Eagles Stay or Go — Three players entering Year 3

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Eagles Stay or Go — Three players entering Year 3

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles

All of our previous Stay or Go posts can be found here.

Destiny Vaeao 
Vaeao played 231 snaps in 11 games and that's a significant amount for a backup defensive tackle. Vaeao, undrafted out of Washington State two years ago, isn't a playmaker or a pass rusher, but in a limited role he seems to be a capable run stuffer, and the way Jim Schwartz rotates his linemen, that's a key role. And his minimum-wage salary doesn't hurt his chances. The Eagles could easily replace Vaeao in the draft. They haven't taken a defensive tackle in the first five rounds in the last four drafts. But for now, I'd expect Vaeao to stick around.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: The undrafted defensive tackle from a year ago had to battle through a hand injury and surgery during the 2017 season, but still managed to play 22 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps. With Beau Allen's becoming a free agent, Vaeao might actually get to play a bigger role with the defense in 2018. 

Verdict: STAYS

Halapoulivaati Vaitai 
Big V was such a crucial part of the offensive line during the Super Bowl run. What a story. It's a lot to ask a fifth-round draft pick to replace a Hall of Famer, but that's what he did. By the time the playoffs rolled around, Big V was playing at a high, consistent level. Doug Pederson said he expects Jason Peters to be his opening-day left tackle next year, but eventually the job will be Big V's.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Big V might very well be one of the biggest reasons the Eagles won a Super Bowl. Think about it. When Peters went down, there were a bunch of fans who were trying to figure out a way for Howie Roseman to pull off a trade for a veteran. Instead, the Eagles stuck with Vaitai and he played very well. Was he Peters? No. Before Peters went down, he was playing at an All-Pro level. But Vaitai more than held his own. Whether he's the starter or is back to being a backup next season, he isn't going anywhere. 

Verdict: STAYS

Joe Walker
Walker, a seventh-round pick in 2016 out of Oregon, has been around a couple years and got into 12 games this past year, playing 97 snaps on defense and 127 on special teams. Walker can always tell his kids he won a Super Bowl ring with the Eagles, but he didn't show enough on defense or special teams to warrant another year. 

Verdict: GOES

Dave: For a while in 2017, it looked like Walker would have a big role. He should have been the guy to replace Jordan Hicks in the team's base package. But Najee Goode got a chance and then the team brought in Dannell Ellerbe, who eventually took over. Walker suffered a stinger and ended his second NFL season on IR. Really, the move to bring back Bryan Braman took away Walker's biggest role on special teams. He might not have provided the Eagles with the caliber of backup linebacker they hoped for, but he still has value on special teams. He'll be a bubble guy. 

Verdict: STAYS

Eagles agree to deal with WR Mike Wallace

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Eagles agree to deal with WR Mike Wallace

The Eagles have found their replacement for Torrey Smith. 

Heck, they found an upgrade. 

On Thursday, the Birds agreed to terms with veteran speedy receiver Mike Wallace on a one-year deal. The deal is worth $2.5 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. 

This signing makes a ton of sense for the Eagles, especially if they weren’t ready to hand Mack Hollins the starting spot Smith left. Hollins can now split time with Wallace. Even if the Eagles didn’t trade Smith, they weren’t going to keep him at his price tag, so adding Wallace gives the Eagles a veteran with speed at a cheaper cost. 

Wallace, 31, is coming off a season in which he caught 52 passes for 748 yards (14.4 yards per reception) and four touchdowns. For comparison, in 2017, Smith caught 36 passes for 430 yards (11.9) and two touchdowns. And Smith dropped seven passes, while Wallace dropped just three, according to ProFootballFocus. In fact, Wallace's numbers weren't far off from Alshon Jeffery's stats last year (57 receptions, 789 yards, 9 touchdowns). 

While Wallace isn’t coming off his best season in 2017, he went over 1,000 yards in 2016 and has averaged 15.0 yards per reception during his nine-year NFL career. The Eagles hope he'll be the deep threat they thought they were getting in Smith. 

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Wallace is second in the league in 40-yard receptions and in 50-yard receptions. He has 43 receptions of 40-plus yards (behind DeSean Jackson's 56) and 26 receptions of 50-plus yards (behind Jackson's 36). 

If that's not recent enough for you, the Eagles had seven pass plays of 50-plus yards in 2017; Wallace had three on his own. He can still stretch the field. 

The Eagles can now start Alshon Jeffery and Wallace on the outside, which will allow them to keep Nelson Agholor in the slot, where he was great last season. Then they’ll still have Hollins and Shelton Gibson (both draft picks from 2017) off the bench. Not bad. 

Wallace will turn 32 before the season starts, so the Eagles have added another veteran player, something they’ve done plenty this season. They already added Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. It’s pretty clear the Eagles see the need to maximize their window of opportunity and getting players to join them is probably easier coming off a Super Bowl win. 

Signing veterans on one-year deals certainly worked well for the Eagles last season and if this one works out too, they will have found a good fit for the 2018 season.  

Eagles' Super Bowl odds changed by free agency

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Eagles' Super Bowl odds changed by free agency

The Eagles pulled off trades and signed a few free agents after the new league year began on March 14 ... and it's shortened their Super Bowl odds. 

The Eagles' odds to win Super Bowl LIII improved from 9/1 to 17/2 between Feb. 5 and March 22, according to Bovada. Despite beating them in Super Bowl LII less than two months ago, the Eagles still trail the Patriots, who stood pat at 5/1. 

Here's the full top 10: 

1. Patriots: 5/1
2. Eagles: 17/2
3. Vikings: 9/1
4. Steelers: 12/1
5. Packers: 14/1
5. Rams: 14/1
7. Saints: 18/1
8. Falcons: 20/1
9. Texans: 22/1
9. Jaguars: 22/1
9. Raiders: 22/1

As for the rest of the teams in the NFC East, the next closest to the Eagles are the Cowboys, but their inactivity this offseason gave them longer odds, going from 18/1 to 28/1. The Giants' odds stayed at 50/1, while the Redskins' odds went from 50/1 to 66/1. 

And here's a fun prop bet: The over/under for Michael Bennett sacks in 2018 is set at 8. Last season, he had 8½ with the Seahawks. Now, he's playing on a dynamic defensive line but also figures to play less because of the Eagles' rotation.