The Carson Wentz saga is a gripping one and has taken the NFL world by storm this past week. For many, simply getting to the end of it would provide a breath of fresh air…for about five minutes. The Eagles have plenty more obstacles in their way this offseason.
Life after Jason Kelce
The Eagles took a big risk last year. Sat in the perfect spot to draft the heir to Jason Kelce‘s throne, they traded with the Dallas Cowboys, who would then snatch that very player, Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz, from their grasp.
Kelce went on to play another year by seasons end was the only remaining starter, as well as the lone constant on an ever-revolving line. His play was exceptional as always, but now the clock is ticking.
Kelce has reportedly debated retirement for the last few seasons but put concerns to bed last offseason by telling fans he’d be sure to make it quite the occasion when he does decide to hang them up.
Now 33-years-old, there is a good chance that Kelce is nearing the end of what has been a remarkable career. As of right now, the Eagles really don’t have an insurance policy for this event and that is worrying.
The lack of cap space will prohibit the team from splashing out on a free agent like Corey Linsley and unless the trade market lends itself kindly to Howie Roseman, they may be forced to dip into this years’ rookie crop.
There is no immediate solution in this years’ draft class and while developmental talent is obviously an option given Jeff Stoutland’s incredible success, it all comes down to timing. For a team that has prioritized the offensive front above all else over the past few years, the fact that only Nate Herbig, a guard by nature, is the only current option on the roster is worrying.
What does the future hold for Zach Ertz?
The writing appears to be on the wall for TE Zach Ertz, who after obliterating nearly every franchise record in sight, was slighted by Howie Roseman this past offseason. Ertz watched as Travis Kelce and George Kittle both received new extensions, while he was left with an offer close to that of Tyler Eifert’s deal.
Ertz endured a poor 2020 and it’s fair to assume his previously intense mindset was massively hindered by the behind-the-scenes chaos. A teary end of season press conference felt like a goodbye after he, Wentz, and Kelce, all took to the Linc one last time as a unit in what looked to be a heartbreaking movie scene.
Moving on from Ertz is the easy part, replacing him, not so much. Dallas Goedert may well have a high upside, but injuries have held him back. We saw a nice burst of production from Richard Rodgers in the absence of Ertz last year, but will the Eagles really bank on his ability to stay healthy – one that has previously been questionable?
The obvious answer is to draft Kyle Pitts with the sixth overall pick, but that is an argument that already has the Eagles fanbase torn down the middle. Some want the TE who moves like a wideout with an absurd catch radius, and others would rather see help elsewhere…which brings me to my next point.
Will the Eagles draft a new WR1?
Jalen Reagor was drafted in the first round last season on the premise he’d be a better fit for the Eagles offense than Justin Jefferson. While understandable given the rigidity that the Eagles rely on at receiver, all it takes is one look at Jefferson’s 1,400-yard rookie season to make fans sweat.
This, and the probable departures of Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson, has led to the consensus that the Eagles need a WR1. Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle, are all very viable candidates here…or are they?
We have to remember that this team isn’t one piece away anymore. That was the thought process last year and clearly, something went wrong. The Eagles now have a totally new coaching staff and those previous WR restrictions may well be lifted.
Whether or not the Eagles go for a WR at 6 will fully depend on how Nick Sirianni views the room. Is Jalen Reagor more than just a speedster at Z? Can JJAW be saved? Do John Hightower and Quez Watkins have enough potential to fill the gaps? If the answer to any of these questions is a simple ‘no’, then the free agency and trade markets will be examined. Current and former Colts receivers may well end up in Philadelphia this offseason as a result.
The problem here is that this receiving class is so talented at the top that it’s almost a risk not taking one of the big three. But can Howie Roseman really afford bust potential at this stage? Will he play it safe instead?
Who will be named as the starting left tackle for the Eagles in 2021?
Jordan Mailata absolutely did enough to command respect as a serviceable starter last season in wake of Andre Dillard, who missed his sophomore season due to a biceps injury. Now the Eagles are in limbo.
While Dillard was impressive at times when flung into the deep end as a rookie, he didn’t quite steal the show like former seventh-round pick Jordan Mailata.
The problem facing the team now is that starting Mailata over a former first-round pick would reflect very poorly on the franchise and its general manager. Mailata may well have the higher upside, but Dillard costs the bigger bucks and a weight of expectation.
Handing the reins over, or even holding a training camp battle, has the potential to leave render another first-round pick under Howie Roseman as wasteful at best. But starting him stagnates the growth of one of the most exciting players on the team. Ouch.
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