Free agency doesn’t even technically begin until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, but that hasn’t stopped a flurry of activity in the last two days.
The legal tampering window is now really the start of free agency.
The Eagles have already made several moves. They’re bringing in DT Malik Jackson, keeping Jason Peters, trading for DeSean Jackson and more. Catch up on everything here.
Based on what’s already happened, I have re-ranked the Eagles’ top five positional needs heading into the second half of free agency and eventually the draft:
1. Running back
After adding Jackson, I think the Eagles solved their speed wide receiver problem, but now the most glaring need on offense is at running back. Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles are set to become free agents, which means the Eagles still have Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement and Josh Adams. But none of those guys has established themselves as a featured back in the NFL. The Eagles have some options here. There are still a few top-notch running backs on the market. Or they could trade for one. If the Eagles don’t get a running back soon, they still have three picks in the first two rounds in April.
2. Defensive end
They re-signed Brandon Graham, but the Eagles are also shipping Michael Bennett to the Patriots, so they’re losing one of their best defensive ends. They’ll start Graham and Derek Barnett next season and will have Josh Sweat coming off the bench. The Eagles are also hoping Chris Long decides to return. If he doesn’t, they’ll definitely need to find another pass rusher. Even if Long is back, they should find at least one more. That could come in free agency, but that is the more expensive route and this draft class is stocked with defensive linemen. It’s just such an important position in the league and to the Eagles.
3. Offensive guard
The Eagles aren’t picking up Stefen Wisniewski’s option year in 2019, letting the veteran walk. They’ll save $3 million in cap space, but this leaves the depth chart a little empty. Without Wiz, the Eagles’ top interior backup is last year’s sixth-round pick, Matt Pryor. Chance Warmack wasn’t very good, but he at least has starting experience and he’s about to become a free agent too. This is especially troubling because right guard Brandon Brooks is recovering from a torn Achilles and his status for Week 1 is in question. Isaac Seumalo was re-signed and will be the starter at left guard.
Jordan Hicks is heading to the Cardinals on a four-year deal worth $34 million, and it could be worth up to $36 million. That deal comes with a signing bonus of $12 million and $20 guaranteed, so it was a little too pricy for the Eagles. This leaves them with Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry and Paul Worrilow at linebacker. Based on some of the contracts going out to linebackers, the Eagles might want to wait until the draft, but they still might need to add one. The good news is they primarily use just two linebackers around 75 percent of the time.
5. Offensive tackle
The Eagles figured out a way to keep Jason Peters for the 2019 season, but how much longer is the 37-year-old really going to play? At least the Eagles still have Halapoulivaati Vaitai as a depth player and Jordan Mailata is possibly the future left tackle. But if Mailata doesn’t work out, the Eagles need another plan that isn’t bringing back a 38-year-old Peters this time next year. It wouldn’t be shocking to see them draft an offensive lineman relatively early.
6. Defensive tackle
Adding Malik Jackson will go a long way. That starting defensive tackle position next to Fletcher Cox was a mess throughout 2018 and Jackson is a former Pro Bowler with the ability to get some pass rush inside. That’s huge. But after him, the Eagles have Treyvon Hester and Bruce Hector as depth pieces. They could use more.
The Eagles re-worked Rodney McLeod’s deal so he’ll be back with Malcolm Jenkins to start in 2019. But Corey Graham is likely retiring, which leaves Tre Sullivan as the third safety. Sullivan played well down the stretch last season, but with such a deep class of free agent safeties, perhaps the Eagles can snag one to become that third safety and possibly a replacement for McLeod next season.
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