If you could change one thing about this Philadelphia Eagles offseason, what would it be?
That’s the question we’re asking you to answer today, inspired by Bleacher Report’s article about every NFL team’s biggest offseason mistake. Here’s what B/R had to say about the Eagles.
Philadelphia Eagles: Not bringing in a good veteran corner
The Eagles had a great offseason. They gave young quarterback Carson Wentz two new wideouts without breaking the bank on long-term contracts, they addressed defensive needs with their top three picks in the draft and they brought in potential No. 1 back LeGarrette Blount on a cheap deal after the draft.
So this is also a bit nitpicky, but Philadelphia’s cornerbacks were terrible last year. Two of their top three cover guys, Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin, are now gone. PFF graded the other one, Jalen Mills, as the worst qualified corner in the NFL. Bringing in first-round bust turned journeyman Patrick Robinson won’t fix things, and rookie second-rounder Sidney Jones is recovering from an Achilles rupture he suffered at his pro day in March.
Ideally, the Eagles should have made a run at an experienced free-agent corner with a better resume than Robinson. Maybe not the expensive A.J. Bouye or Stephon Gilmore, but even somebody like Logan Ryan or Captain Munnerlyn, both of whom came cheaper but have had plenty of NFL success.
So right off the bat they’re admitting they’re nitpicking. I appreciate their candor.
The Eagles’ cornerback position is the most obvious concern on the roster. Philadelphia took some measures to address that spot this offseason, but it’s still not totally fixed. On paper, at least.
I definitely didn’t want the Eagles to spend big money at the cornerback position in free agency. They’ve been burned by that route before (Byron Maxwell, Nnamdi Asomugha) and prioritizing money on offensive pieces (Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith) seemed like the better decision. In addition, this year’s rookie cornerback class was talented enough for the Eagles to bank on drafting a few players at that spot, and that’s exactly what Philly did.
The potential rewards of those picks might not be realized right away. Jones might not even play at all in 2017. Rasul Douglas, meanwhile, is in the mix for playing time. He could potentially be starting by Week 1, though it’s not a lock. In an ideal world, Jones and Douglas will be the team’s starters in 2018 and for years to come.
In the meantime, though, the Eagles will have to work with a questionable group of corners in 2017. Robinson might not be anything more than a one-year stop gap. Mills may have flashed some potential but he still has a lot to prove. The 2016 seventh round pick doesn’t lack competitiveness but he’s vulnerable to getting beat deep. Douglas will be a rookie. Ron Brooks, at best, is probably just a guy.
Adding a veteran corner such as the 26-year-old Ryan could have been nice, but he got paid $10 million per year. The Eagles rank near the bottom of the league in cap space right now. They couldn’t just sign anyone and everyone.
We’ll see how the corner situation plays out moving forward. I’m sure some will have wished the Eagles did more to address the position for 2017 if/when the Eagles’ corners are getting burned this season. Then they might forget about that if/when Jones and Douglas ideally emerge as solid long-terms starters next year.
The handling of the cornerback position isn’t the Eagles’ biggest offseason mistake to me. Rather, it’s the the handling of the quarterback position. No, not Carson Wentz. The backup quarterback situation, to be precise.
I don’t think there’s been enough criticism about this. Technically the issue was signing Chase Daniel last year in the first place, but what the Eagles did this offseason just seems wasteful. Philadelphia cut Daniel only to save $1 million compared to $7 million in dead money. Then the Eagles signed Nick Foles to a two-year, $12.5 million deal. Foles’ contract is technically a five-year agreement for cap purposes (see a complete breakdown here).
This issue isn’t the end of the world or disastrous, but again, it just seemed so unnecessary. Daniel wanted to compete for a starting job but the Eagles knew that wasn’t going to happen. They would have been able to trade him somewhere if someone wanted him as a potential starter. Daniel ended up signing a one-year, $900,000 contract with the Saints to back up Drew Brees.
Daniel clearly wasn’t a very inspiring backup to Wentz considering how the veteran struggled last summer. Foles certainly seems like an upgrade on paper, but the former Pro Bowl MVP hasn’t really had a great spring. Especially for someone who’s supposed to have familiarity with the offense. As I’ve mentioned multiple times in my practice notes, third string passer Matt McGloin has arguably been better.
Instead of cutting Daniel, I would have held on to him with the hope that another team might get desperate for a quarterback at some point this summer. Trading Daniel would have saved $6 million in cap space as opposed to the $1 million for releasing him. We saw how the Vikings got desperate for Sam Bradford last year. I’m not saying the Eagles would have gotten a first round pick for Daniel — not even close. But even receiving a conditional seventh rounder would have been worth it for the cap savings alone. McGloin, who was signed for the minimum, could have been the backup to Wentz when Daniel got traded.
The biggest offseason mistake the Eagles ALMOST made was almost not doing anything to address the running back position. Getting a long-term answer in the 2017 NFL Draft would have been ideal. The Eagles seemingly thought so too given their rumored interested in Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook. Philadelphia bought some time by signing LeGarrette Blount, however. Blount can get the Eagles through this season and then Philadelphia can select a new lead rusher in the 2018 NFL Draft.
What say you? What was the Eagles’ biggest 2017 offseason mistake?