Before we discuss the NFL Draft, we need to re-evaluate the team’s needs after the bulk of Free Agency
A lot has happened since our last two articles about the offseason. Free agency has pretty much wrapped up, with only a few big names still on the market. The Eagles are currently sitting at around $7 million in cap space, according to Elliott Shorr-Parks.
As we pointed out last week, about $7 million is necessary to sign all of the Eagles’ rookies after the draft, so it looks like Howie and company are just about done with major roster moves until April.
Who they got:
The Eagles made a number of roster moves; some were re-signing guys on the team, and some were signing free agents. We’ll cover all of them from the start of the offseason here.
Before our last article:
- Extended K Jake Elliott and LS Rick Lovato to one-year deals
- Released S Chris Maragos
- Re-signed DE Brandon Graham for 3 years
- Extended C Jason Kelce for another year
- Extended G Isaac Seumalo for 3 years
- Re-structured RT Lane Johnson’s contract
- Traded DE Michael Bennett and a 2020 7th-rd pick to the Patriots for a 2020 5th-rd pick
Since our last article:
- Extended LT Jason Peters for another year, freeing up cap space
- Signed free agent DT Malik Jackson to a 3 year, $30 million contract
- Traded for WR DeSean Jackson and a 2020 7th-rd pick, giving away a 2019 6th-rd pick
- Signed WR DeSean Jackson to a 3 year contract
- Signed free agent LB LJ Fort to a 3 year contract
- Re-structured LB Nigel Bradham’s contract
- “Re-structured” DE Chris Long’s contract (delayed signing bonus until post-draft, since Long isn’t decided about playing next year or not)
- Re-signed CB Ronald Darby for another year to an $8.5 million contract
When Chip Kelly was fired and GM Howie Roseman was given personnel control again, the year that Kelly was in control Roseman said he studied Super Bowl winning/competing teams to see how they approached their offseason moves.
Since then, Roseman has acted confidently, and the Eagles have gotten a Super Bowl ring.
Roseman prioritizes the trenches– the offensive and defensive lines. One can argue that the Birds have the best o-line and d-line in the NFL, or at least that they are both well inside the top 5 best in the league.
Notice when Roseman did what this offseason; he started with the o-line with Kelce, Seumalo, Peters. Around the same time he re-signed Brandon Graham, and traded an aging (but talented, you will be missed) Michael Bennett. He then signed Malik Jackson to shore up the interior of the d-line.
The Eagles, at minimum, had starters set on both lines of scrimmage before he made any really splashy moves.
Then he moved on to acquiring a talented speed WR, a need that has been written about quite a bit by Eagles’ media, including yours truly.
LJ Fort was a good signing– he could wind up being a starting LB in place of Jordan Hicks, or at worst a quality special teams player.
And lastly, re-signing Ronald Darby to $8.5 million is a bargain. Widely considered the best CB in free agency this year, $8.5 mil is nothing. For reference, in 2015 the Eagles signed Byron Maxwell to a 6-year $63 million deal, with $25 mil guaranteed.
After all of this, the Eagles still have $7 mil left in cap space. Wow.
Now that we’ve recapped the free agency moves, it’s time to see what the Birds still need to acquire this offseason. Most–if not all–of these positions will be addressed in the draft.
Here were the positions of need we determined from our aptly named Eagles’ Positional Needs this Offseason article:
- 2 or 3 d-linemen (for youth and the suspected departure of Brandon Graham)
- 2 o-linemen (because Peters and Kelce weren’t certain to come back)
- 1 RB (I would now say 2 RBs would be the reality of this need)
- 1 Fast WR
And in our Offseason Plan Pt. 1 Article we also added the more minor need of a linebacker, so:
- 1 LB to replace Jordan Hicks
So, what’s been done?
2 or 3 d-linemen— By re-signing Brandon Graham and signing Malik Jackson, the Eagles have re-supplied the starters on the D-line 2 o-linemen— By extending Peters, Seumalo, and Kelce, the Eagles’ o-line is re-stocked and looking mighty.
- 1/2 RBs — Hasn’t been addressed yet
1 Fast WR— In trading for and signing DeSean Jackson, the Eagles now have arguably the best speed-WR in the NFL back on the team 1 Replacement LB— Signing LJ Fort will likely be enough to replace Jordan Hicks
What still needs to be done?
- Although the Eagles did add 2 defensive linemen, they didn’t get all that much younger. I would fully expect the Eagles to draft multiple DTs or DEs in the draft. They still need at least 2 young guys in the d-line pipeline.
- The Eagles could add youth to the o-line, though this is not as pressing a need as the others. I would expect them to draft one versatile lineman in the second half of the draft.
- Running backs. The Eagles are going to draft a running back in April, and likely sign an undrafted rookie RB after the draft. Or two.
- Now that the major needs have been addressed, we can be a little nit-picky and say that the Birds may also want to pursue a safety in the draft, or a corner who has safety experience. Jim Schwartz likes those guys. They could also add a third TE, but that would probably happen in free agency or with undrafted rookies. Lastly, they’ll almost certainly add a 3rd-string QB to compete with Nate Sudfeld to be the backup.