The most obvious hurdle to the Eagles roster this year is the uncertainty at the wide receiver position. While the team has DeSean Jackson coming off his career best season, Riley Cooper is also coming off his best performance. And Jeremy Maclin, who has been a solid receiver for the Eagles, is coming off an ACL injury but is looking forward to playing for Chip Kelly’s offense. The Eagles would be incredibly fortunate to retain both receivers, as each compliments the skills of the other as well as Jackson.
The next position in flux this off-season is at the safety position. Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, and Colt Anderson are all free agents this year. Nate Allen probably had his best year in an Eagles uniform, starting all 16 games and had a career high 94 tackles. Both Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson had spot duty, as well as contributed on special teams plays.
Punter Donnie Jones was outstanding in 2013, and his well timed and located punts were significant to the eagles during their playoff run.
Quarterback Michael Vick feels he still has plenty to offer the NFL, and would like to start in 2014. In 2013, Vick through for 1,216 yards and five touchdowns with three interception. Despite the presumption that Vick will be wearing a different uniform in 2014, it would be wonderful to have him back ready to step in if needed.
Linebacker Phillip Hunt is a player who has not had great luck. Drafted in 2011 to meet the team’s need for an edge rusher, Hunt was unable to crack the starting lineup. His season ended early in 2013 with an ACL injury. Defensive end Clifton Geathers, a mountain of a man acquired in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts, did get 26 tackles in a reserve role. And finally, Eagles defensive end Cedric Thorton, undrafted in 2011, started for the Eagles in 2013 and registered 78 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a safety. Thorton is a the only Eagles player who is a restricted free agent this year.
What if the Eagles do manage to retain the majority of their free agents? Well, we will be retaining the services of players who took us to the top of the NFC East. With a second year playing for Chip Kelly, coaches will know the player and players will know the coaches and the system. With players returning, bonds and friendships and teamwork and trust are already established. The only remaining part to accomplish is to elevate everyone’s game to play even better this year.
And with a draft, free agency, and signing undrafted college players, there will be plenty of new faces competing with familiar ones to ensure that the 2014 version of the Eagles is even better than the 2013 version. There will not be a lack of competition as long as Chip Kelly remains as head coach.
With a new season, the roster will expand to 90 players. And in the next few weeks we’ll learn who, if any, of the 2013 players will avoid free agency by resigning with the Philadelphia Eagles. But as fans, let’s not usher them to the door. The Philadelphia Eagles of 2013 won and lost as a team, not a a group of individuals. For every player not retained, we have to replace him with someone who matches the intensity, the skill, the chemistry, and the desire of this team.
Every gambler knows that the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away And knowin’ what to keep
And Chip Kelly is a gambler folks. And it’s as much of a gamble to sit on cards as discard and hope for the luck of the draw. I just thought you ought to know.