Free Agency Roundup – What We Thought

What grade would you give the Eagles’ free agent moves?

Dan – I give them an A. We all know the wide receivers were terrible last year. Howie knew it too. He went out and fixed it. I’m a fan of the talent he brought in. I don’t think Torey Smith is done. I think he was in a bad spot on a bad team. I expect a bounce back year. Taking a chance on Chance Warmack (see what I did there?) was a good move. A change of scenery could be very beneficial for him.

Kirk -B+.  The Eagles went after an immediate upgrade at the receiver position.  Torrey Smith hasn’t done much the last few years, but playing for a flailing San Fran team could be the reason why.  Alshon Jeffery has recently been suspended and has a history of dealing with injury.  Still, he has the talent to be a number one and arguably the best receiver to wear green since T.O. in terms of talent.  But the uncertainty of what they may bring to the table is why the grade isn’t even higher.

Holden – A. If the Eagles didn’t address the receiving corps they were going to cripple the development of their franchise quarterback. The obvious win-win move was Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery gives Wentz a target in the red zone and can make a bad throw look good. The best part is, Jeffery will really have to be motivated to hit the incentives in his contract this season. Torrey Smith is the deep threat that the Eagles have desperately needed since the departure of DeSean Jackson averaging 17.0 yards-per-catch for his career. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been very good, but the 49ers have been more dysfunctional than the Browns the last two seasons. I really think Smith is primed for a bounce back. Many national writers think Chance Warmack is a lost cause, but at 25 he could really bounce back under his college coach Jeff Stoutland. I really can’t complain about anything the Eagles have done so far.

Matt – B+. Time will tell if the Eagles made the right moves, but it sure looks like they did a great job.  As much as I like the moves, it’s hard to give an A when the two key free agents have huge flaws.  Alshon Jeffery has a questionable reputation when it comes to his injury history and toughness and is a positive test away from a 10-game suspension.  Torrey Smith is coming off one of, if not the worst, performances by a starting receiver in the NFL.  Chance Warmack (despite being my favorite collegiate athlete of all-time) has had an up-and-down career at best; topping off as an above-average starter and often looking like a replacement-level player.  I think we took a chance on the right guys, but only time will tell.

What are your thoughts on the one-year “prove it” deals?

Dan – I get the concern, but I’m a fan of these deals. Both WR’s have to prove to me that they’re worth larger, long-term contracts. I like the Torey Smith deal structure. If Chance Warmack plays anywhere near like he did in college, he’ll be an absolute steal at that value. $14 million is a lot for Jeffery, but it’s structured well and mitigates risk for the Eagles. Sure, they might have to pay a ton to keep him on a long-term deal, but if he’s putting up numbers that warrant it, why not?

Kirk – Love it.  It’s a win-win for both sides.  The Eagles don’t commit too much to someone they may need to separate from, for a myriad of reasons, and gives the player the extra push to prove they deserve a larger contract.  Pretty much anytime a player gets a huge deal, their production drops.  It’s a law, like water.  Or dinosaurs.

Holden – Who wouldn’t like the deals Roseman has made so far? The players should be extremely motivated on one-year deals, and if they perform they should be rewarded with long-term extensions. The people they signed are still young enough to contribute over time. Given the team’s salary cap situation, the Eagles needed to get creative with contracts to fill certain holes on the roster; that’s exactly what they did.

Matt – I’m fine with the deals, but Jeffery’s gives me some agita.  Worst case scenario?  He has an injury-plagued season and we wash our hands of him.  Best case scenario?  He turns in a stellar campaign and we are forced with three options: A) franchise tag B) long-term extension C) watch him walk.  The tag is expensive but punts the extension down the road.  The extension is probably the dream scenario, but he will get top money for the position.  Letting him walk results in a compensatory pick, but in a season in which Jordan Matthews will also be a free agent, it could be an even bigger hole to fill.  With outside threats aplenty now, Jordan will have plenty of space to roam the slot.  Let’s say Jeffery puts up an aggressive 1200/10 line and Matthews puts up 800/5 – that’s a combined 2000/15 that could walk out the door.  It’s a risk that may pay off in the long-run, but is still a risk nonetheless.

Who was the biggest winner of the Eagles free agency so far?

Dan – Carson Wentz. I am giddy thinking about what his numbers could look like next year, and I have to assume that he is too. The talent that he’ll be throwing to is so much better and getting a big wide receiver in Jeffery is such a plus. I honestly think that there could be an additional 2,000 yards of offense due to these signings alone. The field opens up and they can be much more productive. I have a feeling that Wentz is going to develop by leaps and bounds with these guys to throw to. I’m excited. Let’s go.

Kirk–I have to agree with Dan.  Carson Wentz went from having one receiver with potential to two proven NFL receivers, one of which can be a major factor if he stays healthy.  The Eagles had plenty of problems they needed to address at the end of the season, but getting Wentz some weapons will only benefit the offense and their franchise player.

Holden – The fans have been the biggest winners in this year’s free agency period. The fans will be able to hold the front office accountable for its decisions this offseason, good or bad. I really believe that Roseman is doing the right things, but I have thought that before. This year, we should find out if Roseman, Pederson, and Wentz are the right people to take the Eagles to the next level.

Matt – Say it with me: CARSON WENTZ.  I believe in Wentz but he was not undeserving of some criticism for his play.  He needs to take a big jump in year two – what better way to take that jump than with an offensive overhaul?  The Eagles strengthened the offensive line and upgraded the receiving corps, two areas of weakness for them in 2016.  Surround the boy with weapons and watch him turn into a man.  A bold yet simple plan to speed up his development and turn the Eagles (FINALLY!!!) into a legitimate title contender.

Now that the roster is a little different, who do you take at 14 in the draft?

Dan – I see a few options. If Dalvin Cook is there at 14, take him. Just picture what the offense could look like with all those weapons. If not, take a corner. If there isn’t a lockdown corner that you like at 14, consider trading back and acquiring a pick or two. Maybe take an edge rusher. The sky is the limit now that free agency was handled so effectively.

Kirk–I don’t have the draft knowledge of Holden or Matt.  No where close, really.  So I asked them to name me a few guys, then I looked them up and said, I think I’d like Gareon Conley.  Even though he went to Ohio State, I think he could improve the secondary.  I avoided looking at “strengths” and focused on “weaknesses”, and while a guy like Marlon Humphrey jumps out at you, his weaknesses said he depends too much on his athleticism.  That’s all fine and dandy in college, but in the pros, it’ll get you almost no where.  Conley’s NFL-comparison was Aqib Talib and his ability to be a press-corner and play in other settings makes him more valuable.

Holden – Honestly, I don’t really think the acquisitions should have a large effect on what the Eagles do with the 14th pick. The Eagles have to stick to their board and draft the best player available. I know a lot of people on the radio and in the fanbase have been advocating for Dalvin Cook, but there are concerns over his health, off-the-field issues, and the value of taking a running back in the first round. Now, I believe the best player on the board at 14 will be Gareon Conley. Conley is a long, athletic corner with an excellent career while at Ohio State. If you’d like to see more about what I think the Eagles should do in the NFL draft, keep an eye out for my Eagles mock draft that will be released this weekend!

Matt – Best player available.  Trust the guys in the room to do their jobs and take the best player on the board.  Whether it’s a defensive end, linebacker, cornerback, wide receiver, or running back, they can’t go wrong.  This team was devoid of talent last season and one draft won’t fix that overnight.  They cannot afford to miss at 14 or really at any selection this year.  The NFL will soon be at a crossroads with aging stars moving on to greener pastures broadcast booths and it will be ripe for a new era of talent.  It’s not just what they do at 14, it’s what they in rounds 1-7 and how they continue to develop past prospects. Good teams buy talent.  Great teams develop it.

…but I’d take John Ross at 14.



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