-4.

Suh doesn’t need the 4-3 and has a blockade in defensive duels. But the 3-4 shifts that block to the defensive end and could use it on nose tackle.

It’s also worth noting that the Eagles might be interested in bringing him in if Suh’s price is right, just to add flexibility even if they don’t want to change their primary defensive system.

With a system like Gannon’s, being able to use a three-man front against opponents it would work best against and then back to the 4 would be the kind of flexibility he would love -3 other weeks to switch. Of course, this level of creativity may be less appealing to Gannon when he feels like he’s in the hot seat.

Ultimately, if the Eagles are interested in such a scenario, it may come down to what Suh is looking for. If he really wants the best shot at a Super Bowl, he’ll likely wait at least a few more weeks to see how things pan out across the league and then go to the best team that cares, regardless of role is.

However, if he wants a more active role as a depth and situational player, unless he gets injured, he’ll likely end up on a competitor other than Philadelphia.

However, if he wants a more active role as a depth and situational player, unless he gets injured, he’ll likely end up on a competitor other than Philadelphia.

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