Eagles Stay or Go 2023: Defensive tackles

Eagles Stay or Go 2023: A couple starting DTs set to be free agents originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro bring back Stay or Go in 2023, trying to figure out the futures of every Eagles player on the roster.

We already looked at cornerbacksreceiverslinebackers and running backs.

Up today: Interior offensive linemen and defensive tackles.

Fletcher Cox

Roob: Cox is an all-time Eagle and a no-brainer Eagles Hall of Famer. It’s just time. After 11 years, 184 games, 67 sacks, six Pro Bowls and an All-Pro, it’s time for the Eagles to move on from their 2012 1st-round pick. Cox is still a functional player – he did have 8.0 sacks this year, including the postseason. And I’d actually be happy to keep him around as a rotational piece if he was interested in a reduced role and a small salary. But Cox seems to believes he’s still a starting-caliber player and that means he’ll want a lot more money than the Eagles are able to offer. Cox played 65 percent of the defensive snaps this year, lowest since his rookie year but still too high. I feel like he’s probably more of a 35-to 40-percent guy now, but unless he’s willing to accept a 35-to-40 percent salary, he won’t be here.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: The Eagles got a pretty good season out of Cox in 2022. I was extremely skeptical when they brought him back on a one-year deal worth $14 million last season but he turned back the clock a little bit with a 7-sack year. Cox is 32 now and is a couple years removed from Pro Bowl caliber play. If the Eagles could get him back for cheap, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea. But something tells me Cox is still going to get paid too much this offseason as he enters free agency. Howie Roseman has warned against sentimentality before and this is an example of where he has to be careful. Cox is an all-time great Eagle but that’s not a reason to keep him for another season. This is a tough one but the Eagles can’t overpay for a homegrown legend anymore.

Verdict: Goes

Jordan Davis

Roob: Here’s one vote for Davis as the most scrutinized player in the Eagles’ 2023 training camp. Davis averaged 17 snaps in the 16 games he played and while a lot of people wish that number was higher, with the depth the Eagles had up front that’s where he ended up. Davis learned from the vets and he played well as a 22-year-old rookie when he got the opportunity. With most – if not all – of those veterans likely to be gone in 2023, Jordan’s role will increase dramatically this year. Honestly, I think he’ll be ready for it.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: The first-round pick from Georgia was off to a really good start in his career before he suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 8 against Pittsburgh. He missed the next few games and wasn’t nearly as productive when he got back into the lineup. Davis is far from a finished product but I saw enough really good signs from him in 2022 to think he has a bright future in the NFL. And he’s obviously not going anywhere this offseason.

Verdict: Stays

Javon Hargrave

Roob: He’s still one of the best interior linemen in the game, but Hargrave is 30 years old and will probably be looking in that $20 million range per year after a career-high 11 sacks and just a very good season in general. I could be wrong about this, but I just feel like if the Eagles were going to get something done with Hargrave it would have been done by now. The Eagles still have his exclusive negotiating rights for another few weeks, so maybe once Howie Roseman has a sense of how the Jalen Hurts contract is going to be structured he can get to Hargrave. They could sure use him. But as of now, I don’t have a good feeling about this one.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: This is the toughest name on this list and it’s not because the Eagles don’t want Hargrave back. It’s that they might not be able to afford him. Hargrave is coming off an 11-sack season and is one of the most disruptive interior pass rushers in the game. The Eagles were wise to sign him three years ago on a three-year, $39 million deal. They projected his ability in a more aggressive front and reaped the rewards. But now everyone knows what Hargrave can do and he’s about to cash in. Spotrac estimates his next deal to be worth around $20 million per season, which is big, big money. But certainly not outlandish. The Eagles won’t be able to bring back everyone and I’ve gone back and forth about this one. But I think Hargave needs to be a priority.

Verdict: Stays

Linval Joseph

Roob: He got off to a hot start after joining the Eagles midseason, but Joseph faded as the year went on. At one point, I thought it might make sense to bring him back on another one-year low-budget deal, but he’ll turn 35 during the 2023 season and I feel like it’s time to move on with a younger group.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: The Eagles brought in Joseph and Ndamukong Suh during the same week in November and Joseph immediately became their starter at the nose tackle position. He kept starting even when Davis returned from injury. But eventually, Davis began to out-snap Joseph and it’s time to move on.

Verdict: Goes

Ndamukong Suh

Roob: Kind of similar to Joseph, but I thought Suh was the better of the two veterans down the stretch. I wouldn’t mind bringing him back if he’s willing to play 15 to 20 snaps on a cheapo one-year deal. Right now, there is no bench beyond Jordan Davis and Milton Williams. I can’t imagine Suh has any desire to go through an offseason and a training camp, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up again in the middle of the season to help out.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: The 36-year-old joined the Eagles later in the season and played 8 regular season games and 3 playoff games after his arrival. He was no longer the Pro Bowl version of Suh but he gave the Eagles some really solid snaps, including the QB hit that knocked Josh Johnson out of the NFC Championship Game and punched the Eagles’ ticket to Super Bowl LVII. The Eagles shouldn’t bring him back now but if they’re in the market for some depth again next November, Howie should keep that number handy.

Verdict: Goes

Marlon Tuipulotu

Roob: The Eagles gave Tuipulotu a lot of playing time early. He was actually playing about 26 snaps per game before he got hurt midway through the season. But the production just wasn’t there. You don’t want to be too disappointed in a 23-year-old 6th-round pick, and he can always get better, but I didn’t see anything that told me he’d be a factor moving forward.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: The former sixth-round pick played in 9 games with 1 start in 2022 before landing on IR with a knee injury. Remember, the reason the Eagles went out and got Joseph and Suh was to replace the depth they lost when Tuipulotu and Davis got hurt. It’s not a lock that Tuipulotu will be back but he was one of the more improved players at training camp before last season and if a bunch of these guys are gone — very possible — the Eagles will need depth. And Tuipulotu is already here.

Verdict: Stays

Milton Williams

Roob: He’s not flashy, but Williams has turned into a really solid defensive lineman, and he’s another one who’s only 23. Solid run defender – I thought he should have played more than 12 snaps in the Super Bowl – and the only interior lineman in the NFL this year who had at least four sacks without starting a game. Williams and Davis will have to double their playing time next year, and Roseman will have to figure out some things around them, but I really like Williams and expect big things from him as he continues to get stronger, learn  the NFL game and increase his snaps.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Williams was in kind of a weird spot in the DL room in 2022. Because he was surrounded by a bunch of accomplished veterans and a first-round pick. It was easy to forget about Williams but he made so many plays down the stretch that became impossible. Williams quietly put together a very solid second NFL season with 4 sacks, 6 QB hits and 9 TFLs. He’s also one of the most fun players on that defense to watch because of his never-ending motor. Williams can play and it’s not crazy to think that he might become a starter in 2023 if the free agents aren’t back.

Verdict: Stays

Marvin Wilson

Roob: The Eagles gave him one game as a practice squad elevation, and Wilson played 19 snaps against Houston, and it didn’t go particularly well. Wilson didn’t play again. But the Eagles must like something because they kept him around on the practice squad all year. Once a big-time prospect at Florida, Wilson goes into his third season with a lot to prove.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: I always wanted to see more of Big Marv and the one time the Eagles played him they tossed him into the deep end as a nose tackle against the Texans and it didn’t go great. He was once a really highly touted prospect and got a ton of guaranteed money from the Browns in 2021 after he went undrafted. Eventually, he landed on the Eagles’ practice squad in 2021 and then again in 2022. I really do think there’s something there but I’m not sure he has a good shot to make the 53-man roster. But I’m all for keeping him around on the practice squad to continue his development.

Verdict: Goes

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