It’s safe to say this offseason hasn’t really went the way most fans and pundits expected it to for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Nearly every major sports outlet was reporting that the Birds were going to land corner back Byron Jones, that didn’t happen. Almost every fan expected the team to figure out a way to retain defensive leader Malcolm Jenkins, now he’s about to become a free agent. And no one really believed they would keep either Nate Sudfeld or Jalen Mills around, but now they’re both back for at least one more year.
Signing an interior defensive lineman in Javon Hargrave may feel like a luxury signing, but Howie’s always built his teams from the trenches out, so bulking up there shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Howie also stated at beginning of this offseason that his approach to handling aging veterans and free agents will be different. The days of handing out contracts to aging players or retaining players based off nostalgia are behind us. His decision to let Jason Peters and Malcolm Jenkins leave proves that.
While I can understand the fans frustration — especially with the decision to let Jenkins walk — it’s important to look at this offseason with a long-term perspective. Yes, Jenkins is the unquestioned leader of the defense, but has his play truly warranted as much money as he’s supposedly asking for?
Last season, Jenkins recorded his worst coverage grade on Pro Football Focus in six years, finishing the year at 70.0. His durability has been remarkable, but he’s played over 1,000 defensive snaps in each of the past six seasons, and that doesn’t even take into account all the special teams snaps he’s played.
At 32-years-old, that durability may not last much longer. It’s a better business move to get rid of a player a year early as opposed to a year late. Just look at the situation we find ourselves in with Alshon Jeffery.
He’s going to count for approximately $15 million against our cap this year, and due to the guaranteed money Howie afforded him, cutting him would incur a dead money cap hit of $26.1 million. Alshon was injured all throughout last season and had his least productive season as a pro, and the Eagles are stuck with him because Howie gave an aging player a contract he didn’t truly deserve.
I get it, Jenkins has been better than Alshon, but age can hit you like a brick wall in this league, sometimes with little to no warning. If Jenkins really wanted to get paid like a top tier safety, somewhere in the ball park of $12-$15 million per year, Howie was smart to move on from him, especially since he was able to retain McLeod for a bargain price.
There are still a handful of notable free agents available, so expect Howie to make some more noise throughout the week. Obviously, corner and wideout are still huge holes on this team, and I’m sure Howie sees it that way as well.
For me, the draft will either make or break this offseason for Howie. He hasn’t put together a great draft during his career as the Eagles general manager. That absolutely needs to change this year. Otherwise, Roseman could be on the hot seat come this time next year.
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