This offseason was a success for the Philadelphia Eagles, general manager Howie Roseman, and head coach Chip Kelly. They filled many of their needs through free agency along with the draft and are looking to continue the improvements that they made on their team last season. There are very few things that Eagles did, or didn’t do that I would change. And while there are a few things that I would have done, there are three that had the Eagles done them, I believe that their offseason would be an absolute success and they might be a favorite to win the Super Bowl.
Number 1: Sign Safety T.J. Ward
Former Cleveland Brown T.J. Ward is a pro bowl safety who signed with the Denver Broncos early in the 2014 NFL offseason. The Former Oregon Duck played for Chip Kelly in college before being drafted by the Cleveland Browns and having a very successful career. The 27 year old is now entering the prime of his career and just signed a four year deal with the ex-AFC Champion Denver Broncos worth 22.5 million dollars. This means that on average Ward is set to receive 5.625 million dollars each year. While this seems like a lot, it is actually quite a bargain. If you look at fellow former Oregon Duck and former Buffalo Bill safety Jairus Byrd, who was also a free agent this past year, you see why this was such a bargain. Although Byrd in his career has been slightly more productive than Ward, the 27 year old signed a six year contract with the New Orleans Saints worth 56 million. This averages out to 9.33 million dollars a year. T.J Ward is the kind of safety that could single handedly take the Eagles secondary and make it formidable. Some might argue that Ward playing safety across from newly acquired Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins is actually quite intimidating. The Eagles could have easily afforded Ward, and then would not have had to re-sign Eagles safety Nate Allen who has been very inconsistent in his career as an Eagle, finally making strides in his gameplay last year under Chip Kelly’s leadership. The reason that the Eagles did not go after Ward is because he plays the box defensive style, but I think that Ward is so good, and is cheap enough that they could have and should have made it work.
Number 2: Do Not Trade the Number 22 Pick to the Browns and Draft Linebacker Marcus Smith at Pick 26
In the 2014 NFL Draft, the Eagles approached knowing that they had four big needs to fill. Pass Rusher, Wide Receiver, Cornerback and Safety. The biggest perhaps was pass rusher, there may not have been a better pass rusher in college football in 2013 than Marcus Smith and his 14.5 sacks. I have no problem with the Marcus Smith Pick, my problem was the trade down as I would have much rather seen the Eagles take former Michigan State and current Cincinnati Bengal cornerback Darqueze Dennard. Dennard was a possible top ten pick who fell to the Eagles at 22, it seemed like a dream scenario but the Eagles had other plans. I guess they figured that they would rather have a pass rusher and get extra picks. I would rather have seen the Eagles take Dennard who can help solve their secondary issues and replace the soon departing Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher who will be a free agent in 2015. Then if the Eagles wanted more picks they could have traded Bryce Brown for a pick this year instead of next year, the other option was to move up in the first round. The Eagles clearly wanted other players, one of which was so close to attainable in former Alabama, current Green Bay Packer safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix who went one pick before them. If the Eagles had moved up to pick 20 where the Arizona Cardinals originally selected before moving down, they would have gotten their man. Again, I have no problem with Marcus Smith, I just don’t think he will have the kind of impact on out defensive unit as the Eagles had hoped.