Judging offseason moves this early is tricky. A contract that looks like a slam dunk in March may leave fans shaking their heads just months later. For Howie Roseman (VP of Football Operations), Doug Pederson (Head Coach) and the rest of the Philadelphia Eagles front office, their job begins here, making sure that the right contracts are given to the right players.
The Eagles brass went into the free agency period knowing that there were holes to fill and issues to address, and they’ve been active, specifically on the offensive end. They worked hard to get sophomore QB Carson Wentz some help.
We all know that titles aren’t won in the offseason, but let’s pick apart how the Eagles fared in a busy free agency period.
Alton Jeffery (WR) – It’s no secret that the receiving corps of the Eagles was lacking last year. The front office responded by grabbing the big-name receiver with a 1-year, $14 million “prove it” deal ($9.5 million guaranteed).
On the surface, it looks like a great deal for both parties: the Eagles fill a position of need, getting Wentz a big, physical wide receiver to play with, risking nothing beyond the 2017 season, and Jeffrey gets a chance to show his critics (and other teams) that he is worth a lucrative multi-year deal. But with his 6-4, 230-pound frame, Jeffrey carries some concerns with him to Philly.
Injuries have caused him to miss 13 games in his 5-year career, and a PED suspension last year forced him out of another four contests. There’s no doubt Jeffery is as physically gifted as they come, and he will be motivated to prove his critics wrong. But has he left these issues in Chicago? If not, $9.5 million will be a very hefty price to pay, and it may be a very short stint for the receiver here in Philadelphia. For the time being, let’s give this one a B.
Torrey Smith (WR) – The Eagles didn’t stop at Jeffery; they also added 28-year old Torrey Smith to sure up the receiving corps. This is another pass-catcher coming off a down year looking to prove himself: Smith had career lows of 20 receptions, 267 yards, and just 3 touchdowns last year. While some of that can be attributed to the quarterback play of Smith’s 2016 49ers team, he certainly looked like he had lost a step from his time with the Ravens early in his career. However, the Eagles signed him to a team friendly contract, with a $5 million average salary for 3 years and club options after 2018 and 2019, which means the Eagles could cleanly cut ties with Smith if they don’t like what they see.
It should be noted that the front office attempted to trade for Smith last year, but waited it out and signed him in the offseason. Roseman and company obviously like what they see from Smith, and didn’t give up a lot to get him. I’ll give this one a B+.
Chance Warmack (G) – The signing of Chance Warmack (1 year, $1.51 million) gives the Eagles a lot of depth in their offensive line heading into 2017. Warmack, the 10th overall pick in the 2013 draft, had shown a lot of promise in his four years in Tennessee, but a hand injury sidelined him for all but 2 games in 2016, and the Titans decided against picking up his option for 2017.
At this point, the Alabama product is expected to compete with Stefen Wisniewski for the left guard spot. Should he win the starting spot and play to his potential, $1.51 million would seem like a steal. This is the type of low-risk, high-reward signing that tends to fly under the radar, but helps teams win games. There’s a reason that Warmack was picked 10th overall In 2013, and hopefully Coach Pederson can tap into that potential. I really like this signing by the Eagles, I’ll give this one an A-.
Stefen Wisniewski (G/C)- Competing with the aforementioned Warmack for a starting spot would be Stefen Wisniewski, who was signed this year to a 3 year, $8.025 million contract extension. Similar to Warmack, this signing helps bolster the depth of the Eagles offensive line, and also gives them some cap flexibility.
Wisniewski is able to play both guard and center, giving the Eagles an opportunity to move on from aging center Jason Kelce, and shed about $4 million in cap space should they decide to go in that direction.
The signing of the two guards show that Roseman is committed to building the offensive line and protecting Wentz, which is never a bad idea. Another solid grade here for the Eagles, B+.
Nick Foles (QB)- A lot has been made of the Foles signing. I’ve seen people repulsed at the signing of a QB that was only successful under vilified coach Chip Kelly, and I have seen calls for the 6th year pro to start.
Foles’ last four years have been a roller coaster: he started with an historic 2013 that saw him lead the Eagles to their last playoff berth, and has since been traded or cut three times in four years. He finds himself back in Philly on a 5 year, $27.5 million deal, which voids after two years. Confused? The contract is tricky to understand; simply put, it’s a 2 year, $11 million deal with various incentives, and after that two years the contract voids.
Enough about contract talks though. How does this affect the Eagles? Well, it gives the team a serviceable backup familiar with the Philly atmosphere, for a cheaper price than now released backup Chase Daniel. And while I like the signing, the Eagles are still on the hook for $5 million after releasing Daniel. Seems like a lot of money being paid just to switch from Foles to Daniel, two quarterbacks of similar talent level.
Again, I like Foles, and the nostalgia makes it hard for me to dislike the move, but it just doesn’t make much sense financially. I’ll give this move a C.
Chris Long (DL) – Earlier today, the Eagles picked up defensive end Chris Long on a two year deal. The details of the contract were not yet released. The signing gives the Eagles a hungry veteran with a decade of experience. Long put up decent numbers last year with the Patriots, but expressed a desire to expand his role with a new team. The signing marked the first on the defensive side of the ball this year for the Eagles.
Long brings with him 58.5 career sacks, and a reputation as a great locker room presence, and could fill the role Connor Barwin played in 2016 before his release. This is another low-key signing by the Birds, but one that could have a huge payoff. B+.
Patrick Robinson (CB) – FINALLY! It took three weeks, but the Eagles have addressed the defensive backfield, which was one of the weakest position groups last year. Robinson, a former first round pick, was signed to a 1 year deal earlier today. Not much to see here, it appears that the Eagles are just taking a look at Robinson and seeing what he has left.
This is a position that everyone expects the Eagles to address come Draft time in April. Still, it’s nice to see some addition to the defensive backs group, so I’ll go with a C+.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know on Twitter – @ZachBonanno