Who Will Help The Eagles Return to a Winning Record?
By: Anthony Miller @ByAnthonyMiller
In an upcoming offseason that includes Carson Wentz trade talks and salary cap disaster, the Philadelphia Eagles have a lot of work to do in free agency.
According to Spotrac, the Eagles go into the offseason ranked 31st in cap space with over -$41 million. This essentially means that the team has a lot of work to do to get their salary cap back to full strength. Helping with the situation could potentially be trading cornerstone players like Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz. Wentz’s massive contract will prevent teams from making a Matthew Stafford-like offer to the team.
These salary cap issues prevents the Eagles from making big time moves in free agency and might have to rely on the draft. With that being said, there is still wiggle room to bring in talent from free agency to fill position of needs. Their focus should be on finding their unknown quarterback more receiving targets and repairing the linebackers and secondary. Regardless of the direction they go, general manager Howie Roseman and new head coach Nick Sirianni have a lot of work to do.
Five Free Agent Targets for Eagles
After ten seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, K.J. Wright finds himself a free agency with no certainty of coming back. Familiar with the 4-3 defense, Wright started all 16 games last season recording 86 tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and one interception. He has been to the Pro Bowl once and played a critical role in Seattle when they won the Super Bowl in 2014.
Outside of Alex Singleton and T.J. Edwards, the Eagles’ linebacking core has continued to be a major flaw on the roster. Multiple players have played making it hard for the unit to be consistent. New defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon will be looking in free agency or the draft for reinforcement.
The Eagles have been lost in terms of leadership since Malcolm Jenkins left the team last season. Bringing in a veteran presence in a very young linebacking core could go a long way. After key players like Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas left Seattle, Wright was able to take more of a leadership role on the defense.
Linebacker is a position the Eagles have not focused on the last few seasons under Jim Schwartz. Last season, the Eagles traded for Darius Slay to help the secondary. Now, the team must do something at linebacker and might be able to make room for Wright to take the next step.
This one might come as a surprise, but it may not be a bad option for the Eagles to consider. It seems as though Carson Wentz might be traded if they get the right offer. Jalen Hurts would be the new full time starting quarterback for the Eagles unless they drafted another one. Hurts will need a veteran to help him navigate through the season.
Jacoby Brissett played under Nick Sirianni with the Indianapolis Colts and was his starting quarterback in 2019. Brissett had a career high 18 touchdowns and a career low six interceptions in 15 games in 2019. The relationship already makes it a great match and adds depth to the quarterback position.
Knowing the offensive system already, Brissett could serve as a mentor for Hurts and help in his development. He could also serve as a short yards solution. Brissett was used on multiple times last season as the Colts’ quarterback sneak runner. It would save Hurts from taking any unnecessary hits.
This move solely depends on if the Eagles can find the right offer for Wentz. Should the Eagles trade Wentz away, Brissett seems like the perfect signing while getting him on a cheap contract as their backup quarterback. Sirianni should be considering Brissett to have a quarterback with experience backing up Hurts.
The NFL journey of Breshad Perriman is one of great intrigue. The former first round pick has gone through injury issues at the beginning of his career that put him behind the nine ball. He’s never reached his full potential, but he’s always find a way to make an impact on offense.
The Eagles have struggled to find playmakers for Wentz the last two seasons. Most of the issues have been with injuries with Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson not being able to stay healthy. After spending a lot of money on the two receivers, the Eagles might be looking for cheaper solutions with younger players.
Perriman isn’t a number one receiver in the NFL, but he’s got blazing speed and can serve as a deep threat in the offense. The Eagles will most likely look in the draft for a young receiver to work alongside Jalen Reagor. Perriman provides depth at receiver while also being a cheap option in free agency for a serviceable receiver.
The Eagles need help in the secondary as depth continues to be the downfall of the Eagles. Injury issues had the Eagles depleted by the end of the season with no support at cornerback. Looking for a reliable veteran could be the way to go.
Xavier Rhodes’ play has digressed the last few seasons resulting in him finding a new home from Minnesota last season after seven seasons with the Vikings. He joined the Indianapolis Colts last season and played under Colts secondary coach Jonathan Gannon. Gannon is now the defensive coordinator for the Eagles joining Sirianni’s staff.
The relationship between Rhodes and Gannon could provide a pathway for Rhodes to sign with the Eagles. Despite a rough last few seasons in Minnesota, Rhodes got back into shape with the Colts with two interceptions and 12 pass deflections. Gannon got Rhodes back to his old ways and would provide Slay a good partner in crime in the secondary. Rhodes could come cheap to the Eagles since Gannon coached him well last season.
Adding another linebacker to this list can only tell the readers the importance of having a new linebacker in the Eagles’ lineup. Matt Milano has played a critical role in the Buffalo Bills’ linebacking core in his first four NFL seasons. Despite his pectoral injury this season. Milano was seen as a key piece to the Bills defense as they made it to the AFC Championship game this past season.
Milano rarely misses tackles and plays with a high motor on the field. He has great instincts to find the ball carrier and could be considered an underrated linebacker. His coverage skills could come in handy for the Eagles as their linebacking core last year wasn’t as strong in pass coverage.
Questions will continue to circle around what the Eagles are going to do at linebacker. Milano might come cheaper in price since he had an injury last season. Keeping him on a shorter deal could give the team time to see if they have a future piece to their defense.