Now that the Super Bowl has ended, teams are now shifting focus to their teams and the many impending offseason moves that will be considered and ultimately made. While the season ended with a playoff berth, the expectations going into the season were to be playing in Miami on February 2nd. We all believed that if Carson Wentz stayed healthy all year and developed into that franchise caliber QB that we expected, this team would indeed be in the Super Bowl conversation. Wentz turned out to stay healthy all year, until he got knocked out of the Eagles wild card game vs Seattle in the first quarter. A controversial hit by Jadeveon Clowney took the birds signal caller out of the game and forced them to play with 41-year old Josh McCown.
While the season ended prematurely based off our preseason predictions and expectations, as the season moved on, the fact that the Eagles made the playoffs should be viewed as a success. With veterans DeSean Jackson and Darren Sproles getting hurt and being placed on injured reserve, practice squad players Greg Ward and Boston Scott stepped up and became key contributors to the offense.
With 20 players scheduled to be free agents this off-season, Howie Roseman and company will have a lot of tough decisions coming up. Besides injuries, the holes on the Eagles roster were exposed. While only 20 may be leaving, those that come back may not stay as well. With safeties Malcolm Jenkin and Rodney McLeod, and corners Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby scheduled to hit the open market, it is possible the Eagles go into the 2020 season with a brand-new secondary all around. Add the likes of Kamu Grugier-Hill, Tim Jernigan, Nigel Bradham, and Vinny Curry hitting the market, the defense is in for wholesale changes. For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, that isn’t the smartest idea. Now all 8 of these players most likely won’t be back with the team, but who should stay and who should go? Jenkins has undoubtedly been the leader of the defense since Chip Kelly brought him to Philly in 2014. The past three seasons along, he hasn’t missed a snap on defense, all while playing special teams. The only problem is Jenkins is 32, and while he has shown to be durable, the risk of injury goes up as you get older. Jenkins is going to demand a high price tag, as coming into the season, as well as after the playoff game, he made it known he wants to be paid like an elite safety.
McLeod, Mills, and Darby on the other hand have had their fair share of injuries over the years. Darby and McLeod had knee injuries and Mills a foot problem. All three are 26 years old and older, McLeod is 30, so I only expect one to return and that is Mills. Mills was a seventh-round draft pick out of LSU. He was regarded as a 1st to 2nd round player but reportedly had off the field issues that caused him to go in the 7th. His upside alone, and familiarity in the system should keep him around.
As with the first four mentioned, the next four very well could find themselves either back in Philly or playing elsewhere. The Eagles have never valued linebackers very high in the draft, making Kamu and Bradham the two most likely candidates to return. However, Jim Schwartz loves to rotate defensive lineman so bringing back veterans Timmy Jernigan and Vinny Curry would be just as likely.
Offensively there are 4 names worth monitoring. WR Nelson Agholor, RB Jordan Howard, back up QB Nate Sudfeld, and G/T Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Agholor has been disappointing in his 5 years with the Eagles. While this year might not have been the worst, it was definitely top 2 for him. Costly drops, lack of effort at times, and injuries made him unplayable at times during the season. I would be shocked if Nelson returned to the Eagles as a divorce would help both parties. Jordan Howard was excellent when he played but battled injuries all year as well. He was acquired in the offseason to be the lead back in the Eagles offense. The Eagles then drafted Miles Sanders in the second round to have a duel back attack. I expect the Eagles to resign Howard and add him to the mix of Boston Scott and Miles Sanders that took off in the offense down the stretch. The last two are tricky. Sudfeld is loved in the locker room and by Wentz and has been in the offense for a couple years now. Bringing him back would be very smart but could also be very costly. He was given a second-round tender last year, but this year he will be an unrestricted free agent and definitely garner some interest. With Wentz battling injuries the past three seasons, having Sudfeld back would be huge and expensive.
During the Super Bowl run, Vaitai filled in for an injured Jason Peters and played pretty well. This past season however, he didn’t take enough of a step forward to say he needs to come back. The Eagles drafted Andre Dillard to be their franchise left tackle so if the price gets to be too high for Vaitai, I wouldn’t expect a return.
The wildcard this offseason is Jason Peters. The Eagles over the past few years have been loyal to Peters and have kept him around. However, like we said, when you draft arguably the past Left Tackle in the draft in Andre Dillard, you need to let him play. He already sat his first year so now it is time to let him just play.
In the coming weeks, I will go in depth to what players the Eagles need to target. Their needs on the other hand are glaring. They lack speed, playmaking ability, and consistency. The Eagles are projected to have 10 draft picks. 5 of those picks are theirs, 3 are projected compensatory picks, and 2 picks from trades they made last season. While we know skillswise what they need, positionally look for them to address WR, CB, S, and defensive line.