Well, the first year of the Doug Pederson era is over with. Some would say that it was a success because we saw a talent deprived team keep a lot of games very close, and come out on top in 7 of them. Some would say it was a failure because they didn’t come out on top in those games, and wound up going 4-9 down the stretch after starting 3-0. The biggest thing to come out of this year though is that the Eagles have found their franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz. Wentz had a great experience in his first year in the NFL throwing for over 3,000 yards, 16 passing touchdowns, 2 rushing touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Also set the NFL record for most pass completions in a rookie season with 379 and still completed 62 percent of his passes.
The key to this offseason is to build around the franchise QB. Clearly the Eagles lacked weapons on offense for Carson, and need to get players around him to help his progression as the franchise QB. Here is what I think would wind up being the best moves for this team in order to have a better team on the field come the 2017 season.
Not going to resign– DT Bennie Logan, DE Bryan Braman, CB Dwyane Gratz, LB Stephen Tulloch.
It will be a tough decision to let a player like Bennie Logan go, but he will ultimately wind up costing too much to resign. There would be way too much money invested in a D-line that underperformed last year. A replacement will be needed for Logan in the run game. Guys like Braman and Tulloch are guys that will be replaced by younger guys. Gratz didn’t show anything to warrant being resigned by the club.
Cuts– DE Connor Barwin, RB Ryan Mathews, TE Brent Celek, CB Leodis McKelvin, OL Allen Barbre, CB Ron Brooks.
Mathews and McKelvin should be easy cuts without even blinking an eye. Letting guys like Connor Barwin and Brent Celek go will be tough though. They have been veteran leaders in the locker room for a while, and also are great contributors to the community off the field. Barwin is just not fit for the 4-3 defense, he is better suited in a 3-4. Celek has been bypassed by Trey Burton as the 2nd Tight end on the roster. Someone with Celek’s blocking ability can be replaced, but the locker room leadership lost will need to be replaced by younger guys like Trey Burton and such. Barbre has guys behind him that could replace him and played well when starting last year in Wisnewski. Brooks was average at best when he wasn’t hurt. Projected cap savings- $20 million.
Trades- C Jason Kelce traded to Chiefs, LB Mychal Kendricks traded to Vikings.
I believe the Eagles will be able to trade Kelce and Kendricks while their value is still tradable. Kelce’s value just went up a bit by getting a surprising Pro Bowl bid. Kendricks is still young enough where teams will invest in him still to hope he winds up being the player he was earlier in his career. Kelce could be had for a 5th round pick most likely, and reunite with his brother in KC and also the guy that drafted him in Andy Reid. While Kendricks could also reunite with his brother in Minnesota and play beside him with Anthony Barr and be had for a 5th or 6th round pick. Projected cap savings- $5.6 million.
Resigned/Restructured- OT Jason Peters, OL Stefen Wisniewski, LB Najee Goode, CB Nolan Carroll II.
Peters will have his contract restructured to lower his cap hit for next year. Let’s say the cap hit will be lowered to $7 million for next year. Wisniewski will be resigned to replace Barbre at LG, while Isaac Seumalo will move to Center to replace Kelce, which the Eagles had planned to do eventually anyways. Najee Goode is a staple on special teams and will be resigned to a one year deal again most likely. While Nolan Carroll will be on a 2 year, incentive laden deal, but will have to compete for a starting spot though.
Total Cap space going into Free Agency- $32 million after projected annual Cap increase as well.
Free Agency- WR DeSean Jackson, CB Stephon Gilmore, DT Akeem Spence
The Eagles get the guys that they want in Free Agency. DeSean is back and provides Carson with a legit weapon to throw downfield to. Stephon Gilmore comes in and provides a top notch corner that also is a great fit for Jim Schwartz’s system, as he was a star in Schwartz’s system in Buffalo. Akeem Spence is a good fit for this system as a rotational DT with Beau Allen. Projected total cap spending- $19 million. ($8mill for Jackson $10mill for Gilmore)
Draft- with projected 2 5th round picks added from Kelce and Kendricks trades.
Round 1– Mike Williams WR Clemson- The Eagles get their guy to be Carson’s go to target for years to come. The Eagles now have a legit WR group with Williams and Jackson on the outside, and Matthews in the slot, where he is best suited. Williams could be a stud for years to come, projects to be an AJ Green type of WR at the next level that will go up and get it. NFL Comparison- AJ Green
Round 2- Alvin Kamara RB Tennessee- Kamara comes in and takes the ball at RB creating a great trio at the RB position with Kamara, Sproles and Smallwood. Kamara could wind up being a steal at this point in the draft. Last time the Eagles drafted a WR in the first and a RB in the second was when they selected Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy, unfortunately some guy named Chip Kelly didn’t want them anymore. NFL Comparison- Jamaal Charles
Round 3- Montravious Adams DT Auburn- Adams is a solid depth player that could wind up being a nice rotational player in Jim Schwartz’s defense. Adams can also provide a bit of a pass rush after racking 5 sacks in the SEC last year. Solid replacement for Bennie Logan in my opinion. NFL Comparison- Nick Fairley
Round 4- Kevin King CB Washington– King is an absolute steal at this point in the draft in my opinion. He will fall in this draft due to it being a stacked CB class. He could come in and compete for a starting spot with Jalen Mills and Nolan Carroll. NFL Comparison- Sean Smith
Round 4 (from CLE)- Jake Butt TE Michigan– at first Butt was projected to be a low first, high second round pick before his injury, but he will likely have to sit out this season on IR, but if he returns to form, could wind up being a HUGE steal here. Solid hands, the prototypical security blanket type of player. NFL Comparison- Jason Witten
Round 4- Kendell Beckwith LB LSU- with the pick of Beckwith, who more suited to be a ILB, Jordan Hicks will move to WLB to replace Kendricks, where he is even better suited and will be an All-Pro at. Beckwith is a great run stuffing LB that has the instincts you look for in an ILB. Great value pick here to solidify the LB corps for years to come. NFL Comparison- Jeremiah Trotter.
Round 5- Vince Biegel LB Wisconsin- not going to lie, this guy looks flat out scary. He could wind up coming and competing with Beckwith for the starting ILB job right away, or he will at the very least be a beast on special teams. NFL Comparison- Michael Mauti
Round 5 (from MIN)- Avery Gennesy OG Texas A&M- Gennesy projects to be a versatile type of player on the interior offensive line, a lot like Eagles OL Stefen Wisniewski. NFL Comparison- Stefen Wisniewski.
Round 5 (from KC)–Josh Carraway DE TCU– Carraway will provide solid depth as a pass rushing specialist. He’s a bit small but has the frame to bulk up. Eagles are projecting that Marcus Smith will finally step up this year as the guy behind Curry and Graham. NFL Comparison- Robert Mathis
Round 6-Levon Myers OT Northern Illinois- another depth pick along the offensive line here with Myers. He could be a solid backup behind Johnson and Vaitai who project to be the OT’s of the future. NFL Comparison- Doug Free.
Round 7- Des Lawrence CB North Carolina- Lawrence projects to be a slot corner in the league, if not a safety. He does not have the speed to be an outside corner to go deep, but could be a great value here as he has the length and coverage skills you look for in a solid nickel corner. NFL Comparison- Rod Hood.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
QB- Wentz, Daniel
RB- Kamara, Smallwood, Sproles, Barner
WR- Jackson, Williams, Matthews, Agholor, Green-Beckham
TE- Ertz, Burton, Denham (Butt IR)
LT- Peters, Johnson
LG- Wisniewski, Gennesy
C- Seumalo, Wisniewski, Andrews
RG- Brooks, Tobin
RT- Johnson, Vaitai
LE- Graham, Smith, Means
DT- Cox, Spence
DT- Adams, Allen
RE- Curry, Carraway, McCallister
SLB- Bradham, Grugier-Hill
ILB- Beckwith, Biegel, Walker
WLB- Hicks, Goode
CB- Gilmore, Mills, Carroll, King, Lawrence
FS- McLeod, Maragos
SS- Jenkins, Watkins, Brooks
K- Sturgis P- Jones
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