The Eagles had a tough task, and tough role to play Wednesday, as the official period for signing NFL free agents and making trades came and went at 4 p.m.
The defending Super Bowl champs made their headlines earlier this week, pairing trades for DE Michael Bennett (from the Seahawks) and CB Darryl Worley (from the Panthers) with the wiggling open of cap space — primarily from cutting Brent Celek ($4 million in savings) and restructuring Lane Johnson ($7.5 million).
They also agreed to add free agent linebacker in Corey Nelson ($2.25 million for one year) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (yet unknown terms for a one-year deal) helped bolster their already stout defense.
As the entire NFL became free to move anywhere it wanted, the Birds stayed close to home with their biggest move, signing linebacker Nigel Bradham to a monster $5 year, 40 million pact. The signings of Nelson and Bradham made it likely that Mychal Kendricks’ days in Philly are over, but no word has come (as of Wednesday evening) of another linebacking move.
Philly let key pieces of their Super Bowl title walk, as TE Trey Burton (four years, $32 million with Bears), CB Patrick Robinson (four years, $20 million) and DT Beau Allen (three years, $16.5 million) found new homes Wednesday.
On the one hand, big names flew left and right as Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, Sammy Watkins and a bevy of other big names agreed to new deals (no doubt adding confusion to next summer’s fantasy football drafts). On the other, the Eagles have so few holes that being able to retain Bradham, add a bit and reshuffle some contracts is really all the team needed.
There are openings now, for wide receiver (to replace the departed Torrey Smith, traded to Carolina) and tight end. And, the Eagles don’t have a cornerback under contract over the age of 25. But a lot of free agent options are out there now.
Eric Ebron is a free agent, so are Jordy Nelson and former Eagle Jeremy Maclin — who showed interest in returning to Philly. Other free agents like Ndamukung Suh (who reportedly told the Eagles defensive line coach: “I think I want to play with y’all next year for free”) and Tyrann Mathieu will want to play for contenders, but will cash in elsewhere. Suh is rumored to be going to the Seahawks or Cowboys while Mathieu could go to New England or Houston.
Though nothing is imminent, there is no doubt a lot more left to come from Howie Roseman and his front office staff. Look out for a bevy of free agent visits over the next few days, potentially more releases and trades. The Eagles’ roster is good, but isn’t as good as it will be when OTAs start in a few weeks.