Weekend Reading: Grading Eagles Free Agency

Rodney McLeod. (USA Today Sports)

Rodney McLeod. (USA Today Sports)

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Here are some links to pass along following the first wave of free agency:

Bill Barnwell of ESPN sounds lukewarm on the Rodney McLeod signing, giving the Eagles a C+ for the move.

McLeod was previously part of St. Louis’ relatively anonymous secondary, which is suddenly blowing up to become the most expensive unit in league history (albeit scattered to the wind). The lesser of St. Louis’ two safeties alongside playmaker T.J. McDonald, McLeod was the beneficiary of a great pass rush, spending less time in coverage than the vast majority of his counterparts. The Eagles hope to continue that with Jim Schwartz around.

I’d be skeptical of defensive backs from the Rams for the same reasons I was hesitant with Janoris Jenkins. But McLeod has the speed for cover for mistakes at cornerback — you may remember him laying out Emmanuel Sanders with a legal hit in 2014 — and given that the Eagles are currently booked to start Eric Rowe and Leodis McKelvin, there are going to be mistakes at cornerback. At five years and $37.5 million, it’s a lot to spend on a safety, especially given the fact that Philly already gave Malcolm Jenkins a four-year, $35 million deal this offseason. The Eagles are set to spend as much on safeties as anybody else in the league over the next three years, and they’re doing it without a transcendent star like Earl Thomas. It remains to be seen whether that’s a smart idea. At the very least, it’s a better plan than hoarding resources on running backs.

He hands out a B+ for the Brandon Brooks move, though.

Brooks was effective in a zone scheme under Gary Kubiak in 2013, and he has only gotten better with Bill O’Brien mixing his run-blocking up a little more regularly over the past two seasons. At 343 pounds, he isn’t exactly the sort of undersized lineman who might struggle to play in a more traditional scheme, and his signing may be a hint that the Eagles might try to run more power concepts under Pederson in 2016.

Pro Football Focus graded the free agent moves as well. The guys gave the Brooks move a B.

It’s a lot of money, especially since Brooks didn’t have his best year in 2015. But his work prior to that was of a level of a player who deserved to paid near the top of his position. A rare athlete, he can really open up lanes in the run game.

Leodis McKelvin a C+

McKelvin isn’t coming off the best two years of his career, but he’s not so far removed from his career year in 2013 that this doesn’t have some upside to it.

And Chase Daniel a D-

It’s just an awful lot of money for a backup, and if he isn’t a backup, then why was so much money spent on Sam Bradford? In some respect you have to trust new head coach Doug Pederson, who has more knowledge of Daniels than any of us, but even he hasn’t seen how Daniels might handle significant game action.

Tommy Lawlor says the narrative that Howie Roseman is just trying to exact revenge on Chip Kelly by undoing all his work is flawed.

I’m sure Roseman isn’t a fan of Kelly because of how things went down. But the idea that Roseman would focus his offseason plans on revenge is ridiculous. And facts don’t support it.

The Eagles hired Doug Pederson to take over for Kelly. He kept seven assistant coaches from Kelly’s staff. If you want to rid the team of Kelly, you don’t exactly keep that many coaches around. I can’t recall an outside hire keeping that many coaches from the previous staff.

Roseman signed QB Sam Bradford to a 2-year deal, paying him good money. Kelly traded for Bradford last March. If you wanted to be rid of Kelly, why would you sign his QB to a new deal?

The Eagles are planning to start MLB Jordan Hicks and CB Eric Rowe, who Kelly drafted last spring. The team hopes WR Nelson Agholor is a starter. Kelly loved Agholor and drafted him in the 1st round.

There are still 3 Oregon players on the roster. If Roseman were truly on a Chip Kelly rampage, wouldn’t he be desperate to get rid of former Ducks?

What about the Sports Science program? That isn’t going away. Shaun Huls still has his job and the Eagles will continue to be on the cutting edge with how they deal with players.

Gary Grambling of MMQB thinks Sam Bradford could be a QB on the rise now that he’s out of Chip Kelly‘s system.

I watched a lot of Eagles games last year. In my unprofessional opinion, they seemed to be running an outdated, rudimentary passing game disguised by their pace. They ran a lot of deep crossers that required Bradford to stand in and get blasted. He did, again and again, often while getting the ball out with velocity and accuracy. And keep in mind, the Eagles’ receiving corps was doubling as a beach volleyball team the way they repeatedly hammered the ball into the ground.

The “quarterback competition” buzz around the Chase Daniel signing seems a bit off. You have to get a quality backup behind Bradford due to his injury history (and you have to pay to get a quality backup). But working under Doug Pederson for the next two years, Bradford absolutely has a chance to be one of the best dozen or so quarterbacks in the NFL.

In case you missed it, Walter Thurmond may be contemplating stepping away from the game, per Les Bowen.

ONE OF THE mysteries of the early days of NFL free agency is the lack of buzz about cornerback-safety Walter Thurmond, who was healthy and productive with the Eagles in 2015.

Multiple team sources said Friday that might be because Thurmond, who turns 29 in August, is contemplating retirement.

Reached by text, Thurmond asked “who started that rumor?” But when asked whether he wanted to deny it, he did not respond…

Last October, Thurmond said he was in preproduction “working on a documentary on the recording artist Eddie Levert (lead vocalist of the O’Jays) that I’m scheduled to direct.”

Judging from photos on Thurmond’s Twitter account, shooting on the documentary has begun.

Earlier this week, asked what he envisioned as free agency got underway, Thurmond texted: “Just going to make the best decision for myself and my future.”