The Birds are done, which means we can start talking about the roster. We can talk about positions of need, draft strategy, the Malcolm Jenkins situation, and whatever other offseason topics are out there. We can talk about it for eight full months.
Let’s start it off with a look at the free agents. Who stays and who goes?
We know this team has to get a little younger, which general manager Howie Roseman mentioned today at his season-ending press conference. With a projected 10 draft picks lined up for April, this is a good opportunity for the Eagles to jettison some of their aging stars and add an influx of fresh talent.
Jordan Howard – go
He’s only 25 years old and still has gas in the tank. Problem is that he’s a volume back who gets better cumulatively with more touches, and when you’ve got Miles Sanders and Boston Scott already in the fold, you won’t find 16-18 carries a game for Howard.
This will be his first foray into free agency, and he’ll be looking for more money than what the Eagles would pay him to stick around as one-third of a three-headed monster.
Jason Peters – go
It’s time. It was probably time last year. Maybe even the year before that.
Peters can ride off into the sunset and take up his spot in the Hall of Fame. Andre Dillard’s time at left tackle has come, and if Howie Roseman keeps Peters around for another season, it will be personnel malpractice. Russ’s head will explode.
Vinny Curry – go
He’s 31 now, and was just okay to begin the year, but had himself a nice finish, bagging four sacks in the final five games. You could probably keep him around rather cheap as a depth piece, but if Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett are the starters, and you like what you have in Josh Sweat and Genard Avery as a burgeoning edge rusher, then you can probably move on here.
Nelson Agholor – go
He needs a change of scenery in the worst way possible.
Nelly was fantastic in 2017, and honestly got screwed a bit with the injuries to Mike Wallace and DeSean Jaccson, which forced him to move around a bunch both this year and last year. If he can find a new slot gig somewhere and stay in that position, he could have a nice rebound year in 2020, assuming he hangs on to the ball.
Ronald Darby – go
Can’t bring him back again. The injuries are piling up and he’s been less than stellar when he has been healthy. Plus, he had the audacity to say that Lil’ Uzi Vert is the next Michael Jackson.
Kamu Grugier-Hill – go
His value is on the special teams unit, so either pay him the minimum and keep him around, or say “thanks for your service.” He doesn’t do anything well enough as a linebacker to justify more than that, and he’s coming off the injury anyway.
Gotta draft a linebacker or two this year, especially if Jim Schwartz leaves, because other coordinators value the LB position.
Josh McCown – go
Great mentor, seemed like a good dude to have around in 2019. He played relatively well in the playoff game. Maybe next season he can stay retired and enjoy whatever comes next in life. Maybe they find a role for him in the coaching ranks.
Rodney McLeod – go
Safety is tough, because there’s not much of anything in the pipeline behind McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins. They haven’t cultivated much at free safety or strong safety over the years while relying on Avonte Maddox and journeymen like Tre Sullivan to fill the gaps.
McLeod is 29, so he’ll probably want a chunky final contract that carries him to age 33 or so. If the Eagles are going to scrape an extra million or two to keep Jenkins happy, then I think you let McLeod go and look for another free safety in 2020.
Jalen Mills – stay
I’m not as down on Mills as most people. I think he’s relatively steady for the most part, especially in the red zone, and would really benefit from playing in a different scheme if Schwartz ends up taking off. If Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas showed you a bit more this year, perhaps you could turn to those guys and move on from both Darby and Mills, but I don’t think we saw enough this season to justify doing that.
Jalen Mills seems ready. pic.twitter.com/H8DcZkPiv5
— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) December 22, 2019
Big V – stay*
He’s a good backup who can play multiple spots across the line. Likely scenario is that another team offers him a starting job, and he takes off for greener pastures. Big V is not as bad as everybody thinks he is. You got people out here making it seem like he’s the Izel Jenkins of offensive linemen.
Hassan Ridgeway – stay
Should be relatively affordable coming off the injury and he’s still only 25 years old, a guy who played reasonably well before going down. I think they bring him back as a nice piece of the DT rotation.
Tim Jernigan – go
Similar to a Curry situation, though he’s younger.
The injury history will limit his market value, which means the Eagles might get him back on the cheap if no suitors are out there. I honestly think you’re better off going with Ridgeway at DT3 behind Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson, who is coming back from his injury.
Nate Studfeld – no clue
It’s either him or Kyle Lauletta backing up Carson Wentz in 2020, unless the Eagles change their tune on both guys. They seem to like Sudfeld, but made McCown the #2 this year even after Sudfeld came back from the fractured wrist.
So that’s nine “go,” three “stay,” and one “no clue” from me. Nigel Bradham has a team option and Corey Clement is a restricted free agent, so they weren’t included. I’d really like Howie to make some wholesale offseason changes and get serious about building a younger roster. He can start by moving on from most of these free agents.