The NFL‘s salary cap was recently raised to $130 million. For a team already under the cap like the Philadelphia Eagles, this gives them even more options to fill some needs, especially on the defensive side of the ball with veteran talent in free agency.
The Eagles are understandably gun shy about splurging in free agency after an offseason a few seasons ago in which they did just that and it blew up in their faces. However, the Eagles’ strategy lately in the free agent period has been to fill needs with solid, dependable players that won’t break the bank.
They have a chance to do just that this offseason, and in a bigger way under the new cap number. The most glaring weakness for the Eagles last season, in my eyes, was the pass rush.
There are some solid, young, proven options available at that spot in the free agent pool, and leading the charge is Greg Hardy. At 25 and coming off a monster season, he may price himself out of the Eagles’ range, but they certainly have to take a long look at him.
A more reasonable and affordable option could be Brian Orakpo. When healthy, Orakpo can book for double digit sacks. His bull rush is one of the best in the league, and he can simply get to the quarterback. At 6-foot-4 and with solid athleticism, he also fits the bill of a Chip Kelly player with length and athleticism. I believe he also has the goods to drop into coverage when called upon. However, in this defense, I believe his main responsibility would be getting to the quarterback, something he has proven he can do year after year.
The other spot I expect the Eagles to be aggressive at is the safety spot. While guys like T.J. Ward and Jarius Byrd may either get franchised or seek huge deals, a solid dependable safety like Donte Whitner could be a solid option for the Eagles.
This new cap space and flexibility may give the Eagles the chance to fill many of their needs with veterans before the draft. It may allow Roseman to stick to his word and truly select the best available player come May.
Expect the Eagles to be aggressive in targeting and getting the guys they want, as long as it makes sense dollars wise. With further room to breathe under the cap, they may even land a big fish or two. Stay tuned.