If other media outlets are doing it (not saying we’re some kind of special media conglomerate) then why shouldn’t we?
So many of us are looking ahead to the future and what players might be brought to Philly to help get our Eagles over the hump and into contention to win the big one. Some of the soon-to-be free agents have come into their own, been contributors and others should be looking for other NFL opportunities.
With that said, first on the agenda is free agency. Actually, Chip Kelly hiring a personnel manager is first on the Eagles agenda. But here’s my list of the 2015 Eagles free agents; who should stay and who should go.
WR Jeremy Maclin – STAY – This is beyond a no-brainer. He should be considered Comeback Player of the Year if the decision-makers are smart. He finished 9th in the league in receiving: 85 receptions for 1,318 yards (56 of those receptions were for first downs), averaging 15.5 YPR and 10 TDs. All of this coming off an ACL injury where many of us were skeptical as to how he’d produce as a number one after losing DeSean Jackson. A few receivers in the league were better than him: Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jordy Nelson. Oh, and by the way, Dez Bryant finished the regular season 8th in the league. Fantastic production this season means he should be brought back and hopefully will sign a long-term contract.
QB Mark Sanchez – STAY – OK, calm down. While he had struggles during the latter part of the season, he went 4-4 and knows how to run the Eagles offense. He’s more than capable of being a top backup in this league. Further, I’m not convinced Matt Barkley will even be on the team next season. Heck, the front office tried shopping him toward the end of this past training camp. I think with Barkley’s uncertainty comes Sanchez’s stability. So, what do they do; draft a quarterback in April? Absolutely. Obtain one in free agency? I would doubt it since Brian Hoyer, Shaun Hill, and Blaine Gabbert are basically the top free agent QBs. They should stick with Sanchez.
RB Chris Polk – STAY – He was productive in the red zone when he number was called scoring 4 TDs this past season. He’s a bruiser and I like what he brings to the backfield and how he hits holes. While he only carried the ball 46 times for 172 yards, he’s the north-south runner the Eagles needs since LeSean McCoy has basically gotten away from that kind of rushing attack. He’s a very dependable backup, he provides strong depth and should be on the roster for at least another season, if not more.
WR Brad Smith – GO – While the Eagles were one of the top teams in the NFL in special teams, I don’t believe Smith was all that special. Special teams coach Dave Fipp was and brought amazing cohesion with his crew of players this season. Fipp can certainly continue this trend next year. Smith did finish 4th on the team in special teams tackles and returned a blocked punt for a TD. However, other players can step up in this regard thanks to the coaching of Fipp. Oh, and Smith caught one ball for 11 yards on the season. It’s time for the 31-year-old to move on.
WR Jeff Maehl – GO – Frankly, he’ll probably end up staying because Chip Kelly just loves his Oregon players, and he’s an exclusive-rights free agent. That means the front office will offer him the minimum salary and he’ll have to accept it or basically leave the NFL. The Eagles should look for talent elsewhere when signing their 5th/6th receiver next season. He had 5 receptions for 46 yards this past season and has never been a difference-maker down the depth chart. They don’t need him.
DE Cedric Thornton – STAY – Honestly, I never thought he’d become the player he has and it’s a pleasant surprise. He’s been better and faster year after year and consistently stuffed the run. He’s the kind of DE you want to see in a 3-4 defense. He’s 26-years-old and will be entering his 4th season. Thornton is just getting started as he had 52 tackles on the year. 16 of them were assists. Bring him back and let him keep roughing up o-linemen and running backs.
S Nate Allen – GO – As I’ve said on the podcast and to many Eagles fans, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Eagles concentrated on getting better on defense via free agency. Of course, they’ll draft defensive players, but the team needs some kind of consistent and proven NFL experience at the start of the 2015-2016 season in the defensive backfield. Common sense tells us the defensive backfield simply cannot be revamped in one offseason. But Allen has had numerous chances, and it hasn’t worked out for him in Philly. Broken coverages, helping the CBs too late down the field and overall inconsistent play should indicate his tenure is up.
OLB Brandon Graham – GO – If Graham stays, I won’t have any real problems with it, but he should probably move on. There no doubt he’s continuing to grow in his role in a 3-4 defense. However, he’s not as versatile in coverage as I’d like when playing these NFC East teams. Again, during free agency I hope the Bill Davis and Chip Kelly explore guys like Steelers OLB Jason Worilds who is 26-years-old, had 7.5 sacks during the regular season and plays well in coverage. Graham will most likely test the free agent market. He’ll probably be paid more handsomely than what the Eagles should be willing to give the former first-rounder who has taken some time to understand his craft.
CB Bradley Fletcher – GO – Nothing more needs to be said.