I already answered the bulk of your questions but we’ll finish off the mailbag today.
And here comes Part 3:
I’ll go with their top five needs, excluding quarterback because, well, I have no idea what they’re going to do.
1. Receiver: The Eagles won’t have DeSean Jackson or Alshon Jeffery, so their top receiver heading into 2021 will be an unproven Jalen Reagor. No matter who the Eagles start at quarterback, they’ll need to get that player some real weapons. The Eagles desperately need to improve their offense and the way to do that is to finally get a top-notch receiver.
2. Corner: Darius Slay will return as CB1 but the Eagles can’t run it back with Avonte Maddox at CB2. They need to upgrade that position, especially because teams are going to keep targeting the other corner who starts opposite Slay. Maddox as a backup is a fine player but he shouldn’t be a starting outside corner.
3. Safety: We talk about cornerback so much but safety is a need too. Jalen Mills is going to be a free agent and Rodney McLeod will be coming off an ACL recovery in 2021. Is K’Von Wallace the answer? Marcus Epps? I don’t know. They’re young and unproven players.
4. Linebacker: I’m putting linebacker here but the Eagles might not see it this way. At least they found Alex Singleton in 2020 and the rookies from this past season will have a chance to develop. Still, the Eagles have neglected this position too much and it would help to find another one.
5. Defensive ends: The Eagles will bring back Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat next season. We’ll see about Derek Barnett and his expensive fifth-year option. But the Eagles need all the D-linemen they can get. Vinny Curry will be gone so they need more fastballs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them use a high-round pick on one.
I definitely think it makes sense for the Eagles to draft a receiver. I guess those young guys showed some promise but not enough to prevent the Eagles from taking a receiver.
Let’s look at the guys we expect back in 2021:
Jalen Reagor: Had a disappointing rookie season, but dealt with three different injuries. Showed some flashes but didn’t achieve a level of production that was expected. He projects as the starting Z receiver but has a lot to prove.
Quez Watkins: Watkins came on strong late but didn’t have sustained success. At least he has speed.
John Hightower: Had two big catches but didn’t play very well overall, catching just 53.8% of his targets.
Greg Ward: Solid and reliable from the slot but doesn’t offer much explosion.
Travis Fulgham: He had a magical stretch during the season but really tailed off late. What do the Eagles have in him? No idea.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: … ya know.
I think they get credit for those guys. I give them credit for those guys. But it doesn’t make up for missing on early round guys. The idea is to use those late-round or UDFA guys to supplement the roster. Sometimes they’ll become starters and rarely they’ll become stars. But the best teams consistently hit on top picks because that’s typically where you find your best players. That’s a really simple concept. The Eagles’ roster lacks top-tier young talent because they haven’t drafted it. That’s not to take away anything from the Greg Wards of the world.
I’ll go through those four players:
Alex Singleton: He’s an exclusive rights free agent, so he’ll be back at a cheap cost. The exclusive rights guys aren’t really even free agents, so he’s back in 2021. If he plays well, he can earn a long-term contract.
Greg Ward: Ward is another exclusive rights free agent, so expect him to be back. Sometimes the Eagles toss out the league-standard ERFA contracts and sign the guy to a similar one. Either way, Ward will be back in 2021.
Jalen Mills: Mills will be an unrestricted free agent and there’s a chance he’ll be back. He’s not a popular player but I thought he actually played fairly well in his first year after a position switch, but I also thought the Eagles overpaid him at $4 million. The departure of Jim Schwartz might make it slightly less likely that Mills is back. Schwartz was a big fan. But overall, he is a solid player.
Boston Scott: Scott is a restricted free agent, so we’ll see if the Eagles tender him. The Eagles might let him test free agency and then bring him back. If they put an original round tender on him, they’d get the right of first refusal and would get back a sixth-round pick if anyone signs him. But that would come with a salary of around $2.25 million in 2021.
It’s an interesting theory and I really like McCown. I think he has a future in the NFL as a coach. I think he might one day become a head coach in the league.
But let’s take a look at this theory. McCown left the Eagles to sign with the Texans on Nov. 4. Here are Wentz’s numbers before and after that date:
Before: 8 games, 58.4%, 1,883 yards, 12 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 73.2 rating
After: 4 games, 55.3%, 737 yards, 4 touchdown, 3 interceptions, 72.1 rating
Nah, doesn’t look to check out. But I still think McCown was a positive influence on Wentz and I think he should have a coaching job somewhere if he wants to go that route.
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast:
Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube