Mike Wallace

Who's still left? Updating statuses for all Eagles' free agents

Who's still left? Updating statuses for all Eagles' free agents

The craziness of free agency has finally died down, so it’s time to take a breath and take stock of the Eagles’ free agents. 

So far, several Birds from the 2018 team have re-signed, others have signed elsewhere and plenty are still on the open market. 

Here’s a complete look: 

Brought back 

Brandon Graham: Graham never made it to free agency, signing a three-year, $40 million deal before the new league year. Just the first two years of the contract are guaranteed, but it was still a nice payday for the 30-year-old defensive end. 

Ronald Darby: He’s still rehabbing from a torn ACL, but Darby is back for the 2019 season to join a crowded cornerback room. His deal is reportedly worth $8.5 million. There’s some question as to whether or not he’ll be ready for the opener. 

Paul Worrilow: Worrilow didn’t make it to free agency either. The veteran linebacker was re-signed back in January. He tore his ACL early in OTAs, so he’s far along and could factor into the linebacker rotation. 

Nate Sudfeld: The Eagles slapped a second-round tender on the restricted free agent. It all but guarantees he’ll be back for 2019 at a salary just north of $3 million.  

Rick Lovato: The long snapper signed a one-year deal. He was an exclusive rights free agent. 

Jake Elliott: Ditto. Elliott signed a one-year deal too. 

Signed elsewhere 

Golden Tate: Tate talked a lot about wanting to win, but then cashed out with a four-year, $37.5 million deal to join the directionless Giants. He spent just half a season with the Birds, but will now see them twice per season for the next several years. 

Jordan Hicks: The Eagles would have welcomed Hicks back, but not with the deal he got. Hicks signed a four-year, $34 million contract to join the Arizona Cardinals. It includes $20 million guaranteed for the former third-round pick. 

Jordan Matthews: Matthews’ second stint as an Eagle came to a close when he agreed to a one-year deal with the 49ers. The Eagles brought back Nelson Agholor for $9.4 million and he will be their slot receiver. 

Nick Foles: The inevitable happened and Foles is no longer an Eagle. He got a huge four-year, $88 million contract with over $50 million guaranteed with the Jaguars. At least he left the NFC.  

Still available 

Jay Ajayi: He’s recovering from an ACL tear and had knee issues before the injury, but Ajayi might be a cheap option for 2019. We’ll see where he ends up, but the Eagles will at least know how his recovery is going.  

Haloti Ngata: The 35-year-old played better down the stretch, but he wasn’t worth the $3 million the Eagles paid him in 2018. Can’t imagine he’ll be back. 

Mike Wallace: For a while, I thought maybe Wallace would be back on a cheap deal. But after trading for DeSean Jackson, the Eagles have found their deep threat. 

D.J. Alexander: Alexander was a key special teams contributor when healthy, but he missed four games in 2018. He is a former special teams Pro Bowler, but the addition of L.J. Fort might not bode well for the 27-year-old’s chances to return. Still a chance, though. 

LaRoy Reynolds: Another special teams linebacker, at least Reynolds played limited snaps on defense in 2018. Wouldn’t be the worst thing to bring him back. 

Darren Sproles: Sproles is 35 now and his initial plan was to retire. We haven’t heard otherwise yet, but we know he was thinking about one more season. Doug Pederson said he would welcome Sproles back, but I wouldn’t count on that happening. 

Richard Rodgers: The Eagles might sign a veteran tight end to be their third behind Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, so Rodgers is still a possibility. But maybe the Eagles would be happy with Josh Perkins or Will Tye, who are already on the roster. 

Chance Warmack: The Eagles need depth on the interior of their line, but I don’t want to hear the collective groan from all Eagles fans if they bring Warmack back. 

Corey Graham: My guess is Graham finally retires. He was really close after the 2017 season and I think this time it sticks.  

Tim Jernigan: The Eagles didn’t pick up Jernigan’s option, a move that saved them $7 million in cap space. Perhaps they could bring him back on a cheaper deal, but Malik Jackson is definitely the new starter next to Fletcher Cox. 

Chris Maragos: A significant knee injury suffered in 2017 kept Maragos out all of last season and he needed another surgery late in the year. Heckuva career for an undrafted safety.  

Stefen Wisniewski: The Eagles declined Wiz’s option and will save $3 million because of it. He’s on the market and maybe he’ll find that starter job he’s been coveting since he arrived to Philadelphia.

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NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles’ receivers

NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles’ receivers

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp continue the 2019 edition of Stay or Go, trying to figure out the future of the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Today, they’ll look at wide receiver. 

Alshon Jeffery

Roob: Although his season ended with one of the most disappointing plays of his career, Jeffery’s value is tremendous and goes way beyond his numbers. He plays hurt, makes big plays, gets into the end zone (15 TDs the last two years) and he’s proved himself to be a big-time playoff receiver (23-for-364-3 the last two postseasons). That $14.725 million cap figure is sizeable — ninth-highest among wide outs in 2019 — but Jeffery has shown he’s worth it.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: In back-to-back seasons, Jeffery has played through a torn rotator cuff and fractured ribs. He’s a gamer and even though the numbers aren’t mind-blowing, he’s consistently very good and the Eagles’ best receiver. He has a cap hit of over $14 million this season, but he’s not going anywhere. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Jeffery has always been great at the highlight-reel catches. In 2018, he was reliable too, hauling in 70.7 percent of targets — 18th among wideouts and 10 percent better than his career high. Jeffery also finished the regular season with more receptions and receiving yards than the previous year despite playing three fewer games. Forget the Saints game. He’ll be 29 and still one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL.

Verdict: Stays

Mike Wallace

Roob: Wallace had an unimpressive preseason, didn’t catch a pass in his first two regular-season games in an Eagles uniform and then suffered a season-ending injury. He’ll be 33 when training camp begins next summer, and I just don’t see the Eagles bringing back a 33-year-old free agent receiver. They need to get younger and faster here. Wallace made sense for a look-see last year but that ship has sailed.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Wallace wasn’t just supposed to be a replacement for Torrey Smith, he was supposed to be an upgrade. He never got that chance. He’s 32 and is coming off a serious injury, but I kind of have a feeling he’s a candidate for a prove-it deal. He seemed to like it here, the Eagles still need speed and they won’t have a lot of money to spend for it. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Impossible to evaluate Wallace, who played in two games before suffering a season-ending fractured fibula. His lone catch came in the preseason, and all his game action was with Nick Foles under center rather than Carson Wentz. Who can say whether he was a fit or not? That’s a problem. The Eagles need a vertical threat, but should let Wallace, 32, walk in free agency for the sake of getting younger.

Verdict: Goes

Golden Tate

Roob: I didn’t think there was a chance Tate would be back considering what the Eagles have at the position, considering the kind of contract he’ll probably be looking for and considering the modest production they got from him after the late-October trade. Then the Eagles fired WR coach Gunter Brewer, and it makes me wonder if Tate’s limited production and Brewer’s departure were related. If so, maybe Tate’s back.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Tate has been vocal about wanting to stay in Philly, but if the Eagles need to decide between him and Nelson Agholor, they’ve got to go with the younger player. There wasn’t enough production or even an understanding of how to properly use Tate. Also, I think Tate is going to be too expensive for them and it’s probably best to move on. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: Remember when the Eagles traded a third-round pick for this guy? Well, he finished with 37 catches, 342 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games (including postseason) — and now he’s a free agent. Tate is an outstanding possession receiver, and I imagine some receiver-needy team can outspend the Eagles to acquire his skill set. So, nice trade.

Verdict: Goes

Nelson Agholor

Roob: I’m not sure what to make of Nelly. He had an odd year. Had a lot of big plays but the final numbers weren’t where I thought they’d be. He’s only 25 and I still feel like he’s a weapon, but that $9.387 million salary is imposing. It would make him one of the 25 highest-paid WRs in the NFL next year. The Eagles could get out of it even though they already exercised his option. Curious situation. Going with the gut feeling here.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: He’s under contract on a fifth-year option year that will pay him over $9 million in 2019, but I’d seriously consider an extension for Agholor. Sure, his production was kind of up and down in 2018, but I still think he’s a player worth signing and he can be really good if they keep him in the slot. They could also alleviate some of that cap hit with a long-term deal. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: No way the Eagles are paying Agholor $9.3 million in 2019. However, an extension might be mutually beneficial. The club gets a lower cap hit this year and next, Agholor gets some security and a chance to earn bigger paydays in 2021 and beyond. Seems wise after two straight years over 60 catches and 700 yards, plus the fact that he’s under contract means both sides have a reason to work it out.

Verdict: Stays

Jordan Matthews

Roob: Matthews quietly made a nice impact after rejoining the Eagles early in the season, with 20 catches for 300 yards and a couple TDs plus a 37-yard TD in the playoff loss to the Saints. That’s tremendous production considering his $697,059 cap figure. If Matthews is willing to take another bargain-basement contract, I’m happy to bring him back.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Matthews came back and really contributed down the stretch for the Eagles. But the problem is still pretty clear. He’s best suited for the slot and that’s where Agholor plays. Perhaps he could be a depth player, but those spots are normally reserved for guys who chip in on special teams. He’s one of Carson Wentz’s best friends, but I’m not sure that’s enough. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: For better or worse, Matthews is a guy Wentz trusts — with Foles at the helm, he didn’t have a catch in three of five games. That rapport matters, especially for a young quarterback trying to rebuild his confidence. Matthews played well enough to get some calls after the big-name free agents sign, but he’d probably stick around if the Eagles make an offer.

Verdict: Stays

Shelton Gibson

Roob: Gibson had a 48-yard catch against the Vikings in Week 5 and then played 12 more snaps all year and even saw his special teams snaps gradually drop (112 first half of the year, 39 the second half). Which speaks volumes about how the Eagles feel about Gibson, their fifth-round pick last year. I thought Gibson would be a factor this year, but it’s tough to imagine him playing a role with this team moving forward.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: He turned himself into a pretty good gunner on the punt team, but I’m not sure that’s enough to keep him around. He hasn’t been able to produce offensively, even when the Eagles desperately needed a deep threat this season. It’ll probably depend on what happens in the draft. For now, I have him losing his spot, but that could change if no one gets drafted. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Not a good sign Gibson didn’t get a shot before the Eagles signed Matthews off the street mid-season, or over DeAndre Carter who isn’t even here anymore. The former fifth-round draft pick’s role even diminished on special teams as the year progressed. Not sure what happened here. Doesn’t matter. Gibson has clearly fallen out of favor.

Verdict: Goes

Mack Hollins

Roob: What we all thought was a minor injury — and what Hollins said was a minor injury — wound up costing Hollins his entire second NFL season. He didn’t play a snap. I do know Hollins when healthy is a very good special teamer, so I’d think he’ll likely be back at a minimum in that role. But I could also see the Eagles drafting a receiver or two, which could put Hollins’ roster spot in jeopardy.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: I’m assuming Hollins is still alive because I haven’t actually seen him in months. The IR disappearing act of Hollins in 2018 will go down as the Area 51 in the Eagles’ 2018 season. If he can get healthy, he’s at least a really good special teams player on his rookie contract. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: It may feel like Hollins is no longer in the Eagles’ plans after a lost season, but if he can get healthy, he’s got a spot. The 25-year-old was a major special teams contributor as a rookie, not to mention flashed some potential at receiver. Hollins could even be the deep threat this team so desperately needs.

Verdict: Stays

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Top five positional needs for Eagles this offseason

Top five positional needs for Eagles this offseason

The top storyline for Eagles fans this offseason is going to be the fate of Nick Foles and how he gets there, but there are a ton of other things for the Eagles to worry about. 

They are about to have quite a bit of turnover on the roster and there are definitely some positions of need. 

Here are the five I find to be most pressing: 

Defensive end 

Brandon Graham is set to be a free agent, Derek Barnett is coming off season-ending shoulder surgery, Chris Long might retire, Michael Bennett turned 33 in November and Josh Sweat barely played before his season ended on IR. 

For a team that prioritizes getting to the quarterback without sending blitzes, the Eagles have a lot of questions at their main pass-rushing position. We’ll get to the DT position in a moment, but they need more edge rushers. 

I think Bennett will be back in 2019. He got off to a slow start, but once he began playing more and feeling more comfortable, he was the Eagles’ best defensive end and had a legitimate case to be named a Pro Bowler. But if Graham doesn’t return and if Long retires, the Eagles are going to have some huge holes to fill. Barnett is a nice player and he was having a pretty consistent season before his injury, but we still don’t really know what kind of player he’s going to be. 

You have to remember, the Eagles don’t just use two defensive ends. They need to be four deep at defensive end to rotate the way Jim Schwartz likes. The good news is Howie Roseman said this draft is “historical” for DL. 

Running back 

Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement both ended their seasons on IR and Darren Sproles missed most of the 2018 season, so it should be no surprise the Eagles struggled to consistently get their running game going. Now, Ajayi and Sproles are set to be free agents; Ajayi is coming off a torn ACL. And Clement is coming off a season-ending knee injury of his own. 

Josh Adams, Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Boston Scott are under contract for the 2019 season. That’s not going to be enough. 

Roseman has always been hesitant to pay big money or use top draft choices on the running back position, but it’s pretty clear the Eagles need a very real infusion of talent at running back. It’s a shame they missed on Donnel Pumphrey a couple years ago, but now they’re in the market for another running back. 

There were already concerns about Ajayi’s knee before he tore his ACL, so bringing him back can’t be the only answer. And even if Sproles doesn’t retire, his possible return can’t prevent the Eagles from finding another talented running back they desperately need. 

Offensive tackle 

Lane Johnson is still an absolute stud at right tackle and as long as he stays healthy, the Eagles are set there. But Jason Peters is another story. He’ll be 37 soon and he really struggled to stay healthy in 2019. I just don’t know if the Eagles can go into another season just hoping every week that his aging body can hold up. What makes this hard is he actually played pretty well when he was able to stay on the field; heck, he just shut down Khalil Mack a couple weeks ago. 

The real problem is I don’t think the Eagles can feel confident in Halapoulivaati Vaitai to be the guy if Peters isn’t here. And Jordan Mailata has all the makings of a great left tackle, but the guy just started playing American football a year ago. They can’t just insert him into the lineup because no one really knows what would happen. Maybe Mailata is Peters’ long-term replacement at left tackle; if so, great. But the Eagles seriously need to think about drafting an offensive tackle with one of their first picks this year. 

Defensive tackle 

When we talked about defensive ends, I mentioned that Roseman thought this draft is great for defensive linemen. There are two ways to look at that. One, you can wait longer to get one because there are so many. But on the flip side, there can be runs of players and you need to get the guy you really want. 

Tim Jernigan came back late in this season and is under contract for 2019 but his cap hit is $13 million. He can't be back at that number. If he doesn’t want to restructure, he’ll be gone and the Eagles will need to find a replacement. 

Fletcher Cox is an absolute monster and is one of the best defensive players in football. But the guy next to him this season was a constant revolving door until Jernigan came back. Remember, Destiny Vaeao actually began the 2018 season as the second DT starter; he didn’t make it through the season. And now Haloti Ngata is set to become a free agent. At least the Eagles found a nice depth piece in Treyvon Hester, but he’s not ready to be a starter. 

Wide receiver 

Mike Wallace was supposed to be the Eagles’ speed guy. He was supposed to be the Torrey Smith replacement … heck, the Torrey Smith upgrade. But he got hurt in his second game and didn’t make a single catch last season. He’ll be 33 in August and is now a free agent. Maybe the Eagles bring him back on the cheap, but either way, they need to find some straight-line speed. 

Golden Tate will also be a free agent as Nelson Agholor is set to play next season on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. The Eagles could theoretically elect to keep Tate over Agholor, but not sure why they would. Tate has said he wants to be back, but he’ll probably demand more on the open market and the Eagles need that speed guy. Agholor and Alshon Jeffery have speed in their own ways, but they’re not that cliched field-stretch. 

If the Eagles finally find a player who can take the top off a defense, just think about what it could do for Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert and Agholor in the middle of the field.

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