Howie Roseman and the Eagles aren’t done making moves yet, but since the dust has settled after the first week of free agency, let’s take a look at some of the moves they’ve made so far.
I used a simple A-F grading scale and tried to go in chronological order:
Re-signing Brandon Graham: B+
I liked this move. The Eagles brought back a big piece of their defensive line, but they did have to overpay a little bit to do it. Three years, $40 million is a lot of money, but if Graham keeps his level of play and stays healthy, he’ll be worth it. I know there’s some fear because Graham is 30 now, but he has relatively low tread because of his years as a rotational player.
Extending Jason Kelce: A+
This one was an easy A for me. The Eagles gave Kelce a much-deserved raise. I don’t know if he was ever really close to retiring, but if giving him this pay bump helped keep him, the Eagles absolutely made the right move. Even playing through injury in 2018, he was the best center in football. He’s arguably one of the most important pieces of the team and even at 31 can be for the next several seasons.
Trading Michael Bennett: C
I get why the Eagles traded Bennett, but it’s hard to overlook his production in 2018, when he was their best defensive end. Bennett seemed unhappy about his contract and would have been unhappy about his role; those were reasons enough to trade for him. But the Eagles were a better team with him than they are without him. Clearing all of his $7.2 million cap hit keeps this at a C level.
Extending Isaac Seumalo: A
Some folks are still blinded by Seumalo’s struggles earlier in his career, but he’s a decent starter at left guard and still has room to grow. This was a classic Joe Banner move from the Eagles; pay the player now and hope it becomes really team-friendly. His APY of $5.626 million is a good value for a starter and will become great value if he improves.
Signing Malik Jackson: A
The Eagles gave Malik Jackson a three-year deal that they can make a two-year deal if things go South. I don’t think that’s going to happen. Jackson will be a perfect fit next to Fletcher Cox in the Eagles’ defense as someone who can consistently beat 1-on-1s. No, he isn’t great against the run, but his pass rush ability will really help. He did get benched in Jacksonville, which is a concern, but I think that just helped the Eagles get him at a more reasonable price. And he doesn't hurt the comp pick formula.
Keeping Jason Peters: B
This was the hardest one for me to grade. In a vacuum, this deal doesn’t make a ton of sense. Why bring back a 37-year-old who can’t stay healthy? The problem was there weren’t really any better options for a left tackle unless the Eagles really wanted to roll the dice. If Peters — and I know it’s a huge if — can stay healthy, he’s their best option in 2019. This is a team that has a chance to compete to win a Super Bowl right now.
Trading for DeSean Jackson: A-
Aside from the DT position next to Cox, a speed receiver was the main component missing from the Eagles’ 2018 season. They didn’t just get a deep threat; they got one of the greatest deep threats in NFL history. Sure, he’s 32 now, but he led the NFL in yards per reception last year with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston. The minus on that A here is just because of his age. But that’s a gamble I’d be willing to take.
Declining Stefen Wisniewski’s option: D
By letting Wiz walk, the Eagles saved $3 million in cap space, but I would have kept him. Remember, their top backup guard right now is unproven sixth-round pick Matt Pryor and Brandon Brooks is coming off a torn Achilles. Keeping Wiz for a $3.7 million cap hit this year would have been a no-brainer for me. Now, the Eagles have to find an adequate replacement and backup.
Second-round tender on Nate Sudfeld: A
The Eagles placed a second-round tender on Sudfeld, which will pay him around $3 million. The reason I gave this an A was because if the Eagles decided they were clearly going to keep Sudfeld, it was worth paying him an extra million and pretty much guaranteeing his return.
Signing L.J. Fort: B
I’ll be honest: I don’t know a ton about Fort. I do know he’s a veteran special teams player who played 29.2 percent of the Steelers’ defensive snaps. The Eagles are going to lose D.J. Alexander and LaRoy Reynolds as free agents, so they needed this type of backup/special teams linebacker. Fort is apparently a pretty decent one.
Re-signing Ronald Darby: C+
On one hand, the Eagles are bringing back a talented young player and their team is better with him on it. But paying Darby might not be the best allocation of money, especially for a player who is coming off a torn ACL. There’s no way to know he’ll be ready to play at the start of the season, so that’s a big part of this gamble. His goal is Week 1. This move will also block us from seeing the Eagles’ younger players. At least it gives the Eagles more depth at a position where they were completely decimated by injuries last season.
Signing Andrew Sendejo: B+
The Eagles found their Corey Graham replacement in Sendejo, who will factor into the secondary as a third safety. That third safety role is an important one for the Eagles because they use their big nickel package so much. Malcolm Jenkins basically plays linebacker and they bring a third safety on the field. Sendejo is 31 and coming off an injury-shortened season, but he should be able to help.
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