Eagles Wake-Up Call: What Will the Big Move Be?

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

Today’s question comes from Wiztopher in the comments section:

What is the biggest personnel move the Eagles execute this offseason? We know the franchise has migrated away from the “all-in” mentality of the Dream Team days, but one thing is obvious, change, whether big or small, is coming and especially so with all that juicy cap space.

The Eagles have some financial wiggle room, but maybe not as much as you think.

According to friend of the blog Joel Corry, they are projected to have a little over $19 million in cap space, which is about middle of the pack. There is still some in-house business to attend to. Jeremy Maclin needs to be signed, and he won’t come cheap. And the 2012 draft class is now eligible for new contracts. If history is any guide, they will try to lock up guys like Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks sooner rather than later. Some money needs to be set aside for the quarterback position as well, whether it goes to Nick Foles or whoever lies behind Door Number 2.

They are not flush with cash, but are savvy in this department and will have money available should they decide to be players in free agency.

It’s hard to know for sure whether they’ll stick to the conservative free agency approach or be bolder now that Chip Kelly has more control over the proceedings. My guess is they will generally adhere to the principles that have guided them since 2011, but will make a few exceptions along the way in the pursuit of going from good to great.

This seems like a good year to make an exception. The secondary is in need of a serious upgrade and there are no evident solutions currently on the roster. The situation appears to call for something beyond a “mid-level” response.

I think the biggest personnel move, then, comes at either safety or corner. Darrelle Revis is expected to hit the open market. He’ll cost a pretty penny (He’s making $12 million this season) but has the ability to change the entire dynamic of the secondary. Byron Maxwell and Antonio Cromartie are two other potential options that make some sense. At safety, New England’s Devin McCourty seems to be the cream of the crop assuming he’s allowed to test free agency. None of the these players will come cheap, but my guess is they invest in the back four after getting burned by it this season.

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Scratch Cardale Jones off the list. He’s returning to Ohio State.

“If you’re not willing to adjust the system, you’d better adjust the personnel.” Media weighs in on the Eagles:

Is Kelly becoming more conservative now that he is in the pros?


Tommy Lawlor writes about the future of the inside linebacker position.

The presence of Kendricks gives the team options. You need one star ILB in the 3-4. You can build around him. My preference is for the team to find another really good athlete to put in the middle. They could bring back Ryans and spend a high pick on an ILB. Chip Kelly isn’t a believer in drafting a player and just plugging them into the lineup. He’s fine with letting rookies win jobs, but he’s not going to count on the kid to start.

I used to think the Eagles needed a big run stuffer beside Kendricks, but I’ve changed my mind on that. I’d prefer someone that can cover a lot of ground. Kendricks has become a good inside run defender. He doesn’t need a thumper beside him. A speedy ILB would help with pass coverage. While the Eagles will try to fix the secondary this offseason, it can’t hurt to help out the situation by adding another athlete to the middle of the field.

Jimmy Kempski on the decline of explosive plays in 2014.

The Eagles’ “big play” stats in 2014, without context, seem good.  2:38 per time of possession, 16 drives of less then two minutes, 43 TD drives, 15 plays of 40+ yards — all good.

The trade-off with Kelly’s fast paced offense, however, is that when they don’t score, three-and-outs and other short drives happen very fast too. As a result, the Eagles defense had to face more snaps (2263) against them on defense the last two seasons than any other team in the NFL. By comparison, the NFL league average over the last two years is 2065 snaps. The difference of roughly 200 snaps between the Eagles the rest of the league equates to over three games’ worth of snaps.

In other words, for that trade-off to work, the Eagles better be explosive, and they weren’t “explosive enough.” In fact, they were less explosive this season than their opponents.


Senior Bowl week is nearly upon us. We’ll have you covered from Mobile.