Keep an eye on this one.
With Jordan Hicks potentially leaving Philadelphia as NFL free agency begins next week, the Eagles could find themselves in need of a new starting middle linebacker. And it just so happens that one familiar option just became available to them.
The Arizona Cardinals released veteran linebacker Josh Bynes on Tuesday, according to a report from NFL insider Adam Schefter. I wrote about Bynes as a potential Eagles target when he was set to be a free agent last year. He shares a connection with Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas:
Bynes signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and stayed in Baltimore through 2013. The 28-year-old linebacker measures in at 6-1, 240 pounds and has logged 29 starts in 78 career games played. Bynes played 234 snaps for the Cardinals in 2017. He also finished fourth on the team in special teams tackles with seven. Bynes has experience playing several linebacker positions, so versatility is a plus with him. He’d be a decent addition to boost the Eagles’ linebacker depth if he comes cheap, which shouldn’t be an issue.
Bynes ended up re-signing with the Cardinals and he had a pretty solid season. In 11 games played and started, Bynes racked up 75 tackles, five passes defensed, three quarterback hits, two sacks, and one fumble recovery for a defensive touchdown. Pro Football Focus actually graded him 14th out of 96 linebackers who played at least 20% of a team’s defensive snaps in 2018.
So, if Bynes is any good, why did the Cardinals cut him? Well, there are several factors to consider. One is that Arizona is changing from a 4-3 defensive scheme to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. Another is that the Cardinals cleared nearly $2 million with his release.
Judging by the reaction over at Revenge Of The Birds, Cardinals fans seem surprised Bynes was let go. They referred to Bynes as “clearly the team’s best linebacker in 2018.”
Bynes makes sense for an Eagles team that could be looking for an immediate starter to pair with Nigel Bradham. He could be an adequate, inexpensive stop-gap option that buys the Eagles time to find a long-term option at middle linebacker. The fact that Bynes was cut by the Cardinals means he won’t count against Philly’s compensatory pick formula, which is another bonus.
Signing Bynes wouldn’t be a thrilling move, but the Eagles — who are limited on cap space — have to find value somewhere.