When the NFL’s free agency period begins, the Philadelphia Eagles may be saying goodbye to four of the best free agents available.
It’s an ugly fact of life in the NFL. There’s a salary cap, and the way things are structured, you just can’t hold on to everybody. There will always be great players. There won’t be enough money to go around. Every team will always need something. Just look at the Philadelphia Eagles.
They are projected to have the least amount of money to spend during the NFL’s upcoming free agency period. They have 17 potential free agents on the roster, and four of them fall in the top 17 of Pro Football Focus’ top 50 free agents of 2019.
That list includes Jordan Hicks (17), Golden Tate (16), Ronald Darby (10), and Brandon Graham (4). Graham has already stated he’ll dive in the free agency pool. Hicks and Darby have always been seen as injury prone, and one would have to be concerned about investing in either with long-term deals.
Many, whether fair or unfair, are still scratching their heads and asking whether or not the Golden Tate thing was a good move. Philly basically rented him for about a month and lost a third-round draft selection in the process.
Here’s some of what PFF thinks of Hicks:
"Hicks looked on his way to becoming one of the league’s elite linebackers early in his career before injuries took their toll. He earned 84.6 and 91.1 coverage grades in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Hicks has only managed 1,043 snaps since though with injuries, but the talent is still there."
Here’s the skinny on Golden Tate:
"He’s not a true number one receiver – and you won’t find one in the FA class – but he’s an excellent complementary piece. He’s one of the most elusive receivers in the league and deadly on screens. His 58 broken tackles over the last three years are the most of any receiver in the NFL."
Sure, he’s fragile at times. Darby does have talent though, and that’s exactly why the Eagles brought him in. Here’s PFF’s take.
"He’s only 25, but there is already a legitimate injury tag attached to Darby after playing all of 921 snaps the past two regular seasons. The high level is still there though, as we saw in the Eagles’ Super Bowl run. That year he allowed a catch rate of only 53.7 percent and a passer rating of 72.3."
No Eagles fan or player will devalue Graham. Here’s what PFF had to say about the owner of the most famous strip-sack in team history.
"Graham may be 31 next season, but he’s aging like a fine wine. He’s notched 213 pressures over the past three seasons, and he is arguably the best bull-rushing edge defender in the NFL. Graham may never be a high sack total guy, but he impacts both the run and the pass at a high level."
We haven’t even brought up Nick Foles, perhaps the valedictorian of this list. Sure, it would be nice to hold on to everybody, but that won’t happen.
There’s only so much money to go around. The Eagles have shown that they’ll remain loyal to everyone who performs in the organization, but with so many potential free agents and so many holes to fill, we’ll have to wait and see where the chips fall.