Over the last few years, the Eagles have said goodbye to many of the team’s Super Bowl-winning heroes. With recent news of Rodney McLeod signing with the Indianapolis Colts, the Eagles now have just five remaining players who had helped the team secure their first Lombardi Trophy.
Lane Johnson, Fletcher Cox, Jake Elliot, Brandon Graham, and Jason Kelce. The last remnants of a special roster.
While saying goodbye is tough, it’s necessary that the team continues to get younger as the years go on. Fans may be upset with McLeod’s loss in leaving a massive hole in the secondary, but the outlook is not as bleak as some may perceive.
Super Bowl Stagnation
While Philadelphia’s front office may tout the fact that the team has made the playoffs in five of the last six seasons, it’s clear the roster, and to an extent, the entire organization, has gone through stagnation following their Super Bowl win.
Since the magical 2017 season, the Eagles have won nine games on three occasions, and four games only once. On the positive side, the team has been in playoff contention for a majority of the last few years.
The downside? Playoff contention does not mean Super Bowl contention. And the Eagles have simply been not good enough as an overall roster to compete with some of the best teams in the NFL.
For the majority of the last few years, the Eagles have had one of the oldest rosters in football. Now, as the Super Bowl heroes begin to depart, the age on the roster is getting younger, which means the potential of this franchise goes from a certain ceiling to a sky-high bar. A younger team means a faster, less injury-prone roster, partnered with an aggressive approach.
The Eagles saying goodbye to the sub-.500 team of the past is significant to kick off what is a very bright future for the franchise.
Learning from Mistakes
When the Eagles won Super Bowl LII, NFL Analysts everywhere commented how the team was set for long-term success.
After years of draft, and free-agent blunders, the Super Bowl window only lasted for an extra year. Now, the team is built significantly differently it was than in 2017, and it’s clear the front office has learned from past mistakes.
In the 2018/19 season, the Eagles restructured deals of their aging players that put them in very difficult situations cap-wise. It was always set up to fail in the long run. Now, the front office has been more patient in free agency, looking for overall value in short-term deals that will help the franchise now, and in the long run.
With nine picks in the first 64 overall selections in the next three drafts, and a flexible cap situation, the Eagles are in a much brighter situation than they were just a few years ago.
The days of Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Carson Wentz/Nick Foles and Brent Celek being leaders of the team are done.
And that is ok! When the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2005, the team leaders were older. They got back to the Super Bowl in 2008 thanks to new and younger leaders that took the place of those older leaders when they left.
The same situation is beginning to happen in Philadelphia. Jalen Hurts looks every bit the part of a franchise QB from a leadership perspective. Jordan Mailata has commanded the OL while players like Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox, and Josh Sweat are ready to take control of a new defense.
The returning players like Kelce, Graham, and Lane are still leaders too. But it’s important that new blood and voices are heard and commanding in that locker room.
New blood is very important to build a consistent winner for NFL franchises. The Eagles have plenty of that with this new regime.
The Eagles still have a lot of holes on the roster as we speak. But with a ton of draft picks, more expected free agents on the horizon to come in, the Eagles are in an excellent position to prove on a stagnant nine wins, and take the next step to becoming true contenders in a wide=open NFC East.
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