Eagles free agency: Who stays and who goes?

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Ah, can you smell that? Free agency is just over a week away and the Philadelphia Eagles have to make decisions on 20 players who are currently set to be released into the open waters. But who should they bring back, and who should be thrown into the ocean? 

Malcolm Jenkins

has played in 96 consecutive games for the Eagles and has barely missed a snap. If you’re to look at the top 10 highest-paid safeties in the league in terms of guaranteed money in 2019, at least 30% of their contract is guaranteed, with Landon Collins leading the way with a sweltering 60%. Jenkins had 0. 

Jenkins told reporters that he won’t be back on the same deal, forcing the ball into Howie’s court and it’s a double-edged sword. The Eagles paid Wentz and Brooks handsomely. Jenkins waited…just as he did at the beginning of the offseason, not making a fuss, just letting it play out. 

It’s not like we can really use age as an argument either because he never misses a play from a durability standpoint and is always among the Eagles’ top defensive performers, despite a slight dip in play last year. His role is a unique one, with Schwartz using him as a remote-controlled missile. But it is worth noting that Rodney McLeod did play in the box far more than we’re used to seeing in 2019. 

I love Malcolm Jenkins, but if Howie set a tone by parting ways with Peters, I can’t see them guaranteeing Jenkins money, when it goes directly against Howie’s ethos of…well, bending every rule in the book to its extremities before handing over up-front money. The Eagles should do Jenkins a solid and let him try the FA market. If he finds a new deal, great. If not, he’ll always have a home in Philadelphia and he knows that….for the right price, of course. 

Verdict: Go 

Rodney McLeod

Before his injury in 2018, I thought he played outstandingly well. He lost his big payday due to that injury and was forced to play through last season on what essentially became a prove-it deal. He was one of the more consistent players on the Eagles roster and outside of a few missed tackles, he had fewer communication breakdowns than Jenkins when rotating coverages and to me, had the better season. He said he wants to be back, I think the Eagles afford him that opportunity and will bring in a baby-jenk to grow alongside him. 

Verdict: Stay

Ronald Darby

Is about as likely to return as my ex. BUT…I would just like to point out the most disliked video on the PSN YouTube channel was the take where I said he was the worst signing of the offseason because he can’t tackle. I expect a 500-word apology from all of you.

Veridct: Get out

Nate Sudfeld

See, this is tricky. In my eyes, if the Eagles really believed in Nate Sudfeld, he would’ve been QB2 when he returned from his preseason injury. Instead, the Eagles kept relied on McCown on both instances where Wentz exited a game (week 2 & the playoffs). Even in 2018, Sudfeld was dropped in when Nick Foles briefly left only to run the ball once and be promptly yanked out, whereas McCown and Foles were both allowed to let it rip. Sure, Suddy got a tuddy thanks to a dump pass to Agholor…but I think he’s hit his ceiling after three years. Lurie wants to draft a QB every year. Thorson didn’t work out and I think it’s time to bring in an FA QB2 and draft that project arm to reset the cycle. 

Verdict: Go

Nelson Agho: Go

Vinny Curry:

On the surface, Curry had a quiet season upon his return home. But then, out of nowhere, there was an explosion. Curry amassed four of his five sacks in the final five games of the season and would end up tying T.J Watt for pressure rate per PFF, getting to the QB on 16.8% of snaps, ranking fifth in that metric out of 99.

After playing in 55% of snaps during the Super Bowl run, that number dropped to 38% in 2019. However, it’s clear that Curry is still of value to the Eagles, both in terms of on-the-field production, and leadership away from it.

the Eagles are entering a tricky window with Derek Barnett and beneath him lies total mystery. Will Shareef Miller develop this offseason? Is Sweat capable of being a starter? It’s young, it’s unproven. The Eagles need a rock on either side.

Verdict: Stay

Josh McCown:

I can’t see him coming back as a player, but what about as a fifth spoke on the offensive coord….nevermind. He’s bound to be an amazing coach one day, but I think he’ll catch on elsewhere or may even be willing to put on the pads one more time…

Verdict: Go

Timmy Jernigan:

I feel so sorry for this man. Well, I did. He lost his huge payday after a heartbreaking injury but then confusingly signed a new deal with the team worth peanuts in comparison and started shouting about how dirty the team and league did him. Anyway, his season was cut short (shock) and I think at this stage the Eagles have exercised every avenue. It’s time to move on and find some stability for Cox.

Verdict: Go. 

Richard Rodgers:

The Eagles do need a TE3 and I’m not sure why Rodgers continues to linger despite getting injured so much. He’s a fine in-line blocker, but the Eagles would be better off farming their own talent or at least bringing in someone new.

Verdict: Go. 

Hassan Ridgeway:

For me, the acquisition of Ridgeway in exchange for a 7th-round pick was one of the offseason steals for the Eagles. The now-25-year old DT was originally a fourth-round selection back in 2016 but arguably into the wrong system.

In two weeks for the Eagles, Ridgeway played in 55 defensive snaps. 36% in week one and 47% in week 2, as well as a third of special teams opportunities. With Malik Jackson and Timmy Jernigan both suffering injuries, his role would increase and his production would follow suit.

With 2 sacks and 6 tackles in 3 weeks, Jackson was firing on all cylinders until the inevitable injury bug found its way to the bright young talent.

One week after the best game of his career as an Eagle, Hassan Ridgeway was placed on injured reserve. He notched 2 sacks, 4 QB hits, and 4 tackles for a loss in his short stint replacing the DT’s above him on the roster and flashed plenty of upside in the process.

Ridgeway is still young, is bound to be cheap and clearly has a lot of unharnessed potential. With a new Defensive Line coach in town and a total lack of depth, this move makes too much sense.

Verdict: Stay

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