Analysis

Philadelphia Eagles Free Agency Outlook

Philadelphia Eagles Free Agency Preview

In the Eagles’ first season under rookie head coach Nick Sirianni, the team exceeded expectations with a 9-8 record – making the playoffs as the 7 seed in the NFC. However, their season ended in the Wild Card round in a 31-15 loss at the hands of Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. After a slow start to the season, the offense adjusted their strategy – relying heavily on the run game – to win 7 of their last 10 games and ending the year #1 in rushing yards in the league. In Jalen Hurts’ first season as a full time starter in the NFL, he threw for 3,144 yards and ran for a team high 784. Additionally, DeVonta Smith broke the franchise record for receiving yards by a rookie – even if it was forced to him in a meaningless Week 18 game. Heading into 2022 free agency, the team’s defense could afford to get younger. Entering the season, the team had the 9th oldest defensive roster in the league. With many of those veteran players – including Fletcher Cox, Darius Slay, Brandon Graham, and Javon Hargrave – set to return, the team should look to get younger on all three levels. 

Update: The Eagles now have $17,262,650 available in cap space.

Philadelphia’s Impending Free Agents:

  • S Anthony Harris 
  • S Rodney McLeod 
  • DE Derek Barnett 
  • CB Steven Nelson 
  • DE Ryan Kerrigan 
  • LB Genard Avery 
  • DT Hassan Ridgeway 
  • RB Jordan Howard 
  • RB Boston Scott (RFA)
  • LB Alex Singleton (RFA)
  • OL Nate Herbig (RFA)
  • WR Greg Ward (RFA)
  • TE Jason Croom (RFA)
  • CB Andre Chachere (ERFA)

Five of the Eagles’ upcoming free agents were starters entering the 2021 season – Harris, McLeod, Barnett, Singleton and Nelson. However, none of these players were top performers at their position; grading out to 54th, 45th, 69th, 44th and 61st at their respective positions according to PFF. On the offensive side of the ball, Boston Scott started the year as the team’s third running back and did not get a single carry until Miles Sanders went down with an ankle injury in Week 7. Similarly, Howard started the year on the practice squad and was only elevated to the active roster out of necessity thanks to the same injury. Per Over the Cap, the Eagles are projected to have $21,533,860 in cap space entering the new league year. 

Franchise Tag:

Since none of these upcoming free agents were top performers at their positions, it is unlikely that the Eagles use the franchise tag this offseason. While a $13,544,000 franchise tag figure is far too high for either of these players, there is an outside chance they could use the transition tag on one of their free agent safeties. However, even an $11,265,000 cap hit might be too expensive to use on a 31 or 32 year old safety who has not proven to be a top 10 player at the position; which is what the transition tag would pay them in terms of APY. Similarly, the Eagles are not likely to use the franchise or transition tags on DE Derek Barnett, a former first round pick who has vastly underperformed in his five seasons in Philadelphia. The franchise tag would pay the defensive end $20,186,000 whereas the transition tag would cost $16,623,000.

Update: The Eagles elected to not use their franchise tag this offseason.

Top Team Needs:

  1. Safety
  2. Outside Cornerback opposite Darius Slay
  3. Defensive End
  4. Linebacker
  5. Wide Receiver opposite DeVonta Smith
  6. Offensive Line depth

The Eagles could use depth at nearly every defensive position as well as along the Offensive Line and at Wide Receiver. With three of the team’s five starters in the defensive secondary set to become unrestricted free agents, the team’s main focus this offseason will likely be at Cornerback and Safety. Currently, Marcus Epps is the only safeties on the roster who played more than 44% of the team’s defensive snaps in 2021 and Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox are the only cornerbacks who played more than 16% of such snaps. Additionally, with questions looming about C Jason Kelce’s future along with the retirement of G Brandon Brooks, the team will likely look to acquire depth along the interior offensive line. Finally, the Eagles will be looking for a reliable receiver to pair with 2021 first rounder DeVonta Smith and TE Dallas Goedert who received a four-year extension midway through the 2021 season.