The Philadelphia Eagles have multiple holes on the team and this year’s draw of free agents may be able to fill some of the voids. With this year’s off-season situation, the free agency market may be a better place to look to add to the roster, rather in the draft, since this year’s draft class is shallow in the areas of Eagles needs. Here are three groups of players who can fill some of the holes in next year’s team.
Philadelphia Eagles Free Agent Targets
DeSean Jackson, Kenny Stills, Brandon Tate
Part of Carson Wentz’s struggles last season can be credited to the lack of wide receiver play. Many of Wentz’s passes were short, quick patterns and screen plays. He ranked fourth worst in the NFL in yards per completion, unable to stretch the ball down the field. Deep ball threats are what the Eagles need next season to help the young quarterback to develop. Former Eagle DeSean Jackson is a great fit for this role, as he is notorious around the league for torching cornerbacks down the sideline. He surpasses 1,000 receiving yards again last season, with 17.9 yards per reception, leading all of the NFL. DeSean Jackson left Philadelphia in 2014 and the Eagles have missed him for the three years he has been gone. Jackson will come at a price, but the investment is worth it.
Kenny Stills and Brandon Tate are two other possibilities to stretch the field. The Eagles have already shown interest in Stills, who would be at a cheaper price than Jackson. Stills caught nine touchdowns for Miami last year, averaging 17.3 yards per catch, third in the NFL. Brandon Tate, being more of a veteran player, can help Wentz in more of a way than just being a threat to safeties. Wentz could use a solid veteran wide out to rely on with his young receiving corps.
C.J. Spiller, Dexter McCluster, Denard Robinson
Three time Pro Bowl running back, Darren Sproles, is nearing the end of his career and the Eagles could benefit by replacing him with a back who posses his skill set. C.J. Spiller provides a very comparable skill set to that of Sproles. Spiller is a speed running back who comes out of the backfield to catch passes often. The Eagles developed an affective screen attack, using running backs, wide receivers, and even tight ends in screen passes. If Ryan Mathews stays with the team for a while, his power running game needs to be balanced with speed, and Spiller is a good match with Mathews.
Dexter McCluster and Denard Robinson are two other options for the Eagles. McCluster played wide receiver in college at Ole Miss and in the beginning of his NFL career in Tennessee before he was converted to running back. He has lots of experience catching the ball and moving in space. Denard Robinson, the Michigan quarterback converted to running back, provides speed from the backfield. Though he is not as well versed in receiving, he still adds the speed necessary to complement Mathews’s power game.
Brandon Boykin, Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon
The Eagles were victim to too many deep balls down the field last year, and the secondary can be blamed. Seventh-round rookie, Jalen Mills, was thrown into a difficult situation at starting cornerback and the rest of the defensive backs struggled, expect for veteran, Malcolm Jenkins. A good replacement for Mills while he develops is Brandon Boykin. Boykin was drafted by the Eagles in 2012, but was traded in 2015, as part of Chip Kelly’s regime. Boykin was a solid third cornerback to come in on third down situations and he has developed more with Pittsburgh since then. He will not cost much for the Eagles, so bringing Boykin back to Philly is a good idea.
New England Patriots defensive backs, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon, have contributed to the team’s league best scoring defense this season. New England plays Sunday in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons, and are favored in the game. After championship seasons, New England likes to make considerable roster moves. In the past season, New England has traded their arguably two best defensive players, Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins. Considering those moves, it will not be a surprise if New England does not sign Ryan or Harmon back. Ryan and Harmon, will be first stringers on the Eagles, where they were second and sometimes first string in New England.
Two of the top free agency targets for the Eagles were either traded or not signed back to the team under Chip Kelly’s regime. DeSean Jackson and Brandon Boykin were two contributors who were left out of the picture by Kelly and should be brought back to the team. The Eagles should be active in the free agent market as they look to improve the team next season to further develop Carson Wentz and the rest of the team.