EYE waited until the Conference Championship games were over to discuss the feelings we all may have about the direction of the Eagles near-future path. The Bengals and the Rams will play in the Super Bowl. If you predicted that would happen back in August, you may have a gift.
So the Eagles went from a 4-win team in 2020 to a 9-9-low playoff seed in 2021. That is how history will remember it. Just not sure if such a jump in the standings is any reliable standard for continued improvement in this new year…so many variables are constantly in play.
One thing that’s constant is player turnover, and we will be seeing a lot of it. The great guard Brandon Brooks has retired, as you may have heard. That’s just the start of it.
The Birds will have plenty of cap space and draft picks to transform the team’s personnel dynamic as much as the team management wants. How different do they want to become and at what price? That is the only high drama the Eagles can bring us now after getting blown out in the wild card round.
At this point the Eagles have 10 draft picks in the 2022 draft (plus quarterback Gardner Minshew and defensive back Kary Vincent, Jr., both of whom were acquired with 2022 draft picks). Those picks are …
• 1st (from Miami for 2021 trade-down 6th to 12th) – 15th overall
• 1st (from Indianapolis for Carson Wentz) – 16th overall
• 1st (original) – 19th overall
• 2nd (original)
• 3rd (original)
• 4th (original)
• 5th (from Washington for 2021 6th and 7th)
• 5th (original)
• 5th (from Cardinals for Zach Ertz)
• 6th (from Indianapolis for Matt Pryor and 2022 original 7th)
Philadelphia will have some decisions to make and some business to conduct with free agency in mind, as a handful of key veterans from the 2021 season are due to be unrestricted free agents on March 16. Those players are:
• Linebacker Genard Avery, a starter at the SAM position in 2021.
• Defensive end Derek Barnett, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2017 who has been a starter since then. He has 21.5 quarterback sacks in his 64 career games with the Eagles.
• Tight end Jason Croom, who spent the 2021 season on Injured Reserve
• Safety Anthony Harris, who signed with the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent prior to the 2021 season. He was a starter throughout the season.
• Running back Jordan Howard, who rushed for 406 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, with three touchdowns this past season.
• Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, who had 1.5 quarterback sacks in the playoff loss at Tampa Bay.
• Safety Rodney McLeod, a key member of the defense since he joined the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent in 2016.
• Cornerback Steven Nelson, who joined the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent as Training Camp opened. He started throughout the 2021 season.
• Defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway, an Eagle since 2019 who recorded two quarterback sacks, one forced fumble, and one tackle for loss in ’21.
There are four players who are restricted free agents in March – offensive lineman Nate Herbig, running back Boston Scott, linebacker Alex Singleton, and wide receiver Greg Ward. Defensive back Andre Chachere is the team’s lone exclusive-rights free agent when the NFL’s new business year begins at 4 PM on March 16.
Regarding the draft, here are GK Brizer’s choice words:
“Howie had a pretty nice 2021draft…..he can’t possibly screw up in ’22,..or can he? Bottomline: Not much difference in talent level,..unlike former years, 1-22 or so. Moreover, several top 20 players could jump lower to end of 1st to da second. He can’t screw this up!!!! ”