With a new CBA signed and in place, it’s time to start looking at possible free agent moves for the Philadelphia Eagles. First I will look at the Eagles own free agents and than explore the possible free agents to fill the Eagles various needs.
Eagles top 5 free agents are:
MLB Stewart Bradley – while the oft-injured Bradley has shown promise over the course of his short career, his inability to stay healthy over the course of a 16 game schedule is troublesome. However, with no clear replacement on the roster, Jamar Chaney still has a lot to learn. Re-signing Bradley is a must.
SS Quintin Mikell – I like Mikell a lot but he was obviously exposed the last two seasons not playing next to B. Dawk, and with the drafting of Temple safety Jarrett in the second round it looked like the writing was on the wall for Mikell. However with last years second round pick Nate Allen returning from a knee injury and with little experience on the roster besides Kurt Coleman, the Eagles will be wise to re-sign Mikell to have veteran leadership to the back part of their secondary.
G/C Nick Cole – Nick has been a variable sub and spot-starter for the Eagles the last few seasons, and what he lacks in ideal size for the position he makes up with heart and effort. However I think it’s time for the Eagles to start looking in a new direction, unless Cole is willing to return at a reasonable salary.
RB Jerome Harrison- During his time in Cleveland, Harrison has shown flashes of being a featured back and with McCoy clearly the no.1 here in Philly; I look for Harrison to explore his free agent options with the chances of battling for a starting spot on another team.
CB Ellis Hobbs – I doubt if Ellis will return as an Eagle next season. With the team using that money to sign an upgrade at the position.
Filling team needs:
Priority #1: Cornerback
All the rumor mills point to the Eagles trading Kevin Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second round pick. However, if the Eagles are unable to acquire Rodgers-Cromartie or any other cornerback in a trade involving Kevin Kolb, I feel there are a few quality free agents still available for the Eagles to choose from. The Eagles could make waves this free agency and sign Oakland’s Nnamdi Asomugha, likely at a $17 million-a-season pop, but other options are available and at a more affordable price. The Bengals Jonathan Joseph is the best of the rest in my opinion, and would fit nicely into the Eagles defense, having played a similar style with the Bengals. However, Cincinnati has cap space to keep the 27-year-old Joseph. Antonio Cromartie has ideal size, 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, but the N.Y. Jets aren’t likely to let him walk without a fight, as he has proved to be a nice complement to Revis. The same could be said for the Falcons’ Brent Grimes, a local kid who played at Northeast High, and the Chiefs’ Brandon Carr. This leaves the Eagles with choosing from Pittsburgh’s Ike Taylor and Washington’s Carlos Rogers as the next best options, however both are in their 30s.
Priority # 2 Defensive end:
Under the reign of Head coach Andy Reid, the Eagles have always placed a high value on end. Since 2007, the Eagles have drafted four defensive ends in the first three rounds. The reason the Eagles need to address defensive end during free agency is because they haven’t drafted the position well. Brandon Graham’s (last years #1 pick) knee concerns make it all but certain the Eagles will sign a defensive end this free agency period. Minnesota’s Ray Edwards and Carolina’s Charles Johnson are at the top of the defensive end class and would likely be options for the Eagles because of their sack totals and age (both are 26). However, the Panthers are expected to re-sign Johnson but the Vikings more than likely won’t be able to afford Edwards. Cliff Avril of the Lions and Mathias Kiwanuka of the Giants are also options at defensive end, if they reach free agency and aren’t resigned by their current teams. Another hot name is former Eagle Jason Babin, who has been gaining buzz because of his success last season in Tennessee under the direction of new Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn. He’s 31 and probably looking to cash in, so the price tag may be too high for the Eagles.
Priority #3 Defensive tackle:
Seattle’s Brandon Mebane is probably the best defensive tackle available this free agency period. Mebane is 26 and the kind of gap-plugger the Eagles covet, however word is that new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo is supposedly looking for pass rushers inside. The Bears’ Tommie Harris used to fit the mold Castillo is looking for but his numbers have steadily decreased over the last few seasons. Albert Haynesworth isn’t a free agent yet, however many believe the Redskins will release the former all-pro, another of Washburn’s success stories, so that is also an option for the Eagles.
Priority #4 Linebacker:
This all depends on whether or not the Eagles choose or want to keep Stewart Bradley. If the Eagles choose to say farewell to their middle linebacker or are outbid for his services by another team, I feel there are few options out there for the Birds. First is Buffalo’s Paul Posluszny, followed by Tennessee’s Stephen Tulloch, Tampa Bay’s Barrett Ruud, or Jacksonville’s Kirk Morrison. Posluszny is interesting because he played outside at Penn State until his senior season and could also play outside in the Eagles scheme, allowing second year man Jamar Chaney to stay inside.
Priority #5 Running Back:
Personally I feel the easiest way for the Eagles to address their backup tailback need is to keep Jerome Harrison. However that’s easier said than done. Talks out of the Nova Care Center at the end of the season was that Harrison wants an opportunity to start. He won’t get that chance here with LeSean McCoy clearly in place as the number one back. Other options include Darren Sproles of the Chargers, who appears to be a match for the Eagles offense. He can run and catch and has never been the featured back. Ronnie Brown did a lot of the Wildcat in Miami and would give Andy a new toy for that formation. Also, Bucs tailback Cadillac Williams may be willing to play back-up after losing his starting job in Tampa.
Of course if Kevin Kolb is moved, a back up to Vick has to be found among a list of candidates. I’m not thrilled by Mark Bulger, Brett Farve, Matt Hassellback, Troy Smith, Trent Edwards, etc. Like I said in an earlier blog, that a deal to acquire Vince Young makes sense. Also, the state of Winston Justice’s knee could make right tackle a priority for the Eagles, just as Nate Allen’s ruptured patellar tendon could lead to a safety acquisition. The Eagles are stocked at wide receiver, but every armchair general manager has Plaxico Burress in midnight green, so that is also another free agent signing possibility.
Only time will tell.