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As we sit patiently for the end of the NFL’s legal tampering stage of free agency, the Eagles have set forth a plan of action to right the ship.
The Eagles have worked hard to establish a new dynamic within the locker room. With interim general manager Howie Roseman running the show, the Birds have locked up a young nucleus of Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, and Vinny Curry, while also extending veterans Brent Celek and Malcolm Jenkins. Within the last twenty-four hours, the Birds jettisoned the contract albatrosses of running back DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell. Gone too is Kiko Alonso, who failed to live up to any expectation in his short Eagles tenure.
In short, the Eagles are ridding themselves of Chip Kelly’s demons and are starting fresh with mostly homegrown talent.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the new NFL league year, and with that, the official start of free agency. The Eagles will enter free agency with glaring needs along the offensive line and secondary. They will have approximately 25 million in cap space.
Below is a list of players that the Eagles could have interest in as they remake their team under stewardship of Roseman and new head coach Doug Pederson.
With Sam Bradford back in the fold, quarterback is not a position of need for the team. It is more likely for the Birds to draft a developmental quarterback with Bradford and Mark Sanchez on the roster. But in case the Eagles decide to cut bait with Sanchez, here are three options that could compliment Bradford
- Chase Daniel – Already being linked to Philadelphia because of his Pederson connections, Daniel has never been a starter in the NFL and would relish the opportunity if given the chance. With Bradford’s injury history, Philadelphia could be Daniel best option.
- Matt Moore – Not much more of a spot starter, Moore has carved out a niche in the NFL as Ryan Tannenhill’s backup in Miami the last three years. Moore has proven to be a good teammate who can make a few plays when called upon.
- Matt Hasselbeck – Young he is not. Hasselbeck is the oldest quarterback in the league and has a surplus of experience under his belt. No longer can he lead a team to victory, but his veteran presence and mentorship would be both good for Bradford and a development rookie quarterback.
With DeMarco Murray’s departure to Tennessee, the Eagles will now be in the market for a running back, whether that is via free agency or the draft. If the Birds opt for free agency, don’t expect the team to spent big money. The following options could be a good addition to Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles, while not breaking the bank.
- Stevan Ridley – One year removed from an ACL, Ridley struggled to see the field last year with the Jets. The compact, yet bruising running back could be a low risk-high reward signing and has the ability to mesh with Mathews and Sproles.
- Ronnie Hillman – Given multiple chances to be “the man” in Denver, and Hillman could never capitalize. A great complimentary runner, the 4th year back could get an opportunity to split carries in Philadelphia.
- Darrel Young – Not a common name to the casual football fan, Young is a HB-FB hybrid who played for Washington. If the Eagles plan on running the ball, Young is a decent blocker, but can also make the occasional play out of the backfield.
The birds spent a first, second and third round draft choices on wide receives the last two years. As of right now, the team hit on one of those picks, 2014 second rounder Jordan Matthews. It is too early to give up on 2015 first round pick Nelson Agholor, but here are three names the Eagles could look at to supplement their wide receiving corps.
- Travis Benjamin – The former Cleveland Brown will be looking to cash in on the free agent market, and for good reason. Last year, Benjamin established himself as a legitimate weapon in the NFL, as he often torched opposing defenses on go routes. The former Miami standout finished the season with career highs in receptions (68), yards receiving (966) and touchdowns (5). Benjamin is also an above-average return man.
- Andre Holmes – The former Raider had a down year in 2015 after erupting for a career high in catches (47), yards (693) and touchdowns (4) in 2014. Part of that was due to Oakland drafting Amari Cooper and signing Michael Crabtree. Despite losing snaps, the 5th year player still managed to catch four touchdowns. Holmes is a tall receiver (6’4”) that has decent speed and has shown the ability to make plays.
- Brian Quick – The oft-injured former Ram could be a good slot man for the Eagles and already has a level of comfort with Bradford. Quick would come relatively cheap.
This is perhaps the Eagles greatest position of depth. Zach Ertz is an emerging star (and being paid as such), Brent Celek is the wily veteran and underused Trey Burton comprises a unit that could post big numbers in 2016. Despite the stacked unit, the Eagles could always use depth.
- Michael Hoomanawanui – He’s on the list because his name is awesome. That, and he is a decent blocker
- Logan Paulsen – Another good blocker.
This position is a dire need. Yes, the Eagles have their tackles set in Lane Johnson and Jason Peters, but the middle of the line, including Jason Kelce, is anything but a sure thing. Below are players the Eagles should target and spend their money on.
- Jeff Allen – File this under “duh.” Allen, a former second round pick by Kansas City has a connection to Pederson.
- Jahri Evans – Another easy connection: Evans is from Philadelphia. Although he is older and his skills are on the decline, Evans could/should be had for a two year deal and would be a good stopgap for a project guard taken in the draft.
- Will Beatty – Cut by the Giants, Beatty is another older player on the downside of his career. Beatty is a swing lineman, wherein he could fill in at tackle if there was an injury or start at guard and hold a place for a youngster.
- Brandon Brooks – Ranked amongst the best run blockers by PFF, Brooks should be highly sought after, as he is just 26 years old.
Another position of strength for the Birds, the Eagles will be looking to fill in depth here.
- Antonio Smith – The lineman can play both inside and on the edge. He comes off a Super Bowl championship with Denver and could be a veteran presence for a young line.
- Chris Long – Although he does not have much left due to injuries, and the fact that he is looking for a contending team, the Eagles could be a fit for Howie’s son. Long, a long time productive player in St. Louis could spell the young pups.
- Nick Fairley – He spent last season in St. Louis after beginning his career under Jim Schwartz in Detroit. If the money were right, Fairley would be a logical choice to rotate snaps with Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan.
After trading Kiko Alonso, the Birds have a hole to fill in the linebacking corps. Fortunately, the free agent batch is filled with a slew of defensive coordinators Jim Schwartz’s former players.
- Tahir Whitehead – A former Temple University (yay!) standout, Whitehead has turned himself into a productive player. He can play all three linebacker positions and is an adept special teams player.
- Nigel Bradham – Once again, file this under “duh.” Bradham had his best season under Schwartz and is already being linked to Philadelphia.
- Danny Trevathan – If the Birds decide to make a splash, the former Bronco will be looking to cash in. The 5th year linebacker finished the season with 109 tackles and two interceptions.
Despite the signing of Leodis McKelvin, the Eagles will be looking to upgrade arguably the worst unit in the NFL. With the Eagles recent history in signing and trading for cornerbacks, I do not expect the team to pursue the cream of the crop. But if they do, here are three corners the team should target.
- Casey Hayward – Despite not recording an interception, Hayward is one of the better cornerbacks on the market. He has decent size for the position (5’11”, 192 pounds) and is just 26 years old. Hayward will get paid somewhere.
- Brandon Boykin – As yes, a familiar friend. Despite his small stature, Boykin continues to rank amongst the best cornerbacks in the league. Boykin is aching for his chance to start. Could he return to Philadelphia if that option was made available? It is a risk I’d take.
- Janoris Jenkins – St. Louis needed to decide which of their cornerbacks to franchise, and Jenkins was not the winner. Cornerback is a premier position and Jenkins will make buko bucks. Despite red flags coming out of college, Jenkins has been stellar on the field and has not been disruptive off of it.
Malcolm Jenkins is entrenched as one starter, but opposite him is a rotating door. The safety market has few options, but here are some options that could complement Jenkins complete game.
- Tashaun Gipson – In 2014, Gipson lead the NFL with six interceptions. He followed that up with just two and a down year. Gipson will look to break the bank, but it wont happen. He is a good center fielder, but not a big hitter.
- Tyvon Branch – The former Raider comes as underrated as there is. Oakland’s secondary may have been a disaster, but Branch player center field and kept receivers honest.
- George Iloka – Another center field-type. He had perhaps his best season is a strong Cincinnati secondary. Landing him could be a boon for Philadelphia.