Exploring Eagles Free Agency scenarios that will impact draft plans

It’s mock draft season! If you follow me on Twitter, @Infante54, you’ve seen my weekly mocks. I’ve saved the Eagles roster about six or seven times now. You’re welcome.

But reactions on any mock draft put out there by draft experts, college scouts, and people like me are usually “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? NO WAY WE DO THAT ARGHHHHH!”

People fail to realize two things when looking at mocks:

Most mocks do not account for the three compensatory picks the Eagles have coming. They have not been assigned yet, so there’s no way of knowing what selection in each round they’ll have. They have an extra 3rd and two extra 4th’s coming. Be patient.

Free agency will dictate how the draft will go. A lot of mocks will factor in predictions on how the Eagles will look at free agency and then mock draft picks based on that.

I’ll run down a few different directions I think the Eagles can go in free agency and how their draft plans would alter based on who they sign.

Current free agents and needs

The free agent list for the Eagles is almost as long as a CVS receipt, but not nearly as long as their injury report during the season.

Free agents:

  • Rodney McLeod
  • Ronald Darby
  • Jason Peters
  • Nate Sudfeld
  • Nelson Agholor
  • Vinny Curry
  • Josh McCown
  • Tim Jernigan
  • Richard Rodgers
  • Hassan Ridgeway
  • Jordan Howard
  • Halapoulivaati Vaitai
  • Kamu Grugier-Hill
  • Jalen Mills
  • Nigel Bradham (team option)
  • Corey Clement (restricted free agent)
  • Shelton Gibson (exclusive rights)
  • Craig James (exclusive rights)
  • Deontay Burnett (exclusive rights)
  • Cameron Johnston (exclusive rights)

Team needs: WR, CB, LB, S, DT, OL, RB, DE, QB

As you can see, this Eagles team needs a lot. With just over $43 million in cap space, Howie Roseman will have to get his ‘cap-wizard’ hat on to stretch that money over current free agents and new players. He’ll obviously also have the draft in mind as he looks at the free agents. Could he find more talent in the draft at a certain position and afford that free agent to go to another team?

Let’s look at some scenarios and how the first two rounds of the draft would change for the Birds as a result. First, we’ll look at offense only and not focus on any defensive additions.

Offensive scenarios

In the following scenarios, let’s assume the defensive issues are addressed through free agency for the most part.

The “Let’s get Carson Wentz some %$^*ing weapons” scenario

Eagles offensive returns: none

Jordan Howard has likely played his last down as a member of the Eagles.  After rushing for 525 yards in nine games, he was well on his way to a nice payday somewhere else. However, he missed the next six games due to a shoulder stinger and played one snap in the last game. 

His agent will surely argue that, when healthy, Howard was one of the top backs in the league and he should get starter money, or close to it. After the emergence of Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, Howard won’t find that contract in Philadelphia.

I can’t envision the Eagles placing a tender on Clement. He was outstanding in the Super Bowl, but he’s been hurt ever since. They may allow him to seek employment elsewhere with the option to return on a one year deal.

Nelson Agholor is gone.  No need to explain that one.

Burnett and Gibson could get a shot next season, but they’re not the answers for the wide receiver woes.

Free agent offensive skill player signings: WR Robby Anderson, WR Demarcus Robinson, RB Isaiah Crowell

Anderson has been a widely popular name among fans when it comes to the next young weapon to pair with Wentz. Anderson averaged 15 yards per reception in 2019 for the second straight year. Allowing him to learn from DeSean Jackson and be in an explosive offense like the Eagles’ one (yes they can be explosive) could unlock Anderson’s potential.

Robinson adds more speed for a wide receiver corps that severely lacks it. He’d most likely be a WR5 type that can rotate in for the occasional big catch (think the Burnett catch a few weeks ago).

Crowell didn’t play in 2019 after being released by the Jets, but he’s been productive his entire career. I detailed why the Eagles should sign him last March, and that’s still the case now. He’s the perfect complement to the one-two punch of Sanders and Scott and could help form a devastating trio. He’s most likely come on a one year veteran minimum deal, so the cap space is saved. His signing would also allow Elijah Holyfield to develop on the practice squad to be the next late season call up to make an impact if needed.  Yes the Eagles need three running backs to run their offense effectively, I wrote about it here.

Draft ramifications

If the Eagles follow the thinking behind this scenario, they’re not done getting Wentz some new toys on the offense. After free agency, the wide receiver depth would be Jackson, Anderson, Arcega-Whiteside, Ward, and Robinson. Jeffery won’t return to the team until November at the earliest after his Lisfranc surgery in December. Robert Davis is also a name to watch, but the wide receiver talent in this draft may be too good to pass up.

19.8 yards per reception. That was Tee Higgins in 2019. Higgins doesn’t fit the speedster build that Eagles fans are screaming for, but he fits right into this offense. He might not have the best separation abilities, but he has exceptional hands, something else the Eagles wide receiver corps is lacking. A weapon is an offensive player who makes the quarterback’s job easier. He doesn’t need to be the fastest, but he needs to be trustworthy. That’s Higgins. The Eagles did well with Alshon Jeffery paired with speed in 2017, they can reinvent that with Jeffery’s more athletic clone in Higgins paired with Jackson/Anderson.

With the offensive woes solved, the Eagles can opt to go to the next need on the team: cornerback.¬†Gladney can certainly shoot up draft boards with a strong combine, but if he falls to the Eagles, they should scoop him up.¬† A player that can play both man and zone very well is crucial for a Jim Schwartz led defense, and Gladney fits that mold. Check out 4th and Jawn’s Chris Mallee’s breakdown here.

The rest of the draft can be spent filling out the depth at the other needs, with running back being solved with the Crowell signing, that’s one less area they need to worry about.

New WR depth chart:

WR1: Higgins

WR2: Jackson

WR3: Anderson

WR4: JJAW

Depth: Ward, Robinson

The next scenario is continued on the page below.

Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

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