Cleat Geeks

On The Clock: Philadelphia Eagles 2016 Offseason Preview

In his “On the Clock” series, NFL analyst Brett Casella (@NFL_iQ on Twitter) will take an in-depth look at all 20 teams that failed to make the playoffs as they head into the 2016 offseason. He will conduct a thorough examination of each roster and make recommendations on whom to cut and re-sign, as well as which players to target through free agency and the draft.

This article will focus on the Philadelphia Eagles.

Team: Philadelphia Eagles
2015 Record: 7-9
Draft Pick: #13


Season Summary

2015 was the beginning and end of the one-year experiment that was Chip Kelly. In just one season with personnel control, Kelly managed to send off many key players on the Eagles roster. Notable players such as Nick Foles, Trent Cole, Evan Mathis, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy were either cut, traded, or left via free agency. Replacing them were the likes of Sam Bradford, Kiko Alonso, Byron Maxwell, and DeMarco Murray.ChipKelly

Sam Bradford was supposed to be the Eagles’ next franchise quarterback, but he underwhelmed for a majority of the season. To say that DeMarco Murray struggled would be putting it lightly, even though he was just one year removed from being the NFL’s leading rusher. Murray is clearly a north-south runner that operates best when lined up behind the quarterback, but Chip Kelly was inexplicably determined to keep using him on sweeps out of the shotgun. Many people – analysts and fans alike – criticized Chip’s judgement, and in the eyes of the front office, seven wins wasn’t enough to justify his questionable decisions. He was relieved of his duties at the end of the season.

Re-Signings & Cuts

Probably the biggest question for the Eagles entering this offseason was the future of Sam Bradford. The quarterback’s contract had expired, and no one really knew what would happen after a particularly unimpressive year. Philadelphia put those questions to rest early this week, signing Sam Bradford to a two-year, $36 million deal.SamBradford

Another priority for the Eagles will be defensive end Fletcher Cox. While his contract doesn’t expire until next offseason, he is eligible for an extension this year, and the Eagles front office has made it publicly known how important he is. “It’s a huge priority for us to keep Fletcher Cox,” said Eagles GM Howie Rosemen. “Our intention is for Fletcher to always be an Eagle… He’s a great player. He’s going to get great player money. We’re not shy about saying that.” If a mega-extension is in the cards, the Eagles may need to backload his contract. As it is, Philadelphia has already committed over $150 million in cap space in 2016 and 2017.

As far as other notable in-house offseason transactions, don’t be surprised to see running back Darren Sproles get cut. The “lightning bug” made some big plays early last year, but is turning 33 this offseason and will create $3.5 million in cap room if cut.

Free Agency Needs

As of today, the Philadelphia Eagles have roughly $17.4 million in cap space. This isn’t a small number, but it is in the bottom third of the league in a year where teams have more money to spend than ever. Not to mention the money they have to put aside for Fletcher Cox. The Eagles will have a hard time landing a premier free agent, but there is only one or two of them out there anyways.

IlokaOne area that the Eagles desperately need help is their secondary. With safety Walter Thurmond likely leaving this offseason, George Iloka is the perfect candidate to replace him. Iloka is a talented player with a unique skill set; pairing him with Malcolm Jenkins would make for one of the league’s best safety tandems.

It’s not just the safety position in the Eagles secondary, their cornerbacks could use a serious upgrade as well. It is clear that they overpaid for Byron Maxwell (thanks Chip Kelly) last year, but that didn’t stop them from pursuing players such as Casey Hayward and Janoris Jenkins – if they can get them for a reasonable price.

On the offensive side of the ball, the interior line was a concern all season, especially at the guard play. Luckily for them, the free agent class runs pretty deep at this position. Alex Boone and Jeff Allen are two good players that will likely come with affordable price tags. Or maybe they re-sign Evan Mathis just one year after releasing him (thanks Chip Kelly).

Wide receiver is the final position I would expect Philadelphia to shop in free agency. With Alshon Jeffrey being tagged by the Bears, there is no elite-level talent available at this position. However, players such as Marvin Jones, Rueben RandleJermaine Kearse, and Travis Benjamin can carve out a role in the Eagles offense.

Potential Draft Picks

The Eagles don’t have a second round pick this year; they sent that to St. Louis in the Sam Bradford trade (thanks Chip Kelly). With that said, it is imperative that their first round pick make an immediate impact for them.

Before Sam Bradford was re-signed, I thought there was a very good chance that the Eagles drafted a quarterback at #13. With Carson Wentz and Jared Goff likely gone by then, Paxton Lynch probably would have been their best option. But now with Bradford locked up through 2017, chances are slim that they still go that route. But you never know.VernonHargreavesFeature

If cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is available, don’t expect Philadelphia to pass him up. They are in dire need of secondary help, and Hargreaves is an immensely talented play maker.

Wide receivers such as Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, and Corey Coleman should all be available for the Eagles, and they just might pull the trigger on one of them. All three players are talented enough to be an impact player from day one.

Another possibility is that they look to fortify their defensive line by drafting an interior lineman. Sheldon Rankins, A’Shawn Robinson, and Vernon Butler would all help take that unit to the next level.

Have any questions, comments, or just want to talk about the article? Simply leave a comment below.

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