Free agency is finally beginning to settle after a hectic couple of weeks, giving us all time to catch our breath. The Eagles have made a flurry of moves to better their roster, but how have their most pressing needs changed after the opening free agency window?
The acquisition of Darius Slay should leave most Eagles fans purring. Philadelphia finally has a lockdown cornerback worthy of a jersey purchase and that in itself is an exciting prospect. Slay signed a three-year deal with the team, meaning that he will be on the roster through the 2023 season, giving Howie Roseman plenty of time to find and develop a potential successor. Whether that man is already on the roster or not is a totally different question.
At CB2, it’s presumed that Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox will be locking heads to try and secure that role, but it’s important not to write off Trevor Williams. He may have missed the best part of two seasons due to injury, but his early 2018 was eyebrow-raising.
Allowing 38 receptions on only 52 targets on 201 routes defended, Williams started to really solidify himself as a running-mate for Casey Hayward. He also allowed only 3 touchdowns and had a burn rate of 0.0%. In 201 routes defended, he was not burned once. On the year, he allowed an average target separation of only 0.68 yards.
At the nickel spot, it’s Cre’Von LeBlanc vs the recently-signed Nickell Robey-Coleman. This will be an intriguing Summer battle given that ‘NRC’ started 7 games last year and has been about as reliable as one could ask as a nickel corner. Captain Cre’Von received a new contract while watching the Eagles try to fly without him at the beginning of the 2019 season before returning with quite the bang. Both players should have a role to play in 2020.
The man left in the dark through all of this is Rasul Douglas – who is currently being shopped by the team according to numerous reports. It’s looking increasingly unlikely that Douglas will be on the roster next year, but a fresh start could do him the world of good.
Conclusion Three new players have injected a sense of stability to the position and there is still plenty of reason to be excited. The Eagles are still probably going to add some developmental talent, but a position that was once regarded as the defenses downfall, now looks much stronger on the surface.
Adding Jatavis Brown to the linebacker group would be fine…if the team didn’t walk away from Kamu Grugier-Hill and then allow Nigel Bradham to test free agency waters.
While wildly athletic, Brown’s tackling production can fluctuate, with flawed mechanics sometimes leading to chaotic efforts, oversetting, and arm-bars. This is a slight concern to the Eagles whose entire linebacking position outside of T.J Edwards struggled with the same problem.
Brown’s role decreased would be a perfect replacement for Kamu Grugier-Hill, who the Eagles let walk at the beginning of free agency. Brown may be a lot smaller than KGH, but he possesses similar range and athletic prowess which bodes well for what the Eagles demand out of their weakside backers.
As of right now, T.J Edwards remains the sole ‘MIKE’ linebacker on the team. The Eagles clearly don’t value the linebacker spot anywhere near as highly as fans do, but there is a high chance that the Eagles invest in the position through the Draft. We can all dream of a Patrick Queen, but there are some really intriguing sleepers in this year’s class.
Conclusion: Less than ideal. Seeing the top names from this year’s free agency class slide away was heartbreaking. Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski, and even Joe Schobert were all pinched while the Eagles stood firm. Linebacker remains one of the team’s top needs and biggest concerns due to clear neglect when it comes to investment.
The Eagles have added absolutely nobody so far but this is oddly for the best. The market was always going to be highly volatile with a draft class this deep on the horizon and Philly were wise to stand back and let the first few dominos fall before surveying the damage.
Robby Anderson and Breshad Perriman both secured some sizable new contracts and ones the Eagles would’ve likely scoffed at during negotiations and with the recent vote in confidence for Alshon Jeffery by Howie Roseman, the position looks to be settled for the time being…
Conclusion: It’s draft or bust for the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s beyond likely that the 21st overall pick (however it’s spent) will end up being used in an effort to acquire a franchise-altering wide receiver. It just becomes a question of ‘who?’
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