We’ll keep you up to date on team needs, all things salary cap and free agency, and the draft. Today, we are focusing on the team’s needs.
In just a few days, the Eagles will be allowed to openly contact players’ agents to discuss free agency, in hopes of signing new stars. On Wednesday the 13th at 4p.m., free agency will officially begin, and players will start signing contracts.
What will the Eagles do? What do they need to do? What can they do? To get the answers, we’ll have to re-evaluate the team’s roster.
Just after the Super Bowl, we posted our Eagles’ positional needs article based on what we expected would be done early on in the offseason.
Since that article, the Eagles have made these moves:
- Extended K Jake Elliott and LS Rick Lovato
- Released S Chris Maragos
- Re-signed DE Brandon Graham
- Extended C Jason Kelce
- Extended G Isaac Seumalo
- Re-structured RT Lane Johnson’s contract
- Traded DE Michael Bennett to the Patriots
They have also announced that Nick Foles will become a free agent, and have opted to not pick up Tim Jernigan’s 2019 option, making him a free agent.
The focus of the offseason has very much been on the trenches. A lot of teams pay lip-service to the offensive and defensive lines, but Howie and Doug really do value maintaining the guys on the line of scrimmage.
So, given the moves so far:
The QB situation is good, though the Eagles will seek out a new 3rd-string QB. The TE’s are excellent with Ertz and Goedert.
With the restructures and new contracts along the offensive line, things looks pretty solid. There are questions surrounding LT Jason Peters, and the future of the position are in question.
On defense, with the loss of Bennett but the return of Derek Barnett, things seem to have moved laterally, if not downward. Bennett had 9 sacks last season, and Barnett will have to have an excellent season to make up for that production. With Graham’s re-signing, the EDGE is looking fairly solid amongst the starters. That doesn’t exactly satisfy the Eagles’ defense, though, as they like pass-rushing players Andy Reid called “fastballs,” which we explained in our draft DT articles. They will certainly look to extend Chris Long, and add more players.
In the secondary, the Eagles have an abundance of young talent at CB, and veteran talent at the safety position. They do like to have a quality third safety to come in when Jenkins is in the slot, so that is something to keep an eye on as well.
What about the other positions?
Now, I left out the RBs, WRs, DTs, and LBs because they are needs. Here we will address them, while also mentioning places that will likely still receive an upgrade.
The Eagles are losing Jay Ajayi, and quite possibly Darren Sproles. They’re going to be looking into the running back position all throughout the offseason, as they already have. The Eagles like RBs who can run (obviously), but who can also block in the passing game and be relied upon in the passing game.
At WR, the Eagles are still lacking a true deep-threat. Remember how DeSean Jackson ran deep routes and dragging routes where he became a matchup nightmare? The Eagles need that. Luckily there are a lot of especially fast WRs available in this year’s draft.
Tim Jernigan and Haloti Ngata are out. Without them, the Eagles have Fletcher Cox and guys like Treyvon Hester and Bruce Hector. While Hester has shown some success– most notably when he blocked Cody Parkey’s field goal to send the Eagles to the divisional round of the playoffs– the Eagles need someone who can rush the QB when Cox is absorbing double teams.
Without Michael Bennett, the Eagles are losing a great pass-rusher. Derek Barnett has the potential to replace Bennett’s production, but the Eagles like to rotate their defensive linemen to keep them fresh. Because of this philosophy, the Eagles are not at maximum efficiency unless they have four edge-rushers. The question of Chris Long getting extended will impact this significantly, as it may determine if the Eagles pursue one or two edge-rushers this offseason.
There are more quality pass-rushers in this year’s draft than in most years, as well as a few young pass rushers on the free agency market.
This is definitely the less worrisome position of possible need for the Eagles.
I believe that Jordan Hicks is not going to be re-signed. This leaves Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill as the primary linebackers, which is not too bad for the Eagles. They also have Nate Gerry, whose experience as a safety makes him very valuable to Jim Schwartz.
I would not be surprised, however, if the Eagles are not so confident in Grugier-Hill and Gerry as they are in Bradham. While they have value, the Birds may look to add a LB in the third day of the draft. I doubt they are looking at free agency for the LB position.