In the 2014 edition of the NFL Free Agency, The Philadelphia Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly took a similar approach as they did last year. When free agency opened up to all 32 teams in the National Football League on Tuesday, the Eagles got right to business. The Eagles started their free agency excursion by taking some solid steps in the right direction. The team released safety Patrick Chung after a very lack-luster year with the organization. The Eagles took it upon themselves to keep valuable Philadelphia Eagles free agent punter Donnie Jones from getting swooped up by another franchise, signing him to a three-year contract worth $6 million–$1 million which is guaranteed. Jones is a true special teams weapon. The punter downed 27 punts inside the 20-yard line without a return. That is special.
At this point, every Eagles fan should be familiar with the horrid safety play that has plagued the team for many seasons. Roseman took another swing at helping the safety by signing former Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. At first I did not personally approve the move because my heart was set on the Eagles going after former Carolina Panthers safety Mike Mitchell. After doing some research, I have concluded Jenkins was the better pick. By now, Eagles fans know defensive coordinator Bill Davis enjoys giving opposing offenses multiple looks. By adding Jenkins into the fold, this allows Davis to use his safeties in multiple ways. Davis uses multiple defenders in different roles, including outside linebacker Conner Barwin. Jenkins would be best used as a defensive center fielder but his play against the run could be greatly utilized, as well. It is also important to note Jenkins hails from a New Orleans Saints team who won the Super Bowl during the 2009 season. The safety comes from a winning pedigree.
Continuing to make noise in free agency, Roseman put his plan into action to address the special teams who were anything but “special” during the 2013 season. The Eagles flew high and signed former Houston Texans outside linebacker Bryan Braman and former Seattle Seahawks special teams ace Chris Maragos on the second day of free agency. The Eagles special teams unit needs a pick-me-up considering the organization is probably going to lose their own special teams ace Colt Anderson. Anderson has been the go-to guy on special teams for the past couple of seasons, but with Maragos’ signing it appears Anderson’s tenure with the Eagles is over. Adding both Braman and Maragos to help contribute on special teams is just what the doctor ordered and these two players should help bolster the unit in 2014 and beyond.
All across the Twitter universe, fans were complaining the Eagles had not made a free agency “splash” through Wednesday night. Then news broke early Thursday morning as the Eagles traded a fifth-round pick to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for running back Darren Sproles. Wow! I could not believe it myself. While watching the playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints last January, I could not help but think what Sproles would be capable of achieving in Kelly’s offense. We now have an opportunity to watch this scenario to come to fruition. Sproles is also a dynamic kick returner, which should help carry the return unit that finished towards the bottom of the league in that regard in 2013. Also, fans should keep in mind Sproles can bring a new electric element to an already explosive offense. The possibilities are endless. I personally cannot wait to see how Kelly plans to utilize this fresh offensive weapon.
Not to leave the defense in the dust, Roseman signed former Miami Dolphin’s corner Nolan Carroll to help alleviate the weakened secondary. From what I can project, Carroll was ushered in to compete for a starting corner position. Last year, those secondary positions were handled by Philadelphia Eagles corners Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. They did admirable holding down the outside corner positions, but a little competition never hurt anyone. May the best player win as I always say.
General Manager Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly are building something special in Philadelphia. The organization is not just attemping to find stop-gaps from season to season, but instead are trying to build a team that can contend for championships year-in and year-out. Roseman’s plan is starting to flourish right before our eyes and it will be a fun journey to watch unfold.