Ever since the Eagles traded for Carson Wentz, or really right around the time of the Bradford re-sign, I’ve often wondered what the Eagles plan was.
Are they rebuilding? Are they trying to win? Are they trying to rebuild and win at the same time?
These are all questions that have came across my mind since Howie Roseman assumed power, once again, last January. And from there it’s been a roller coaster. First they re-signed Bradford, which seemed like a win-now move. Then the move up for Carson seemed like a move for the future, but still a pretty win-nowish move. The Eagles also patched up their team with some band-aids, like Leodis McKelvin, but also invested in the future with the McLeod and Brooks, two guys that were on the rise rather than on the back-end of their careers. These moves were strict win-now moves to put around Sam Bradford and Co. before it all changed and Bradford was traded 8 days before the season and the Eagles were left with a rookie starting QB. The Eagles plan last year was pretty clear, try to compete with Bradford at the helm and groom Wentz behind him. Only now, does that look chaotic.
But, now what?
The Eagles have clear holes but also have some aging players and not a lot of wiggle room with the cap. Are they going to go full rebuild and move on from guys like Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, Allen Barbre and Connor Barwin? Barwin is for sure gone, which doesn’t signal a rebuild, but cutting the guys along the offensive line puts a huge burden on rookie and second year players to step up into roles they may not be ready for. Also cutting all of those guys does risk injury to Carson, who should always be priority #1. The problem is that they may have to cut these guys because they’re so strapped for cash. Cutting Barbre, Kelce, Mathews, Kendricks, McKelvin and Brooks would free up $24 million in cap space. Can you find good replacements for these guys, probably. But then, once again, you’re relying on free agency to fill your holes and Howie already mentioned that they didn’t want band-aids anymore at these positions; he wants guys that are around 26-27 that are still ascending and not declining. Which is something I think we can all agree with. Winning in free agency means jack shit. The best teams build from within, with good drafts and an eye for wasted talent, not spending a bunch of money in free agency on guys like Byron Maxwell, who are only there for the money.
Trying to figure out just what the Eagles are doing is tricky. I think that Chip stripped them off so much that it’s going to take a few years to get that quality depth that can help you contend. The Eagles are going to unfortunately have to rely on free agency once again to fill some holes, which isn’t something that I love doing, but it’s something that they sort of just have to live with. This is also why THIS draft is so damn important. They need that quality depth so that they are able to let players walk if need be and focus money elsewhere. That’s what makes moving on from Bennie Logan so difficult. Bennie is fantastic and a really, really good talent, but do you want to sink $180 million into your interior line? If the Eagles had quality depth behind him, you let him go, but the problem is that behind him is Beau Allen, who I view as a rotational piece. Losing Bennie makes the Eagles immediately worse, but if you’re building for the future, why resign him? Why keep Peters around?
My point is that I’m not really sure the Eagles have a well thought out plan. I also don’t think they’re just winging it, but given the circumstances they were dealt, it’s kind of a hard position to be in. The Eagles are going to be aggressive in free agency to bring in pieces that can help now, and in the future, but may also let guys like Bennie Logan walk even though it makes the team worse. They’re going to try the old rebuild during the competing trick, which I’m not 100% sure works. It is absolutely crucial that they hit on draft picks going forward. I know it sounds cliche, but for them to pull this off, they need that quality depth so they don’t have to go out and spend in free agency to bring in band-aids.
Unfortunately, band-aids may be all we have for the next two seasons.