It is now safe to say we all underestimated Howie Roseman and his wizardry. Most of my articles in ‘The Restructured Reload’ have been about retaining core players through contract negotiation. Howie took that notion and said, “Hold my beer…” While the Eagles departed with a few key components due to financial differences and better opportunities, they also brought in several quality assets.
If it ain’t broke, upgrade it
The Eagles built their roster, and won a Super Bowl, on the philosophy of having depth on the offensive and defensive lines. Low and behold, Howie upgrades the best unit on the team by bringing in ten-year defensive lineman Michael Bennett.
To seal the deal, Howie sent a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft and wide receiver Marcus Johnson for the former Seahawks defensive veteran and a seventh-round pick. Bennett is much like Brandon Graham in the fact that he has the speed to be an edge rusher, but also the strength to create chaos inside as a defensive tackle. Right off the bat, Philadelphia already feels like a dynasty destination. Plus, Bennett only carries a $6.65 million cap hit. Oh, and then the Eagles also went out and got 6-4, 345 pound run THUMPER Haloti Ngata to replace the loss of Beau Allen.
Bradham secured the bag. What’s that mean for Kendricks?
In arguably the most important move of Philly’s free agency, reports came in with the announcement of Nigel Bradham’s new deal. I have written extensively about how important Bradham was last season, not only because of his play after Hicks’ went down, but his leadership and expertise of Jim Schwarz’s scheme.
In a less splashy move, the Eagles brought in former Broncos’ linebacker Corey Nelson. The fifth-year backer out of Oklahoma has started just six games in his career, but became a solid depth piece for Denver before tearing his bicep last year. This signing, along with the extension of Bradham, has led many to believe that Mychal Kendricks is once again on the trade block. Kendricks holds a $7.6 million cap hit for 2018, but his deal does not expire until after the 2019 season.
Is Howie going to trade a cornerback?
Another move that has led many to question whether a trade may be coming soon was the Torrey Smith trade. The Eagles sent the wide receiver in a straight up deal to the Panthers for third-year cornerback Daryl Worley. Worley was part of the tandem that Julio Jones burnt for 300 receiving yards in 2016, but steadily improved his play as the Panthers’ number two corner. With so many young cornerbacks on the roster, will the Eagles move one for an early round draft pick? Or will htey hang on to the talented group and see who emerges as the premier pieces? The big question mark I foresee is the possibility of Ronald Darby not having that same speed after a gruesome looking ankle injury last year.
Following the sad news that fan-favorite tight end Brent Celek was released and the formidable Trey Burton is heading to Chicago, I immediately expected the Eagles to use a draft pick on a tight end. However, the free agent market has become more interesting, and a guy like Benjamin Watson or veteran Antonio Gates can complement/spell Ertz. Gates actually would be very interesting as another redzone target if he wants to compete for a ring next season. Then, the Eagles can grab a pass-blocking tight end later in the draft or even an undrafted free agent.
Whatever move the team makes will likely not be a sexy one, but could benefit the Eagles at a low cost. Interior lineman Matt Slauson is entering his ninth-season in the NFL and has started at left guard or center in six of those. Without missing a single game in those six seasons. Slauson would add veteran depth to a very solid offensive line, and he ran Frank Reich’s zone-run scheme in San Diego for some time, a scheme the Eagles’ are sure to keep for next season.
As of this writing, Vinny Curry remains an Eagle and has yet to be released or traded. Again, if the Eagles can shed his humongous cap hit for an early round pick, that’s easy money. Derek Barnett proved last season he is capable of similar production to Curry if he continues to develop, and at a quarter of the price.