Among the free agents, pay attention to San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois, who is 26 and has only five career starts in four years. Jean-Francois, 6-foot-3 and 295 pounds, is versatile enough to play different spots on the defensive line and excels as a pass rusher.
If the Eagles want a traditional nose tackle, Terrance Knighton could be an intriguing option. Knighton, a third-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars out of Temple in 2009, is 6-foot-3 and 330 pounds with the nickname "Pot Roast." He appeared to be an emerging young player before he lost his starting job in 2012 after a coaching change, so he may be undervalued. At 26, Knighton fits within the age range the Eagles should target.
Two other talented linemen who would fit in the new Eagles front are Desmond Bryant and Alan Branch. Bryant, 6-foot-6 and 311 pounds, was charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief last month. The 27-year-old had four sacks in eight starts last season with the Oakland Raiders.
Branch is another big-bodied lineman who started the last two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. He played for Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis in Arizona.
The Eagles also will need pass rushers at outside linebacker. The top player in that group is Baltimore's Paul Kruger. At 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, Kruger led the Super Bowl champions with nine sacks during the regular season. He also had 41/2 sacks in the postseason, including two in the Super Bowl. But Kruger will be among the most coveted free agents, so his price will rise.
Connor Barwin also fits that profile. The 26-year-old from the Houston Texans is 6-foot-4 and 268 pounds. He finished with three sacks in 2012 after recording 111/2 in 2011, but he's versatile and hitting his prime. The Texans consider him a core player and will try to keep him. Kruger and Barwin would be defensive ends in a traditional 4-3.
The Eagles also could address this spot in the first round of April's draft, which is fertile with linemen and pass rushers. But with the changes expected in the front seven, the Eagles need several players to aid the transition.
Top Free-Agent D-Linemen
Player Team Age Ht. Wt.
Ricky Jean-Francois 49ers 26 6-3 295
Alan Branch Seahawks 28 6-6 325
Terrance Knighton Jaguars 26 6-3 330
Desmond Bryant Raiders 27 6-6 311
Roy Miller Buccaneers 25 6-2 310
Randy Starks Dolphins 29 6-3 305
Pass Rushers (Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers)
Paul Kruger Ravens 27 6-4 270
Connor Barwin Texans 26 6-4 268
Cliff Avril Lions 26 6-3 260
Shaun Phillips Chargers 31 6-3 250
Contact Zach Berman at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.