Answering 3 Offseason Eagles Questions
PHILADELPHIA – There are many questions the Eagles must answer before free agency begins on March 16.
Here are three:
WHAT TO DO ABOUT JASON PETERS AND MALCOLM JENKINS?
Peters wants to come back for another year.
Jenkins doesn’t want to come back unless he has a new contract.
The Eagles are loyal to their players, and general manager Howie Roseman admitted that is his biggest weakness.
“It's very difficult when you have guys who have given their heart and soul to this organization, to this team, who you've developed personal relationships to say goodbye, and I'm not talking about those guys (Peters and Jenkins, specifically), I’m just talking about that decision," said Roseman.
"At the same time, you also need veteran leadership on your football team and you need guys that have been through it. I think you saw that for us at the end of the year, there are guys that have been through the adversity and were able to overcome it and be able to take our young players and lead them and tell them kind of the expectations that they had, so you try to balance all those things.”
My answer: Bring back Jenkins and let Peters go.
Jenkins hasn’t lost a step and has played 96 straight games. The Eagles have also left themselves in a difficult position at safety. If Jenkins doesn’t return, then the team would probably have to bring back Rodney McLeod, who is a free agent. If both Jenkins and McLeod go, the Eagles will have just Marcus Epps and Rudy Ford at safety.
As for Peters, Dillard was picked in the first-round last year. It’s time to let him play.
“They brought me along so there’s no drop-off when he decides to step away from the game,” said Dillard about Peters. “Until that time, my job is to back up the tackle spots, play tight end, whatever they want me to do.
"I don’t blame him for wanting to play another year. It’s hard to step away from the game especially if you’ve been around it that long. I support him fully no matter what he wants to do. I love the guy.”
HOW TO FIX THE SECONDARY?
Starters Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are both free agents. Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas have been inconsistent in spot starts and as fill-in since they were drafted in the second and third rounds, respectively in 2017.
None of the aforementioned four are shutdown corners, and it’s been a long time since the Eagle have had one. Maybe not since Asante Samuel, who had 23 interceptions in four seasons (2008-11) in Philly.
“I think that we've got to get with our staff and decide kind of what we're going to do going forward, but also look at any way we possibly can improve the team, and that's an important position,” said Roseman. “You see it, when you have a guy who can really kind of take over and take one side of the field, but those guys are hard to find. They don't kind of grow on trees.
“When you talk about some of these young players, they also got some great experience. Proud of them and the way they competed. Talk about a guy like Sidney, a guy that had so much adversity in his first couple years and came in at end of the season and really played well. Rasul is a guy who is tremendously competitive. We'll just see going forward."
My answer: There will be a new defensive backs coach with Cory Undlin leaving to become the defensive coordinator with the Detroit Lions, so go out and get some new players, too.
Go big in free agency, sign one or two from a group of Byron Jones, James Bradberry, Logan Ryan, Trae Waynes, and Bradley Roby and draft one in the first three rounds, if not the first round, and draft another one later.
IS ANOTHER WR NEEDED?
Unless Roseman proves to be a miracle worker and finds a way to unload Alshon Jeffery, he will return. DeSean Jackson will, too, even at age 33 and despite playing only one full game on the first year of the three-year contract he signed last offseason.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside did nothing in his rookie season that makes you hold out much hope that he will be a gamebreaker. He may prove to be a steady, possession-type of pass catcher, and that could be helpful.
But the Eagles need a game-breaker – somebody who isn’t 33, like Jackson.
Greg Ward is serviceable but not a gamebreaker.
My answer: Go draft a gamebreaker. If the Eagles don’t go corner in the first round, go receiver. There are plenty of good ones expected to be in the draft, but don’t wait until the later rounds.
The Eagles waited to draft a running back in the running back-rich draft of 2017 and ended up with Donnel Pumphrey in the fourth round.
The draft was steeped in defensive tackles last year and the Eagles didn’t get one, though they did try to fortify their defensive line by signing Timmy Jernigan and Malik Jackson. Roseman pointed out that losing Jackson to a season-ending injury in the season opener was costly. Jernigan went out early in the year with an injury, too, and played just 10 games.
Bottom line: Don’t wait on a receiver just because the there are plenty of them to be had. Go get one from the top of your draft board.