It’s been a transformative offseason for the Eagles and we haven’t even reached the NFL Draft yet. We’ve said exciting new hello’s and some sad goodbyes along the way, but this Eagles team is in a very different spot to where it was two months ago. But is this the end of the free agency shopping haul?
The Eagles have done an exceptional job in ticking off some key roster needs by adding veteran depth. While there are some who criticize the average age of the team and its incline during this period, it’s almost impossible to deny that Howie Roseman has bolstered this roster and in some situations, completely reshaped the draft board.
Just a few short weeks ago, it was assumed that the Eagles would be drafting a defensive tackle with the 25th pick in the NFL Draft, but if we were to project today, you could make a much stronger case for a running back or Safety. This is because of Roseman’s commitment to building through the trenches and re-enforcing the team with veteran free agents who can hold the fort until such a time as the drafted talent is ready to take over.
The decisions to extend Isaac Seumalo and Jason Kelce breathed new life into an Eagles offensive line that was subject to plenty of questions when it came to the long-term future and life after players like Jason Peters, while the arrivals of Malik Jackson, L.J Fort, Vinny Curry, and Andrew Sendejo not only tick off some vital roster needs and negated the loss of some key players from last year’s team, but brought a sense of stability to those positions and opened up the opportunity for development.
Take defensive end, for example. Losing Michael Bennett was bound to sting the Eagles after such a productive campaign in 2018, but re-signing Brandon Graham, acquiring Malik Jackson, who can play the five-tech spot if needed, and bringing Vinny Curry back home on a ridiculously cheap deal level the playing field for players like Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat and Joe Ostman to take full advantage of.
At Safety, Sendejo’s presence replaces what the Eagles lost in Corey Graham and buys the Eagles time to find out what they have in a player like Avonte Maddox, who despite never playing a snap at the position in his life, excelled as a rookie thrown into the deep end when the Eagles ran out of options.
It’s really hard to look at this team and find a true area of need that a current free agent would fill outside of a backup QB role where the team are so besotted with Nate Sudfeld, it’s not really worth disputing whether or not his spot in the pecking order will change. Seriously, can you name one position the Eagles will have alarm bells ringing for and a current free agent to silence them?
If the answer is taking more than 30 seconds to think about, then the Eagles GM has done his job. Not only that, but the team now somehow have over $20M in cap space after some of the most methodical money movement I’ve seen. It’s not often you see NFL GM’s able to constantly rework the contracts of star players, but Roseman is able to do so over and over to an infuriating level to other GM’s in the league.
Free agency for the Eagles placed a much bigger focus on salary cap slaloms and retaining franchise talent than it is bringing in stars to build around. Those stars arrive as small twinkles with the potential to explode into the night sky, a couple of months later.
The Eagles don’t typically spend high in Free Agency, at least without a very clear train of thought that tides into a long-term plan (Cc: Alshon Jeffery). But even if they were to go out and acquire a free agent running back, the current crop remaining is less than stellar and most of the schematic fits have been poached without much in the way of a visible fight from the Birds…and that’s okay. Because even at running back, a position where the Eagles haven’t spent over $3M on a player in over 3 years, they have enough ‘passable’ talent that could effectively hold down the fort until the future presumed draftee(s) grow to a point where they’re ready to take over.
No longer in a position where glaring needs can be filled by free agents, all eyes move toward the draft. This isn’t to say that the Eagles won’t be active in trading for a talent in the next couple of months and beyond, but the Eagles have squeezed every last drop of free agency juice out of the fruit once again. From DeSean Jackson, to Malik Jackson and Andrew Sendejo, the Eagles have bulked their roster into a prime NFC contender….the scary part is, they have a flurry of draft picks to only heighten that status.
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports