What They’re Saying About The Eagles

Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj - USA Today

Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj – USA Today

The dead period of the NFL calendar is almost over with the NFL Combine slated to begin on Wednesday. As free agency and the draft inch closer, here’s what the national media are saying about the Eagles.

Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com identifies Jeremy Maclin as the Eagles top priority this offseason:

Letting DeSean Jackson walk a year ago will probably haunt Chip Kelly for a while. So now Jeremy Maclin has him over a barrel a year after the Eagles were able to re-sign him on the cheap while coming off an ACL injury. With the quarterback position unstable — or at least unproven — this team needs to keep skill players who fit and Maclin is the obvious starting point. If I can find a trade partner for Trent Cole, I’m doing it, and I am releasing Riley Cooper before his salary becomes guaranteed next month.

Speaking of Cole, Chris Burke of SI.com thinks he might be released due to his high cap number:

Cole has been better than the Eagles expected over the past two seasons, notching 8.0 sacks in 2013 and another 6.5 last season as an outside linebacker in Chip Kelly’s 3-4 alignment. His $10 million base salary prices him out of the picture, though, even with fellow linebacker Brandon Graham bound for free agency himself.

Perhaps the Eagles can talk Cole into returning at a discounted price. However, with Connor Barwin (14.5 sacks) patrolling one side and rookie disappointment Marcus Smith headed into his second season, the Eagles may be better off using some of Cole’s money on an upgrade.

Burke also hints at the possible release of Cary Williams:

The cornerback-starved Eagles might hold out hope that flashes from Williams hint at a big 2015 season. Still, that’s a lot of money to fork over with fingers crossed.

Kevin Siefert and Matt Williamson of ESPN.com ranked Maclin as the 13-best free agent in 2015:

Maclin is a tough one [to evaluate]. I wouldn’t be super-excited about investing in him. He’s a good player but not great. He’s not a pure speed guy, but he’s fast. He’s not a ‘possession guy,’ but he can move the chains. But the way free agency works is that he’s ultimately a No. 2 wideout who’ll probably have a chance to be paid like a No. 1. He’s a player everyone wants, and if you could put him across from Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson in their primes, then now you’re talking. If you have Andre Holmes on other side, well, he’ll be a different guy.

The duo has Brandon Graham just five slots behind Maclin at 18:

He was drafted pretty early as a 4-3 end, and then the Eagles changed coaches and scheme and that hurt him. They signed Connor Barwin and all of a sudden Graham is a true backup, not even a rotational player. He was third on the list. When you watch the tape, you see that he’s productive when on the field. He’s out there, doing good things and he’s making good plays. He adapted. But take a team with a 4-3, put his hand in the dirt, bring him off the edge on passing downs at a minimum and he’ll get to the quarterback. He’s got a skill everyone wants and everyone will pay for.

FoxSports.com ranked the 25-most anticipated games of 2015, with the Eagles matchup with the defending Super Bowl Champions coming in at 15:

There’s obvious intrigue with this East Coast showdown, which might also double as a Super Bowl preview. But for now, the greater buzz surrounds the surreptitious, but oh-so-friendly coaching clash of Philly’s Chip Kelly and New England’s Bill Belichick. Belichick has admired Kelly’s innovative tactics (on and off the field) for many years. And Kelly has often sought out Belichick’s counsel at various points of his rapidly ascending career. But they’ve never faced one another during the NFL regular season. Sounds like a made-for-TV matchup in Week 2.

Because no round-up post is complete without at least one mention of Marcus Mariota, KC Joyner of ESPN.com believes the Eagles need to pursue the Duck, no matter the cost:

Three years ago famed former NFL general manager Ernie Accorsi told ESPN’s Colin Cowherd that there isn’t a price too high to pay for a franchise quarterback, as long as the quarterback turns out to be a great one.

There is never a guarantee that a top-flight prospect will develop into a great quarterback but Mariota’s chances of doing so are very high, especially if he joins a team that runs the system he has been operating in for three seasons. A blockbuster trade could be seen as a poor idea for Philadelphia, but if it works out it could be seen as the type of move that vaulted Kelly’s Eagles from playoff contender to Super Bowl contender.