Nick Foles

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Eagles free agents: Ranking who they should re-sign

Eliot Shorr-Parks
January 28, 2019 - 5:30 am

The Eagles have a number of decisions to make this offseason, but first on that list is which of their own free agents they want to bring back and which they want to let walk. 

The players they prioritize they will push hard to get back under contract before free agency begins in March. The ones they don’t care about won’t be hearing much from the front office before being cast out into free agency. 

So who should the Eagles spend their time on over the next month — and who should they not spend too much time worrying about?

Here is how I would prioritize the  players on the Eagles’ roster currently set to become free agents 

1. Nick Foles: Many will be surprised to see Foles at the top of this list. They shouldn’t be. The backup quarterback position is a crucial one of the Eagles, considering that Carson Wentz has ended the season on the bench injured the last two years. The chances Foles wants to come back as a backup aren’t great, but they aren’t zero either. Seeing if there is a way they can convince Foles to stay at a price tag lower than the $20 million he is set to make should be priority No. 1 — because if he is willing, the Eagles need to make sure they have to money to get it done. 

2. Brandon Graham: Graham checks off a number of boxes for the Eagles. First, they need him. The pass rush, which has been a strength of this team the last few seasons, is in danger of taking a big step next season. Graham might have had only four sacks last year, but there is reason to believe he will improve next season with a full healthy offseason to prepare — something he did’t have last year. Without Graham, the Eagles would really need either a rookie they draft in 2019 or Josh Sweat to step up and becoming an instant contributor, a big risk to take for a team that expects to compete for a Super Bowl. Add in the fact that Graham wants to stay in Philadelphia, will be willing to take a hometown discount and is a leader in locker room, and the Eagles should work hard to prevent him from hitting the free agency market. 

3. Jordan Matthews: A line in the recent Philly Voice story suggested that some felt Matthews was only on the team because he is close with Carson Wentz. True or not, what is not up for debate is this — Matthews was an excellent signing by the Eagles and one of their most reliable receivers once he arrived. Matthews caught 20 of the 28 passes thrown his way in the regular season, averaged 15.0 yards per catch and was the team’s best deep threat. In the playoffs, Matthews caught a 37-yard touchdown. Matthews wants to stay with the Eagles, offers position versatility and will not be overly expensive to keep. The two sides should make sure they get a deal done and Matthews remains on the Eagles. 

4. Jordan Hicks: The 2018 season couldn’t have gone much worse for Hicks in terms of convincing the Eagles they need to re-sign him. Not only did he struggle to stay healthy, but he didn’t make many big plays when he was on the field. In the playoffs, fully healthy, Hicks played just 36% of the snaps vs. Chicago and 62% of the snaps vs. the Saints. The team has already started to move on from Hicks. If he is willing to take a very cheap deal to stay, the Eagles should keep him. It does not appear the team is moving in that direction, however. 

5. Darren Sproles: Sproles very well might decide to retire, but if he is willing to play another year, the Eagles should bring him back. Sproles won’t take up much cap space, is a reliable veteran and played well towards the end of the season. Bringing Sproles back won’t change the Eagles’ clear need for an impact running back, but Sproles makes a ton of sense as a solid veteran backup. 

6. Ronald Darby: Darby might not be ready for the start of the regular season, but he also might be the best free agent cornerback available on the open market — which means he is likely going to get much more than the Eagles are willing to pay. If Darby wants to come back on a deal with very little guaranteed money, the Eagles should do it. The team has enough young talent in the secondary, however, that they shouldn’t commit too much money to Darby. 

7. Jay Ajayi: Ajayi, like Darby, has some obvious health concerns considering he is coming off of a torn ACL. Ajayi likely won’t demand much, if any, guaranteed money in his contract. The one hesitation with bringing Ajayi back would be that he is not going to be the lead running back — and would have to accept a backup role. Having Ajayi come into training camp and see how he looks, however, isn’t the worst idea. 

8. Golden Tate: Tate is a better player than some of the guys above him on this list, but he likely will command much more money on the open market than most of the players above him as well. He also doesn’t offer much more than Nelson Agholor or Jordan Matthews would on the roster, but will cost much more in guaranteed money. Losing a third-round pick in the deal for Tate is obviously a big loss, but the worst thing the Eagles can do is invest more bad money ontop of the deal. 

9. Mike Wallace: Wallace’s one season with the Eagles was an obvious disappointment. The fact Wallace knows the playbook and has experience with the team is appealing, but he can’t be the team’s top deep threat entering training camp this year like he was last season. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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