One of the main reasons the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2017 was that they had a great offseason. Big moves, small moves, early moves, or late moves. They all helped the team have an amazing season and win the big game.
The front office spent big money to lure stud receiver Alshon Jeffery to Philly. He turned out to be a great signing. Veteran running back LeGarrette Blount proved to be an effective power runner. Nick Foles was signed as an insurance policy, in case anything happened to Carson Wentz. Patrick Robinson and Chris Long were cheap signings several weeks into free agency. Both turned out to be great additions for the Eagles.
Howie Roseman traded for defensive tackle Tim Jernigan before the draft, Ronald Darby during the preseason, and Jay Ajayi at the deadline. Roseman was creative and aggressive. The Eagles hit on a lot of moves and that helped them to build a great roster.
The 2018 offseason did not go nearly as well, mainly due to injuries. Mike Wallace didn't catch a single pass. Haloti Ngata was slowed by a calf injury. Paul Worrilow got hurt and missed the entire season. Other players just disappointed. Linebacker Corey Nelson was cut before the regular season. Inexpensive veterans like Matt Jones, Markus Wheaton, and Kamar Aiken did not pan out.
The Eagles must have a better offseason this year if they want to get back to the top of the NFL mountain.
They don't have to go make a bunch of splashy moves. Winning headlines in March rarely leads to winning games in the fall. The Eagles need to make the right moves. Sometimes that means signing an Alshon Jeffery and creating a buzz. Other times it means signing Patrick Robinson and having most fans go, "Who?"
The Eagles felt they had a title team mostly in place last March, so they signed or re-signed a lot of older players. I'm curious to see if there will be more of a youth movement this year. The Eagles might feel like the injuries were an anomaly, or they might take that as a sign that they should go younger.
There is no perfect formula when it comes to building a roster. We all scratched our heads when Adrian Peterson signed with Washington, but he had a good year for them. Chris Long was 33 last year and had his most sacks since 2013. Some guys defy the odds and remain healthy and productive into their 30s.
At the same time, football is a young man's game. Carson Wentz is in the prime of his career. The Eagles must balance building a strong core around him with also trying to win right now. There is no need to go on a complete youth movement. The right veterans can make a huge difference.
One thing Roseman must do is find speed for the offense. Wentz has good targets in Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert. Wentz needs speedy playmakers, preferably at receiver and running back. The offense didn't get enough chunk plays in 2018. That needs to change.
I tend to think Roseman would like to add speedsters in the draft so the players could be here for several years and grow with Wentz. That's just a guess, though. If Roseman sees the right veterans available, he could easily go for one or two of them. He knows the offensive weapons weren't good enough in 2018.
The key on defense will be figuring out what to do up front. We know Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett will be back. After that, we have a lot of guessing to do.
Brandon Graham is a free agent. The Eagles would love to keep him in theory, but Graham will turn 31 in April. He's going to be looking for big money. Can you pay that to someone at his age? You don't want to lose a player like Graham, but the cost is a genuine concern as you make offseason plans. Deciding this would be torture for me.
Michael Bennett, Jernigan, and Long are veterans who are under contract. The Eagles have to decide if their price tags make sense based on their age, health, and production. Bennett was impressive this year and I'd hate to see him go anywhere.
The Eagles need to clear some cap space. They will have to get creative by adjusting some contracts. They will also have cut some players and let others walk in free agency. One of the problems that come with having a good team is that you want to keep everyone. That can't happen.
The biggest domino is Foles. The team must figure out if they are going to use the franchise tag on him. They could try to keep him around or listen to trade offers. Foles has been great the past couple of years, but he's ready to be a full-time starter. It will be interesting to see how his situation plays out.
While the Eagles don't have a ton of cap space right now, they do have a lot of draft picks for the first time in several years. That makes a big difference. The draft is the lifeblood of a team, and the Eagles do need to add young talent to the roster.
I'm excited to see how things shake out this offseason. Do the Eagles keep Jason Peters around another season? Do they bring back Darren Sproles for one final year, again? Do they re-sign Jordan Hicks? Heck, who is going to be the backup quarterback? Foles or Nate Sudfeld?
This is a complex offseason because the Eagles have some veteran players and complicated contracts to analyze. This is when you are glad that you have a strong front office to work through the issues.
Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas, Andy Weidl, and Dwayne Joseph are outstanding scouts and decision-makers. They will look at all the options and come up with a smart plan for how to navigate through these complicated situations.
The good news is that the Eagles have plenty of talent to build around. They have a great quarterback and an outstanding coaching staff. They have a defensive stud like Fletcher Cox and great team leaders like Jason Kelce and Malcolm Jenkins. The critical pieces are in place.
The Eagles want to build around them and get this team back on top. A strong offseason would make all the difference in the world.