2019 NFL Offseason: Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles (Last Year: 9-7)

2019 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Cody Kessler, RB Jordan Howard, WR DeSean Jackson, DE Vinny Curry, DT Malik Jackson, LB Zach Brown, LB L.J. Fort, S Andrew Sendejo.
Early Draft Picks:
OT Andre Dillard, RB Miles Sanders, WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, DE Shareef Miller, QB Clayton Thorson. Eagles Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Nick Foles, RB Jay Ajayi, WR Golden Tate, WR Mike Wallace, DE Michael Bennett, DE Chris Long, DT Haloti Ngata, ILB Jordan Hicks.

2019 Philadelphia Eagles Offense:
The Eagles easily could have had a serious quarterback controversy on their hands. Carson Wentz was chosen second overall a few years ago and was in consideration for MVP during the 2017 season before he got hurt, but Nick Foles won the Super Bowl and would have led the Eagles to another NFC Championship appearance – and a likely victory, based on how the Rams played in the Super Bowl – had Alshon Jeffery not dropped a pass on the final drive of the divisional-round loss. However, Philadelphia quickly declared Wentz to be its quarterback going forward and allowed Foles to leave via the open market. Foles ended up signing with Jacksonville.

Wentz is coming off a down season by his standards, as he threw just 21 touchdowns to seven interceptions, compared to his 33:7 ratio from 2017. Wentz didn’t run very much either, seeing his rushing yardage drop from 299 to 93. It was obvious that Wentz’s knee was still bothering him, as he hadn’t enjoyed a full year to recover from his torn ACL. However, his back was revealed to be an issue as well. Wentz had to be shut down after some lackluster performances, including an outing in which he went 19-of-33, 156 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions at New Orleans.

Wentz, however, is expected to be 100 percent to start 2019, so Philadelphia’s offense will be extremely potent. Wentz will have some new toys to work with, including DeSean Jackson, making his return to Philadelphia. Jackson is not the player he once was, but he’s still a potent deep threat and should catch some long touchdowns from Wentz, much like he did in Tampa Bay with Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Eagles also spent a second-round pick on J.J. Arcega-Whiteside to be a big end-zone target. Of course, Jeffery will continue to be the No. 1 receiver, and he should have a big year as he attempts to make amends for his season-ending blunder.

While the Eagles added two receivers, Wentz’s top target will once again be Zach Ertz. The dynamic tight end caught a ridiculous 116 balls for 1,163 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Ertz should have another huge year, though his numbers figure to decline a bit, as second-year tight end Dallas Goedert advances in his development.

Philadelphia added some new players to its running back group as well. The team had issues moving the chains on the ground last year once Jay Ajayi was lost for the season. The Eagles initially replaced Ajayi with Jordan Howard, who posted great numbers with the Bears in 2016. Howard, however, will just be part of a committee as the team’s short-yardage gainer. Rookie Miles Sanders is a terrific talent who figures to be the primary runner and receiver out of the backfield at some point. In the meantime, Darren Sproles will continue to receive a healthy number of touches each week.

Sanders and Arcega-Whiteside were chosen in the second round. The Eagles spent their selection in the opening frame on tackle Andre Dillard. The Washington State product is athletic for a player at his position, but is a bit raw. He’ll eventually take over for Jason Peters. In the meantime, Dillard will serve as a backup behind Peters and Lane Johnson, who should continue to be recognized as one of the best tackle pairs in the NFL.

The Eagles would be stout in the interior as well if it weren’t for Brandon Brooks’ condition. The talented guard tore his Achilles during the loss to the Saints. There’s been some encouraging news on that front, as Brooks shed his walking boot in March, but he could begin the year on the PUP list. In the meantime, an underwhelming pair of guards, Isaac Seumalo and Stefen Wisniewski, will sandwich Jason Kelce, one of the best centers in the league.

2019 Philadelphia Eagles Defense:
The Eagles were able to win the Super Bowl to conclude the 2017 season because they were stellar on both sides of the line of scrimmage. It’s unclear if that will continue to be the case on offense, given Brandon Brooks’ injury, but it’s at least clear that Philadelphia will boast one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL.

Philadelphia made two key defensive acquisitions this offseason, with the first being Malik Jackson. The former Jaguar had two outstanding years in Jacksonville, but his performance fell off a cliff last year, ultimately leading to his benching. Jackson, however, hasn’t turned 30 just yet, so there’s a good chance he’ll be able to rebound in 2019. He’ll form a terrific tandem in the interior with Fletcher Cox, one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL.

The Eagles are also stout on the edge, as Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett will also combine to be a prolific duo. Barnett is another candidate for a bounce-back season, as he tore his rotator cuff to end his injury-plagued 2018 campaign. Vinny Curry was also brought back to be part of the rotation. Curry struggled in Tampa Bay last year, but figures to play better in the Eagles’ system.

The second great defender the Eagles acquired was linebacker Zach Brown. The former Redskin just had a great season, so he’ll be a replacement for Jordan Hicks, who left for Arizona this offseason. Brown will play alongside Nigel Bradham and newly acquired L.J. Fort, both of whom are solid in run support.

As for Philadelphia’s secondary, the cornerbacks struggled mightily early in the season, but improved down the stretch. Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox performed well late in the year. Ronald Darby will be back to strengthen the group after being lost for the season in Week 10. Sidney Jones and Jalen Mills, meanwhile, are two young cornerbacks with good potential, and both could play better after down years.

The Eagles are better at safety, with Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod set to start again. McLeod barely played in 2018 because of an injury, so his return will be a huge boost for Philadelphia’s aerial defense. The front office made sure to find some insurance for McLeod, signing Andrew Sendejo, who was an impactful player for the Vikings for most of this decade prior to this past season, which was disrupted by a groin injury.

2019 Philadelphia Eagles Schedule and Intangibles:
Philadelphia had an awful homefield advantage entering 2016. The team hadn’t put together a winning record at the Linc in five of the previous six seasons, owning a 22-28 record in that span. However, things changed with Carson Wentz, as the Eagles are 18-6 as hosts the past three years.

The Eagles had mixed special teams last year, outgaining opponents on punt returns, but getting beaten in kickoffs.

Jake Elliott made a name for himself when he drilled a 61-yard, game-winning kick against the Giants in 2017. He’s been 26-of-31 in both of his NFL seasons. He’s 7-of-11 from 50-plus in his career thus far.

Cam Johnston was a new punter last year. He finished fourth in net average.

The Eagles have a mixed schedule. Tough games include the Falcons (road), Packers (road), Vikings (road), Patriots (home) and Seahawks (home). Easy games are against the Lions (home), Dolphins (road), Redskins and Giants.

2019 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.

2019 Philadelphia Eagles Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2019 Philadelphia Eagles Analysis: The Eagles suffered through Carson Wentz injuries and complacency early in the season, yet nearly went to the Super Bowl last year. Their chances of claiming another Lombardi will be greater in 2019, as Wentz will be 100 percent, while the rest of the roster has improved. And unlike in 2018, the Eagles will be hungry to win it all again. They may just do that, as they have one of the best rosters in the NFL.

Projection: 12-4 (1st in NFC East)

2018 Projection: 13-3. 2018 Actual Result: 9-7.
2017 Projection: 12-4. 2017 Actual Result: 13-3.
2016 Projection: 5-11. 2016 Actual Result: 7-9.

NFL Draft Team Grade: B Grade

Goals Entering the 2019 NFL Draft: One of the primary reasons the Eagles won the Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 2017 season is because they had one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. They better make sure that continues to be the case, as they need help in their interior. Philadelphia must also find replacements for departed players in their linebacking corps and running back stable.

2019 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Eagles don’t have much of a window remaining in regard to Carson Wentz’s rookie contract, so they should have used their first-round pick on a player who could help them win this year. While Andre Dillard is a talented prospect, he likely won’t be able to contribute, barring injuries to either Jason Peters or Lane Johnson. Dillard was drafted to be Peters’ successor, but the Eagles already had one in Jordan Mailata. Thus, even though Philadelphia was making a terrific selection in terms of value, it was a move used on a redundant player and didn’t seem very necessary.

Aside from the Dillard gaffe, the Eagles did pretty well in the 2019 NFL Draft. Their best pick was one of their second-rounders, running back Miles Sanders. The Penn State product will complement Jordan Howard very well and could emerge as the primary back in the Eagles’ committee. Wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was a fine choice, and he could allow the Eagles to move the overpaid Nelson Agholor. On Day 3, highly intelligent quarterback Clayton Thorson will be a nice successor for Nick Foles as Wentz’s insurance policy. If Thorson had been surrounded by viable Division I-A players at Northwestern, he probably would’ve been chosen in the second round.

Of the Eagles’ five picks, three were graded “B” or better, and two earned A+ marks. My only criticism was the Dillard move, as the Eagles should’ve picked a player who could help them win in 2019. Otherwise, general manager Howie Roseman did very well once again.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

22. Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State C Grade
Andre Dillard provides great value for the Eagles because he could have gone as high as No. 11 to the Bengals. Cincinnati actually would’ve taken Dillard had Jonah Williams been off the board. So, the Eagles are getting a steal. However, this pick is unnecessary. The Eagles already had a successor for Jason Peters in Jordan Mailata, so there was no need to select a tackle; let alone move up for one. Perhaps the Eagles just absolutely loved Dillard and thought he was too much of a steal, but this is a redundant pick for Philadelphia that should’ve been used on another position.

53. Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State A+ Grade
I mocked Miles Sanders to the Eagles, but I wasn’t quite sure he would last this long. Rather than Philadelphia wasting a first-round choice on a running back, the team obtained much better value with one in the second frame. Sanders seems like he’ll be a terrific complement to Jordan Howard, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Sanders ended up being Philadelphia’s primary runner.

57. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford B Grade
I’m fine with this pick, but I think the Eagles had better options at multiple positions, including receiver. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is a physical wideout who will catch 50-50 balls in the end zone. He fits the range, so this is solid choice. I just wonder if the Eagles should’ve addressed their horrid linebacking corps instead. Receiver is a need with Nelson Agholor’s unreasonable contract demands, but linebacker seems to be more pressing.

138. Shareef Miller, DE, Penn State C Grade
This is a bit early for Shareef Miller. I had him pegged as a Round 5-6 prospect, mocking him at No. 196 to the Jets. Miller isn’t a very good athlete, but he has a nice frame and might be able to develop into a rotational defensive lineman. I’m not very optimistic about his chances, however, and I say this as a Penn State alumnus.

167. Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern A+ Grade
Here’s the quarterback the Chargers should’ve drafted because Clayton Thorson has good potential to become a solid starting quarterback in the NFL. Clayton Thorson is very smart and has great intangibles and solid arm strength. Thorson fell to the fifth round because he struggled at times at Northwestern, but only because he was surrounded with the worst supporting cast of any quarterback in this class. Had Thorson been complemented by capable athletes, he may have been chosen in the second round. This is a steal.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Eagles appeared to have a Super Bowl hangover for the first two-thirds of the season. They looked like they would miss the playoffs, especially after Carson Wentz went down, but Nick Foles led a charge into the postseason. The Eagles were the only losing team that was competitive in the second round of the playoffs. They actually nearly won, but Alshon Jeffery’s drop turned into a season-ending interception.

Offseason Moves:
  • Eagles sign LB Zach Brown
  • Eagles sign DE Vinny Curry
  • Eagles sign S Andrew Sendejo
  • Eagles sign LB L.J. Fort
  • Eagles sign DT Malik Jackson
  • Patriots acquired DE Michael Bennett, 2020 7th-rounder from Eagles for 2020 5th-rounder
  • Eagles acquire WR DeSean Jackson from Buccaneers

    Team Needs:
    1. Cornerback: The Eagles had issues stopping the pass all year. Rasul Douglas was able to shine down the stretch, but another cornerback will have to be obtained if Ronald Darby departs via free agency. Re-signed Ronald Darby

    2. Guard: The primary problem for the Eagles’ offense this past season was the protection. There’s a big hole at left guard that must be addressed. Perhaps this will happen with Cody Ford in the opening round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

    3. Running Back: The Eagles need to improve their ground game, which was so dominant during their Super Bowl run. A replacement will be needed for Jay Ajayi if he leaves.

    4. Wide Receiver: Philadelphia obviously wanted to bolster its receiving corps, opting to trade for Golden Tate. However, Tate hasn’t panned out in Philadelphia, so another receiver will be targeted. Traded for DeSean Jackson

    5. Two Linebackers: Jordan Hicks is the primary free agent the Eagles must re-sign this offseason. Even if they retain him, they’ll need one more linebacker, as they never replaced Mychal Kendricks. Signed Zach Brown and L.J. Fort

    6. Defensive End: The Eagles will want to bring in another pass rusher if Brandon Graham departs via free agency. Signed Vinny Curry

    7. Offensive Tackle Depth: Jordan Mailata should be a fine replacement for Jordan Peters if he retires. Peters leaving would trigger a need for depth at tackle.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2019 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Zach Brown, ILB, Redskins. Age: 29.
      Signed with Eagles

      Zach Brown is coming off a fantastic 2018 campaign, so it’s shocking that the Redskins cut him to save $5.75 million in cap space. Brown should continue to play on a high level in the near future, but the one downside with him is that he’ll turn 30 soon.

    2. Malik Jackson, DE/DT, Jaguars. Age: 29.
      Signed with Eagles (3 years, $30 million)

      Malik Jackson joined the Jaguars during the 2016 season. He had two stellar years in Jacksonville, but his performance fell off a cliff last year, ultimately leading to his benching. Jackson, however, isn’t 30 yet, so there’s a good chance he’ll be able to bounce back in 2019. He would be a nice signing on a 1-year “prove it” deal.

    3. Andrew Sendejo, S, Vikings. Age: 32.
      Signed with Eagles

      Andrew Sendejo has been a solid safety for the Vikings for years, but wasn’t needed anymore with younger, cheaper players at the position stepping up in the wake of his injuries. Sendejo should still be able to play well, but he turns 32 in September, so regression is coming soon.

    4. Vinny Curry, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 31.
      Signed with Eagles (1 year)

      The stats don’t show it, but Vinny Curry was a very talented player for the Eagles. He hasn’t recorded more than 3.5 sacks since 2013, but he has provided a consistent pass rush prior to 2018. He’s also very effective in run support. This past season was different, as Curry struggled, but he could rebound in 2019.

    5. L.J. Fort, ILB, Steelers. Age: 29.
      Signed with Eagles (3 years, $10 million; $1.9 million guaranteed)

      L.J. Fort is a solid run defender, but should only play two downs because he tends to be a liability in coverage.

    Philadelphia Eagles Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Jordan Hicks, ILB, Eagles. Age: 27.
      Signed with Cardinals (4 years, $36 million; $20 million guaranteed)

      The Eagles have plenty of big-name free agents this offseason. If there’s one player they must re-sign, it’s Jordan Hicks. He’s the heart and soul of the defense, which absolutely falls apart if he’s ever out of the lineup. Hicks is entering his prime as well, so he’ll continue to improve.

    2. Nick Foles, QB, Eagles. Age: 30.
      Signed with Jaguars (4 years, $88 million; $50.125 million guaranteed)

      Ah, to think Nick Foles almost retired. Jeff Fisher broke Foles, but Andy Reid, Doug Pederson and all of their assistants revived him. Foles, of course, went on to out-duel Tom Brady in the Super Bowl and then proved that was no fluke, leading the Eagles back from the dead to make the playoffs the following year. Foles isn’t the most talented quarterback, but he has terrific leadership skills and comes through in big moments.

    3. Ronald Darby, CB, Eagles. Age: 25.
      Re-signed with Eagles (1 year, $8.5 million)

      Ronald Darby is not an elite cornerback, he’s a solid No. 1 in most cases. Darby tore his ACL in mid-November, but should be 100 percent at some point in 2019. He’s only 25, so his future is bright, despite the knee.

    4. Brandon Graham, DE, Eagles. Age: 31.
      Re-signed with Eagles (3 years)

      Though Brandon Graham has never notched double-digit sacks, he has been one of the better defensive ends in the NFL over the past decade. He’s been tremendous in all facets. Unfortunately for Graham, he turns 31 this offseason, so regression is coming soon.

    5. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Eagles. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Eagles (1 year)

      The Eagles will not pick up Timmy Jernigan’s $11 million option, making him a free agent this offseason. Jernigan barely played last year because of injuries, but should be able to bounce back in 2019, given his age. Jernigan is a stout run defender who can generate some pressure on the quarterback.

    6. Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles. Age: 26.
      Jay Ajayi was excellent during Philadelphia’s Super Bowl run in 2017. He barely played last year, however, because of a torn ACL. Knee injuries can sometimes be scary for running backs, but Ajayi should be ready to go by training camp.

    7. Golden Tate, WR, Eagles. Age: 31.
      Signed with Giants (4 years)

      It’s unclear why, but Golden Tate never meshed well with either Carson Wentz or Nick Foles (at least not until the final touchdown of the opening-round playoff game.) He’ll definitely fare better wherever he goes next offseason.

    8. Chris Long, DE, Eagles. Age: 34.
      Announced retirement

      Chris Long was a viable rotational edge rusher in 2018 once again, racking up 6.5 sacks. He’s been solid in his role, but that may not last much longer, given that he turns 34 this offseason.

    9. Haloti Ngata, NT, Eagles. Age: 35.
      Announced retirement

      Haloti Ngata missed some time with a calf injury last year, but stuffed the run well whenever he was on the field.

    10. Stefen Wisniewski, C/G, Eagles. Age: 30.
      Re-signed with Eagles

      Stefen Wisniewski has played well at both guard and center over his career, but took a step back last year.

    11. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles. Age: 36.
      Despite his age, Darren Sproles can make some nifty moves to pick up big gains once in a while. Unfortunately, that won’t last much longer.

    12. D.J. Alexander, LB/ST, Eagles. Age: 27.
    13. Corey Graham, S, Eagles. Age: 34.
    14. Mike Wallace, WR, Eagles. Age: 33.
    15. Chris Maragos, S/ST, Eagles. Age: 32.
    16. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles. Age: 27. — Signed with 49ers
    17. Richard Rodgers, TE, Eagles. Age: 27.
    18. Chance Warmack, G, Eagles. Age: 27.
    19. Paul Worrilow, ILB, Eagles. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Eagles

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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