It’s not often free agent signings in early May generate headlines, but on Friday, the Eagles made a signing that could help them regain their place atop the NFC East during the upcoming season. The Eagles needed a linebacker to replace Jordan Hicks and after failing to do so in the draft, they found a pretty good one in free agency.
Zach Brown has signed a one-year contract with the Eagles, the team announced. According to Brown’s agents (via Pro Football Talk), the contract is worth $3 million, which makes the signing an absolute bargain. And because Brown was cut by the Redskins, his signing won’t impact the compensatory pick formula.
Brown, a second-round pick of the Titans back in 2012, spent the first four seasons of his career in Tennessee before moving on to Buffalo for a year and Washington for two. After the Redskins released him in March, Brown went unsigned while the vast majority of top free agents collected — including Hicks, who was scooped up by Cardinals — making him one of the best remaining free agents after the draft. Last season with the Redskins, Brown made 96 combined tackles, 69 of which were solo, 10 of which went for a loss.
According to Pro Football Focus, Brown was the best remaining free agent.
Zach Brown was the highest-graded free agent left, regardless of position.
He put up career-highs in overall, run-defense and tackle grade last season with Washington, missing just 4 of his 95 total attempts last year.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 3, 2019
Brown was the 4th best off-ball LB in the NFL last season, per @PFF grades.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) May 3, 2019
And as Warren Sharp pointed out, how the Redskins and Eagles have approached Brown over the past year is emblematic of how the two teams typically operate.
In Philadelphia, Brown joins a linebacker group that also includes Nigel Bradham, L.J. Fort, Kamu Grugier-Hill, and Paul Worrilow. So, Brown should expect to see significant snaps. He might be the best or second-best linebacker on the roster.
While the Eagles’ linebacker group doesn’t feature the best collection of players, their defensive front is among the best in football with Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, and Derek Barnett leading the way.