Free agent talk in December? Yes, that’s what the 2012 version of the Philadelphia Eagles has led us to. Once the dust settles at the Nova Care Complex after this team gets blown up in January, it won’t be long until the annual free agent shopping extravaganza opens up in March.
There’s a saying that most coaches like to be the ones to buy the groceries since they’re the ones who have to do the cooking. Therefore, without knowing who the head coach will be, it’s hard at this point to try and identify what might be on his grocery list.
Luckily, I don’t think the Eagles’ cupboards are as bare as everyone may think.
The Eagles have some holes to fill, but there is no need to go overboard as far as the starters go. The biggest question will be what to do at the QB position, but that is a topic that deserves its own attention.
For now, I’ll go with Nick Foles as the starter next season.
The two biggest question marks left after quarterback are the offensive line and the secondary. By far, these have been the two most glaring weaknesses this season.
However, there are some things to consider here. One, is that we’ll be getting Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans back next year. Peters and Herremans are proven guys we can feel good about.
Kelce had a great rookie season, but the big question is if he’s a product of the Howard Mudd scheme and if he can be as effective in a more traditional scheme. And the main reason for that question is because people view Kelce as undersized.
If that’s your main concern with Kelce, here are the sizes of five of the top 10 centers in the NFL per Pro Football Focus:
- John Sullivan (Vikings) – 6′ 4″ 301
- Ryan Wendall (Patriots) – 6′ 2″ 275
- Chris Myers (Texans) – 6′ 5″ 300
- Nick Mangold (Jets) – 6′ 4″ 299
- Dominic Raiola (Lions) 6′ 2″ 295
Jason Kelce is listed at 6′ 3″, 295 lbs. If you took the height and weight of every single center in the NFL and came up with an average, Kelce would probably fall slightly below. But in no way does that mean anything as far as whether or not he can play.
For now, I’m comfortable with Kelce coming back as our starter. The only question mark in regards to a 2013 starter along the OL is at right guard. We have 2011 first round apparent bust-to-be Danny Watkins or off-the-scrap-heap Jake Scott.
Scott has played okay since retiring from his couch at home. Though, I’m not sure he’s the guy to rely on next year. I’m not sure Watkins is that guy either, although a new scheme and coaching staff could possibly turn Watkins’ career around.
Therefore, right guard is a position I would certainly be thinking about.
Up until about four weeks ago, I was ready to cut everybody in the secondary. However, ever since Jim Washburn and the wide-nine was scrapped, they’ve been playing better as a collective unit.
As a matter of fact, the defense as a whole has been playing better since Jim Washburn was fired. But, I never viewed the line or linebackers as the main issue. The secondary were the ones having the worst time of it.
Nate Allen has been benched this week in favor of Colt Anderson. That doesn’t bode well for Allen’s future. I thought he has been playing better the past few weeks in coverage, but it appears to be his tackling/run-stopping issues that have led to his benching (though Reid said he’s been “dealing with a hammy”).
Going forward into next season, how the secondary is addressed is anyone’s guess. Will Nnamdi, DRC, Allen or Coleman be back and starting? If Nnamdi agrees to a restructuring and DRC re-signs to something reasonable, they could be back.
Where I think change is most needed is at the safety position.
Colt Anderson is intriguing because he plays with heart and isn’t afraid to get in there and hit someone. But, I still think we need more skill and attitude in this area. With our current group of safeties, you’ll never see an opposing receiver get alligator arms when attempting to catch a pass down the field.
Because, one would have to be afraid of a big hit in order to short-arm a pass. We currently do not have such a player that other receivers worry about.
One area that’s not necessarily a weakness, but could use a different skill-set, is at wide receiver.
Individually, I like both DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. However, I do not like them as a receiving duo. To me, they’re too similar. I like Jackson as the small, speedy-type who can make the big play.
Maclin’s game is built on speed too. He’s not that much bigger than Jackson and isn’t a real physical presence on the outside or inside. We could use a bigger, more physical receiver who will serve as a good compliment to Jackson and be a legitimate red zone threat.
Riley Cooper has made a few nice red zone grabs this year and it’s possible he continues to develop in this role. For the first time I can remember in quite a long time, he actually caught a TD pass in the end zone on a fade pattern.
It was a hell of a catch too! That physical presence is what we need. Maybe Cooper can be that guy, but if not, we need someone to fill that role.
Back to Maclin for a minute…I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of seeing him get injured on every other play. I’m not questioning his toughness, but it does appear he constantly gets “shaken up.” Plus, he’s not a guy you’re going to see out-muscle defensive backs for the ball in the end zone (or anywhere on the field for that matter).
Under a new coaching staff, I could actually see him as being trade bait this offseason.
With all of this said, the top-three free agents I would target are as follows:
- S Jairus Byrd
- RG Andy Levitre
- WR Dwayne Bowe
Okay, I’m not saying I’m ready for the Dream Team Part II, but these are the top guys at these positions who have a chance to make it to free agency. I’m also not saying that it’s feasible to sign all of these guys because all three will demand big money on the open market.
What I am saying, is that if any of these three guys do make it to the open market, the Eagles should seriously consider doing their best to acquire one of them. I also listed them in order of priority…S, RG then WR.
Other impending free agents at these positions that could be of interest (and at a lesser cost) are LaRon Landry, Chris Clemons and Dashon Goldson at safety and maybe Greg Jennings at WR (would be cheaper than Bowe).
There isn’t much out there at first glance for players who play right guard. There are a few solid left guards who may be out there, but unless they can play the right side equally well, I’d rather stick with guys who play their natural position.
In no way do I want the Eagles to go on another free agent shopping spree. However, I would like to see one impact free agent signed if possible. Out of my top three, the most likely to make to the open market is Dwayne Bowe, and he would have numerous suitors
But, if Byrd ends up not being able to agree to a deal with Buffalo, I’d be on him like Andy on a cheesesteak.
Ultimately, possible free agent targets will depend on who’s running the show come March. However, talent is talent and the good coaches know how to alter their scheme to better suit said talent.