Shortly after Haason Reddick learned his new deal with the Eagles was imminent, he was overcome with emotion.
The Camden native and former Temple standout has found value in familiarity during his NFL career, and no franchise could offer him more of it than the Eagles.
After officially signing a three-year, $45 million contract Thursday afternoon, Reddick said his chance at a homecoming was a major factor in his decision during his introductory news conference.
“To be closer to my family,” Reddick said. “To be able to play back in the stadium where I spent my whole college career, in front of the fans that watched me grow, it’s a wonderful thing. ... To have connections wherever you’re going, it just makes it much better, makes the transition that much simpler.”
The 27-year-old edge rusher is the Eagles’ lone addition in free agency thus far, but he’s expected to be a big one. The Eagles had the second-fewest sacks in the league last season, and Reddick has been one of the most productive pass rushers over the last two years.
Reddick’s 23.5 sacks in the last two seasons ranks fifth in the league and he offers some positional flexibility if Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon wants to move him around. Reddick could slot into the “SAM” linebacker role in the Eagles’ base defense and play as a stand-up defensive end when the team is in sub packages.
Genard Avery occupied the “SAM” linebacker role in the Eagles’ defense last season and split time dropping into coverage and rushing the passer on throwing downs. Reddick spent the first three years of his career as an off-ball linebacker and thus has experience dropping into coverage, but he’s been at his best as a full-time pass-rusher.
Reddick was also an effective edge rusher at Temple. He had 17.5 career sacks, including 9.5 during his senior season. Because of his college years, Reddick said the transition back to being a full-time rusher two years ago was easy for him.
“I had done it well in college, spending three years or four years rushing the passer,” Reddick said. “It’s just something that’s natural to me. Basically that was it. I got to go back to a position where I could actually do things I was more comfortable with. I got re-excited about playing football.”
Reddick said he doesn’t know how exactly he’ll be used with the Eagles, but suggested he isn’t concerned about the lingering questions surrounding his potential role.
“I’m a versatile player,” Reddick said. “I believe that I will be used to my versatility, but that’s pretty much it. We’ll get to the X’s and O’s once we get to the OTAs, and training camp, and once we get to installation. But I’m a versatile player.”
“Just get me on the field and let me go play football,” he added.
Reddick did note that he has put on weight this offseason in an attempt to get stronger. Listed at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, he’s an unconventional size for a line-of-scrimmage player, but he has been productive using his speed to beat opposing tackles.
“I’m faster than traditional edge rushers,” Reddick said. “I have an underdog mentality. I’m a hard worker. At the end of the day, size doesn’t matter, you line a guy up in front of me, I’ll do the best I can to beat him.”
Reddick said his goal is to reach about 250 pounds for next season, but he wants to make sure adding the extra strength won’t come at the expense of his speed and agility.
“I just wanted to open up my rush plan a little bit more,” Reddick said. “Being able to move guys out of my way at my will, whenever I want to.”