Eagles Wake-Up Call: Contemplating Mario Williams
This is the time of year when teams start shedding salaries. The Eagles released Riley Cooper Monday and freed up about $3 million of cap space in the process. The Raiders cut ties with Nate Allen yesterday to avoid paying his $4.9 million salary in 2016. The Saints parted with six-time Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans to sidestep paying $3 million that would have come due Wednesday if he was still on the roster.
The list will grow, and could include a pretty big fish that may have interest in reconnecting with Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) February 10, 2016
Silva is not the only one to suggest that Williams might be released. The Associated Press reported in late December that the Bills intend on moving on from the defensive end and his $19.9 million cap number. (By cutting him, they would get approximately $13 million in relief.)
And there’s seemingly been some friction between Williams and Buffalo over the way he was used this past season. Under Rex Ryan and coordinator Dennis Thurman, he was asked to drop into coverage more than he is accustomed, and ended with just five sacks in 15 games.
“It’s kind of crazy when you are asked to do something that is totally different, but yet as a whole it didn’t work out defensively. … But yet I’m the one whose production has fallen off? Like, that is why I’m saying, I’m prepared for anything because I know I’m going to prove a point and that is not even a question in my mind,” Williams recently told ESPN.
“At the end of the day, if I’m not there, I’ll show you that I’m better than what I’ve been before. Like, that’s just a chip on my shoulder regardless of whether I am there or not, because given the opportunity I’ll get back to what I was.”
Williams would undoubtedly like to get back into a system where he’s in full-time attack mode, like he was when Schwartz was Buffalo’s defensive coordinator in ’14. Under Schwartz, Williams (6-6, 292) set a career-high with 14.5 sacks while notching seven stuffs and two forced fumbles.
The former No. 1 overall pick out of N.C. State has registered double-digit sacks five different times in his career. Now 31, it needs to be determined how much last year’s dip was related to scheme versus drop in quality of play. And of course there’s the money issue. Pass rushers tend to get compensated well (in the free-agent market in particular), and the Eagles can’t exactly spend at will after doling out big paydays to some of the core guys (with more likely on the way).
If the bidding gets too high, it’s tough to imagine the Eagles going crazy. But if the price is right, it seems reasonable to think there would be interest in a talent that has already proven to be a design fit for the Eagles’ new DC.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“A man known for his consistency has run hot and cold.” Has Jeffrey Lurie lost his way?
“They’ll pay what it takes to get him.” What they’re saying about the Eagles’ free agency future.
Examining the Birds’ quarterback situation. The Sam Bradford conundrum isn’t cut and dry.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The Daily News’ David Murphy advises against the Eagles just drafting a quarterback for the sake of drafting a “franchise guy” come this April.
We need to talk about this notion that the Eagles can simply “draft someone” rather than committing to Bradford as their starting quarterback for the next three to five years, which seems to be the solution most commonly offered once Bradford’s detractors finally relent and agree to name another option.
It’s a funny plan, in an ironic sort of way, because history suggests that whatever risk one believes inherent in a multiyear deal for a quarterback like Bradford exists in far greater quantity when it comes to drafting a rookie and hoping he can play at a high enough caliber to satisfy those who do not regard Bradford as possessing such capabilities.
Sure, the Eagles would be a lot wiser to Draft A Guy and spend their money elsewhere, provided the guy they draft actually turns out to be, you know, good. But the odds say the guy is more likely to be a backup or out of the league within four years than he is to be entrenched as the team’s starter by the time any hypothetical Bradford contract would be expiring.
Does Bradford remain an Eagle in 2016? CSN Philadelphia’s Dave Zangaro and Reuben Frank break it down.
Roob: Buried at the bottom of Day 2, here is the biggest question facing the Eagles this offseason. I still think Bradford will be back. It just makes too much sense not to re-sign him. He doesn’t want to start over with a third team in three years, and the Eagles certainly don’t want to start taking their chances with a retread from another team, with a stab in the dark with the 13th pick or with Mark Sanchez. So it makes sense for everybody. Why isn’t it done yet? Because contract negotiations — most of the time — don’t get done until there’s a sense of urgency. It wouldn’t be totally off the wall to suggest the Eagles are trying to create some of that urgency by pretending to be interested in Nick Foles. But the bottom line to me is that Bradford wants to be here and the Eagles want him here, and generally — not always but generally — when both of those elements are in place, the deal does eventually get done.
Dave: We’ve finally reached the biggest and most divisive name on the list. I think Bradford gives the Eagles the best chance to win in 2016. Can the two sides agree on the price? That’s the bigger question. I ultimately think it’s a deal the Eagles need to make. Drafting a quarterback is a huge risk — a much bigger risk than signing Bradford to a deal. The Eagles should sign him long-term and see if he can finally reach his potential. Feels like I’ve written about this before (see story).
Our offseason outlook continues with a look at the running back position.