The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to bounce back from their bye week in emphatic fashion against a COVID-plagued Washington Football Team. Beyond this week though, there’s a lot at stake for the team, and for the individuals it’s made up of. Here are 10 Eagles who need to put their best foot forward in order to secure a future in Philadelphia.
Hurts has the most at stake of any player on this list. If he can lead the Eagles to a playoff berth in his first full season as a starter, it would be very hard to demote him from that role and panic-fill the position with another quarterback, be it rookie or otherwise. However, if Hurts fails to hold his own and build a consistent body of work, the fact that the team is so close to securing a playoff spot might tip the scales against Hurts and promoted Roseman to once again embrace a win-now mentality.
Ultimately, Hurts should remain in the picture and be in a position to fight for his place to retain the starting role by the time Training Camp rolls around. But if he does falter and those flaws as a passer don’t change, Howie Roseman may well have other ideas in mind.
I said it before his option-year was activated, I said it after. It’s a waste of $9M.
Derek Barnett has done nothing but draw flags this season with the occasional spin move dropped in for good measure. The Eagles have paid Josh Sweat to be the next-in-line and it’s clear that with players like Tarron Jackson waiting in the wings and Ryan Kerrigan doing absolutely nothing, that some renovation is needed.
A late breakout at the right time might just push Barnett back into the conversation if he’d be willing to sign a cheap and cheerful deal to stay with the team that drafted him, and we shouldn’t write that off. Love him or hate him, Barnett has a tendency to miraculously pop up just at the right time and make a play. Maybe there are a few more twists in the tale…
Durability is the name of the game for McLeod, whose impact as a leader on the defense cannot be overlooked. However, for him to have an impact on the field, he first has to get on it.
A pair of ACL tears and some further missed time haven’t boded well for McLeod, but he’s been in Philadelphia since 2016 and become a roster mainstay. He’s 31 now and there could be one last team-friendly deal on the cards while allowing the younger guys to take on a more prominent role. For that to happen, McLeod has to prove he can still punch in some strong performances in the secondary, especially with Anthony Harris lurking and potentially also looking for a new deal.
Nelson spent the offseason pounding the table for a huge deal and ended up taking a prove-it contract with the Eagles. He’s been solid enough, but he’s going to want to secure the bag in 2022 and I don’t think that Philadelphia are going to look at what’s been fairly good CB play and want to overpay.
On top of that, there are some stellar cornerbacks available in this years’ NFL Draft. If Darius Slay can sustain his current form for another two years while a potential first-round pick develops and builds towards taking the CB1 reins, it’s going to be far more logical than overpaying Nelson, who knows full well that this is the last chance to audition for a CB1 role elsewhere.
Starting at RG in place of Brandon Brooks, Herbig has done a bit of everything this year, building on what was an outstanding 2020 season. He’s in his contract year and it’s unclear as to whether the Eagles view him as a potential heir to Jason Kelce’s throne, or a replacement for Brandon Brooks, but his versatility to fill both roles only enhances his value.
It would behoove the Eagles to retain Herbig, but if he can really ball out over the next few weeks, it could entrench his status as a starter as opposed to a depth player waiting for the right opportunity.
The contract of Fletcher Cox isn’t pretty…unless your name is Fletcher Cox, in which case it’s sensual. At the very least, it’s going to need some work during the offseason, but it’s not like Cox has played to the level his contract demands. The arguments for double teams and matchups are beginning to grow tiresome as even other players around him start to thrive.
Cox is still a disrputive pass-rusher and a very valuable one. Is he worth the weight of another huge cap hit? The team already tried to move him at the deadline. A late spike in production may be just enough to convince Howie to put his trust in a man who has done nothing but deliver for the majority of his Eagles career and will go down as one of the true greats in the City of Brotherly love.
At this point, Reagor just has to do something. It’s been a bitter disappointment to watch a promising training camp gradually fade away into obscurity as the TCU product continues to struggle to get out of his own way and show anything of note as an NFL wide receiver. Sure, there have been times where he’s been hurt by limited play-calling and bad quarterback play, but even then, there is still so much meat on the bone that it’s becoming concerning.
The Eagles clearly need a solid burner opposite DeVonta Smith and are yet to find the solution to that problem. Reagor will have four weeks to figure out how to separate himself from the narrative and start producing, or Howie Roseman may be forced to blow up the position.
If Reagor represents the best of the depth, there’s no depth at all and it’s reflected in DeVonta’s 81 targets in comparison to Reagor’s 46. The second-year wideout needs to kick on to avoid being kicked to the curb and potentially moved in a trade to net the Eagles even more draft capital which would be used to build around Hurts.
Every running back not named Kenny Gainwell
Miles Sanders is approaching Jordan Howard (in Chicago) territory. A stunning game against the Jets was a strong starting block, but the big knock on the home-run hitter has often been consistency. Sanders, through faults 50% his own and 50% not, has struggled to put together a complete package and if the Eagles truly want another committee-built backfield, then getting Sanders to head the pack requires absolute confidence that he can deliver on runs between the tackles…and that isn’t quite there yet.
As for Boston Scott and Jordan Howard, they’re both set to become free agents this year and as a result will be running for their NFL futures over the next four weeks. You can certainly make the case that Howard has already earned a new deal, but Scott is potentially in danger of becoming expendable thanks to rookie RB Kenny Gainwell.
The entire backfield has exploded in terms of productivity over the last two months and that trend has to continue. Not only does the success of the offense depend on it, but each individual carrying the rock could have their NFL futures drastically changed depending on how well, or poorly, they’re able to perform over the next four weeks and beyond.
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