NFL Free Agency is finally here. And once again, the Eagles are well positioned to make considerable moves to improve their team. They’ve already handled the pressing in-house matters, resigning Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, and giving extensions to Jason Peters and Jason Kelce. My thoughts on those moves. It also appears Donnie “Longball” Jones will be returning as well.
With key offensive players locked up, the Eagles still have about
$30 million in cap space(according to Bill Barnwell of Grantland) $20 million (according to this tweet) to address areas such as linebacker, kicker, offensive line depth, kick returner, safety, safety, safety, safety and safety.
Did you know the Eagles need to add a quality safety?
All joking aside, there’s quite a good crop of quality safeties in this year’s class. Jairus Byrd and TJ Ward are the Pro Bowl headliners. The next tier includes quality players such as Malcom Jenkins, Antoine Bethea, Chris Clemons and Mike Mitchell.
The more I read about Byrd, the less likely I think it is the Eagles sign him. Heading into free agency, his asking price is scaring people off. Plus, he had plantar fasciatis in both feet last year and his speed is a concern. Remember, all of these players are free agents for a reason. They have flaws; some worse than others. Will I be satisfied if the Birds sign Byrd? Absolutely. But I’m not getting my hopes up. Ward has already been reported to be of no interest to the Eagles.
Mike Mitchell has been the name most linked to the Eagles, here in the legal tampering period (another way for the NFL to generate buzz). I’m lukewarm on him, as I think he was a product of the defensive talent around him in Carolina.
Who I want: Malcom Jenkins. Only 26 and can do a variety of things defensively. A coverage safety but can also play the slot. He’s young enough to still “take the leap” into a pro bowl player and wouldn’t require the Eagles to pursue a saftety (besides the draft) for another several years if all works out.
Who they’ll sign: Bethea. He’s a little older, but that won’t stop the Eagles. They seem to have shied away from that not signing anyone over 30 routine. (He’ll be 30 in July). Plus, Bethea could be had on a shorter deal for say, two or three years. I’d be perfectly fine with Bethea, who’s been durable and productive for a long time.
Good video on the safety crop on the Eagles website.
Kicker: Yes, kicker is a priority. Alex Henery might be accurate, but he just doesn’t have the leg. The NFL moved kickoffs up five yards a few seasons ago and Henery just can’t rountinely get touchbacks. Something that cost them late in the loss to the Saints in the playoffs. They have to bring in someone at least for competition, but if the Eagles sign a kicker early in the free agent process. Henery’s days as an Eagle are over.
Who I want: Steven Hauschka CSN Philly.com breaks it down because they’re paid to do it. He’s elite at touchbacks and has big game kicking experience. Enough said.
Who they’ll sign: I’ll go with Dan Carpenter or Hauschka. Carpenter had a big-time year last year and has range from 60 yards out.
Pass Rushing Linebacker: I’m not too worried here. Yes, they could use depth but there’s really no significant difference makers on the market. Birds 247 has said the Eagles have been interested in Mike Neal. He’s 26 and can serve as a versatile contributor. I’d rather see the Eagles acquire a pass rusher in the draft or see if a Brandon Graham for Dion Jordan swap makes sense (it probably doesn’t). At least those seem like better options for an impact pass rusher.
Who I want: Neal, I guess
Who they’ll sign: Neal.
Cornerback: I wasn’t going to write about this but recent developments have made me do otherwise. Adam Schefter is reporting that Darrelle Revis will be cut by 4 p.m. today if he’s not traded. He’s also said “watch out” for the Eagles and Patriots in the Revis race. I think the Eagles will definitely be interested, enough to see what his price could be. After all, he made a TON of money for one year in Tampa. Perhaps he’d be willing to sign for a moderate deal in Philly or New England to be on a playoff contender.
It’s probably more realistic that the Eagles again eschew the big name and pursue guys like Corey Graham (who would be a solid get) and Nolan Carroll from the Dolphins.
Who I want: Revis
Who they’ll sign: Graham
2013 Free Agency suited the Eagles just fine. Connor Barwin, while not an all-pro stud, was one of the most important players on defense last year with his versatility. Here he is possibly saving the Eagles season.
I’d never heard of Bradley Fletcher prior to last season, but he turned out to be a very reliable starter. More so than DRC or Nnamdi in their two seasons in Philly.
The same with Cary Williams. I watched a couple of Ravens games in 2012 and watched him get called for penalties and routinely get beat. So I wasn’t enthused with the signing. While he had some bad games in 2013. He wasn’t awful and provided a previously week defense with leadership and toughness.
Alright, so Patrick Chung didn’t work out. But he was low risk, low reward. If and when the Eagles release him, there will be a cap charge of about one million, but nothing crippling.
Kenny Phillips and Issac Sopoaga also were busts, although Sopoaga actually brought back a 5th-round pick from the Pats in a mid-season trade.
Plus, buying low on players will be beneficial, in light of some of the current players that could be in line for paydays next year. Specifically Nick Foles, Brandon Boykin, Mychal Kendricks and Fletcher Cox.
So keep doing what you’re doing Howie Roseman and we’ll see you in May for the Draft.