Have a look:
• Key free agents: RB Ronnie Brown, DT Antonio Dixon (restricted), WR DeSean Jackson, DT Derek Landri, DT Trevor Laws, OL Evan Mathis, WR Steve Smith, QB Vince Young
• Players Philadelphia needs back: Jackson; Landri; Mathis
Jackson is stealing all the headlines right now, as he approaches free agency. Will the Eagles use the franchise tag on him? And, if so, would they then try to trade him? For all the drama on and off the field, Jackson is a major part of the Eagles’ offense, one that could not be replaced immediately if he left.
Landri turned in an underrated season in minimal playing time at defensive tackle. Both he and Dixon could be back with Philadelphia in 2012.
Mathis might have been the Eagles’ best offensive lineman in his first season with the team, even surpassing Jason Peters. He did terrific work from the right guard spot, especially considering that the two guys to his right, Jason Kelce and Danny Watkins, struggled so mightily at times.
• Players Philadelphia should let walk: Brown, Laws, Smith, Young
No one in the Brown-Smith-Young trio should raise any eyebrows. Heck, the Eagles tried to trade Brown to Detroit in October. Young definitely did not wow anyone in his limited time at QB — Philly’s better off just handing Mike Kafka the backup job.
Laws did not do anything all that well (or that poorly, for that matter). It won’t be a huge blow to lose him, especially if Landri and Dixon wind up returning to the Eagles.
• Outlook: The Jackson saga will be the story to watch in the coming weeks. If Philadelphia reverses course and lets Jackson get away, it would significantly impact not only the Eagles’ plans but also the entire free-agent market.
It’s hard not to agree with Burke’s assessment. There’s no way the Eagles bring back Young, Brown, or Smith–and I can’t see Laws coming back at this point.
They need to find a way to bring back Jackson, Mathis, and Landri. And I expect they will.
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