Well, the NFL Season is officially over after a stunning Super Bowl that saw the Patriots rally to one of the greatest comebacks of all time, earning Eric Rowe a ring in the process. In terms of the current Eagles, however, almost nothing has happened since the end of their season. The Eagles fired their WR coach and hired a new one, but expect more changes as the offseason progresses, including both coaching staff and personnel adjustments. With not much changing, I’m going to use this article to discuss why I think this offseason is crucial to the Eagles short-term and long-term success.
The Eagles have their future at the most important position safe for now in Carson Wentz. Although he struggled during the team’s midseason slump, Wentz finished the year strong to prove he has the ability to be a top-tier QB in this league. Now, it’s on the coaching staff and the front office to surround him with talent on both sides of the ball. The Eagles already had some young stars in Lane Johnson, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, among others prior to selecting Wentz, but now is the time to transform this team from promising to elite.
There are three directions this team can go down. Ideally,Wentz becomes the next Tom Brady, Doug Pederson becomes the next Bill Belichick, and the Eagles become a 15+ year dynasty, always a preseason favorite to bring home a Lombardi. More realistically, the Eagles become a team like the Falcons, with the potential to go all the way but needing some luck for that dream to be reality.
But the third option is the one the Eagles have to avoid and it starts with making smart decisions this offseason. The Indianapolis Colts are the team the Eagles need not to become. They have an answer at QB, in Andrew Luck, but questionable decisions in both the NFL Draft and Free Agency have left the Colts as a middle of the road team, with too many holes to seriously challenge for a spot in the Super Bowl.
Currently, Howie Roseman is blessed with the the potential of achieving a very spacious salary cap situation. The starting QB for the Eagles is on a rookie contract, and will stay that way for the next four years. That gives Roseman and the rest of the front office the chance to add some quality free agents before needing to extend Wentz’s contract, which will definitely come with a large increase in yearly salary. It also allows for the Eagles to rid themselves of some questionable contracts and dead cap before needing to make that decision.
That luxury could be short-lived however. In 2017 the Eagles are predicted to have the 29th most cap space in the league and in 2018, the very least at just $5.6m. Jordan Matthews is entering his contract year with the Philadelphia Eagles and if the team don’t find the funds to secure his services for the future now, the situation has the potential to become a ticking free agency time bomb..not to mention the looming window of an extension for Carson Wentz among other skill players.
The Eagles currently have 8 draft picks, but they could potentially add to that by trading away players such as Mychal Kendricks and Connor Barwin, who both struggled in the new scheme this year and have high cap numbers. They also have the cap space to add a couple of impact free agents, although should Bennie Logan be resigned, that number will drop significantly.
But the key to the offseason will undoubtedly be the draft. Last year, Roseman, Pederson, and the rest of the Eagles organization had a great draft. Wentz, Isaac Seumalo, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Wendell Smallwood, and Jalen Mills all played significant minutes and played well at that. Joe Walker had a strong preseason and was slated to be the primary backup to Jordan Hicks before suffering a torn ACL in the summer.
They also signed UDFA’s Paul Turner and Destiny Vaeao, who both played well in limited snaps. If the Eagles can repeat their draft success this year, especially at positions of need, the Eagles could have a great young core to keep together in Philadelphia for years to come.
But should the Eagles draft be filled with next Danny Watkins and Freddie Mitchell, and their free agents reminiscent of Nnamdi Asomugha, Byron Maxwell, and Demarco Murray, the Eagles could be staring at Carson Wentz’s new contract with limited talent surrounding him, forever stuck at 8-8 and never a significant threat to the NFL’s elite.
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports