The Official Site of the Philadelphia Eagles



5 Questions With Answers Coming March 14

Posted Mar 4, 2018

Already, the NFL is enjoying a flurry of mega-trades and headline-generating news weeks before free agency begins. That is a good appetizer for what could very well be wall-to-wall chaos when March 14 arrives ...

Already, the NFL is enjoying a flurry of mega-trades and headline-generating news weeks before free agency begins. That is a good appetizer for what could very well be wall-to-wall chaos when March 14 arrives

So where do the Eagles stand? How do they stand? Howie Roseman says the Eagles are going to be “creative” with their approach to salary-cap management and roster building. He says the Eagles want to keep as “many good players” as they can possibly keep.

But the reality is that there are challenges with the salary cap and there is also the matter of having a roster that is already in very good shape, with most of the key contributors to the Super Bowl LII win already under contract.

How deep will the Eagles go in free agency? How far can they go with the limitations in place?

“We’re considering everything to make this a better football team,” Roseman said.

Washington traded for quarterback Alex Smith. Kansas City dealt cornerback Marcus Peters to the Rams. Some big-name players have already been released. Some have retired (such as punter Donnie Jones, for example).

It sure seems like the pre-free agency activity has dwarfed previous years and given some promise that free agency itself will be so much fun.

Where can the Eagles make some moves? Where do they need to make some moves? Let’s take a look, with free agency just a tick over a week away ...

1. How Many Starting Jobs Are Up For Grabs?

This is just pre-free agency talk, some watercooler chatter, but it would appear that most of the starting jobs are heavily tilted toward the incumbents. Carson Wentz is the starter when healthy, backed up by Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld. Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement head the picture at halfback with LeGarrette Blount scheduled to be a free agent on March 14 and with his future uncertain. The wide receivers are all under contract, but of course everyone is watching Alshon Jeffery and his recovery from shoulder surgery.

The offensive line? Locked up, with Jason Peters on the mend after his injury and with young linemen Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Isaac Seumalo, and Chance Warmack pushing for playing time. At tight end, Zach Ertz is a Pro Bowl player.

On defense, the big question seems to be the status of linebacker Nigel Bradham and nickel cornerback Patrick Robinson, both of whom are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents on March 14.

Jones obviously needs to be replaced as a punter and a holder for field goals and PATs, with only Cameron Johnston currently under contract.

2. Which Second-Year Players Will Step Up?

This is obviously a central part of the equation. The Eagles expect some of the 2017 rookies to be major young-veteran contributors. Defensive end Derek Barnett had a strong rookie season and will be looking for more in 2018. Cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas are very much going to be in the mix on that fascinating depth chart. Mack Hollins showed some game as a rookie at wide receiver and is going to push for playing time. Shelton Gibson faces a critical offseason of development.

We’ll find out all we need to know about running back Donnel Pumphrey this summer. Late draft picks linebacker Nathan Gerry and defensive tackle Elijah Qualls will have opportunities to improve their stock.

Spadaro Podcast Email

Clement and placekicker Jake Elliott, acquired after the draft – Clement signed as a non-drafted rookie and Elliott was added from the Bengals’ practice squad – are already locked into big roles and they will hope to take their games to new levels.

3. Are Any Trades In The Works?

There are going to be all kinds of rumors and reports – you know that by now, right? But how much is truth and how much is fiction, well, we’ll find out on March 14 and beyond. Roseman is one of the most active move-makers in the NFL, and he’s got an open and creative mind. The Eagles have just six picks in April's NFL Draft, and there may be an opportunity or two to add to that stock.

This question – are any trades in the works? – goes back to the top of the story: Do all of these moves made now mean that the free-agency period is going to be crazier than usual? And if that’s the case, can the Eagles use that to their advantage?

At the moment, it’s quiet. You know it won’t stay that way for long.

4.  How Active Can The Eagles Be In Free Agency?

This goes back to Roseman saying the Eagles would be "creative." Because, honestly, a year ago the thinking from this perspective was that the Eagles would be limited in what they could do as they acquired personnel. They were "tight" within the salary cap. But then we saw what they did and it was spectacular.

The expectations, then, are modest. But we’ll see how it goes.

5. Where Are The Needs On This Football Team?

A lot depends on what happens with Bradham, the starting SAM linebacker, and Robinson, the starting nickel cornerback. Tight end Trey Burton is a prospective unrestricted free agent, as are Blount and defensive tackle Beau Allen and safety Corey Graham.

The Eagles are always going to challenge the roster. They know that complacency loses in the NFL.

With that, the NFL Scouting Combine comes to an end on Monday. Full attention turns to free agency at that point and we’ll learn the plan. It’s always a surprise, isn’t it? Even as the team plots its course, there are turns in the road that require Plans B and C to get some use. That’s the fun of it all. What lies ahead is going to be a surprise, no matter how much you think you’ve figured out the Eagles’ intentions.

Philadelphia Eagles Insider bringing you breaking news, plus all the latest buzz and speculation surrounding the team.
Subscribe to Eagles Live Podcast


Recent Articles