There were a lot of reasons why the Eagles were able to win their first Super Bowl this past season. From the astounding amount of depth at each position, the QB play from Wentz and Foles, to the ferocious play of our defense; I could talk about this kind of stuff all day.
But, one aspect of last year’s success that gets overlooked is the contributions the Eagles got from all of their free agent signings. While signees like Alshon Jeffery definitely left their mark on last year’s squad, it was the under the radar signings like Patrick Robinson and LeGarrette Blount that made the biggest impact.
Nobody expected P-Rob to do much of anything last season, and he ended up being one of the best nickel corners in the game. Howie Roseman brought Robinson in on a one-year contract for less than a million dollars, and now he’s signed to the Saints for $20 million over the next four years. That says it all right there.
Blount faced a similar situation entering last season: he was brought in to solidify a running back corps on a one-year “prove yourself” deal. He did have a shaky start in 2017, but by the end of the year he was running over former Pats teammates on his way to his second straight Super Bowl victory.
The Eagles could see this play out again with some of their lowkey signings of this offseason as well. I fully expect players like Michael Bennett and Mike Wallace to have a profound impact on this upcoming season, but don’t sleep on players like Markus Wheaton and Matt Jones. Both Wheaton and Jones have gotten little to no recognition as new members of the Eagles, just like Blount and Robinson last year.
Jones is the more intriguing of the two players, so I’ll focus on him first. Most Eagles fans will remember Jones as that one Redskins running back who torched us in Pederson’s first year as Head Coach. And he did torch us. He ran for over 130 yards in that game and a pair of touchdowns. Jones has bounced around the league over the past few years but if he shows out and plays up to his potential he could have found himself a new home in Philly. The Birds have one of the best running back-by-committees in the league, and I envision Jones stepping up and filling Blount’s role from last season. He has the strength and size to hit hole and run through the tackles, and also possesses the ability to catch balls out of the backfield. He has the potential to be a real weapon for the Eagles, and it’ll be up to him to prove himself this season.
Markus Wheaton, on the other hand, may have a tougher time getting on the field. He wasn’t the only wide out Howie brought in this offseason, as veteran wideout Mike Wallace was also signed to add some depth to the receiver room. Not to mention the Eagles are very high on their fourth-round pick from last year, Mack Hollins. The competition for the second receiver spot is going to be one of the most exciting competitions to watch during camp. Wheaton hasn’t had an illustrious career by any means, but he’s been serviceable for the most part. His last two seasons have been a struggle, as he’s only amounted seven total receptions – yikes. Earlier in his career with the Steelers he was a solid slot receiver; in his best season as a pro he caught 44 passes for 749 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Wheaton could end up being nothing more than a camp signing, and I wouldn’t really be surprised if that was the case. But, I would’ve said the same thing about Patrick Robinson last year. We won’t truly know what these guys are capable of until we see them strap it up during the pre-season.