Eagles

Eagles mailbag: Should Eagles go after WR in free agency?

Eagles

As the bye week continues, let’s finish up with your Twitter questions today. We got enough to split this mailbag into three parts.

Here’s Part 1.

Here’s Part 2.

And here’s Part 3:

Yeah, it’s probably a little early to start talking about free agency, but I still like the question. And when free agency arrives it is probably time for the Eagles to spend some money on the position.

The Eagles have used back-to-back first-round picks on receivers. One looks great. The other looks terrible. After this season, the Eagles simply can’t pretend to rely on Jalen Reagor. I was fully on board for a season of DeVonta Smith, Reagor and Quez Watkins in 2021 because I wanted to see them for a full season and let them grow. But after 3/4ths of the season, it’s pretty clear that this trio simply isn’t good enough. The Eagles should think about signing a top-notch free agent to pair with Smith.

There are certainly some intriguing names on that list. A couple of them are going to get massive contracts. It’s worth pointing out that Chris Godwin and Michael Gallup are both still just 25 and will be 26 when the 2022 season begins. So signing one of them could be a long-term investment. The problem with 26-year-old free agents is they’re expensive. The market for such players has risen substantially in recent years. I think back to when the Eagles signed Brandon Brooks and Rodney McLeod in 2016 and they got them for expensive but reasonable deals. You want Gallup or Godwin, you’re going to have to pay up. But I think either could be worth it.

 

It has been a little frustrating to watch Smith get just four targets in each of his last two games. In those last two games, he has a combined four caches for 37 yards. That’s not good enough. In the last game, the Eagles got things going with Dallas Goedert and threw to their backs out of the backfield, so it’s a little more understandable. There’s no excuse for what happened against the Giants.

And, really, four targets isn’t enough no matter what. The minimum of targets for Smith in each game should be around five or six. The Eagles simply need to prioritize getting him going in games. That’s not to say they should force feed it, but they need to realize they have a No. 1 receiver. It’s their job to get the ball to him. Smith’s frustration after the loss to the Giants was warranted.

It is a problem but there’s not much the Eagles can do about it. For a while there, it was looking like the Eagles were going to have three top 10 picks. If the season ended today, they’d have Nos. 12, 13 and 17. I get why you’re worried if those picks slide even more.

But if they stay in the teens, the Eagles might be OK. Howie Roseman has made four picks from 10-19 in his time as GM: DeVonta Smith (No. 10 in 2021), Derek Barnett (No. 14 in 2017), Fletcher Cox (No. 12 in 2012), Brandon Graham (No. 13 in 2010). That’s not a bad track record. The weakest pick of that bunch is Barnett, who hasn’t lived up to his draft status; but he’s at least been a serviceable player and not a bust. The Graham pick got off to a slow start but he’s an all-timer. Cox was a home run. And Smith is looking pretty good.

Joseph, thank you for the kind words. I really like T.J. Edwards and it’s impossible not to like what he’s done for the Eagles’ defense since entering the starting lineup. There’s just something about his physicality that has really made a difference. But there’s a ceiling on him. I generally think he’s more athletic than people give him credit for and a lot of times his instincts make up for his lack of pure athleticism. Will he ever be great? Probably not, not if we’re talking about a perennial Pro Bowl-level player. Don’t think he has that in him. But he’s a good, solid player.

As for DeVonta Smith … I think he’s good now and has the potential to be great.

Thanks for leaving the QB out of this. I get exhausted with that constant conversation, although I certainly understand it. This team needs several upgrades heading into the 2022 season and I think the most glaring ones are on the defensive side. I’d put edge rusher and safety right at the top of the list.

 

At edge rusher, the Eagles will bring back Josh Sweat and will presumably bring back Brandon Graham. But Derek Barnett should leave in free agency. And Graham will be 34 and coming off a major Achilles injury. It would make a ton of sense if the Eagles used one of their three first-round picks on a defensive end.

And then there’s the safety position. Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris will both be free agents and there’s a decent shot neither will be back in 2022. The good news is that Marcus Epps is under contract for next season and he should be back with a chance to start. But we still haven’t seen much of K’Von Wallace and this is a spot the Eagles need to address.

Well, it’s a lot of fun. I’m writing this from New Mexico as I take a break from a road trip. To the Eagle Eye podcast listeners, I apologize for the light week, but we’ll be back in full force next week. And I also get to enjoy a Sunday watching football. During the season, I’m so focused on the Eagles game, I rarely even know what’s going on in the rest of the league. So, like the rest of you, I’m looking forward to a relaxing Sunday watching football.

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