Moving Forward in Free Agency and the Draft

Posted February 25, 2013

Watching some of the combine this past weekend got me to wondering what the Eagles roster will look like going into camp, who the Eagles will draft two months from today and also who they could possibly target in a couple of weeks when free agency opens. No matter what we think this team needs there always seems to be a surprise or two and changes are constant right up until the draft. If the rumors are true and the Chiefs have a deal already done with the 49ers for Alex Smith than Geno Smith could very well be on the board when the Eagles draft at 4...but is he worth it? Could the Eagles use the number 4 pick and get Kelly his man this year instead of waiting and gambling next year? Do they wait until round two and hope that no other team falls in love with EJ Manuel who the Eagles seem to like? Do they ignore quarterback going forward this year and go into the season with what is already on the roster? The hands on favorite for the Eagles in this years draft seemed to be Luke Joeckel but he seems to have climbed the boards and many mocks and analysts have Andy Reid and the Chiefs drafting him #1 overall...if they already made a move to aquire Alex Smith Joeckel certainly could be their man. DT Star Lotulelei seemed to be a player most would have liked at #4 but with a questionable EKG going into the combine stopping his workout how does that affect his value? OG Chance Warmack seems to be climbing, CB Dee Milliner is an option and a need (does he have that elite speed?) and there are plenty of DE/OLBer hybrids that seem like they could help the Eagles make that transition to a 3-4 if that is what they are set on doing. You all know that I would like to see the Eagles move on from Vick so if the Eagles ended up taking a chance on Smith I wouldn't be upset...I'd rather they wait and take a chance on Manuel in round 2 and he should be there but you just never know. It's hard to get a read on what this new coaching staff wants and values right now (will they even draft a QB especially if no team wants to deal for Foles). We'll be able to have a more informed opinion on what the Eagles will do after free agency.

Free agency will be a little tougher than some think in my opinion. According to reports the Eagles have roughly 25 million to spend this year right now. That obviously will go higher with either restructuring Asomugha's deal or cutting him and I expect the Eagles will let go of one of their current high priced DTs (Patterson or Jenkins) but after that more money comes hard to find. They could clear another million by cutting Allen but I want to see a new, hungry coaching staff working with some of these younger players (yes, I want to see what Stoutland can do with Watkins). Regardless I expect that the Eagles could have close to 40 million  after the cuts and contracts are re-done. This is where it gets tricky and some fans refuse to be open to the fact that teams need to look at where they are in next year's cap (and the next). Most of the money they have this year is due to the carry over money (23 million, I think). They will still be able to use this money but most of it should be used in front loaded contracts. I look at the Eagles needs (we all know they have many) and OLBer Paul Kruger would be great,  OT Andre Smith would sure up the RT spot and allow Herremans to move back to guard, Sean Smith would be an upgrade but his asking price of 8 million a year could be a bit much and there are better CBs available and Jarius Byrd would get everyone excited if the Eagles decided to go after him (he is an Oregon grad). One of these FAs would be great, a combination of any of them would have to be deemed a success but keep in mind that they also could be a stretch when looking at the Eagles cap space going forward. Next year the Eagles are looking at a pay hike of 5 million for Lesean McCoy, 3 more million for Desean Jackson after a 6 million pay raise this year. It seems that redoing Michael Vick's contract may have pushed back (and increased) his dead money to 2014 (a possible 5 million dollar hit from what I've seen). Trent Cole's new deal keeps him locked up at about 5 million this year, 6.5 million next year but jumps to over 11 million in 2015 which leads me to believe that the Eagles don't intend for him to be here past next year unless he kicks it in on the field and renegotiates his contract. Forget about letting him go this year because if they do they get hit for over 6 million in dead money. Seems like they will be forcing Cole into a spot this year even if the transition is a tough one for him and after struggling last year that is a possibility. Looking at some of the contracts that Roseman has done lately I almost miss Joe Banner. The Eagles may have made players happy but I never remember seeing this type of mess and eventually the money to pay some of these players that got extensions that truly didn't need them (Cole, Herremans) will have to come from somewhere...possibly even with them losing their jobs in a season or two. Getting back to this year. I will hope the Eagles make a big splash in free agency, Sean Smith would be a start if they do indeed have OT or an OLBer like Kruger would be outstanding...Byrd (a buddy of mine is guaranteeing this happens although I'm skeptical) or some other top safety would have to be the icing on the cake since the Eagles have had extreme difficulties trying to replace Dawkins but I would be surprised to see the Eagles make too many BIG name moves this year. I just can't see how they can afford it. There are moves they can make going forward...Ryans could be cut at no cost and save them almost 7 million a year and Jason Peters could be let go or they could restructure his deal which wouldn't surprise me either but at what point does the bleeding stop? Where do you draw the line because just hacking away at every contract could only be detrimental to the team in the long run especially since the Eagles seem to be trying to sell the "not many changes are needed with the personnel" angle to the players and the fans? Hopefully they can find the money going forward to help their new coach be successful. I honestly can't wait to see what this team looks like come the end of April...that is when we truly see what this team's plans are.

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