The Super Bowl is now officially under a week away, but all eyes in Philadelphia are focused on the future. An important offseason lies ahead and with that comes a free agency class that’s stacked with talent, potential and a lot of question marks. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned since the arrival of Joe Douglas, it’s that the Eagles view free agents differently.
Typically, Howie Roseman aims for free agents who hover around the age of 28 fit the culture that’s flourishing inside the NovaCare Complex and of course, have the physical traits to enrich the position of need. While bank-breaking deals may be off the cards, that doesn’t mean every big-name player necessarily is.
OLB, K.J Wright
During his eight-year career, K.J Wright has quietly developed into one of the most dangerous outside linebackers in the league. Named to his first pro bowl one year ago, he was listed as an alternate in Sunday’s game…and that was almost purely on reputation.
Wright had his toughest year yet as an NFL athlete. In his contract year, the linebacker would miss eight games after undergoing knee surgery for the second time in as many years. Upon trying to return in a win over Detroit, it was deemed that he wasn’t quite 100% just yet and he was forced to miss another five.
But when he did finally return to play alongside running-mate Bobby Wagner, he flourished as he always does. Wright is speedy, instinctive and plays with a real sense of grit. Wright has given the Seahawks nothing but brilliance during his time with the team, but as he nears the age of 30 with injuries creeping up on him, one has to wonder whether his future is in Seattle.
The Seahawks weren’t exactly kind to Earl Thomas, who was in a similar spot one year ago and Wright’s reputation alone is enough to earn one last long-term contract. If Seattle opt out of giving Wright the money he deserves, the Eagles should come knocking.
There isn’t much depth at the position outside of Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry as of right now and if MLB Jordan Hicks walks into free agency, positional depth will be just as scarce.
Seattle’s ‘Walter Payton Man of The Year Award’ nominee is a standup guy on and off the field and what the Eagles love to do more than anything is sign savvy veterans which allow draftees and younger talent to marinate and grow into their future roles. Wright wouldn’t just provide that with a sense of leadership, but his production on the field is rivaled by very few. With four consecutive season’s of 100+ tackles, he is arguably the most underrated linebacker in the league…and the Eagles would be wise to do whatever it takes to bring him in.
CB, Rashaan Melvin
This is a tricky one. Melvin has become the definition of a journeyman and at the age of 29, has now been on seven different NFL teams. After a pair of strong seasons with the Colts, Melvin took his services to Oakland where he’d prove for the third year in a row that his 6’2 frame can be menacing at the point of the catch. His 9 passes defensed in 2018 (13 in 2017) stick out like a sore thumb in a wounded Oakland secondary and given that he’s still no closer to securing a long-term future, a move to Philadelphia may make sense.
If the Eagles do let Ronald Darby walk, having a contingency plan behind Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones could be valuable. We’ve already learned the hard way that you can never have too many defensive backs around and if the team move Maddox to Safety and keep LeBlanc inside, Melvin could partner Douglas on the second unit and provide some comfort.
WR, Robby Anderson
The Eagles actually tried to land Robby Anderson ahead of the trade deadline before they pulled the trigger on Golden Tate. Craving a speed demon WR2, it’s not hard to see why Anderson had them purring. The 26-year old ended his season averaging 15 yards per reception for 752 yards and 6 touchdowns in what was a year of transition for the New York Jets.
Now a pending free agent, it’s likely that the Jets will try to retain him…but you can bet your bottom dollar that the Eagles will be willing to raise the stakes for a receiver they’ve very recently shown interest in, who averages over 50 receiving yards per game.
G, Kevin Pamphile
I spoke to a source recently who told me that it’s likely the Titans move on from OL Kevin Pamphile. Tennessee need to bolster the trenches and given that the veteran got hurt last season, they’ll likely want to hedge their bets elsewhere. However, Pamphile is a bit of a wildcard.
He has 35-career starts and prior to signing with the Titans, started 15 of his last 16 games for a Buccaneers team who were bizarrely all too happy to let him walk into free agency after four years of consistent play. While the market wasn’t exactly buzzing last time around, teams are well aware of the value that a versatile interior guard pertains.
The Eagles wouldn’t need an immediate starter. But with the injury to Brandon Brooks, it leaves Seumalo and Wisniewski to battle it out over the starting LG spot and a backup role. Pamphile would inject some immediate competition and could potentially even take over the backup Center role while the aforementioned are called elsewhere.
DE, Trey Flowers
There’s a very strong free agent market for premier pass-rushers this offseason…but it’s highly unlikely that those elite names make it that far outside their team’s facility. DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, Frank Clark, and Ziggy Ansah are all ‘franchise tag’ candidates at the worst and priority signings at best. One name who may…just may follow a different narrative, is 26-year old, Trey Flowers.
The Patriots have made the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons and as we all know, sustaining that kind of success is difficult. Flowers has been as consistent as they come, with at least 6.5 sacks in each of his last three years and a pair of forced fumbles in each of his last two. In the prime of his career, Flowers will want the type of payday New England may not be able to afford.
As of right now, the Eagles DE depth isn’t looking pretty…especially if Chris Long and Brandon Graham walk into free agency. Should this happen, the Eagles would be wise to at least give Flowers a long look to see what type of money he would command.
By doing so, the Eagles are automatically weighing the market one way or the other for the veterans of this free agency class and are of course then potentially edging closer to a defensive end group that could consist of Barnett, Sweat, Flowers and either a returning pending free agent or a newly drafted rookie…and that’s a shot worth taking
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports