PHILADELPHIA - At the risk of alienating the Eagles’ fanbase, Howie Roseman has the Philadelphia roster in a good position heading toward the new league year after the so-called Carson Wentz reset in 2021 that forced owner Jeffery Lurie to describe the past season as a transitional one.
The fact that the transition resulted in a playoff berth will have expectations high as the Eagles enter the offseason flush with salary-cap room and with three first-round picks to work with, Nos. 15, 16, and 19 come April.
More so, as far as their own house the Eagles have only nine players set to become unrestricted free agents, four of the traditional variety after their contracts expire and five more when Roseman’s voidable years trick to push off salary-cap ramifications over a five-year period kicks in.
The first category with expiring contracts includes running back Jordan Howard, SAM linebacker Genard Avery, defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and tight end Jason Croom.
Those with contracts set to void are safeties Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris, cornerback Steve Nelson, and edge rushers Derek Barnett and Ryan Kerrigan.
The Eagles are also set to have four restricted free agents in offensive lineman Nate Herbig, LB Alex Singleton, RB Boston Scott, and WR Greg Ward while the lone exclusive-rights is defensive back and special-teamer Andre Chachere.
In all honesty, Philadelphia could afford to lose every last one of its UFAs and not miss a beat but here’s our annual rating of the players who can test the market as far as importance goes for a possible run-back in 2022.
1. Safety Anthony Harris - The Eagles would like to improve at both safety positions but it’s tough to do that in one offseason and Harris is a little bit younger and a little bit healthier than Rodney McLeod, a team leader who will turn 32 in June and had two recent ACL injuries.
Harris, who will turn 31 in October of next season, likely won’t break the bank and has more experience with Jonathan Gannon than any other Eagles player, something that should be noted if Gannon is back doesn’t get a head-coaching job.
2. Cornerback - Steve Nelson - Nelson turns 29 later this week and did yeoman work as the complement to Darius Slay on the outside, providing a steady if unspectacular presence on Gannon’s defense. Although the Eagles would like to upgrade and the draft may provide that opportunity, 2021 rookie Zech McPhearson isn’t ready so if Nelson again doesn’t see a market develop for his services the Eagles should consider another cost-effective deal.
3. Running back Jordan Howard - If the Eagles stick with Jalen Hurts for 2022, and that’s the most likely outcome, the offense will remain run first so why not bring back a 27-year-old between the tackles runner who is more important to your system than most back for the veteran minimum?
4. SAM linebacker Genard Avery - The hybrid LB/edge rusher flashed at times in 2021 but the Eagles would certainly like a more impactful player at the position. That said, Avery shouldn't break the bank and turns 27 in April. If his market is tepid, he could return.
5. Defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway - The Eagles are set on the interior with the idea that Fletcher Cox will be returning. Ridgeway is currently No. 4 behind Cox, Javon Hargrave and the emerging Milton Williams on the interior and Philadelphia would like to see a Marlon Tuipulotu or Raequan Williams step up but Ridgeway could remain insurance.
6. Edge Rusher - Derek Barnett - A change of scenery would probably do both sides some good. The 2017 first-round pick is a good player but never developed into a finisher as a pass rusher that the Eagles envisioned. Others will likely still see potential in Barnett and will likely go to a price Philadelphia won’t match. Of all the names on this list, Barnett is the one who could generate a somewhat significant contract.
7. Safety Rodney McLeod - At his age with an injury history, McLeod has likely played his last down in Philadelphia despite his legitimate leadership credentials and ties to the community.
8. Edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan - Kerrigan slow-played us all being a non-factor in the regular season before flashing and looking like the old Ryan Kerrigan in the playoffs with 1.5 sacks. Set to turn 34 in August, he may have earned another NFL deal with his performance against Tom Brady but not in Philadelphia.
9. Tight end Jason Croom - Croom spent the entire season on IR with a knee injury while undrafted rookie Jack Stoll developed behind Dallas Goedert. The Eagles will also have Tyree Jackson returning at some point from his ACL injury so Croom has a tough road ahead to stay in the mix.
- As far as the RFAs, expect the Eagles to work out tenders with Herbig, Singleton, and Scott but the receiver room needs a makeover outside of DeVonta Smith so Ward may be allowed to become unrestricted.
Chachere will be back as an ERFA even though he seemed to lose his gunner role to Josiah Scott late in the season.
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.