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The day every football fan circles on their calendar is here! It’s Christmas Day for all NFL fans as the new league year is upon us which means NFL Free Agency! Starting at 4pm today, teams can start officially boosting up their squads by trying to sign some of the top talent in the league to fill those needs.
As for the Eagles over the last couple of years they have been extremely aggressive on the free agent market trying to bring some of the best players in the game to put them over the top to contend. But it hasn’t worked out so well for them of late but that doesn’t mean you should get discouraged. I’m not saying they have to go out and sign every top free agent available but to have success in this league you have to take chances and can’t let prior events effect what you do now in the present. The Eagles have an incredible about of needs they need to address this offseason and there is some quality talent both in free agency and the draft.
Here are my Eagles top 5 needs they have to address this offseason. Yes i know the Eagles have a few more needs they need to address but I feel these are the more important ones that have doomed them in the past for not addressing.
5. Playmaking Receiver/Tight End- Everyone thought last year that this Eagles offense was going to have a breakout year all around. WR Desean Jackson didn’t need to hold anything back and was going to go on a tear after signing a lucrative contract in the offseason. WR Jeremy Maclin was finally healthy and led the Eagles both in receiving yards and touchdowns but he isn’t anything that defenses are going to fear. The Eagles top three weapons (Maclin-7, Jackson-2, Celek-1) only recorded 10 touchdowns total between all of them! That is unacceptable! They have tremendous amount of speed but that is all they have. Defenses are finding ways to control the Eagles passing game and with their limited size the Eagles have no true weapon I the red zone which they haven’t had in years.
Eagles’ fans have been lobbying for Plaxico Burress for years but I don’t want to go that route. They had hope of WR Riley Cooper to develop into that type of role hasn’t worked out either. The Eagles seriously need to address this need highly in this year’s draft. Maclin is entering his final year of his contract and hasn’t shown anything to really impress to bring him back. Don’t get me wrong he is a solid number two but the Eagles need someone that is going to make a difference! They need a big, physical guy that can come down with the football and can get off coverage and find separation to throw him the football. No names have been brought up yet but don’t expect the Eagles to address this in free agency. They have been linked to TE Jared Cook. He is a new age tight end, a guy that has tremendous speed off the line of scrimmage and can catch the football. This is a copy cat league and teams are trying to mimic what the Patriots have done with their two tight end sets. Getting Cook would give the Eagles some versatility on offense and another playmaker but depends if the price is right for his services and who would be the official starter?
4. Offensive line depth- Last season all we heard was the Eagles offensive line was horrible. They can’t block to save their lives, etc, etc, etc. But what did people expect! You lose arguably the top offensive lineman in the league before the season even starts with LT Jason Peters. You lose pro bowl caliber talent with C Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans and you continue to shuffle people around at right guard. This offensive line had no chance to build any continuity and when you’re missing that many key pieces you are going to have struggles. But don’t get me wrong the Eagles management isn’t fully off the hook for last year’s train wreck.
They tried to convince the fan base they were making moves and doing what they can to fix the mess by signing Demetress Bell in the offseason and that King Dunlap was a quality player in this league. We all watched the tape. And going into this season there is a lot of questions on the health of Peters and the rest of the guys if they can return at a high level and perform. We won’t know until minicamp and training camp on how they look but in the mean time the Eagles have to address and provide better depth along the offensive line just in case this happens again.
I’m not saying they have to go out and get the Jake Longs of the world but guys that have experience starting in this league. Players that you know what you expect of them. The Eagles have been linked to recently released tackle Eric Winston. He has started every game since 2007, he is a quality run blocker and pass protector and can help the Eagles fill two spots if they signed him. Winston can move out to right tackle with Peters returning and move Herremans inside to finally fill that right guard role. That is a solid line upfront with Kelce returning and G Evan Mathis who has graded out the past two seasons as one of the best guards in the game.
That way the Eagles don’t have to waste a high draft pick on an offensive lineman and address another immediate need and fill in depth and backups through free agency and in the later rounds of the draft. But either way after last season’s disaster this should be high on the Eagles list to address.
3. Cornerback- I don’t even have to go into details about what happened in 2012 with this cornerback core. CB Nnamdi Asomugha has been a bust since they locked him up in 2011. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been ok but hasn’t lived up to expectations. This was a group last year that you heard every single game and not for good reasons. But it looks like the Eagles will move on from both players meaning they need to find two new starters along this defense.
DRC is a free agent and the Eagles aren’t expected to try and re-sign the former Pro Bowl cornerback. Asomugha is still on the roster and the Eagles have been reported ok bringing him back but only at a reduce pay which right now doesn’t seem likely. Neither player was this lock down man to man corner that they got this reputation for and the Eagles just need to go into a different direction.
And this year’s free agent class is extremely deep at the cornerback position. The Eagles have been linked to former Dolphins CB Sean Smith which would fit what Chip Kelly wants to do with his defense. He is a physical ball hawk with great tackling ability and has tremendous upside only being 25 years old. He was the most targeted defensive back last season and only gave up 54.9% of his attempts his way completed and only four miss tackles which has been an issue for this defense. The question is how much will it cost for his services? Reports are out that Smith is looking for $6-8 million. And depending on the guaranteed money I might be able to live with that. But there are cheaper options like Falcons CB Brent Grimes who is coming off a major injury or a veteran like CB Deangelo Hall which will getting a short term incentive deal on the open market. The Eagles might also go a different avenue through trade.
Reports surfaced this past weekend that GM Howie Roseman is crunching numbers and seeing if it is possible for the Eagles to acquire Jets CB Darrelle Revis who is reportedly on the trade market. The Eagles would have to give up a couple of high draft picks and agree to a long term deal with Revis for this to happen which I don’t know if the Eagles should do. Revis is a heck of a player and still coming off major ACL injury I feel will still be a quality player but still a lot risk involved to give up that much compensation and a huge contract on a guy who will be 28 years old and less than a year since a major injury. But the Eagles have to do something because if they do move on from Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie like it looks like, they can’t go into next season with only Brandon Boykin and Curtis Marsh. And no cornerback really stands out in this year’s draft except for Alabama’s Dee Milliner but he still has his flaws. So I see the Eagles to go hard in free agency to improve a secondary that has been statically one of the worst the NFL has seen in years!
2. Safety- The Eagles safety play has just been horrendous. There was a reason why Kurt Coleman was a 7th round pick and Nate Allen has been ok but nothing spectacular to justify the Eagles using a 2nd round pick on him. It is time for an upgrade and luckily for the Eagles there are many options both in free agency and in the draft.
The most notable player the Eagles reportedly have interest in is 49ers S Deshon Goldson. He is no doubt the leader of the crop in free agency but will warrant a big payday. He is something the Eagles have lacked since they tried to replace Brian Dawkins, and that is leadership and being a playmaker. Goldson brings a fast hard hitting safety that knows how to knock you in the mouth. And at age 28 he should still have some quality years left ahead of him but there will be tremendous interest around the league and we know how the Eagles are when it comes to getting into bidding wars. Hopefully the relationship Goldson has with former 49ers personnel director Tom Gamble who is now with the Eagles gives them a little bit of an edge. But if they can’t land Goldson still some other quality safeties.
There are reports the Eagles also have interest in former Jets S Laron Landry. The Eagles had interest in Landry last season but he opted to sign with the Jets. Landry I feel doesn’t solve the Eagles problems but is a hard hitter and can make some plays but for a guy that is supposed to be the last line of defense, he is often starring at the back of the receivers’ jersey and is a liability in coverage. Some other options are Texans SS Glover Quinn who is a solid option and more importantly a cheaper option than Goldson or Ed Reed. But no matter what they do, the Eagles will be strong players for some new safeties on the open market and in this year’s draft which is extremely deep and has talent all across the board. I just prefer the guaranteed option than a question mark coming out of the draft because the Eagles haven’t had a whole lot success drafting safeties, just look at Jaiquawn Jarrett.
1. Quarterback- This is without a shout of a doubt the most important position there is in the NFL. This is a quarterback driven league and games are won and lost from a team’s quarterback play. And the past couple of seasons the quarterback play has been more lackluster than anything.
QB Michael Vick is returning for at least one more season after the Eagles restructured his contract, QB Nick Foles for the time being is still on the roster but doesn’t fit what we think Chip Kelly wants to do with this offense and is on the trade block, and then the Eagles brought in QB Dennis Dixon who has experience running this offense after being under Kelly for one year at Oregon but hasn’t shown anything during his time in the league being on the practice squad in 2012 for the Ravens. So right now the Eagles have three quarterbacks on the roster that have a lot of question marks.
Vick has can’t hang onto the football nor stay healthy so how is this fast pace offense where your quarterback is going to get pummeled really going to help you since Vick hasn’t learned after all this time to slide or get out of bounds? Foles has mobility but his footwork need some working to be successful in this offense, and Dixon hasn’t played a lick in years.
If this is what the Eagles go into the 2013 season with we are in serious trouble and honestly until this offense wins in the NFL I’m not a firm believer of it. I know we are in the new age of the NFL where we are seeing a lot of more mobile quarterbacks than the prototypical pocket passer but these guys have only found so much success and defenses are finding ways to control them and take them out of football games. This is a passing league so you still need a quarterback that can throw the football and step up in crunch time to give you that big first down or that big touchdown. None of these guys really have that ability to do that so I really don’t see the Eagles starting quarterback currently on this roster.
But there really aren’t many options the Eagles can look at to fit what Kelly wants to do. They have looked at some suitors in this year’s draft such as Arizona’s Matt Scott and West Virginia’s Geno Smith. I don’t see the Eagles taking Smith at 4th overall in the draft. It is more of a smoke screen but Scott is flying up team’s draft boards and could be a product to try and develop. But the bottom line is, if the Eagles go into next season with what they have, the quarterback play is going to be just as bad as in the past in my opinion and they need to address it sooner rather than later.
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