Howie Roseman and his Philadelphia Eagles will face some tough decisions this offseason.
How will they address their wide receiver situation? Will they cut Alshon Jeffery and take the cap hit? What will Howie do in regards to the team’s cornerbacks? Will they draft one or pursue one of the top tier free agent corners?
These are all viable questions and we will all have answers for them in due time. But first, Howie must decide on which pending free agents he’d like to retain. The Birds have 17 players who are set to hit the open market this offseason.
Honestly, out of those 17 there aren’t that many players the team should really try to keep around. We all know Nelson Agholor is as good as gone, Ronald Darby won’t be back (thank God), Jalen Mills’ future is up in the air, and who knows what they’ll decide to do with 37-year-old Jason Peters.
There are four pending free agents who, without a doubt, should be top priorities for Howie this offseason.
Safety, Rodney McLeod
The Eagles have a dilemma at their safety positions. One is about to become an unrestricted free agent and one has stated he’ll refuse to play next season under his current contract.
It’s unclear how much Malcolm Jenkins will want to get paid next season. He stated after the season that he wanted to get paid like a top tier safety, which would mean he’s seeking an average salary of about $10-$12 million.
It may be a bit difficult to keep both Jenkins and Rodney McLeod around next season, but it’s something Howie should certainly look into. Replacing either of them would be no easy task.
When you consider how weak the cornerback group is, it’s hard to justify letting either safety go and taking another hit to an already bad secondary.
McLeod likely won’t be too expensive to keep around either. a 2-3 year deal with an average salary of about $5-$7 million with some guaranteed cash thrown in should get a deal done.
Defensive Tackle, Timmy Jernigan
Timmy Jernigan has quickly become a fan favorite during his time here in Philly. While he hasn’t made a huge impact at defensive tackle, he’s been a great complement to Fletcher Cox and filled in nicely for Malik Jackson this past season.
Jackson’s return from injury next year has some fans believing Jernigan’s days as an Eagle are numbered, but Jim Schwartz could certainly use him as a rotational piece next season.
With rotational defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway also set to become a free agent, Howie will need to bring one of them back. Jernigan’s been more productive than Ridgeway and probably won’t cost a ton to retain.
Expect to see Jernigan back in midnight green next season.
Running Back, Jordan Howard
Re-signing Jordan Howard will all depend on what other teams offer him. If someone blows him away with a 3-year deal worth anywhere from $15-$17 million, the Eagles will more than likely let him walk.
Not only because they have two young backs in Miles Sanders and Boston Scott who showed a lot of promise last season, but because Howie has never invested big money into the running back position.
But, any team throwing that kind of contract at Howard after he missed nearly the entire second half of the season due to injury is very unlikely. Philly shouldn’t have any trouble convincing Howard to take a short-term “prove it” type deal.
He’ll be just 26-years-old heading into next year and his running style is a great change of pace to Sanders and Scott. Having the trio of Howard, Sanders and Scott would make for a very fun backfield next season.
He’s stated multiple times that he loves playing here in Philadelphia as well, so hopefully Howie can find a way to keep Howard around for another year or two.
Punter, Cameron Johnston
Did anyone think this Australian punter would be able to come in and replace Bag-a-Bones Jones the way he has?
Cameron Johnston has an absolute cannon for a leg, as he’s averaged about 47 yards per punt during his time with Philly. In his first season with the team in 2018, Johnston set franchise records for for gross punting average (48.1) and net punting average (42.7).
He’s also showcased some remarkable accuracy with his punting, pinning 28 of his punts from last season inside the opponents 20-yard line.
Punters don’t cost much to retain, and with how solid Johnston’s been for the Eagles over the past two seasons, there’s no reason Howie shouldn’t hand him an extension.