The Eagles Status Prior to Free Agency

The Eagles did a lot of locking up their own players this offseason with the signings of Riley Cooper, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Peters and Jason Kelce. They’ve also departed with their third Jason in Avant, who’s release gave the Eagles over three million in cap room. So here’s what the Eagles are looking like in a few major areas going into free agency, which starts on March 11th.

Photo courtesy ESPN

Photo courtesy ESPN

Free Agents:

  • Mike Vick
  • Nate Allen
  • Kurt Coleman
  • Colt Anderson
  • Clifton Geathers
  • Donnie Jones

The first thing that comes to my mind is that this list is fantastic for the Eagles because the primary target here is the punter. Sure, I’m a strong supporter of Vick returning as a backup, but until he tests the market there’s simply no chance that he signs a deal. For the rest of the group the problem is that while some of these guys could possibly be signed as reserve roles there’s really no upside.

For example, Colt Anderson isn’t turning into a starting caliber safety at this point in his career. The Eagles are better off signing youth and drafting replacements in the secondary to build up their special teams and overall depth. It’s the smartest route and most cost effective route. Speaking of which…

Salary Cap situation:

Salary cap for 2014: $133 million

Eagles estimated cap room: $24.5 million
Cowboys estimated cap room: $.3 million
Redskins estimated cap room: $20.4 million
Giants estimated cap room: $18 million

Another positive for the Eagles here. They have a ton of cap space, the 8th best situation in the league, to go with what is currently an NFC East leading roster. While this doesn’t mean that the Eagles are going to swing after every top-tier free agent, it means they can if they find a guy the fits their needs while still having the flexibility to sign their own players long term.

Nick Foles is likely to see an extension during the season. LeSean McCoy has played himself into a new deal too if he replicates a 2013 in which he surpassed Adrian Peterson as the league’s top rusher. However, these contracts won’t be an issue. Compared to the Cowboys the Eagles cap situation is so flexible that they look like this. Well, played Roseman. Well played.

byrdPositions of need:

  1. Safety
  2. Outside linebacker
  3. Back up quarterback
  4. Kicker
  5. Offensive line depth

The Eagles, who conveniently have an awful crop of safeties departing, are stumbling into a great free agent class. One in which both of the top players, TJ Ward and Jairus Byrd, are familiar with Chip Kelly. Conventional wisdom then has one of these two safeties (or maybe even both?) in midnight green next season. Finger, meet nose, right?

Now I’m not lining up to buy a jersey for either guy, because this comes down to money. Top-tier free agents get paid (and overpaid) in free agency. But this situation does have me seriously intrigued for a underrated reason:

I’m interested to see what kind of influence Chip Kelly’s recent success has on the market.

Plenty of guys hit the market looking for the biggest pay day possible. However, the guys who are looking to win—meaning the guys who are more likely to buy into a team philosophy—will occasionally settle for offers less than the best in order to play for a team that they believe is a contender. I’m expecting Chip to aid the Eagles in this regard and the Ward/Byrd duo is about as good a test subject as we’ll get.

Otherwise, I’m not particularly thrilled with the free agency crop for the Eagles this year. I’m expecting a lot of targets similar to last year (which I’ll elaborate on more another day), but generally cheap contracts for younger players and fliers with limited risk. For example, think of Arrelious Benn.

Overall, going into free agency the Eagles seem primed to take a step forward as they continue the process of building a team that truly fits their offensive and defensive systems. Like the fat kid at the swim club, it’s good to know that they’re always capable of making a big splash.

Posted on March 5, 2014, in Eagles, Posts, Vince Quinn and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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