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Looking At The In-House FAs-To-Be

Posted Jul 25, 2011

With football on the verge of coming back, one of the Eagles' first orders of business will be making decisions on their own free-agents-to-be. There are 15 players who finished the 2010 season on the Eagles roster who are due to become unrestricted free agents (running back Eldra Buckley will be a restricted free agent - the Eagles placed an exclusive rights tag on him earlier this offseason). Here's a look at those 15 players and how likely it is that they return to Philadelphia.

K David Akers - Akers was originally designated with the transition tag by the Eagles, but the new CBA doesn't allow teams to use both the transition tag and the franchise tag in the same season (the Eagles placed the franchise tag on Michael Vick). That, coupled with the drafting of Nebraska kicker Alex Henery in the fourth round of April's draft, would seem to make it unlikely that the franchise leader in points scored will be back in midnight green. Unlikely, but not impossible.

LB Stewart Bradley - Here's the decision that will have the biggest domino effect. A third-round draft pick by the Eagles in 2007, Bradley has been a stellar player when on the field. After missing all of the 2009 season with a torn ACL, Bradley returned to middle linebacker in 2010 before missing the final four games of the season, including playoffs, with a dislocated elbow. The Eagles could choose to bring Bradley back and plug him right back at middle linebacker, allowing Jamar Chaney, who played well as Bradley's replacement, to move to the weak side. They could also choose to keep Chaney in the middle and slide Bradley to the strong side. Or, Bradley could hit the open market and the Eagles could look to bring in another veteran free agent at the position. This is one to keep an eye on.

OL Nick Cole - Cole has been with the Eagles since 2006, when he signed as an undrafted free agent, but his time in Philadelphia is likely up. With Howard Mudd taking over the offensive line and installing a scheme that relies a bit more on athleticism and quickness than brute strength, Cole may not be an ideal fit. Add on that the Eagles drafted three interior linemen in April's draft and it probably equals up to a new team for Cole.

LB Omar Gaither - A strong presence in the locker room who has always been willing to do whatever it takes to help the team, Gaither has had a solid career with the Eagles since he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2006 draft. But with three linebackers added in April's draft, plus two more from the 2010 draft, it appears Gaither will be moving on.

S Antoine Harris - Brought in during training camp last summer, Harris injured his ankle and landed on injured reserve for the duration of the 2010 season. He is unlikely to be a part of the safety picture this year.

RB Jerome Harrison - Harrison impressed in his half-season with the Eagles as LeSean McCoy's complement after the Eagles acquired him in exchange for Mike Bell, rushing for 6.0 yards per carry on 71 carries. The Eagles tendered Harrison at a second-round level back when it looked like he could be a restricted free agent, so they're surely interested in retaining his services. It will likely be up to Harrison to choose his 2011 location.

CB Ellis Hobbs - After another neck injury, there are serious question marks as to whether Hobbs will be able to play football again. With a few young cornerback already in the fold, the Eagles aren't likely to retain Hobbs.

OG Max Jean-Gilles - If Jean-Gilles is willing to accept role as the veteran backup on the interior line, he could return to Philadelphia. But with a crop of young linemen, the Eagles aren't likely to focus too much effort into retaining the former fourth-round pick.

LB Akeem Jordan - Another potential domino off the Bradley decision. If Bradley goes elsewhere, the Eagles could choose to bring back Jordan as the veteran of the linebacking corps, as he is still a sure bet to contribute on special teams. If Bradley does come back, Jordan has likely played his last game with the Eagles.

DE Bobby McCray - Brought in at the end of the season to aid the pass rush, McCray probably doesn't have a future with the Eagles.

S Quintin Mikell - The drafting of Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second round of April's draft indicated that Jarrett and Nate Allen will be the Eagles' safety tandem of the future. But with the truncated offseason, the Eagles may not be able to rely on Jarrett to take over the strong safety position right away, so they could look to bring back Mikell on a short-term deal. But Mikell may feel that he can lock in elsewhere for a longer period of time. Either way, Mikell, once an undrafted free agent, remains one of the great success stories of the Reid era.

CB Dimitri Patterson - Pressed into action at right cornerback midway through last season, Patterson handled the job adequately and remained an outstanding special teams player. If he's looking for somewhere to get a lot of playing time at cornerback, he may look elsewhere. But the Eagles would likely be willing to bring him back in his special teams role, as his hard work and self-belief would serve as a good example for the younger players in the secondary.

P Sav Rocca - Rocca, 37, is coming off the best season of his career, in which he set the franchise mark with a 39.0-yard net punting average, including 28 inside the 20-yard-line. Rocca has improved in each of his four seasons with the Eagles, and without another punter on the roster, the Eagles are likely to push to bring back the big Australian.

LB Ernie Sims - After starting 15 games at weakside linebacker for the Eagles in 2010, Sims is likely heading to the open market. The hard-hitting, if undersized, linebacker may not be an ideal fit for the new defensive scheme, and with so many young linebackers now in the fold, there doesn't appear to be a place for the former first-round pick.

OG Reggie Wells - Acquired a few days prior to the 2010 season from the Arizona Cardinals, Wells is also not an ideal fit for Mudd's new scheme. He is unlikely to be back with the Eagles.
 

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