2015 NFL Offseason: Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles (Last Year: 10-6)

2015 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Sam Bradford, RB DeMarco Murray, RB Ryan Mathews, WR Miles Austin, ILB Kiko Alonso, ILB Brad Jones, CB Byron Maxwell, CB Walter Thurmond, CB E.J. Biggers.
Early Draft Picks:
WR Nelson Agholor, CB/S Eric Rowe, LB Jordan Hicks. Eagles Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Nick Foles, RB LeSean McCoy, RB Chris Polk, WR Jeremy Maclin, TE James Casey, G Evan Mathis, G Todd Herremans, DE/OLB Trent Cole, ILB Casey Matthews, CB Cary Williams, CB Bradley Fletcher, S Nate Allen.

2015 Philadelphia Eagles Offense:
Based on the transactions he made this offseason, Chip Kelly, at times, seemed like a raging madman who had no plan whatsoever. Most of his moves were quite puzzling. For instance, if he wanted to trade up for Marcus Mariota, why did he deal Nick Foles, whom the Titans were interested in? Why did he rip himself off in a trade for the most injury-prone quarterback in the NFL? Why did he cut one of the best guards in the NFL? Why did he acquire so many fragile players with extensive injury histories? Kelly is going to have to prove lots of people wrong, or else he’ll be out of an NFL job sometime in the near future.

The Eagles were involved in three of the biggest deals this offseason. The first was the Foles-Sam Bradford swap, which never made much sense. When all things are considered, including durability, the two signal-callers are even, yet the Eagles surrendered a couple of draft picks in the trade. Foles was not a good fit for Kelly’s offense, but neither is Bradford. The latter makes a bit more sense because he’s slightly more accurate, but that just means that he’ll have to move around more often, which is major cause for concern because there’s a greater chance that he’ll get hurt. Also, there’s a possibility that Bradford might not even be ready for the season opener. Bradford has been walking around with a limp at OTAs, and the Philadelphia Inquirer has written that he’s not “remotely close” to being 100 percent and that the “specter of Mark Sanchez under center (in Week 1) becomes more and more of a reality.” If this happens, Kelly is going to look awful because everyone – even the most clueless fans – knew that obtaining Bradford would be a huge risk with limited upside.

The other two mega deals both involved the running back position. First, Philadelphia traded LeSean McCoy to the Bills for Kiko Alonso in a heavily criticized move. A bit later, the Eagles signed former Cowboys’ runner DeMarco Murray to a 5-year, $40 million contract. The public had a positive reaction to the Murray signing, but they, along with Kelly, didn’t realize that they were getting damaged goods. Murray led the league in carries last year – he had 393, not including the playoffs – which is a bad omen. Running backs who have been atop the NFL in that category have almost always struggled the following season. In fact, the two exceptions in the past 25 years have been Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson. Murray is not Smith or Tomlinson. He’s very good, but his 2014 production was a byproduct of Dallas’ incredible offensive line. Plus, Murray has an extensive injury history, so there’s even more of a chance he’ll get hurt. The Eagles also signed Ryan Mathews, but he won’t be able to stay healthy either.

Jeremy Maclin leaving also sparked controversy, but that one was at least understandable. The Chiefs paid Maclin way more money than he was worth, so it makes sense that the Eagles let him walk. However, losing Maclin is a big deal, as he was one of the top receivers in the NFL last year, at least in terms of statistics. Maclin caught 85 balls for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014, but he couldn’t be counted on to stay healthy. His absence leaves Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor as the starting receivers. Matthews thrived as a rookie this past season, hauling in 67 balls for 872 yards and eight scores. He was especially productive with Sanchez at the helm, so he won’t mind it if Bradford is sidelined for the opener.

Agholor, however, is a different story. He could be another draft hit, but he’s an unknown right now. He has drawn comparisons to Maclin, but some teams had him tabbed as a second-round prospect. Meanwhile, tight end Zach Ertz figures to be more productive. He was a disappointment for most of the 2014 campaign in terms of his numbers, but perhaps the penultimate game of the season, which saw him rack up 15 receptions, is a sign of things to come.

As for the offensive line, Evan Mathis was released, which was another bone-headed decision by Kelly. Mathis is one of the premier guards in the NFL, and the front as a whole was so much worse when he was out of the lineup at the beginning of this past season. His release means center Jason Kelce is the only capable blocker on the interior. It’s unclear who will start at guard with both Mathis and Todd Herremans gone. They have no answers.

The Eagles are secure at both tackle spots. Jason Peters, who mans the blind side, was terrific in 2014, surrendering just four sacks. Peters turned 33 this offseason, so his elite days will soon be over, but he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Lane Johnson, who will take over Peters’ spot once the veteran moves on, permitted just one sack. He’s also an excellent blocker.

2015 Philadelphia Eagles Defense:
Though the Eagles averaged 29.6 points per game, they weren’t able to qualify for the playoffs because their defense surrendered nearly the same amount (25.0). The secondary, in particular, was an abomination, and it had to be addressed this offseason.

Was that mission accomplished? Probably not. The Eagles spent big money on a free agent cornerback and used a second-round pick on a player at the same position, but they didn’t fill their biggest hole, which was at the safety position next to Malcom Jenkins. They have a huge void there, which might have to be manned by Earl Wolff, who struggled there last year. Jenkins played well, so Philadelphia isn’t completely vulnerable over the top.

The corners the Eagles brought in at least have promise. Byron Maxwell was a strong contributor for the Seahawks the past few seasons, so the 6-year, $63 million contract was at least understandable. However, Maxwell had the luxury of covering No. 2 receivers in Seattle with Richard Sherman on the other side. How is Maxwell going to fare now that he’ll constantly have to battle top wideouts? The other corner spot will likely be filled by the aforementioned draft pick, Eric Rowe. The Utah product is a tall, athletic defensive back, but it’s usually quite difficult to predict how rookies will perform. Former Giant Walter Thurmond is also on the roster, but he’s unreliable and injury-prone. Brandon Boykin, meanwhile, might once again prove to be Philadelphia’s most-effective defensive back out of the nickel spot, though Kelly wants to get rid of him as well.

While the secondary underwent some changes, the front seven is basically the same, save for one major change and one minor alteration. The former is the addition of Kiko Alonso, who was acquired for LeSean McCoy. The public views Buffalo as the clear-cut winner of the deal because everyone is familiar with the race-baiting running back, thanks to fantasy football. However, McCoy has just two or three more effective seasons in this league before he completely falls off the map. Alonso, on the other hand, could be a strong player for nearly a decade, given that he’s just 24. Alonso was terrific as a rookie for the Bills before missing all of 2014 with a torn ACL. He figures to play alongside Mychal Kendricks, who was strong in coverage last year, or perhaps DeMeco Ryans, who hasn’t been very good in Philadelphia’s new 3-4 scheme.

The minor change on the defense is at outside linebacker. Trent Cole is gone, but that’s only significant for depth purposes because Brandon Graham can easily slide in and start. Graham collected 5.5 sacks last season despite playing half the snaps, and he also defended the run well, so he’ll be a natural starter across from Connor Barwin, who notched 14.5 sacks of his own. As far as depth is concerned, 2014 first-rounder Marcus Smith could step up after a dismal rookie campaign. Otherwise, the Eagles will be in trouble if either Barwin or Graham goes down.

Philadelphia’s defensive front is exactly the same, with the trio of Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan and Cedric Thornton slated to start again. Cox is one of the top 3-4 linemen in the NFL. He has no holes in his game, and he excels in all regards. Logan and Thornton don’t rush the passer well, but they are prolific when it comes to run support.

2015 Philadelphia Eagles Schedule and Intangibles:
Philadelphia has an awful homefield advantage. The team hasn’t put together a winning record at the Linc in four of the past five seasons, owning a 19-23 record in that span. Oddly enough, the Eagles are 23-17 as visitors in that time frame. Perhaps things are turning around though; the Eagles were 6-2 as hosts in 2014.

The Eagles had horrific special teams in 2013, but they greatly improved in that department, thanks to Darren Sproles and Josh Huff. Philadelphia had four touchdown returns and surrendered only one.

Rookie kicker Cody Parkey was excellent this past season, drilling 32-of-36 attempts, including a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond 50.

Donnie Jones ranked just 19th in net punting, but as always, he did a great job of placing punts inside the opposing 20.

The Eagles will have no excuses in terms of the schedule if they fail to miss the playoffs again. Five of their first six opponents (Falcons, Jets, Redskins, Saints, Giants) all failed to qualify for the postseason last year. Philadelphia has a tough stretch of Lions-Patriots-Bills-Cardinals toward the end of the season, but the slate as a whole is mostly manageable.

2015 Philadelphia Eagles Rookies:
Go here for the Eagles Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2015 Philadelphia Eagles Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2015 Philadelphia Eagles Analysis: The Eagles might be in for a rough 2015 season. Their quarterback is already hurt, their running back is bound to get injured, and their defense might not be any better. There’s definitely a chance that Chip Kelly’s plans come to fruition, and everything works out, but the odds of that happening are pretty slim.

Projection: 8-8 (3rd in NFC East)

NFL Draft Team Grade: C+ Grade

Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: Could all of Philadelphia’s maneuvering in the offseason been to move up for Marcus Mariota? Trade proposals have been discussed, as you can see on the Marcus Mariota Trade Page. Unless the Eagles are asked to actually mortgage their future, they should make a move for Mariota, as the injury-prone Sam Bradford is not a good fit in Chip Kelly’s offense. At any rate, Philadelphia has to bolster its secondary and receiving corps in addition to trading up.

2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: It’s fair to question Kelly’s strategy. He acquired an injury-prone quarterback who probably won’t be able to make it through the 2015 season instead of a superior signal-caller who would be a terrific fit in his offense. Even if Sam Bradford somehow stays healthy in 2015, what if he signs a big contract as a result and then tears his ACL prior to the 2016 campaign? It’s a very realistic scenario. The Eagles should’ve done everything in their power to trade for Mariota, but they simply did not do enough.

Having said that, Philadelphia’s draft class wasn’t a disaster. Nelson Agholor was a slight reach at No. 20, but he should be able to start this upcoming season. Eric Rowe, meanwhile, was a better choice. He fits perfectly into the Eagles’ defense, and he’s versatile enough to play either cornerback or safety.

Curiously, Agholor and Rowe were the only Pac-12 prospects Kelly acquired. But that doesn’t mean the picks were better. Jordan Hicks, the third-rounder, was a slight reach and didn’t fill a need. JaCorey Shepherd, meanwhile, doesn’t fit what the Eagles want from a size and athletic standpoint.

Philadelphia helped itself a bit in this draft, but it could have done much better – even without trading for Mariota. But as mentioned, any team that needed to trade up for Mariota and failed to do so will be penalized in the overall grade.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

20. Nelson Agholor, WR, USC: B- Grade
Meh. Chip Kelly is familiar with Nelson Agholor, but perhaps he should begin scouting outside of the Pac-12. Agholor makes sense from a needs perspective, but this is a bit of a reach; I once had Agholor going to the Eagles at No. 20, but I ultimately slotted him in the second round. Agholor doesn’t have the athleticism Kelly loves, so this selection surprises me a bit. Agholor, however, is versatile and should help on offense next season.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

47. Eric Rowe, CB/S, Utah: B+ Grade
Unlike yesterday, the Eagles were able to trade up. They dealt both of their fifth-round selections, but received a sixth-rounder in return. Like yesterday, Chip Kelly obtained a Pac-12 prospect. Eric Rowe makes more sense to me than Nelson Agholor. Rowe is big and very athletic, and he can play both the cornerback and safety positions. He should help Philadelphia’s putrid secondary.

84. Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas: C+ Grade
A non-Pac-12 player for Chip Kelly!? Is this even possible!? Jordan Hicks is extremely athletic though, so this pick at least makes sense from that perspective. Hicks can be a very good player in the NFL, but only if he stays healthy. He has injury concerns, so he could be spending lots of time healing his wounds along with Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray and Kiko Alonso. Oh, and this makes it apparent that Mychal Kendricks is gone.

191. JaCorey Shepherd, CB, Kansas: B- Grade
Did Chip Kelly make this pick? JaCorey Shepherd does not have good size. He’s not athletic. He’s not from the Pac-12. So, I’m thinking someone else made this choice. It’s not a bad one though, as I had Shepherd going in the seventh round. He needs to fix his major tackling issues.

196. Randall Evans, CB, Kansas State: B Grade
Randall Evans, unlike JaCorey Shepherd, has good size at the position (6-0). He’s not a great athlete, but he fits the range as a mid-sixth-round selection and obviously fills a need in a horrible secondary.

237. Brian Mihalik, DL, Boston College: C+ Grade
Brian Mihalik is a great athlete, but not a very good football player. Still, the upside is worth taking a shot on in the seventh round. Perhaps the Eagles will be able to develop him.

Season Summary:
The Eagles looked like they were going to win the NFC East and perhaps clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC after their impressive Thanksgiving victory over the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. They were 9-3 at that point, but their record was a bit of a farce, as they needed luck to beat many inferior opponents throughout the season. They were exposed, dropping three straight to Seattle, Dallas and Washington to crush their postseason dreams.

Offseason Moves:
  • Eagles cut G Evan Mathis
  • Texans sign RB Chris Polk
  • Broncos sign TE James Casey
  • Eagles sign CB E.J. Biggers
  • Eagles sign WR Seyi Ajirotutu
  • Eagles sign WR Miles Austin
  • Vikings sign ILB Casey Matthews
  • Patriots sign CB Bradley Fletcher
  • Eagles sign RB Ryan Mathews
  • Eagles sign RB DeMarco Murray
  • Raiders sign S Nate Allen
  • Eagles sign CB Walter Thurmond
  • Eagles acquire QB Sam Bradford, 2015 5th-round pick, 2016 3rd/4th-round pick from Rams for QB Nick Foles, 2015 4th-round pick, 2016 2nd-round pick
  • Colts sign DE/OLB Trent Cole
  • Seahawks sign CB Cary Williams
  • Eagles re-sign DE Brandon Graham
  • Eagles sign CB Byron Maxwell
  • Eagles re-sign QB Mark Sanchez
  • Colts sign G Todd Herremans
  • Bills acquire RB LeSean McCoy from Eagles for LB Kiko Alonso
  • Eagles cut DE/OLB Trent Cole
  • Eagles cut CB Cary Williams
  • Eagles sign ILB Brad Jones
  • Eagles cut G Todd Herremans
  • Eagles cut TE James Casey

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Cornerbacks: Philadelphia’s primary objective this offseason is to add three upgrades to the secondary, including two at cornerback. Cary Williams is a loser who doesn’t want to practice hard, while Bradley Fletcher can’t cover anyone. There’s a good chance the Eagles will use the 20th-overall pick on a corner. Signed Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond and E.J. Biggers

    2. Twp Rush Linebackers: Brandon Graham probably won’t be back next year, as he told the media he wants to go to a team with a 4-3 defense. Trent Cole was released. The Eagles suddenly need to add two edge rushers. Re-signed Brandon Graham

    3. Safety: Here’s the third upgrade to the defensive backfield. Malcolm Jenkins played well, but the Eagles need to find another safety to replace the oft-torched Nate Allen. There aren’t any safety prospects worth taking in the second half of the opening round, so this is an area that’ll have to be upgraded on Day 2.

    4. Running Back: The Eagles traded LeSean McCoy to the Bills – click on the link for my grades – so they’ll need a replacement. Luckily for Philadelphia, the 2015 running back class is a great one. Signed DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews

    5. Guard: The Eagles have a solid offensive line when everyone’s healthy, but the one liability up front is at right guard, where Todd Herremans struggled last year. A second-day selection could be used on help here.

    6. Wide Receiver: The Eagles are expected to retain Jeremy Maclin. If they don’t, they’ll need a new starting receiver across from Jordan Matthews. Signed Miles Austin

    7. Quarterback: Nick Foles is an above-average quarterback, and he’s far from Philadelphia’s problem. However, he’s not a good fit for Chip Kelly’s system. There’s been talk about the Eagles trading up for Marcus Mariota, but the Buccaneers wanted to move up for a quarterback before they had the No. 1 pick, so they will not relinquish the top choice. Traded for Sam Bradford; e-signed QB Mark Sanchez

    8. Defensive End: Cedric Thornton will need to be re-signed a year from now. Thornton is stout in run support and would be missed if he hit the open market next spring.

    9. Inside Linebacker Depth: The Eagles need to make sure Casey Matthews doesn’t start again. Traded for Kiko Alonso; signed Brad Jones

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2015 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys. Age: 27.
      Signed with Eagles (5 years, $42 million; $21 million guaranteed)

      DeMarco Murray rushed for a league-leading 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2014. He also caught 57 passes for 416 receiving yards. The Cowboys should be careful with giving him a big contract, however, given the workload he handled this past season and his prior durability issues. It’s unlikely Murray will have another year like this again, so the team that signs him will be paying on past production.

    2. Byron Maxwell, CB, Seahawks. Age: 27.
      Signed with Eagles (6 years, $63 million)

      Byron Maxwell stepped into the starting lineup in the middle of last season and never looked back. Another tall corner (6-1), Maxwell continued to play well in 2014.

    3. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Eagles (3 years, $12 million)

      Ryan Mathews is good when he’s actually on the field, but he’s constantly injured. That could always change – Fred Taylor went from being known as “Fragile Fred” to being reliable late in his career – but until proven otherwise, Mathews is considered to be made of glass.

    4. Walter Thurmond III, CB, Giants. Age: 28.
      Signed with Eagles (1 year)

      Walter Thurmond had a quality 2013 campaign with Seattle, but barely got to play this past year because of a torn chest he suffered in September.

    5. Brad Jones, ILB, Packers. Age: 29. — Signed with Eagles
    6. Miles Austin, WR, Browns. Age: 31. — Signed with Eagles (1 year)
    7. E.J. Biggers, CB, Redskins. Age: 28. — Signed with Eagles
    8. Seyi Ajirotutu, WR, Chargers. Age: 28. — Signed with Eagles

    Philadelphia Eagles Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Evan Mathis, G, Eagles. Age: 33.
      Evan Mathis is one of the top guards in the NFL, and he’d be a five-star free agent if he were a few years younger. The only concern with him is that he’ll turn 34 in the middle of the 2015 campaign, but he still has a couple of dominant seasons left in the tank. Philadelphia’s decision to release him is embarrassing.

    2. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles. Age: 27.
      Signed with Chiefs

      Jeremy Maclin just had the best season of his career. He went over 1,000 yards for the first time, accumulating 85 catches, 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. The one concern with Maclin is his previous injury history. He was healthy this past season, but that may not happen again.

    3. Brandon Graham, DE, Eagles. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Eagles (4 years, $26 million; $14 million guaranteed)

      Despite being miscast as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Brandon Graham put lots of pressure on the quarterback and held up well against the run in 2014. He’ll be even better in a more natural 4-3 scheme.

    4. Trent Cole, DE/OLB, Eagles. Age: 32.
      Signed with Colts

      Trent Cole can still generate a strong pass rush, and he’s also solid in run support. The problem is that he’ll turn 33 in October, but he’s still a quality starting edge rusher who can play in either the 4-3 or 3-4.

    5. Cedric Thornton (RFA), DE/DT, Eagles. Age: 27.
      Tendered by Eagles

      Cedric Thornton doesn’t provide any sort of pass rush, but he’s one of the top run-defenders in the NFL. He’s a major reason why Philadelphia has been stout versus ground attacks over the past couple of years.

    6. Mark Sanchez, QB, Eagles. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with Eagles (2 years)

      When things are going well for Mark Sanchez, he looks great. However, it can quickly snowball on the inconsistent signal-caller, who is very prone to turnovers. Sanchez is a strong No. 2, but he’s not reliable enough to be a starter.

    7. Todd Herremans, G, Eagles. Age: 32.
      Signed with Colts (1 year, $3.5 million)

      Todd Herremans used to be a solid starting guard for the Eagles, but he has regressed the past two seasons. He was still a strong run-blocker in 2013, but he completely fell off this past season prior to tearing his biceps. Herremans was slated to earn $4 million in 2015, so cutting him was a no-brainer.

    8. Cary Williams, CB, Eagles. Age: 30.
      Signed with Seahawks (3 years, $18 million)

      Cary Williams wasn’t incompetent like his former teammate Bradley Fletcher, but his horrible attitude brought down the locker room a bit. Every team should be cautious when considering this poisonous player.

    9. Nate Allen, S, Eagles. Age: 27. — Signed with Raiders
    10. Bradley Fletcher, CB, Eagles. Age: 29. — Signed with Patriots (1 year)
    11. Chris Prosinski, S/ST, Eagles. Age: 28.
    12. James Casey, TE, Eagles. Age: 30. — Signed with Broncos
    13. Chris Polk (RFA), RB, Eagles. Age: 25. — Signed with Texans
    14. Casey Matthews, ILB, Eagles. Age: 26. — Signed with Vikings
    15. Brad Smith, WR/KR, Eagles. Age: 31.
    16. Jeff Maehl (RFA), WR, Eagles. Age: 26.


    2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 12

    Fantasy Football Rankings - May 9

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12