5 Philadelphia Eagles Storylines To Follow Leading Up to Free Agency
Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Free Agency Storylines
For a clue on who the Philadelphia Eagles might or might not sign this free agency season, just take a look at who the Eagles signed last season.
With the Eagles jettisoning both cornerbacks from the disastrous 2012 season, they went out and got themselves not stars, but a couple of next-level dependable guys in Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams. Neither were the big names the Eagles had the year before in Nnamdi Asomugha or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Both were big names, but both were big flops.
The same profile fit linebacker Connor Barwin when the Eagles plucked him from the Houston Texans last year. Barwin was never the big star, but he was always thought to be among the better linebackers in the league.
Head coach Chip Kelly is said to be satisfied with Williams and Fletcher, so cornerback, like offensive line, is probably a low priority.
For Kelly, it was the offense that was stocked and the defense that required the most attention. In addition to Williams and Fletcher, Kelly and the Eagles’ brain-trust went after and acquired safeties Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips, just to stock that mostly empty cupboard. Phillips is long gone and Chung does not figure to be around for long, so the thinking here is that the Eagles will try for a free-agent upgrade at one safety position and draft at another.
If the “best available” free agent is a strong safety, then the Eagles will make a play. The same is true for a free safety. Since the draft is in May this season, they will probably sign a safety first and then look to upgrade the other safety position through the draft.
By process of elimination, then, here are the five best storylines leading up to free agency.
5. The Backup Quarterback
Obviously, it will not be Michael Vick since Nick Foles is coming off a sensational sophomore season in the NFL and Vick has stated he wants to go somewhere he can start. That won't be in Philadelphia anymore. If one of the top five quarterbacks in the draft drop down to No. 22, where the Eagles sit, though, GM Howie Roseman has said he would not hesitate to take the player. If not, look for the Eagles to be “joshing” as in Josh McCown or Josh Freeman.
4. Sign a Safety, Draft a Safety
They will most definitely sign one and probably draft another. The Cleveland Browns placed the franchise tag on center Alex Mack, so Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward is going to hit the free agent market. The Eagles have a clear need at the position which opens spots in the draft to fill other needs. The Eagles have plenty of money and will not be outbid for Ward, so he is the most likely free agent acquisition of this offseason.
3. Sign a Pass Rusher
Lamarr Houston of the Oakland Raiders is only 26-years old and someone the Eagles have their eyes on as a 3-4 defensive end. Even though he played in a 4-3 for the Raiders last year, Houston is big enough and quick enough to play the same spot in the 3-4. At 6-foot-3, 302-pounds, Houston had six sacks and two forced fumbles and appears to be to fit that solid-but-not-spectacular profile the Eagles have used to fill free agent spot the last two season. The Eagles need somebody who can sack the quarterback. Trent Cole led them with eight, but as a team they had just 37, which clearly is not good enough. The Eagles are well aware that the tread is beginning to wear on Cole’s tires.
2. Get a Kick Returner
There has been some recent rumors that the Eagles are willing to ship DeSean Jackson, but that’s not likely. What is more likely is for them to find someone to take the kick return responsibilities away from the explosive Jackson and have him concentrate on putting up big numbers as a receiver. Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears is available, but he would be hard to pry out of the second city. Eagles’ fans can always dream, can’t they?
1. Bring Akers Back
It’s no secret that Kelly was not enamored with the performance of kicker Alex Henery, who missed a 48-yard field goal in a 26-24 playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints. Afterward, Kelly said “he’d have to make a decision” about Henery in the offseason. If he can get someone like the popular David Akers, a fan favorite with the Eagles, making that decision on Henery will be a lot easier. Akers, though, is 39 and both he and Kelly know he can only be a stopgap measure until the Eagles can identify their kicker of the future. It’s probably not Henery, who was 22nd in field-goal percentage with the Eagles last season.