The Philadelphia Eagles are readying for post-combine madness.
The NFL Scouting Combine has ended and the legal tampering period for NFL free agents began at noon Tuesday. Poor St. Elmo’s Steakhouse. All the enormous expense accounts have traveled to warmer climes.
So what did we learn? John Ross sure is fast, but can he hold up in the much more physical NFL versus the PAC 12? NFL Network’s Rich Eisen is slow, but his annual 40 yard dash really lightens the mood in Indianapolis. The draft will be rich with defensive backs. The offensive line class is weak this year. There’s a handful of quality starting running backs. The draft lines up well for what the Philadelphia Eagles need. Beyond that, the Combine is just a party for agents and scouts (and a place to hear the dumbest questions imaginable).
Cap Room Please!
Now that the meat market has ended, scouts will go back to watching these guys actually play on film. Howie Roseman and company have set their sights on free agents. Signings can’t be official until Thursday, but deals are being made now. With about $6 million in cap room (just enough to sign draft picks), it’s surprising we haven’t seen more cuts to clear up space to go after players. Connor Barwin, Mychal Kendricks, Jason Kelce, Ryan Mathews and even Chase Daniel are likely to be traded or released to give Howie more cash for targeted needs. This group represents $27 million this year and $28 million next year, according to the folks at Spotrac.
Jason Peters back at full price?
I was really surprised the Eagles confirmed they are bringing Jason Peters back under his existing contract. He seems like a nice enough guy, and certainly should be treated with the utmost respect, but he’s not the left tackle of the future, Lane Johnson is. So the Birds need a right tackle. He’s going to get a lot of money, but the guy to plug in is just down I-95. The Baltimore Ravens did not tag Ricky Wagner, so he is an unrestricted free agent. You want to help Carson Wentz? Give him an offensive line like Dak Prescott has in Dallas. The Eagles should spend Peters’ money on Wagner, who at 27 would be the guy for the next five to eight years. Wagner will cost less than Peters ($9.2 million saved if released) this year, and the line can grow together for a playoff run in 2018. The Birds will still need another guard and might let Kelce go too, but a line starting with Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Brandon Brooks and Wagner is an excellent, youthful foundation.
Speed Kills, Gimme Stills
Next up is wide receiver. Kenny Stills is the guy for Philadelphia. Young and fast. No DeSean Jackson 2.0, and Alshon Jeffrey is just too risky for the price the Birds will pay. A receiving core of Stills, who is only 24, stretching the field for Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz is a strong start. Rookie receivers just don’t contribute, but the Birds will get one in the draft too. Then someone from Dorial Green-Beckham, Nelson Agholor and say, Zay Jones, in round two will need to step up for the third wide receiver spot. There are rumors the New Orleans Saints are willing to trade Branding Cooks, and I love the guy. But no way am I giving up the 14th pick for him. A second and a player like Kendricks, sure. Other later picks too, fine. But a deal there is not likely.
The New York Giants just signed Brandon Marshall. Other important signings will be known by Thursday. Once we have an idea who, if anyone, the Eagles signed, then we can focus on the draft. I’ll go through some reports and try to find the best fits based on need. You can follow me on Twitter for the updates and opinion.