The Eagles brass should have one thing on their mind entering this offseason: how do they build this team into a champion again.
Luckily, the Eagles are in great hands with Howie Roseman running the show. He made some mistakes last offseason that cost the Eagles during the season. But Howie has proved in the past that he learns from his mistakes, so I’m sure he’ll take what he learned from last offseason into this one.
With the Super Bowl hangover now in the rear view, the Birds are poised to make another deep playoff run in 2019. Here’s what the Eagles need to do this offseason to ensure they’re back in the thick of things next season.
While the Eagles aren’t the oldest team in the NFL, they certainly aren’t the youngest. Heading into 2017 they ranked as the 11th youngest team in the league. On the surface, that doesn’t seem too bad. But when you start to look at how old some of the starters are, the concern starts to become clearer.
Not one starting offensive lineman will be under 29 heading into next year, unless you consider Issac Seumalo as a starter, but chances are he’ll be replaced next season. On the defensive line, the only player who has gotten serious playing time under the age of 27 is Derek Barnett, everyone else will be 27 or older heading into next season. And let’s not forget about our secondary either. The corners may be young, but that also means they’re inexperienced and could probably use a first/second round pick to solidify that position. I wouldn’t be surprised if Howie decided to draft an impact corner early in the draft and then take a safety in one of the later rounds. Malcolm Jenkins turns 32 this year and now that Rodney McCleod has a restructured deal that cuts the final year from his original contract, he’ll be gone after next season.
The Eagles could use an injection of youth across the board, but especially at these positions. With 10 picks in this upcoming draft, I expect Howie to address all these positions on draft night.
It’s no secret at this point that the Eagles are likely going to be without Nick Foles next season, thus leaving a hole for Howie and company to fill. The organization has a lot of confidence in Nate Sudfeld and I’m sure he’ll be given a chance at the backup spot in camp. But it would foolish of the front office to put all their chips on Sudfeld. I would imagine that they’re going to go out and sign a veteran QB to either push Sudfeld into becoming the backup or just to solidify the position.
As great as I believe Carson Wentz can be, there’s no denying his injury history. It’s really the only thing that holds me back from saying he’s a sure-fire elite franchise QB at this point in his career. The Eagles were lucky enough to have Nick Foles the last two times Wentz went down.
From the minimal amount of snaps that we’ve seen out of Sudfeld, he’s looked solid. He has the tools to be a good backup QB in this league. Doug also loves mentoring young QBs like Nate, which is why I think they’ll likely stick with him as the backup for 2019.
The Eagles did their best to fight through the ridiculous amount of injuries they were dealt in 2018, but the lack of solid depth eventually came around to bite them in the end. They finished the season with 17 players on IR, an abnormal amount for any team. But regardless, the clear lack of depth at running back, corner back, line backer and safety hurt the team all season.
The difference from the depth on the 2017 and the 2018 teams are night and day. The Birds were praised for battling through all their injuries en route to their first Super Bowl championship in 2017. In 2018, the story was flipped. Howie needs to ensure this problem doesn’t plague the team again in 2019.
The easiest way to do this is through the draft, which I expanded upon in my earlier point. Bringing in proven players on 1-year deals is also an effective way to insert instant depth into the team. Howie was able to do this in 2017 when he brought in LeGarrette Blount and Patrick Robinson on 1-year deals.
Getting into the playoffs and playing into January and February without sufficient depth is damn near impossible, and I think Howie realized that after this season.