The Eagles answered their biggest offseason question by resigning Sam Bradford to a new two year deal, but it might not be the last contract dished out by the birds before Free Agency starts. As it stands, eight players are set to become Free Agents on the ninth of March. Here’s my prediction on who stays and who will be looking for a new team in just six days time.
Nolan Carroll CB
Carroll enjoyed a monster season in Philadelphia until his ankle injury suffered in the thanksgiving game against the Lions. His second season as an Eagle saw him combine for the most single season tackles in his career as well as two picks and ten pass deflections. Resigning Carroll seems like a no brainer….but is it?
Carroll has only played in all 16 regular season games twice in his career and has quite a worrying injury history. This could be the one factor preventing the Eagles and Carroll reaching an agreement and would also explain why Carroll assured his followers on twitter that he never broke his ankle..the timing was very convenient to say the least.
On the surface it makes sense to resign Carroll, but it all comes down to how the team feel. The Secondary as a whole is extremely young and could still benefit from the experience and consistency that Carroll displayed in all aspects of the game. With the emergence of Rowe in his absence, the Eagles could have a reasonably intimidating cornerback corpse without needing to add to much..but resigning Carroll has to be a priority.
Walter Thurmond S
When I last wrote an article predicting who stays and goes in Free Agency, Thurmond was an obvious stay. But after trying to work out why the Eagles haven’t offered him a deal if he was so efficient, I found out why the decision is more complex than it seems. (Full article on that here)
To sum up the very detailed article which compares Thurmond’s stats to those of Safeties who played under Schwartz in Detroit, Thurmond is great in coverage but he struggles to complete tackles on his own. Schwartz needs someone like Malcolm Jenkins (hence the extension) who can make plays all over the field and more importantly can stop running backs if they do escape an aggressive blitz..and it’s something that Thurmond simply struggles with.
Some are saying that the Eagles could convert Thurmond to a corner (it wouldn’t be the first time he’s changed position in his career) which is a very plausable concept..but who then loses a corner spot? Does Rowe become a Safety? The Eagles would tip an unbalanced scale even further in doing so which in my opinion means the move shouldn’t happen.
As much as we all came to love the Thurmonator and he is a great Safety, he’s not the type of player that the Eagles need to execute Schwartz’s Defensive gameplan..he’s more of a much cheaper DeMarco Murray to Chip Kelly’s Offense and with the draft and Free Agency offering up some interesting options, I can’t see any standout reasons to retain Thurmond.
Cedric Thornton DE
Quick and easy, Connor Barwin has already expressed his excitement to return to the Defensive Line and with the extension of the versatile Vinny Curry there isn’t really a need for Thornton. Hicks and Alonso are set to be a force to be reckoned with in the middle whilst the amount of depth allows for healthy rotation to the outside..and of course let’s not forget the man dog Fletcher Cox. Thornton has already stated he wants to test the waters of Free Agency, the Eagles would be wise to let him do so.
Matt Tobin & David Molk G
The backups who became starters, both Tobin and Molk had mixed success during last season..but the Eagles need a LOT more from their Offensive Line and just about everyone knows it. The question isn’t if the pair should stay, it’s how deep Pederson and Roseman believe the problem lies. If they want to start a clean slate with the exception of Kelce, Johnson and Peters then it’s going to require a very active and potentially expensive Free Agency and a smart drafting direction.
As of right now, it’s hard to justify keeping Tobin or Molk as backups considering that if they are called upon to play, we know what to expect. It’s harsh, because they are very capable guards and will likely find new teams without much trouble, especially considering how many teams look for camp bodies. But the best thing for the Eagles to do now is to start a fresh and bring in linemen who can do what Pederson needs them to in an Offense that requires many of the same attributes needed to succeed in Chip’s.
UPDATE: The Eagles have placed a $1.67m tender on Matt Tobin whilst 27 year old David Molk has decided to retire.
Seyi Ajirotutu WR
Ajirotutu was fantastic on special teams last year and it’s not going to cost the Eagles a lot to resign him. As a receiver, there is definitely some work to be done but the birds need all the help they can get at the position. If they find that an influx of free agents and rookies means that the roster is overcrowded then cutting him makes sense..but as of right now, his impact on special teams is too good to pass on for what would likely be a very cheap price.
E.J Biggers CB
Biggers brought a veteran presence to a very young cornerback unit. I mentioned previously how without Biggers, Maxwell and Carroll..the Eagles would have no corners with more than a single season of NFL experience. But as a whole, the position is still inconsistent and weak. Biggers made some nice plays…but he made some bad ones that cost the Eagles. With JaCorey Shepherd still waiting for his chance to spread his wings and a deep cornerback draft class, it would make sense to replace Biggers in the later rounds and establish a clear developmental direction.
Thad Lewis QB
The Eagles are now carrying four Quarterbacks..Other than Bradford, the others are simply not needed if Pederson drafts a project Quarterback like he has hinted at wanting to do previously. Lewis will likely bounce around practice squads for a while and it’s really hard to justify offering Lewis a new contract when a whole new era is underway in Philadelphia. Drafting 2 Quarterbacks to replace both Sanchez and Lewis whilst potentially assigning another to the practice squad or cutting would make much more sense for the future.
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