One of the biggest challenges for a Super Bowl champion is keeping the team together.
Guys who had a big role in a championship invariably want more money, and Super Bowl champions — like the 2017 Eagles — invariably find themselves in cap trouble. So you just can’t keep everybody.
The 2018 Eagles have nine of 11 starters back on offense and eight of 11 on defense from the Super Bowl.
That’s pretty good. Returning 17 of 22 starters off a Super Bowl roster isn’t easy to do, but it’s a credit to Howie Roseman and a good bit of salary cap manipulation and roster management that the Eagles are in this position.
Still, there were some significant losses, and the ability of the new guys to adequately replace those who left is going to go a long way toward determining whether the Eagles can make another deep playoff run.
With opening day just 10 days away, let’s take a look at how the Eagles are doing at replacing the key players they’ve lost.
Blount led the Eagles with 766 rushing yards last year and had a huge Super Bowl, with 90 yards and a TD on 14 carries.
But he’s 31 now and because he’s not much of a receiver, he’s not a great fit in Doug Pederson’s offense. And it’s hard to ignore the fact that after Week 6, Blount averaged just 3.65 yards per carry the rest of the regular season.
With Darren Sproles back healthy, Jay Ajayi here for a full offseason and Corey Clement primed for a bigger role, the Eagles are in terrific shape to move on without Blount, who's now with the Lions.
Rookie Josh Adams, who has continued to impress the Eagles this preseason, may have the inside track for the fourth RB spot and could provide the same sort of tough inside power running that Blount gave the Eagles.
Sidney Jones is the likely heir apparent to Robinson, who played so well last year after moving to slot corner and signed a huge deal with the Saints.
Jones has been battling rookie Avonte Maddox for the slot job and while both are promising young corners, neither is Robinson.
In a division loaded with talented wide receivers, this is definitely an area of concern for the Eagles. No doubt teams will test whoever the Eagles have in the slot until he proves he can handle the job.
Allen wasn’t the flashiest player, but he was a solid defensive tackle, and that’s an area of some concern this summer, especially with Tim Jernigan’s status up in the air.
Allen, now with the Bucs, actually played 40 and 41 percent of the Eagles’ snaps as a rotational lineman the past two years.
The Eagles have Destiny Vaeao and Elijah Qualls back, but neither has been as consistent as Allen. Undrafted rookie Bruce Hector has shown flashes and could make the 53-man roster.
Right now, Vaeao is probably the best of the bunch, but this is still an area of major concern and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Eagles picked up an interior lineman on the waiver wire.
The Eagles are in great shape to move on from Curry, who was never able to build on his outstanding 2014 season when he had nine sacks and is also now in Tampa.
With Brandon Graham and Chris Long back, Michael Bennett now in the mix and Derek Barnett ready to take on a bigger role, the Eagles have plenty of outside pass rushers.
Beyond them, rookie Josh Sweat has flashed this summer, and veteran Steven Means is capable, even though he rarely plays.
A deep and talented group of pass rushers.
Burton got a huge contract from the Bears that the Eagles couldn’t even think about matching, but by drafting Dallas Goedert, they instantly upgraded the No. 2 tight end spot.
Burton had a key role in the greatest play in Super Bowl history, but Goedert will not only surpass Burton’s receiving numbers (60 for 575, 6) over the last two years, he’s a stronger blocker and gives the Eagles more flexibility.
Richard Rodgers is banged up right now, but he was having a good preseason before he got hurt and should be able to give the Eagles everything Celek provided as a third tight end the last few years of his career.
Goode, now with the Colts, had the third-most special teams snaps last year (294) and played 19 percent of the snaps on defense.
He’s a significant loss on special teams, but I’d expect LaRoy Reynolds to make the 53 and do a lot of the same things Goode did as a reserve linebacker and key special teamer.
A huge concern here, although rookie Cameron Johnston has punted better in the preseason games than at practice. Jones is simply one of the greatest punters in NFL history, and his ability to pin teams deep was a huge weapon down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Johnston has averaged 45.2 yards per punt in the preseason with no touchbacks and six inside the 20, so that’s encouraging.
Smith had a very good 2017 postseason, but he only had three games the entire regular season over 30 yards, and the Eagles believe Mike Wallace can deliver more consistency and production.
Wallace has been quiet this preseason — one catch for three yards — but looking at their careers, Wallace has been a better receiver than Smith.
But he’s also three years older than Smith, now with the Panthers. The Eagles need Wallace to produce, especially with Alshon Jeffery not expected to be ready for the opener.
The Eagles will miss the playmaking and athleticism they got from Kendricks, now with the Browns.
Nate Gerry and Kamu Grugier-Hill will likely take turns at weak-side linebacker situationally, and while both have played OK this summer, neither has ever started a meaningful NFL game.
It's definitely an area of concern until Gerry or Grugier-Hill prove they can handle a significant workload on defense.