The Philadelphia Eagles have a long history of being major players in the free-agent market. Sometimes this has rewarded the franchise, while other instances have not been so pretty. But if we’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that spending heavy doesn’t always yield positive returns.
There’s no such thing as a perfect offseason. Sometimes, a couple of smaller moves are all that’s needed as the team trusts the youth of the roster to take a jump in production next season. Other teams feel that they are just a couple of big names away from a championship and go swinging for the fences at every top talent.
As the Philadelphia Eagles get closer to the NFL Draft, rumors have swirled endlessly concerning big-name free agents. Stephon Gilmore, Tyrann Mathieu, a bevy of wide receivers, the hits have kept on coming.
The fact that each of these names slipped through the fingers of Eagles GM Howie Roseman seemed to leave a mild distaste in the fanbase. The fact that Roseman didn’t overpay for aging talent is being met with criticism. But is shooting and missing really a bad thing?
Were the Eagles right to skip over free agent wideoutd?
In a draft class loaded with top receiver talent, is it really a bad thing that the Eagles didn’t have to overpay for wide receivers on the open market that went well over their price range? And let’s say the Eagles actually ended up overpaying for a player like Chark or Robinson. Is it a guarantee that two injury-prone players will be able to become worth the money they are making?
Let’s use a hypothetical here. The Eagles have been crucified for not securing the safety position or #2 receiver position this offseason. But let’s just say the likes of Kyle Hamilton and Jameson Willams both fall to the Eagles at 15 and 18th overall (like many people are predicting).
Is the combo of Kyle Hamilton and Williams better than the likes of Marcus Williams and DJ Chark? Hamilton and Williams would be on five-year rookie deals and cost a lot less than two of the top money-makers this offseason.
Finding the right fit and value of a team sometimes means missing out on the top free agents for better/cheaper options.
What about a lockdown corner?
Take Stephon Gilmore as another example. Gilmore is a former DPOY and lockdown corner. But he’s 32-years-old now and has been dealing with a quad injury for two years. Is the value of Gilmore now (two years – $23 million) better than the value the team could get for Derek Stingley if he were to fall in the draft? Or a trade-up for Sauce Gardner?
If the Eagles are truly “in” on these top free agents, it could be a tease into what the franchise is looking to get in the draft. Could a combo of Kyle Hamilton, Derek Stingley, and Skyy Moore be on the cards for the first two rounds? If the team were to have that happen, would we not be extremely excited for what these top players could do in the Eagles system? It would make the team missing out on these free agents not as bad as before, right?
And even if the team doesn’t get a top corner in this draft, or a top safety, is there a guarantee that they will just roll the dice with unproven #2 corners? Last season, under this same plan, the Eagles signed Steven Nelson very late into proceedings and he ended up being a very good #2 option for the team. Why can’t that happen this year with a cheaper deal?
Just breathe, Eagles fans
The definition of a perfect offseason is always unclear. Is it to grab as many high-price talents as possible? Is it to get the low-cost, high-ceiling, moves that end up surprising everyone? Or is it being quiet in free agency and waiting to improve the team in the draft? Many teams have won championships using all three ideals here. And to proclaim a team will not be competitive during the season because they were more on the quiet side of free agency is as short-sided and incorrect as to say all teams who spend big money in free agency always win.
The Eagles have enough ammo in the draft to improve the team drastically over the next two years. And if the Eagles are even close to as successful as they were last year in April, it could set up the team for longer success than if they broke the bank for top free agents.
Howie “missing” on top free agents may just be exactly what the franchise needed.
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire