There have been some rumors going around last night that the Eagles are not satisfied with their depth at ILB and are looking to acquire one via trade, according to Jason La Canfora.
Several teams calling around looking for TEs. Eagles have been trying to find an inside LB via trade. Things will intensify in few weeks
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 10, 2016
It just so happens that the Steelers’ deepest position might be the ILB position, as Marc discussed earlier this week here and I highlighted a couple in discussing the Steelers’ young talent.
Not only is the Steelers’ depth at the position make them an attractive partner for the Eagles, it just so happens the Eagles will be at Heinz Field on August 18th. That game will give the Philadelphia coaching staff a great look at some of the Steelers’ backup linebackers.
So who might the Steelers move?
Ryan Shazier obviously isn’t going anywhere.
Lawrence Timmons‘ massive cap number probably makes him untradeable. However, if Timmons and the Eagles could come to some sort of extension agreement ahead of time, it wouldn’t be a bad move to make. Timmons has seriously lost a step and I think Vince Williams could step in for him easily in 2016.
Vince Williams is more realistic, but honestly I think I’d want more value in a trade for him. Vince is a guy that’s very experienced in the Steelers’ scheme, and if it was up to me would be the starter next to Shazier in 2017. What Vince lacks in coverage skills he makes up for in physicality. He and Shazier would be a nice combination in the middle of the defense. That being said, if you could get a nice piece in return for him, they could afford to lose him at a position of depth.
We’re getting a little more realistic now, with someone like LJ Fort. Fort is a nice special teamer and depth player, but unlike Timmons and Williams, I doubt he ever becomes more than that. Fort might fit the best on both sides, where the Eagles get depth that’s more game ready than a rookie like Matakevich but aren’t paying with a premium player/draft pick that would be needed to net Vince Williams.
Newcomer Steven Johnson has quietly been having a solid camp. He’s flashed a few times in defensive drills but really he’s going to make his living on special teams. My guess is the Eagles want more of a 2nd team LB.
Tyler Matakevich has really been impressive in camp, and looks like he could be a rare 7th round pick to make the roster as a rookie. I would hang onto this kid, because I can’t see the return being more than essentially what you used to choose him last April.
Then the question becomes, what do the Eagles have to offer?
I’m not going to pretend I have real in-depth knowledge of the Eagles roster, but I was a fan of cornerback/safety Eric Rowe coming out of Utah. Many thought that he could be the Steelers’ 1st round pick last year.
Do a quick google search of Rowe’s name, and you’ll see several stories that the new coaching staff in place isn’t crazy about Rowe, and he may be on the trade block. Rookie 7th round pick, Jalen Mills has already passed Rowe on the Eagles depth chart that was just released.
You can never have too much cornerback depth, and even before Senquez Golson’s injury I’d have welcome the addition of Rowe to the roster.
If the Eagles are really already that low on last year’s 2nd round pick (I’ve seen some stories he may be outright cut), then maybe something like LJ Fort for Rowe makes sense for both teams.
If not, then draft picks are always a welcomed compensation as well. The Steeler could possibly work out something like they did last year with the Eagles in the Brandon Boykin deal with a conditional draft pick.