With the NFL Free Agency period about to kick off I figured it was about time to get off my duff and write about the Eagles again.
First things first,
Where do I rank the Eagles "needs"
I believe their needs start in the trenches. Going in 2007, OL and DL figured to be a position of strength, but they really weren't as great as I think many of us gave them credit for being. Donovan took a beating last year as did A.J., and for all the guff I've been hearing about our lack of a big-play WR, it really doesn't matter who is running routes if the QB is on his back. However, I do NOT think the Eagles will address the OL in free agency. I see the Birds takes another OL in the first few rounds of the draft.
As for the Defense. Kearse, Howard, Von Oelhoffen, Reagor, Scott, were all but useless last year. Mike Patterson got busted for weed, so he'll probably miss a game or two from a team punishment aspect. Overall, the Eagles can depend on 4 guys: Juqua Thomas, Trent Cole, Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley. That's it. Will a guy like LaJuan Ramsey stick or can JJ find a role for the over-paid, underachieving Darren Howard? Perhaps, but to expect either to emerge as anything but occasional contributors is folly. What about Victor Abiamiri? Last year's 2nd round pick from Notre Dame? Well he certainly figures to be in the mix at DE. He barely played last year, but when he did, I did take notice (if only for the rarity).
Where does that leave the Birds? Well not is really good position. There is some talk about the Eagles being interested in some Titan DE's (Antwan Odom or Travis Laboy) or perhaps even Cincy's Justin Smith, who has never lived up to his first-round pick billing when the Bengals made him a top-5 guy a few years back. Still, as the best DE, in a mediocre pack, and with teams awash in cash, Smith is going to get paid. Believe you me. Since the Eagles don't seem to ever draft a D-Lineman and play them from the get-go (a few exceptions), Free Agency or a trade (it appears Kris Jenkins is being dangled by the Panthers) is probably their only route to improvement for 2008.
Who would I sign? wow, tough question. The best potential free agents were tagged. If I had to take a stab at it...I would think the Eagles would be most interested in Odom....personally I would go for Justin Smith IF his demands weren't astronomical. He's a solid end coming off a down year....so long as he is getting paid to be Richard Seymour or Julius Peppers he'd be a solid pick-up.
That brings us to the Secondary.
What would I do? Simple: sign Giants S Gibril Wilson....for two reasons, he's got the all-round skills to be Dawkins replacement AND it would substantially weaken a division rival. Would I go after Asante Samuel? Only if I were already trading Lito Sheppard for a WR....then it would make sense. However, If I'm strengthening safety in FA, then breaking the bank for Samuel is not an attractive option, and make no mistake, its going to take a shit-load of money to sign Samuel. Who else is out there to strengthen the secondary? The Broncos are shopping Foxworth...but he's a 3rd or 4th CB...and if we want one, we already have Joselio Hanson...who is a dime corner, but not much else.