It has come to that time of year that the green-blooded Philly loyal affectionately refer to as: ‘Howie Season’. Well, that is only if these fans have not begun to despise the previous actions that Mr. Roseman had performed the last off-season. These actions ended up putting together one of the oldest age average rosters and an injury-riddled cast of no-name receivers alongside consistently roasted corners that made watching every game a personal ‘hell’ for fans. Phew! Sorry about that, the Eagle fan in me got a little caught up in the heat of the moment. Anyway, it’s the NFL offseason and the Eagles are set to improve their roster with some key additions in free agency, the trade market and the upcoming draft. Time will tell if Howie can correct his past mistakes.
The Eagles have entered a period that they have not seen since the era of Donovan McNabb. That period is the most vital element to a football team: the prime of a franchise quarterback. Regardless of your opinions about Carson Wentz’s health, it is difficult to ignore the pure talent and leadership that number 11brings to the table. Now, with four NFL seasons under Doug Pederson and a stretch of ‘playoff-like’ experiences under his belt, Wentz is 27 years old and entering the stage of his career where he is not too old, yet has the knowledge of a veteran quarterback. Every team strives to be in the position that the Eagles find themselves with an elite player to build around—hat brings us to the first piece of the offseason puzzle for the Eagles; receivers.
Every quarterback needs their number one, go-to receiver who builds rapport with the quarterback. Brees has his Michael Thomas, Mahomes has his Tyreek Hill, Rodgers had Nelson, Cobb, and now has Adams.
The point is that with most elite quarterbacks comes an equally elite receiver. Wentz does not have that elite receiver. Zach Ertz is a reliable pass-catcher, but he is far from the burner that steals opposing defenses’ top cornerback all game. As of now, the Eagles have done nothing to address this vacancy. Alshon Jeffery’s future remains up in the air as his connections to anonymous criticism of Wentz last season have cast him in a starkly different light in the eyes of the fans than he had in the Superbowl year. Even if he is not in connection to the Wentz basher, his age and health remains a concern as he struggled to stay on the field last season and will be forced to recover from a lisfranc injury over the offseason.
Desean Jackson faces a similar situation in that his age and injury-riddled past has begun to overshadow his talent. As for Nelson Agholor, well, let’s just say he will be ‘dropping by’ Las Vegas to play for Gruden’s Raiders this season. That leaves late-season hero Greg Ward, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Robert Davis as the primary receiving options for Wentz. Dallas Goedert and Ertz remain the two most reliable options.
As the NFL draft looms, fans will look at the possibility of snagging a new number one threat for Wentz in prospects like: Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy, Justin Jefferson, Ceedee Lamb and many others. The good news is that this draft class seems to be rich in terms of receiver talent, so there will be many options for Roseman to pick from.
Next in our list of concerns for the Eagles roster is the secondary. This element of the defense got a lot of attention by Roseman and company early in the offseason. The first big move was the sudden farewell we all had to give to the leader, mentor, and voice of the Eagles defense: Malcolm Jenkins.
At the end of last season, Jenkins said he would not return to the birds on the same contract, and the Eagles, rather than striking a new deal, let him walk. This is, on one hand, keeping with Roseman’s promise to get the team younger, but on the other, a tear-jerker as the team says goodbye to another crucial piece to the Superbowl-winning team.
Following this move was a blockbuster move to trade for cornerback Darius Slay and sign him to a new deal. Slay now joins a secondary with returning members Rodney Mcleod and Jalen Mills, who both re-signed with the team. Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Cre’von LeBlanc and newcomer Nickell Robey-Coleman will look to bolster the rest of the secondary.
Possibly the most underrated move the Eagles made this offseason was the signing of defensive lineman Javon Hargrave. A run-stuffing nose tackle who will pair perfectly with the Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson tandem, Hargrave is a potential star looking to take off and has now been given the chance in Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 defense.
Overall, the Eagles have done an admirable job in the offseason but will now await the draft to make any moves for a wide receiver. It is also worth noting, however, that the 25-year-old star defensive end Yannick Ngakoue keeps begging for his team, the Jaguars to let him free. The Eagles have been high on the list of potential suitors with their affinity for defensive linemen. The asking price, however, seems pretty steep as the Jags are looking for a 2020 first round at least. This means it is the choice of either Ngakoue or a first-round receiver for the Eagles. We’ll see how it goes, but for now, the offseason is filled with hope as the Eagles and the rest of the NFL make the moves to forge the future.
Joseph Gill is a first-year English major in the writings track. JG923276@wcupa.edu