Eagles early offseason outlook: Is an overhaul on the cards?



On offense, the plan seems pretty cut and dry apart from the decision to let Vaitai walk. Frankly, I think there’s a very strong chance he’s not in midnight green next autumn. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll just be allowed to walk out the door. The question will be whether or not Jordan Mailata can make another giant leap this offseason. Vaitai’s name was popular around the league at the trade deadline and the Eagles could look to enact a sort of sign-and-trade to recoup some draft picks or another player at a more needy position. He’s fared okay in his time at RT with Lane Johnson out, but has by no means made himself indispensable.

If Mailata can show he has what it takes to fill in, Vaitai could be a very valuable trade piece. In 2017 the Eagles got a 5th-round pick from the Seahawks for Matt Tobin and a 7th, Vaitai’s price should be much steeper.


The defensive side of the ball is where it gets interesting. Moving down the list, it seems unlikely the Eagles retain Tim Jernigan. He simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy and with Malik Jackson returning from injury, the Eagles defensive tackle room shouldn’t be as barren as it is now. Instead, the Eagles could opt to keep the younger and cheaper Hassan Ridgeway, because, well, he’s younger and cheaper.

Anthony Rush will probably revert back to the practice squad, but with the luck the Eagles have had with injuries at the position, he could very well get another shot at the final 53. It wouldn’t be much of surprise to see the Eagles add some fresh faces to this group.

Vinny Curry has been a solid rotational run-stopper for the Eagles this year, but unfortunately for him, those come at a dime a dozen in today’s game. An improving Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat will both demand more snaps and it would make more sense to give the remaining opportunities to young players like Shareef Miller and Daeshon Hall to help their development. All hope is not lost if he plans to retire in Philly, but he may choose to chase a final payout before retirement. Curry does seem the type to take a team-friendly deal to stay put, but we shall see once the offers start coming.

The way that Nigel Bradham’s situation plays out will be the crux of whether or not a rebuild on the defensive side of the ball is to come. He’s owed $8M next season if the Eagles decide to opt-in and would cost $9.7M against the cap. Inversely, if they were to cut ties with the LB, the team could save themselves around $4.5M in 2020, $9.8M in 2021 and a whopping $11.8M in 2022 (according to Over the Cap). Each of these contract years has a club option threaded into the fine print and therefore, the front office could decide to wait on the development of their younger backers before letting Bradham walk.

However, each year they wait, the less cap space they will recoup and the less playing time TJ Edwards will get. As a personal fan of Bradham, it hurts to admit, but if a rebuild is in order it may be time to say goodbye to Nigel.

And yet, despite letting one linebacker walk, the Eagles will likely choose to retain Kamu Grugier-Hill. It’s not so much his defensive prowess that earns him the shiny new contract, but his special teams value — and the Eagles’ dedication to their special teams’ unit. Think of KGH as the new Chris Maragos.

He’s only 25 years old and has shown the chops to compete as a starting backer as well, but an untimely injury this fall took him off course. He’ll have plenty of time to bounce back and could end up being great value for the Eagles if he continues his upward trajectory from last season.

Now we come to what’s likely to be the most controversial segment — setting fire to the current secondary. Let’s be honest, they haven’t been good. That doesn’t mean that scrapping the whole team is the best decision. However, in the case of a rebuild, it’s essential.

Mills, Darby and McLeod have shown what they’re about. While they’ve given the Birds some good years, the Philadelphia secondary has been a weakness for years. Jim Schwartz’ style of defense does his defensive backfield no favors, but they haven’t done themselves many either.

Mills has been the best corner on the Eagles since returning from injury, but that’s not a high bar to set. Frankly, Mills is a candidate to get vastly overpaid this offseason, hopefully, it won’t be by the Eagles. To his credit, he’s been one of the better seventh-round picks in recent memory and has dispelled his off the field issues that caused him to fall in the draft. If the Eagles do keep one of their corners, I would bet on Mills. He should be cheaper than Darby, if only just. Still, to put it bluntly, giving him starting corner money does not seem like a championship-winning move.

Despite all the promise, Darby has never really looked like a top corner for more than a short stretch of time. Both he and Jalen are good at what they do well, and dreadful when forced outside of that box. Any duo that can allow Devante Parker and Darius Slayton to post all-star numbers on them should deservedly be on the hot seat. Slayton has been impressive as a rookie and Parker just got a sizable contract from Miami, but neither are top tier receivers, nor part of an explosive offense.

Rodney McLeod may just be a casualty of a necessary rebuild in the secondary, but he’s not absolutely blameless. He’s just been average. Partnered with an aging Malcolm Jenkins, the pair went from being one of the top safety duos just two years ago to at-times-pedestrian. There’s only so much McLeod can do to cover for what has been a ragtag bunch of corners, but there have been far too many opposing receivers streaking down the sidelines with no Eagles in the picture for nobody to question the safeties.

If nothing else, the Birds need to get younger at the position and it seems very unlikely that Malcolm Jenkins will be the fall guy — even though his play has declined this year as well. Maybe the front office deems it necessary to keep McLeod around while they develop a rookie, but with the recent success of rookie safeties it seems like an indulgence. Would Rodney really want to take another discounted deal when, at just 29 years old, he could probably get a hefty contract from another team?

The final point on these three is that through and through, they are Jim Schwartz’s guys. Who knows how the coaching carousel will shape out for next season, but there’s a mounting stir that this could be Schwartz’ last season in Philly. The Eagles some exciting young pieces at the corner position that cost much less. Most recently, the Packers had success spending high draft picks on their secondary — hopefully, Howie was taking notes.

Potential trades/cuts are listed on the page below.

Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports