Eagles Wake-Up Call: Thoughts On A Busy Offseason
Today’s question comes from David via Twitter:
— David Harris Jr (@DhjHarris43) March 8, 2015
David’s tweet came right after the Byron Maxwell and Frank Gore signings and before Jeremy Maclin left for Kansas City and Mark Sanchez re-upped, so we’ll have to round back and see if his mood shifted at all as the day went on.
Here’s what the Eagles have done so far:
Added (or re-signed):
CB Byron Maxwell
ILB Kiko Alonso
RB Frank Gore
QB Mark Sanchez
CB Cary Williams
OG Todd Herremans
TE James Casey
OLB Trent Cole
RB LeSean McCoy
WR Jeremy Maclin
Defensively, it looks like the Eagles made some strides. Maxwell should be a nice upgrade at the corner spot. His price tag (six-years, $63 million with $25 million guaranteed, per reports) doesn’t match his production (six career interceptions), which is often the case in free agency. But they needed serious help in the secondary, and Maxwell is gifted and appears to be a system and culture fit. Alonso, meanwhile, has a ton of upside and will help solidify the inside linebacking corps, if healthy.
The Cole decision is questionable. At the end of the year, the longtime Eagle seemed level-headed about his situation, and sounded like he was open to a pay cut that factored in his age and projected performance moving forward. The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, though, and the Eagles now have little choice but to score a starter in free agency.
The Herremans dynamic is similar in some ways. Like Cole, he has a deep reverence for the Eagles organization and wanted to retire here. It’s hard to imagine that his asking price was exorbitant, but he, too, was cut. And I would have waited to see how free agency played out before releasing Williams, but I get why Chip Kelly was ready to move on.
I also understand how money factors into all these decisions. Take Herremans, Cole and Williams off the books, and you have a good bit more cash to play with. Remove McCoy on top of that, and you have all sorts of financial freedom to reshape the roster to your liking. Money, no doubt, was part of the thinking when it came to McCoy. So, too, was style versus scheme, apparently. Immediately following the trade, word leaked that Kelly felt McCoy was too much of an east-west runner. Then on Sunday he struck a deal with Gore, whose compass is always pointing north.
The main issue I have is this: Kelly has stressed time and again that it’s all about the players, and says he will adjust his offense to cater to their strengths. But is that what we have really seen? DeSean Jackson was released for several reasons, including that he wasn’t Kelly’s preferred type of receiver. The 2014 corps was more to his liking, but was the team better off? Similarly, how can the running back position be in a healthier place after removing one of the game’s elite players from the equation? I respect the hell out of Gore, but he’s going to be 32 in May. Style fit or no, do we really expect him to be a better option than McCoy? Will defenses still totally sell out to stop the run when facing the Eagles? If not, what’s the ripple effect?
Kelly clearly has a ton of confidence in his design and his ability to keep the offense humming despite turnover at the skill positions. Perhaps that has led to a shift in the organizational philosophy, where the team will now invest more heavily in defense, confident that Kelly’s system will take care of the other side of the ball. As good as he is, how can you lose your top three skill position players (Jackson, McCoy, Maclin) in a matter of two offseasons and not experience a dropoff?
Free agency hasn’t even officially started yet and the draft is still to come, so this is still very much an incomplete picture we’re reacting to. But I’m not totally sold at the moment.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Sheil on where Maclin’s departure leaves the Eagles.
All of Sunday’s news and rumors in one spot.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
In case you missed it, looks like the Eagles lost out in the Devin McCourty sweepstakes.
S Devin McCourty expected to remain with the Patriots, source says. — Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 9, 2015
Eagles and Giants took their best shot at McCourty. Others, including Jaguars, were in the mix. But back to NE he goes. — Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 9, 2015
Devin McCourty contract terms with Patriots, per source: 5 years, $47.5 million, including $28.5 million in total guarantees. — Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) March 9, 2015
Jeff McLane on what the Sanchez signing might mean:
The deal suggests that Sanchez will have every opportunity to earn a starting spot. It also suggests what The Inquirer reported last week — that Eagles coach Chip Kelly has a plan in place to move up in the draft and select Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.
While the Eagles are still seven weeks out from the draft and still have to make a extraordinary move to get Mariota — jumping many spots from the No. 20 spot in the first round — all signs continue to point to Kelly trying to get his former college quarterback.
So what about Nick Foles? He could be the odd man out. He would likely net a high draft pick if Kelly were to attempt to trade the quarterback once the new league starts on Tuesday. The Sanchez signing doesn’t necessarily mean Foles is gone, but the contract is familiar to ones in which a veteran grooms the quarterback spot for a high draft pick.
Another chill day, likely.