COUPLE weeks ago, I said that we should pass on adding fading stars like CB James Bradberry and instead, focus on developing our young players. In fact, Bradberry was one of two stars that I specifically named in that article! For the record, I still think sticking with youth was the way to go. However, since Bradberry is an Eagle now, I want to make a few things crystal clear.
First, James Bradberry, welcome to the Eagles. You said that our Defensive Line is what tempted you to come here. That is our gift to you. That being said, to him who much is given, much is expected.
Second, in itself signing Bradberry isn’t a bad move. He’s been a good player in this league for years now, and he has active hands, in terms of denying the ball to receivers. He gave up a ton of yards in 2021, but I’m not concerned that he can’t play anymore. I’m concerned that his starting, means our youth doesn’t gain much experience. That will keep us from developing that youth, and hurt our long term picture.
Third, I’ve spent this offseason banging a pot to draw attention to CB Zech McPhearson. He was a fourth round pick in last year’s Draft, and spent 2021 learning, and rightfully sitting behind CB Steven Nelson, whom we brought in on a one year deal. Giving a player a one year deal, basically says that that player isn’t in the long term picture. This ostensibly, put McPhearson in the on-deck circle.
So when Nelson was allowed to walk, my thinking was “BOOM! The future is now”. Instead, we inked another player (Bradberry) to a one year deal. It would be one thing if we’d added a CB in this years Draft; but since we didn’t, that makes it seem like McPhearson is still our top young guy waiting in the wings. So why the delay? Long term it makes no sense at all.
My only guess is that the Front Office sees something about the team that says “PARADE!” this year. If that’s the case, there are a couple of key things we’ll need to power through first. But I’ll wait to discuss that, in this year’s upcoming ‘THE 12’ series.
IMPROVE the roster. That’s the mission of this, and every offseason. The first step (as always), is not to do anything stupid, which either leaves a hole, or depletes depth. Teams sometimes do that when they have plans to add X-free agent, and/or Y-draft pick. Problem is, when they land neither player X nor Y, they get left with a hole. Often gaping. So let’s not do something stupid.
If we’re smart, here are six holes we’ll avoid creating, just by re-signing guys:
G – Nate Herbig: He’s been solid everywhere we’ve put him (LG – C – RG). He has inside versatility, is more reliable than Sua Opeta, and may be a better starter thanIsaac Seumalo.
RB – Jordan Howard: His neck is a bit of a concern, but the Eagles need a bruiser, and unless the Front Office plans to trade for one, free agency is loaded with guys who either won’t come here (John Conner, Melvin Gordon, Leonard Fournette); guys who don’t run as big as their size (Peyton Barber, Kalen Ballage, Damien Williams); and the 30+ club (Latavius Murray, Brandon Bolden).
CB – Steven Nelson: Though he didn’t have the monster season that Darius Slay had, Nelson only surrendered an average of 33.9 yards per game. (Slay averaged 31.) Whether the plan is to develop Zech MacPhearsonor draft another kid, keeping Nelson around is the smart play. If we let him walk, who starts in his place?….Exactly.
OLB – Alex Singleton: The Eagles need to upgrade our pool of LB talent. No argument there. However, if the Eagles don’t re-sign Singleton, that would leave us with promising, but still raw Davion Taylor and our fingers crossed. Singleton isn’t flashy, but he hustles, and doesn’t quit on plays. His attitude is exactly what incoming rookies needs to see.
FS – Rod McLeod: We aren’t even close to having an answer at this position if we let him walk. Eagles fans want FA Tyrann Mathieu, but he’s going to have plenty of suitors. So Mathieu coming here, is far from a slam dunk. McLeod is already here and wants to come back. Why be difficult? Just take ‘Yes’ for an answer.
WR – Greg Ward: He is the most veteran player at his position, in a room full of pups. He’s also one of just TWO decent Punt Returners under contract with this team. And that’s counting Active roster, Practice Squad, and even guys on Injured Reserve.
Keep in mind, any of the players that we re-sign, we can still cut later. Re-signing these guys just means that moves made subsequently, can be done with far less risk. As for the remaining eight, I like some of them, but many of them don’t fit the Eagles big picture.
DE Derek Barnett will never produce more than 7 sacks, in a system which plays it’s CB’s off so much.
DT Hassan Ridgeway is a solid rotation guy, and I’ve been big on him for years. Unfortunately for him, he’s in Milton Williams’s way. Williams was a third round pick and unlike Ridgeway, he can be flexed out to DE.
RB Boston Scott is a gamer, but A) Someone is going to throw him more than 3 million a year, B) It shouldn’t be us, since we’ll soon have to pay RB Miles Sanders; C) Three small RB’s in Scott, Kenneth Gainwelland Jason Huntley is two too many.
CB Andre Chachere makes you notice him, but the numbers game at his position might run him out of town. Even more so, I think his style of play would be better suited to FS, but the Eagles FO is still hoping that K’Von Wallace pans out there, since they spent a draft pick on him.
The Eagles have already re-signed TE Richard Rodgers. As much as the Front Office raves about TE Tyree Jackson, his ACL tear in Week 18 means that he’ll miss OTA’s, mini-camp, and some, or all of Training Camp. Rodgers represents depth and starter insurance.
And now for some bad news. We can’t claim to be rebuilding. We did that last year, and we made the playoffs. Making the playoffs is now expected for this team. Playoffs is the floor, not the ceiling in 2022. We will not sneak up on anyone this year. Everything that this team does now, is not to build a winner, but to go further this year. This year.
We want to open Training Camp with the Eagles being more talented, and more dangerous, than when our season ended. That process begins with the start of Free Agency on March 16th. We’ll take care of our in-house business, then chase the outside. Remember, the first step (as always), is not to do anything stupid.