Free Agency Preview

Posted: March 12th, 2023 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Free Agency Preview

Free agency begins this week and the Eagles will have a different mindset than most years. Usually this is a time to go add a key piece or two. This year the Eagles will watch a lot of talent go out the door. They have a lot of free agents and only limited cap space to try and keep them. More so than ever, the Eagles need to be smart shoppers, in terms of who to keep and which outsiders to bring in.

Before we talk about moves, let’s focus on what the Eagles are trying to do. They just made it to the Super Bowl with a loaded roster. That was great. The bad news is that they need to sign Jalen Hurts to a pricey extension. That means the Eagles have to think economically. Resource allocation becomes a key idea. What are the premium positions where they need to spend money? What positions can they go cheap on? The Eagles can’t pay everyone. They will need cheap help at certain spots.

Traditionally they spend on QB, OL, DL and CB. They look to save money at LB and RB. Safety is up in the air. You wonder if the Super Bowl will make them re-think anything. Patrick Mahomes only threw for 182 yards, but had 3 TDs and got the best of the league’s best secondary when he needed to. They couldn’t make a key play. Is defending the middle of the field now more important? Is the answer to load up the offense even more, thinking you’ll be able to win a shootout?

We’ll see.

Here are the free agents.

CB James Bradberry
DT Fletcher Cox
T Andre Dillard
LB T.J. Edwards
S Marcus Epps
S C.J. Gardner-Johnson
DT Javon Hargrave
DT Linval Joseph
C Jason Kelce
P Brett Kern
QB Gardner Minshew
WR Zach Pascal
DE Robert Quinn
RB Miles Sanders
RB Boston Scott
G Isaac Seumalo
DT Ndamukong Suh
LB Kyzir White

That seems daunting, but several of those guys were role players. And the Eagles have replacements for some of the guys who will leave. Still, there is a lot of work to be done.

Let’s look at the key positions and what the options are.


Keep Their Own?  Javon Hargrave is expected to get $20M per season. If so, he’s gone. Fletcher Cox will turn 33 during the season. Bringing him back only makes sense if it is a team-friendly deal. That doesn’t fee likely. The Eagles aren’t likely to bring back Suh or Joseph so they’ll need to add DL, in free agency, the draft or both.


If they want to spend good money on an ascending player, Zach Allen should be the target. He’s 6-4, 280 and a disruptive force. He only had 5.5 sacks last year, but had 10 TFLs and 20 QB hits. He could thrive if surrounded by good pass rushers. I’m not sure why Allen isn’t higher on FA lists. If his cost is reasonable, might make sense for the Eagles to go after him. Not likely to happen, but an interesting player.

One of the key questions is what kind of DL Sean Desai wants. There are some good options in free agency and some guys who won’t cost a ton. If you want more of a pass rusher, go after David Onyemata or Matt Ioannidis. Nathan Shepherd is an ascending player who could make some sense.

If the Eagles prefer bigger bodies, they could go for A’Shawn Robinson or Dalvin Tomlinson. The Chiefs killed the Eagles with the run in the SB. Maybe adding a big body on the DL would help in future situations.

Larry Ogunjobi has always seemed to be an underrated DT. He can play the run and also get to the QB. He’s been on 3 teams in the past 3 years so that’s a bit weird. Injuries are a concern with him, although he hasn’t missed more than two games in a season. He failed a free agent physical last year so obviously there are issues.

DeMarcus Walker had a career year for the Titans with 7 sacks and 16 QB hits. He played for the Bears when Desai/Fangio were there. He will turn 29 in the fall. Walker should be affordable and could be a good fit.

The Eagles could take a look at Sheldon Rankins, Greg Gaines or Chris Wormley as well. All three of them would fit the system. The team could sign a couple of DL. They have multiple holes to fill. If they want to take a chance on a young player who won’t cost a ton, John Cominsky would be interesting.


Keep Their Own?  TJ Edwards is the guy the Eagles likely want back. He’s not a great player, but that helps to make him affordable. There are quite a few good off-ball LBs on the market this year so that could also help to keep his value down. Kyzir White is also a FA, but Nakobe Dean is ready to take his place.


If the Eagles lose Edwards, the most intriguing option would be veteran Bobby Wagner. He’s more of a win-now move, but the Eagles might like a veteran to help mentor Dean and stabilize a defense that will have some young players. Wagner is still a good player and won’t come cheap so this isn’t likely to happen.

The team could prefer a  younger option from the outside. Germaine Pratt started 54 games for the Bengals and has a good combination of size and athleticism.

David Long, Bobby Okereke and Drue Tranquill are also young, talented options. Long could be too expensive. Cole Holcomb had a career year for Washington in 2021, but only played seven games last year. He’s in the prime of his career and obviously knows the division. Interesting option.


Keep Their Own? James Bradberry had a terrific season for the Eagles. He’s looking to get one more big contract and will likely be too expensive for the team to keep.

We’ll see.

Maybe that means Slay is gone. But…

Predicting the corner situation might be harder than trying to figure out next week’s weather. Good players. Older players. Guys that want good deals. They also like Philly. Anything can happen.


The smart option is probably for the Eagles to draft a CB. Rookies can come in and contribute right away. The Eagles have had luck in finding veteran corners in recent years. They traded for Darius Slay back in 2020. In 2021 they signed Steve Nelson in July. Last year they added Bradberry in May. The Eagles don’t have to rush into making a move.

If they want to sign a young corner, Byron Murphy or Sean Murphy-Bunting could be good options. If they want a veteran, Patrick Peterson would make sense. He will turn 33 this summer, but still had 5 INTs last year and could be a good temporary solution. Marcus Peters is another older corner. He’s been a playmaker throughout his career.

I think they’ll wait to see what happens with the draft.


Keep Their Own? The Eagles have interest in keeping Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, but he’s looking for a big payday. I’m guessing he’s gone. Keeping Marcus Epps would make sense. He is 27, his best football is ahead of him and he should be affordable. The argument against Epps is that he’s not much of a playmaker. He’s started 25 games and has 3 INTs, 1 FF and 4 TFLs. Safety is a position where you want playmakers.


The free agent class is loaded with options. John Johnson just got cut by CLE. He’s 27 and a playmaker, but might be too expensive for the Eagles.

Adrian Amos played for Desai in Chicago. He’ll be 30 this spring. Amos is still a solid player and could help develop Reed Blankenship and any other young safeties.

Julian Love had a breakout season for the Giants. They had him do a bit of everything. I’m not sure he’s an ideal fit, but he’s a good player.

Nasir Adderley, Taylor Rapp, Juan Thornhill, Vonn Bell and Nick Scott are all young safeties who could be of interest.


Keep Their Own? Gardner Minshew would love to compete for a starting role. That won’t happen in Philly. He might not find a big market for his services, though. ARZ and IND could make some interest, with former Eagles coordinators as the coaches now. Do the Eagles want Minshew back? Nick Sirianni thinks highly of him, but might want an even better option. Or a cheaper one.


In an ideal world, the Eagles would sign Jacoby Brissett. He’s a capable starter. Sirianni and Brissett are very close so a reunion would make both happy. Brissett probably wants to go where he can compete. And get decent money. The Eagles can’t offer him much.

Sam Darnold would be an interesting reclamation project. He’s had good flashes and is athletic. I don’t think anyone will want him as a starter.


Keep Their Own? Miles Sanders is the top RB on the market. He wants to stay, but I don’t think the Eagles can afford him. Maybe Sanders won’t have many suitors and they can work something out. It is hard to get a feel for what teams will think of him. Boston Scott is also a FA. He’s worth bringing back, but the team could also look to upgrade on him.


There are a lot of options (one reason Sanders might not get big money). Rashaad Penny is the most interesting one to me. He averaged more than 6 yards a carry the past two seasons. Penny had injuries and only had 176 carries, but he’s got a lot of talent. He might be a good fit in a RB by committee system. Damien Harris played with Hurts at Alabama. Harris isn’t special, but is solid and affordable.

D’Onta Foreman is coming off his best season. He’s a big, physical back. He could be a good fit with his downhill running style. I would love to see a big back in the Jordan Howard mold.

Jamaal Williams, Kareem Hunt and Alexander Mattison are other guys who could be of interest.

There are a lot of good RBs in the draft. The Eagles might sit tight to see if they can land a RB that way. If things don’t work out, there should still be free agents available in May and beyond. This is one position where price will be critical.


Keep Their Own? Zach Pascal is the only free agent. I’m sure Sirianni would love to keep him. Pascal is a good STer and role player. The question is whether Pascal wants to come back. He knows there won’t be many passes coming his way. Can he accept being a pure role player or would he want to go somewhere with more touches available?


The Eagles have Quez Watkins as #3. He was disappointing in 2022 and could be replaced. There are a couple of issues. They won’t have much money to spend. I don’t know if anyone all that good would want to come to play behind AJ and DeVonta.

In a fantasy world, they would sign Darius Slayton. He’s very talented and never caught more than 50 passes for the Giants. I just don’t see how they could afford him.

Keelan Cole could make some sense. He can be productive without being a workhorse. Deandre Carter could be a solid role player and RS. Do the Eagles think Britain Covey can contribute as a receiver or is he purely a RS?


Be patient. This is as complicated a free agency period as I can remember the Eagles going through. They are letting their guys go test the market. If the offers are too good, the guys will walk. If something can be worked out, let’s talk.

The Eagles need to add a DL, whether a starter or role player. Jordan Davis and Milton Williams could be starters. The Eagles will add talent in FA and the draft. They have plenty of edge rushers, but the DL needs bodies. I would love to add Zach Allen. I can’t believe the Cardinals haven’t done everything possible to keep him.

LB has to be solved. If Edwards re-signs, they’re good. If he walks, they need to find a MLB. I have mixed feelings on Edwards. He is a good player. He’s not great. Keeping him would be good for continuity and could make financial sense. I just wouldn’t break the bank for him. The price has to be right.

Reed Blankenship will be one of the starting safeties. K’Von Wallace is still around, but isn’t a guy you ideally want to pencil in as a starter. If the Eagles can’t bring back Epps or CGJ, they’ll need to add someone. They could wait to see what happens in the draft, but that would mean a lot of youth in the secondary. John Johnson would be good. Thornhill might be the best fit in terms of skill set. I think the Eagles are looking for more of a FS.

I think those are the most critical areas to address.

This won’t be a year for the Eagles to make a lot of moves early. They’ll be patient and careful. They need to spend their money wisely. Don’t get too frustrated if the first week is quiet. Bargain hunting normally starts on Week 2. And the Eagles could be thinking even slower than that as they look to fill roster holes.

It really is hard to come up with a fantasy offseason because of the financial limitations and not knowing the markets for some of these players. Guys are looking for big deals, but a lot of teams have had to work hard to get under the cap. It doesn’t feel like there will be a ton of cap space for teams to use. Maybe that will keep costs reasonable on some mid-level players.

I expect the Eagles to be a good team in 2023, but they will have to take chances on younger/cheaper players. Not all of their additions this offseason will feel like sure things. They need to embrace risk as they try to fill roster holes and build for the future as well as the present.


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