2022 Philadelphia Eagles Offseason Preview
The final whistle of the Super Bowl marks the end of the 2021 season. That solidifies all draft positions and gets us looking to free agency as the next chance for teams to make significant changes to their rosters. In this series, I’ll break down the needs and goals of every team as it relates to the 2022 offseason. Included will be cap space, cut candidates, positions of need, and plenty of other useful stats and notes as we prepare for free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft. Special thanks to Over the Cap, Pro Football Reference, Pro Football Focus, and Ben Baldwin’s RBSDM.com for all of the useful stats they track and house.
Eagles 2021 Recap
Under no circumstances were the Eagles supposed to make the playoffs. Sportsbooks were giving them the sixth-best odds to finish the year with the worst record. They had an inexperienced quarterback with few weapons to work with and a first-year head coach, all of the hallmarks of a rebuilding team. In a spot that would break most teams, the Eagles flourished, found their identity as a run-first offense, and locked up a playoff spot before the final week of the regular season. Although their immediate loss at the hands of Tom Brady was an underwhelming end, Jalen Hurts showed the necessary progress to cement himself as the future, marking the season as a resounding success.
Key Offensive Stats
- Points per game: 26.1 (12th)
- Dropback EPA: .09 (15th)
- Passing yards per game: 200 (25th)
- Rush EPA: .03 (3rd)
- Rushing yards per game: 160 (1st)
The Eagles began 2021 by putting everything on Hurts’ shoulders. Hurts was 12th in pass attempts and second in quarterback rush attempts through six weeks. At the same time, no team had fewer running back carries. Philly’s offense was averaging 23 points. They ranked 24th in EPA per dropback and seventh in EPA per rush attempt. Then Nick Sirianni pulled a 180 and turned the Eagles into a team plucked straight from the 80s. After Week 6, the Eagles became the most run-heavy team in the league. Their EPA on dropbacks and rush attempts went through the roof after the change. In the final dozen weeks, Philly ranked eighth and fourth in these two stats.
Key Defensive Stats
- Points per game: 22.6 (18th)
- Dropback EPA: .06 (18th)
- Passing yards per game: 221 (11th)
- Rush EPA: -.08 (16th)
- Rushing yards per game: 108 (9th)
The defense was much more stable. They finished eighth in yards per attempt allowed and fifth in yards per carry allowed. The Eagles ranked well below average in turnovers and sacks, but, as their impressive EPA numbers suggest, that doesn’t matter if you play mistake-free football. That’s exactly what Philadelphia did as they allowed the fewest long passes and the seventh-fewest long runs. The bend but never even consider breaking strategy paired like a fine wine with the team’s run-first approach.
Eagles 2022 Offseason
Total Draft Value
Notable Free Agents
QB Gardner Minshew ($2.5 million in savings)
Notes: Philadelphia’s total draft value is the sum of the value of every pick they own using the Fitzgerald-Spielberger NFL Draft Trade Value Chart. The values are only estimates until the NFL announces compensatory picks. Cap savings are listed assuming the player is cut before June 1st.
Minshew carries the 18th largest cap hit for the Eagles in 2022 but ranks second in cap dollars saved if cut. That is to say, all of Philly’s meaningful contracts are inked in guaranteed money. Minshew wanted a shot at the starting job last year but Sirianni told him Hurts was their guy. It’s clear that Minshew wants to see the field and he won’t get a chance in Philadelphia. It’s possible that he is cut in a mutual parting of ways, though the Eagles will at least shop him on the trade market before things get to that point.
Despite investing a pair of first-round picks, a second-rounder, and two Day Three selections into wideouts over the past three years, the Eagles have one starting-caliber receiver on the roster. The Eagles should make wide receiver their biggest priority this offseason.
With Derek Barnett set to hit free agency after an underwhelming, two-sack season and Ryan Kerrigan also out of his contract, the Eagles are in need of depth and high-end talent at defensive end. The team ranked 29th in sacks per game in 2021. Though their defensive doesn’t need a dominant pass-rush to function, it would still benefit from a consistent threat off the edge.
Both of Philly’s starting safeties are free agents this year and the team has only spent a pair of Day 3 picks on the position over the past four drafts. Marcus Epps has developed into a rotational player for the Eagles and could be elevated to the role of starting free safety in 2022. Even if that is the case, they’re one starter short and need to ensure Epps with some depth.
The Eagles will keep their coaching staff together for another year despite defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon receiving multiple head coaching interviews. Still, there are plenty of adjustments to be made this offseason. Hurts led all qualified quarterbacks in time to throw, and that’s not surprising coming from an elite runner. However, he didn’t flee the pocket at the highest rate nor was he pressured at an absurd clip. Some of his time spent holding the ball was by design. Then, when the Eagles did throw it with pace, the offense was mostly a screen machine. Hurts had the second-lowest aDOT on throws that left his hands in less than 2.5 seconds. This hamstrung them in the two-minute drill but can be remedied by putting more quick-hitting throws on Hurts’ plate.
The Eagles have a trio of first-round picks in the upcoming draft because of the Carson Wentz trade and a pick swap with the Dolphins. They also enter the offseason well below the salary cap before restructuring contracts or extending players. This could include an extension for Darius Slay and restructuring the deals of Javon Hargrave and Lane Johnson. The combination of these contract maneuvers and their bountiful draft capital makes the Eagles one of the richest teams by overall resources. This allows GM Howie Roseman to make an outsized bet on an ascending quarterback playing on an extremely budget-friendly contract. If they give Hurts more weapons to work with and keep the defense as a strength, Philly can build a roster that will compete for years to come.