Eagles QB's/Free Agency and More...

Posted February 12, 2013

Who will be the starting quarterback come September? At this point, an "open competition" is slated with Vick as the clear front runner (based on salary/skill set available). So what was the reasoning behind it? I believe the Eagles looked at the possible FA's at the quarterback position, and know only Alex Smith could be a viable option as a starting QB. But the amount of money he would want (plus guarantee to be the "starter") would place the Eagles behind the 8 ball. While he would be o.k. from a game managing perspective, Smith doesn't fit the up tempo/athletic QB Kelly wants and would ultimately place the Eagles at a disadvantage in the long term. In short, the Eagles were wise in re-negotiating Vick's contract with absolutely no risk whatsoever.

This years draft class presents a very weak quarterback class. Geno Smith and Matt Barkley aren't beacons of hope for future years and both are a work in progress. Neither of them scream no brainer like last years Luck or RGIII. Neither Smith or Barkley present the Eagles with anything that will improve the team in 2013 (or beyond for that matter). Both don't fit the Kelly mold for QB so why force the issue? While some fans aren't excited to see Vick competing for a job and question Foles "fit" in Kelly's high tempo offensive scheme, this is completely understandable. But, as "stop gap" replacements in both Vick and Foles, each have the skill set to win in the NFL. And that's the point right? Winning. This also buys Kelly time to hand pick his franchise QB without any pressure (like the 49ers did when selecting QB Colin Kaepernick while Alex Smith was still the starting QB). Most don't see Vick or Foles as the ultimate Franchise/Future QB for Kelly's scheme, so why try to force the issue where there are more pressing needs as a TEAM?

The Eagles had more than their share of problems on BOTH sides of the ball last year. There are needs at almost every position on the team (outside of RB) and the money they are saving by NOT signing a FA like QB Alex Smith/resigning Vick to a low risk/high reward contract/cheap rookie contract in Foles, immediately puts the Eagles at an advantage for the here/now/long haul. Currently the Eagles are $20 million under the cap (even before addressing the Nnamdi contract issue) so they are pretty much free to do anything they want in FA this year. Here is a short list of possible players who could be available (assuming they don't get the franchise tag):


Defense

OLB Paul Kruger would instantly improve our LB's and make it an easier transition to a 3-4 Base Defense. He was the best pass rusher for the Ravens and is only improving as a player. Given our personnel, I think the Eagles run a 4-3 "Under" defense in Kellys 1st season (which looks like a 3-4 to the naked eye) due to the talent currently on the team. But if the Eagles think OLB Jarvis Jones is the best player available in this years draft (minus the injury concerns). The Eagles would have a formidable pass rushing duo right out of the gate. But what about a true NT?  There is good depth in this years draft at that position, and the Eagles could find a serviceable NT in the 2nd or 3rd round.

S Dashon Goldson/William Moore/Jarius Byrd/Louis Delmas. Pick one. Any one. Our safeties have been pedestrian at best and a definite need would be met by any of these players.

DT/DE Richard Seymour. Yes, he is old (33). But he is still productive and could come on the "cheap" and provide leadership with a transitioning defense.

DE Michael Johnson. What!? Yes, there is a reason the Eagles selected Billy Davis as their defensive coordinator. He is scheme diverse in both the 4-3 and 3-4. Johnson fits the Kelly profile in being tall/long armed (a natural flyswatter at 6 foot 7 inches tall). The Eagles will put the best athletes on the field so don't get the 3-4 defense stuck in your head just yet. Given his frame/ability to rush the passer/stop the run, he could be a FA nobody sees us signing. Kelly will keep his options open and will put the best "team" ahead of any perceived "scheme".

Offense

LT Ryan Clady/Jake Long/Brandon Albert. I doubt Clady will be available but you never know (since he turned down the Broncos first offer earlier last season). Jake Long more than likely won't be back with the Dolphins and Brandon Albert is diverse enough to play LT/RT/G giving insurance to Peters and also the ability to move Herremans back to LG.

WR Mike Wallace and Percy Harvin could be targets due to Kelly loving speed on offense. The biggest problem is they will both want big $ and also the idea of being THE MAN. Harvin is the best slot WR in the NFL/versatile run option/dynamic special teams player who would best fit our offense. Wallace and Desean would make it an absolute nightmare for opposing safeties which would further help our running game due to the safeties having to play in the opposite end zone on most plays (kidding...kinda haha). I'm not sure that Wallace/Harvin's attitude would help team chemistry, but from a talent assessment only, they would put the Eagles over the top offensively. WR Greg Jennings? Doubtful. But he's a true #1 WR that could help any offense. Expendable in Green Bay, but dependable anywhere else.

TE Dustin Keller/Jared Cook/Martellus Bennet are all athletic pass catching TE's which would work perfectly with the "Pistol" offense. All 3 are willing blockers and would make a good 1-2 combo with Celek. 

There are a TON of possibilities/combinations/directions the Eagles can take from now until September. We have only scratched the surface as the plan slowly unfolds before our eyes. Free Agency will provide a better understanding of what the Eagles plan to do. So until then, hold on to those Vick/Foles jerseys and hope for the best. As I still think, the best has yet to come. Stay tuned!

14 Comments:
  • I love everything you have brought to the table but one thing everybody needs to realize...even though the Eagles have over 20 million dollars to spend right now it kind of is a tricky situation in that most of that money is because of last years carryover for being 20 million under. If they spend all that money it puts them right back to where they are next year...having to cut players to make cap room. More money will be cleared up and Asomugha probably will be a casualty in one way or another but don't expect the Eagles to spend every penny they have available this year...it would put them in another bind next year. I love the idea of Kruger and think it would be a huge signing and possibly doable when thinking that the Ravens are going to have a hard time signing all their free agents this year after paying Flacco. Tackles and safteties are deep this year in free agency and the draft (I've brought that up many times) and I also love the idea of moving Herremans back to the position he excelled at. Nice post, Latin!
  • Its good to see that someone sees the options to get the Eagles right back in the hunt. I like the idea of adding te & wr help but lets get a clear direction on the OL or it will be a waste. As far as defense, I agree we can grab a seasoned safety and a NT. I dont think Dixon/Thorton are good opeions. We need a strong DT to go with patterson and Cox. i still like or 4-3 lineup but i see Cole as a causalty of 3-4 defense. Graham might be able to adjust. Lots of options . we still have some talent.
  • Kruger would be a nice add if we can get him as would on of the safeties you mentioned. Seymour i'd pass on and johnson... eh. on the offensive side. getting an o-linemen would be great too other then that we've got a pretty solid receiving core and our TEs are alright as we stand i think. the two factors that are gonna determine how the team goes in free agency are 1. who they are looking to grab at number 4 in the draft and 2. the price tag. FA has a habit of pumping up guys paychecks and teams can end up over paying and hurting themselves down the line. I'd target Kruger and one safety. after that i'd look to the draft to get Joeckel, Geno Smith, or Dee Milliner. Kruger would solidify our LBs through our 4-3 transition season, a safety would help with pass coverage, and then whoever we draft out of those three will shore up another problem area for the team. We've got to many holes on the team (qb, rg, lb, dc, ss, fs) to fix em all with just FA we are going to have to rely a bit on what we currently have and then continue the re tooling next season.
  • There are 3 "plug and play" OL that we could snag in this years draft which would have immediate impact. 1. OT Luke Joeckel 2. OT Eric Fisher 3. OG Chance Womack.

    While Joeckel seems to be the consensus top OL and the best value at #4 overall (along with DT Star Lotulelei who I consider 1B in any draft situation pre-combine), there are a handful of players who have similar value depending on the direction the Eagles want to go. If they decide that OL is our highest priority in the draft, I think we can snag an extra draft pick while still landing either Womack or Fisher (around #7 or #9 overall if AZ/JETS want to fight over QB Geno Smith if he's not the Chiefs pick at #1). Again, assuming Joeckel is not available at pick #4.

    If we address the OL situation via FA then we are no longer in a "must have" situation in regards to the OL and have a lot more flexibility in our decision making/moving down the draft board to accrue extra draft picks etc. I don't think the Eagles will spend the entire 20 million in cap space when FA hits, but do think they can outbid anyone if a bidding war starts on a player like OT Ryan Clady. Plus they could add two highly regarded free agents (at any of the positions mentioned) while still being o.k. in regards to future cap space etc.

    The Eagles could also work the trade route given we have some DE's who might not be in the long term plans (DE Trent Cole if they feel he can't transition to a OLB or DE Vinny Curry who is strictly a DE IMO). Trent's salary could be a casualty in the future and even though Curry didn't play a down, he has a ton of potential in a 4-3 scheme.

    Point being. We have LOTS of options moving forward. If Luke/Star are not available at pick #4 I wouldn't be upset if we moved back a bit and got a solid player/extra picks. At 4-12 we have a lot of issues moving forward, and even though a lot of people dislike Roseman as a GM (for whatever reason), I think he's smart and will put us in a good position to succeed.

    There should be more "cap casualties" moving forward in regards to the Eagles and other teams in the NFL. So we might have more options as free agency approaches.
  • I still think they are going to give Trent Cole a shot at the other linebacker spot. I would rather they draft a rush linebacker in the middle rounds. I also think they will give Vinny Curry a shot to be one as well. His main talent is supposed to be at pass rush. Other than NT I don't think a lot needs to be put in the front seven to start a 3-4 transition. I wouldn't mind seeing two new safeties. Perhaps one via free agency and one via the draft. Mike Wallace could be a nice fit, but I wonder if they go that route since they are wondering if they should extend Maclin. I like the idea of a TE like Dustin Keller or making a run at a freak like Jared Cook. Would love to see Clady, but I think he will get franchised. We also need a corner. Possibly two corners. Perhaps they go OL or CB with the first pick. I think they could get a Nose Tackle in the 2nd round.
  • I just think we are in a great position to getan impact player on offense and defense. If we go with Geno Im good with that. Alot of the faults the experts said he has I saw watching his game tapes. He can pass inside the hash marks but outside Im not sure. Hes a risk as far as Im concerned. Eagles are in a tough spot at QB. I dont see anyway out from Vick. I think Lurie wants to compete and is afraid of letting the slide continue. 4 wins or less from Foles would be considered a disaster. 8 wins from Vick and you have some reason to hope things will get better. A NFC East title and you are back on top and Chip looks brilliant. It cant be Foles. Just the way it is.
  • Great post! I agree with all of this in spirit, it's just the math that plays the part of an anchor.

    I like the idea of chasing Mike Wallace. It would almost give us the ability to win games just by robbing opposing coaching staffs of sleep. It would also remove the "What To Do About Maclin" question after this season. Or BEFORE this season.

    A slick pick-up might be OT Kyle Long out of Oregon. He just played under Kelly in his system, so the learning curve is almost nil. Also he's already in shape to run it and would give us depth and real plug-and-play capability at the position. Depending on how good he looks in camp he could be a Day One starter and allow us to move Herremans back to guard.

    I like what we have on the Defensive Line already. Making an addition wouldn't be bad, but assuming they run a 4-3 or a 4-3 Under, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry HAVE to be the starting DE's.

    Don't count out Casey Matthews at ILB now that his college coach is here. Matthews is NFL foot slow, but if the Eagles play the 4-3 Under as you suggest, Matthews may assume his college role of hybrid W/ILB again. And he'd have a jump over any Eagle on the roster of just how Kelly likes that position played.

    I feel like we should draft a FS (Eric Reid) with our first pick. It's a reach, but we're talent starved for guys who can cover at Safety and it's been hurting us for the last few years. It makes more sense to go get the guy you need, instead of worrying about where Mel Kiper says he should go. Last year QB Russell Wilson was slated for the 4th round, but Seattle grabbed him in the 3rd. The lesson? Go get what you need.
  • Well you know drafting Reid at 4 accomplishes to needs for the flipster. It gets his fix of having a guy named Reid associated with the Eagles again, and drafting a safety way too early in the first round is part of his 12 step plan to keep the Eagles mediocre. I'm just glad he's not in the Eagles front office.
  • Reid may be exactly what they need at safety but to take a player who isn't close to being rated that highly at a position that is almost never drafted that high is not exactly a bright idea.
  • Taking Eric Reid in the 1st round (at pick #4) is waaaay too early. While he may go in the late 20's I think realistically we have a shot at him in the second round (esp since the Raiders don't have a 2nd round pick). The last time we tried to force the issue and overdraft a safety due to "need" we ended up with SS Jaquwan Jarret. I don't think this is a mistake the Eagles will repeat a second time. They will take the best player available regardless of position. If there are two similar value players at two areas of "need" that is the only time we should take the most important need.

    I don't know much about OT Kyle Long but this could be a good idea if the Eagles feel he's a right fit for the team.

    While Casey Matthews did start for the Ducks I think we still have better players on the team who would supplant him at the W/ILB. Not to say that the Eagles won't use him in specialized packages, I just think he's not part of the base defense given his size/speed.

    Trent Cole will be part of the "4-3 Under" defense. He has experience playing linebacker in college and is still our best pass rusher. I'm all for seeing what Curry can do in space, but I think he's strictly a 4-3 DE from what I've watched of him on tape. Who knows. Kelly is coming in with a clean slate, so it will be the best man wins. Either way, training camp should be a lot of fun this year. :)
  • I disagree with the evaulation of Chip as arrogant. That wont be the way he operates. he will forge his own identity. Now i dont like the way they are beating around the bush with Vick. That brings up bad memories. they need to name Vick the starter and end that whole controversy thing now. At that point they can focus on a goal- winning. Vick will get first rep snaps on opening day of training camp and all will be forgotten. Foles will assume his role as a backup. hopefullym, third string where he belongs. The Eagles need to concentrate on getting help and creating a dynamic offense. Thats why kelly is here. e is not here to bring a slug up from 3rd string , win 4 games and be the next scapegoat. he is here to create the best offense in the NFL and suppliment the defense with good players that compete. The new NFL will continue to be about scoring as the rules continue to go in the direction of benefiting offensive players. Defense will matter but only in games that require significant hitting. These days the hard is hard to find.
  • I like Birdflippers new blog about chip kelly, in it he talked about chip kelly and three words "he ignored you" I know I watched chip at work, why? Im an oregon football fan
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