It’s no secret that the Eagles need to upgrade their pass rush this offseason. Addressing this along with the safety position can be considered priorities 1A and 1B. Therefore, the question is not if the Eagles will add an edge rusher, it’s who and via what avenue.
Well, I may not be able to tell you the who part, but chances are significant that the avenue in which they’ll take to try and give it the most significant upgrade is via the draft.
Besides factors such as who will be available once free agency starts and how much it may cost to sign a premier free agent, the reasoning is even more simple than that…
Trent Cole is on the roster.
Cole is not just “some guy” where it’s questionable if he’ll even make the team in 2014 or not. He’s an established veteran, former pro bowler and currently the best edge rusher on the team.
He’s also being paid like it.
With Connor Barwin entrenched at LOLB because he’s the only player the Eagles have who can play his position the way Bill Davis wants, improving the edge rusher position will primarily be Cole’s side.
I just don’t see any way in which the Eagles will pay a large sum of money to a premier free agent such as Brian Orakpo or Jason Worilds to have him play in a rotation with Cole. Players that are signed as big money free agents are expected to come in and be a full time starter.
Can you really envision the Eagles signing a big money guy and then demoting Cole to a backup? Right, wrong or indifferent, teams usually are not “disrespectful” like that to a star (or even a fading star) player who is generally seen as a player that can still produce.
Cole might not be the perfect fit, but he’s too valuable to just cast aside. Plus, his production improved over the second half of the season which suggests he started getting more comfortable with the scheme.
This is the type of situation where teams will usually spend a high draft pick and ease the player in for a year before taking over the following season. Both in terms of money and harmony, this is the most likely avenue the Eagles will use to address the OLB position.
That’s not to say that there won’t be any signings at all at this position. I’m just saying there won’t be another “alpha dog” to come in and challenge the current alpha dog.
That’s why in my free agent mock I have the Eagles signing someone like O’Brien Schofield. He’s a mid-level guy that can provide depth but wouldn’t be seen…or paid…like someone who is going to threaten Cole’s playing time.
The only way the Eagles would bring in a premier OLB during free agency is if they trade Cole. While not entirely out of the question, it just doesn’t seem likely to happen.
With all that said, the Eagles could still try to improve the pass rush in free agency by way of adding to the defensive line. Players like Paul Soliai, Tyson Jackson and Arthur Jones could improve the play up front and therefore allow other rushers pressure the QB.
Now, when it comes to the safety position, there certainly isn’t any “alpha dog” there to worry about. That position is wide open to bring in a stud player and inject him directly into the starting lineup.