Philadelphia Eagles Offseason Preview


Following an extremely disappointing 2020 season, the Philadelphia Eagles are now in full rebuild mode. They fired their head coach, Doug Pederson, replaced him with Nick Sirianni, and traded disgruntled quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts. Now they will be looking forward to the draft and building around Jalen Hurts – or at least that’s the hope. Give the kid a chance before you draft another quarterback for the “quarterback factory”. 

Pending Free Agents 

The Eagles enter free agency with 15 free agents and the second-least cap space as they are currently over $43 million over the projected salary cap in 2021. Philadelphia has plenty of players that they will need to make a decision on for their future. Most of them will have to be let go in order for them to free up cap space.

Jason Peters, Left Tackle

The Eagles re-signed Peters last offseason after Andre Dillard tore his biceps in training camp. Peters demanded more money from the team before moving from right guard back to left tackle. He struggled early on and missed games due to injuries of his own. Peters gave his all the Eagles and wants to return for his 18th season, but it won’t be in Philadelphia. Dillard will be back and the Birds are trying to get younger.

Jalen Mills, Safety

Mills was also on a one-year deal in 2020, a year in which he converted from cornerback to safety. The switch was actually quite good for Mills and the Eagles. He wasn’t great, but he was serviceable enough with career-highs in tackles (74), sacks (1.5), and TFLs (four). He also played a team-high 1,013 defensive snaps. Mills wants to return to Philadelphia and the Eagles need a leader on defense. He is also still fairly young at 26 so give him another go.

Vinny Curry, Edge Rusher

Curry had a limited role last season and played okay. With him going into his age 33 season and the Eagles trying to get younger, one would imagine he won’t be back.

Cre’von LeBlanc, Cornerback

“Strap” is a solid nickel corner when he is healthy. But he just can’t stay on the field, which is a common theme with the Birds lately. LeBlanc was a good pickup in 2018 but he isn’t the long-term answer at cornerback. The only way he is back is if the Eagles sign him for the vet minimum. If he does stay, he could be a solid leader for any corners the Eagles grab in the draft.

Duke Riley, Linebacker

Riley will turn 27 in August after coming off a 2020 season in which he played more than half the defensive snaps. He is a nice guy to have on the team, but “The Duke” isn’t going to be someone who sticks on the defense as a top guy. The Eagles need to bring someone in with more upside but could swing a cheap deal for Riley.

Potential Cap Casualties 

Philadelphia is in what we like to call “cap hell”. As previously stated, the Eagles are currently $43 million over the cap, which is second-worst only to the New Orleans Saints. There have already been a couple of cap casualties following the Wentz trade, in receivers Alshon Jeffery ($3.44M saved) and DeSean Jackson ($4.8M saved). There will likely be plenty more as the Eagles look to get closer to the cap line.

Zach Ertz, TE ($4.7M Saved) 

It’s only a matter of time before Ertz is gone from Philadelphia. The fan-favorite tight end has a year remaining on his deal that counts for $12.5 million against the cap if he stays. The Eagles already started grooming Dallas Goedert as the top tight end. The team will look to trade Ertz but if they can’t find an interested party, they will save $8.7 million by releasing him post-June 1 designation.

Malik Jackson, DT ($7M Saved) 

Jackson is another for sure casualty as the Eagles, like with Jeffery, took steps to release him by adjusting his contract. He had career-low numbers in tackles, TFL, and sacks and is entering his age 31 season. The Eagles could be seeing a lot of turnover with their defensive line, and that starts with Jackson.

Marquise Goodwin, WR ($4.3M Saved)

After the Eagles traded for Goodwin during last year’s draft, he opted out of the season. There is no guaranteed money in his deal for 2021, giving the Eagles cap relief. Even if Goodwin had not opted out, it wasn’t certain if he would have stayed healthy. He had only played in 20 games the previous two seasons in San Francisco and was never all too consistent throughout his career.

Fletcher Cox, DT ($2.85M Saved)

The Eagles have swirled Cox around in trade rumors after his sixth straight Pro Bowl in 2020. He has still shown stretches of being elite. But with 10 sacks and 19 quarterback hits combined over the last two seasons, he has regressed. In 2018, he had 10.5 sacks and 34 QB hits. But Cox would count almost $24 million against the cap each of the next two years if he stays. He enters his age 30 season and while he may not be moved now, he could be dealt at the trade deadline. A release post-June 1 designation would save the Eagles $16 million.

Derek Barnett, DE ($10M Saved)

Barnett had strong moments in 2020, but he finished with just 5.5 sacks in 13 games. He is still just 24 years old, but with the Eagles rebuilding and their development of Josh Sweat, he should go. Barnett’s $10,051,000 isn’t guaranteed until the new league year begins. If the Eagles pay him and release him, they save $10 million and $7 million if they extend him.

Open Market Free Agent Targets 

It is going to be tough for the Eagles to sign any big-time free agents this offseason. If they target any free agents look, they will have to be cheaper options. The positions most needed for them to target are at receiver, linebacker, and secondary.

Tyrell Williams, WR, Las Vegas Raiders

Williams was just released by the Raiders on Wednesday after he missed the entire 2020 season due to injury. This possible free-agent target comes with the Sirianni connection. Williams had two of his best seasons, in 2016 and 2017, while Sirianni was the receivers coach of the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers. In his second year as an undrafted free agent in 2016, he had 69 (nice) catches for 1,059 yards seven touches. In 2017, he had 43 catches for 728 yards and four touchdowns. Given that Williams is coming off an injury, he will be a cheap option and could provide the Eagles with a feel-good story if he can come back strong.

Malik Hooker, SAF, Indianapolis Colts 

Hooker has a connection to the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, Jonathan Gannon, and he has plenty of potential as a playmaker. Since being drafted 15th overall by the Colts in 2017, he has dealt with injuries, most recently a torn Achilles in 2020. With his injury history, he’s another guy Philly could get for cheap and could pay off with a healthy season. The still young, 24-year old safety would give the Eagles’ secondary a boost while on the field.

Josh Bynes, LB, Cincinnati Bengals 

Bynes has been an NFL journeyman, playing for four different teams in 10 seasons. He has played in several different defensive styles, so he would be able to adjust to a different scheme. He has been a solid depth linebacker over his career while playing behind Pro-Bowl level talent. The veteran recorded 90 tackles, two quarterback hits, and one sack in 2020 and would be a great addition for the Eagles for cheap. Bynes would immediately become the team’s best linebacker and finally get the chance to start he has looked for.

Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, San Franciso 49ers

The former third-round pick of the 49ers has been up and down during his four years in the NFL. Witherspoon had a strong rookie year in 2017 but disappointed in 2018. He was having a strong 2019 before being benched in the playoff win over the Minnesota Vikings for Emmanuel Moseley. He didn’t falter, however, and tried to help the team in any way he could as he took Moseley’s special teams snaps. Witherspoon was a bench player for most of 2020 before injuries pushed him into the starting rotation. He played well and even picked off Kyler Murray in the end zone to secure the 49ers’ win over the Arizona Cardinals. The Eagles won’t have to pay him much, and he is still young with some upside.

John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Ross has been a bust since being drafted ninth overall in the 2017 draft by the Bengals. Injuries have been killer for him, and that is the common theme for players the Eagles could target. He missed 13 games in his rookie season in 2017, three games in 2018, eight games in 2019, and 13 games in 2020. Ross did show glimpses of potential in 2019 when he had 28 catches for 506 yards and three touchdowns. This put him on pace for over 1,000 yards and was good for 18.1 yards per catch. Another cheap option and potential speed threat for the Eagles’ receiving corps.

Previewing the Draft 

Philadelphia needs to fill their team with young talent at every position, most notably at receiver, cornerback, and linebacker. If they are to even have a chance to speed up the rebuild, Howie Roseman needs to hit on almost every pick, especially the first few rounds. Well, for the sake of keeping his freaking job too. The Eagles have an extra third-round pick from the Wentz trade and an extra fifth from a trade with the Dallas Cowboys in last year’s draft.  

Round 1, Pick 6: Wide Receiver 

One of the biggest needs for the Eagles is to add playmakers in the passing game. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone with speed, but rather a guy who can make catches in traffic and pick up some YAC. A few targets that could be at pick number six are DeVonta Smith, Ja’Marr Chase, and Jaylen Waddle. Even Kyle Pitts.

Round 2, Pick 38: Cornerback

Darius Slay was a solid number one corner in 2020, but the Eagles need to get much more depth there. They could look to the first round for this position if the top guys are already off the board. But for the sake of this article, they go corner in the second round. Potential targets are Tyson Campbell, Asante Samuel Jr., and Jaycee Horn.

Round 3, Pick 70: Linebacker

The linebacking group needs some serious work for the Eagles’ defense to take a step up. While they rarely prioritize this position, some changes could come with the new coaching staff. A couple of targets that could be available here are Dylan Moses, Azeez Ojulari, and Jabril Cox.

Round 3, Pick 85: Offensive Line 

Whoever the quarterback is, whether that’s Hurts or someone else, needs serious protection help. The Eagles allowed a league-leading 65 sacks last season, the most a team allowed since the Cleveland Browns allowed 66 in 2016. They played 14 different offensive line combinations. Possible options are Dillon Radunz, Landon Dickerson, and Creed Humphrey.

Early 2021 Expectations 

This team probably won’t be going anywhere for a while, but with how weak the NFC East is, you never know if they could somehow sneak into the playoffs. But even if they did, they would clearly not contend with the powerhouses in the rest of the NFC. All they can do is take it a game at a time, they have a long way to go to get back to Super Bowl contention.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images 


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