Eagles Free Agents: Stay or Go

Eliot Shorr-Parks
January 09, 2020 - 8:30 am
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The lockers are cleaned out, the press conferences are over and the offseason has begun at the NovaCare Complex. 

This is certainly a crucial offseason for general manager Howie Roseman, who sound ready to make some major changes and move on from this current era of Eagles’ football. 

Speaking Tuesday, Roseman started off his press conference by acknowledging the team has to get younger, and recapping what they have accomplished over the last four years.

“If I told you four years ago that we'd have 42 wins, including playoff games and a Super Bowl title, that doesn't mean that we've accomplished our goals," Roseman said, "but we're proud of that.”

Now the team’s job, lead by Roseman, is to figure out how to win not only another Super Bowl, but to get out of the 19-16 funk they have been in over the last two seasons. 

The first step in doing so in deciding who to move on from and who to retain among their free agents. 

Here is my guess on who goes and who stays among the Eagles’ 12 key free agents:

Jason Peters: The idea of Peters playing his final snaps in the NFL in an Eagles’ uniform is clearly something this franchise has tried to make happen, twice giving Peters new deals over the last three seasons. At 37-years old, however, Peters still wants to play for not only one more season, but perhaps two. That puts the Eagles in a tough spot, as they have clearly shown an emotional attachment to certain players, and Peters is perhaps the poster child for that. This offseason, however, they have almost no choice but to move on to first-round pick Andre Dillard. There is almost no chance the front office allows him to sit on the bench in favor of Peters for another season, wasting another year of his rookie deal. 

Guess: GO 

Ronald Darby: The Eagles have tried desperately to make Darby a No. 1, shutdown cornerback for them, but it is hard to imagine those efforts continuing. Darby was back last season on a one-year deal, but once again spent a large portion of the season on the sideline with an injury. Since coming to the Eagles in 2017, Darby has missed 20 regular season games, which is nearly as many as he has played in (28). 

Guess: GO

Rodney McLeod: McLeod is one of the more interesting decisions the Eagles have to make. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is a big fan of McLeod, but with Schwartz’s future up in the air, it is possible the team’s potential new defensive coordinator might not value McLeod as much. There is also the reality that McLeod is going to be looking for a big contract, having took a paycut last season to cash in this offseason. McLeod played at a high level, but if the Eagles move on from Malcolm Jenkins as well, it is very possible they just completely re-make the safety position by moving on from McLeod as well. 

Guess: GO 

Jalen Mills: Like McLeod, Mills’ future with the team will likely depend on if Schwartz is back. Schwartz, and secondary coach Corey Undlin, are huge fans of Mills and have stuck by him since he came to the team as a rookie in 2016. Mills has been a very good starter for them, but don’t expect him to be back if there are major changes on the defensive coaching staff. 

Guess: GO

Nate Sudfeld: The Eagles can spin it however they want, but the moment they brought in veteran quarterback Josh McCown is was crystal clear that they have soured on Sudfeld. The chances of them going into next season with Sudfeld as their top backup seem slim. The only way Sudfeld is back is if he doesn’t find a different team on the open market that wants to bring him in and allow him to be the top backup. 

Guess: GO 

Nelson Agholor: Roseman mentioned during his season-ending press conference that the data shows them that Agholor entering the 2019 season was one of the 10 fastest players in the NFL. That alone shows that the raw talent for Agholor is there, but for whatever reason, it has just not clicked for the two sides outside of an outstanding 2017 season. The idea of bringing back Agholor isn’t crazy — he is quick, young and knows the offense. At this point, however, it seems like it would be better for both sides if they moved on.  

Guess: GO 

Vinny Curry: Curry had a great season for the Eagles considering the role they wanted him to play, finishing with 5.0 sacks and making some big plays down the stretch. Although the Eagles want to get younger, they are not going to just do away with every single veteran player. Curry loves being in Philadelphia and the Eagles need to maintain some veteran depth at defensive end. Another one-year deal makes sense for both sides. 

Guess: STAY 

Josh McCown: Chances are that McCown either retires (for real this time) or gets into coaching — perhaps even on the Eagles’ staff. 

Guess: GO 

Timmy Jernigan: Jernigan saved his career this season, looking more-and-more like the dominant defensive tackle he used to be before an injury in 2018 cost him his entire season. Jernigan is going to be looking to get paid, and likely won’t take any kind of real discount to stay in Philadelphia. 

Guess: GO 

Jordan Howard: Howard has expressed a desire to stay in Philadelphia and it is understandable why he would want to. Howard played really well this season when healthy, and at one point, looked to be in line for a pretty substantial contract extension. The emergence of Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, however, could complicate things. Howard could be back in Philadelphia, but if he is, it’ll likely be on a one-year, prove it deal if he can’t find a real offer elsewhere. 

Guess: STAY

Halapoulivaati Vaitai: Vaitai has been a very important piece along the Eagles’ offensive line the last few seasons. He also has position versatility as the Eagles taught him to play guard this past season. If the Eagles do move on from Jason Peters, it wouldn’t be surprising they tried to keep Vaitai as the top backup to both Dillard and Lane Johnson. The question is if another team will offer Vaitai starting money at tackle. 

Guess: STAY 

Kamu Grugier-Hill: The breakout season Grugier-Hill seemed in line to have during training camp never came to be as a knee injury derailed his season. The Eagles very well could move on from Nigel Bradham this season, saving $4 million in cap space by doing so. If they do, look for Grugier-Hill to come back on a one-year, prove it deal. 

Guess: STAY  

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

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