Monday was the deadline for NFL teams to use the franchise and transition tags. So let’s talk about the moves and non-moves that could affect the Eagles.
Safety T.J Ward – no tag
Safety Jairus Byrd – no tag
OLB Jason Worilds – transition tag
OLB Brian Orakpo – franchise tag
The Eagles did not use either of their tags. There are no more free agents that the Eagles feel deserve it. The team will re-sign P Donnie Jones soon enough. The Eagles did get DE Cedric Thornton to sign his 1-year deal. Thornton was an exclusive rights free agent. That meant he couldn’t sign with anyone else so the deal was a mere formality.
I’m sure the Eagles would like to lock him up to a long term deal. Part of the issue with Ced is that he was so ineffective as a pass rusher in 2013. He’d like to improve there to raise his value. The Eagles love him, but the lack of pass rush skills does affect his value.
As to outside players, the news about the OLBs isn’t ideal. I was surprised the Skins hesitated in putting the tag on Orakpo. He’s the kind of player you want to draft, develop and then keep. Worilds is an ascending player that the Eagles are likely to have some interest in. The transition tag allows the Steelers to match any offer that Worilds gets. Pittsburgh has some cap issues so a creative offer could be tough for them to match.
Some people think that the Steelers will have to cut OLB LaMarr Woodley in order to keep Worilds. Before you get excited about Woodley, he is going to turn 30 in November and he is coming off consecutive years with declining production (4 sacks in 2012, 5 sacks in 2013). That’s pretty much the opposite of an Eagles target.
There could be a healthy market for Worilds. While I think the Eagles will have some interest, he’s not a player you go all-in on. Worilds best years are ahead of him. The question is how good those years will be. Is Worilds going to become a top flight pass rusher or is he going to level out as a solid pass rusher? Think of the difference in James Harrison vs Clark Haggans (both Steelers LBs that developed over time).
The news on the DBs is interesting. We heard Byrd would be hitting the market. I wasn’t so sure about Ward. We haven’t heard anything about a bad relationship between him and the Browns. They have the cap room and the franchise tag price for Safeties isn’t that high compared to other positions. The Browns weren’t able to get a deal done with C Alex Mack so they decided to use the transition tag on him. They’re going to keep talking to Ward, but there won’t be any tag for him.
The Eagles will have interest in both guys. I’m just not sure how aggressively they’ll go after the players. Ward is the better hitter/tackler, while Byrd is more of the ballhawk. One x-factor in all of this is that we don’t know what Bill Davis would ideally want in a Safety. Does he want physicality or ball skills? The moves the Eagles make this offseason (free agency and the draft) will give us a hint about what Davis and Kelly are looking for.
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Someone brought up Nate Allen’s situation in the previous comments section. I still think the Eagles have interest in bringing him back, but obviously only at the right price. Allen might want to test the market himself. He knows he won’t get big bucks, but it only takes one team to give you a better deal than you were originally expecting.
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WIP's Anthony Gargano said the Eagles checked with Miami on the availability of Dion Jordan, and Miami said he was not available.
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) March 3, 2014
This situation remains highly confusing. I’m expecting the Sixers to start inquiring about him soon. He is 6-6, after all.