by John Kincade
The good news is that it isn’t all bad news. The departures are most certainly grabbing the headlines. Let’s roll back the calendar just 31 days and see everything that has changed from Super Bowl Sunday.
The Eagles have officially lost; 1 starting defensive tackle, 2 starting linebackers and 1 starting safety. That is now 4 of the starting 11 on defense and counting. They will have to replace 36.3% of their starting defense and that number could be climbing soon.
The Eagles await word on Chauncey Gardner Johnson and his status. It’s probably a good thing that he hasn’t already been lured away. It’s obvious that a huge, big money knock your socks off offer didn’t come his way. He knows that won’t be coming from the Eagles so this lull in activity has to be a positive. As we heard this weekend the Eagles gave Darius Slay the opportunity to shop for a trade partner. Reportedly they didn’t agree on a moving forward strategy. Howie Roseman wants to re-adjust his contract while Slay publicly is campaigning for a new deal. Either way, Slay can’t play under the terms of his current contract. Roseman needs to shuffle money in order to make some more moves. We have no word on the status of Fletcher Cox who could return on a team friendly deal.
The Eagles know that the linebacker room is relatively empty now and the much criticized Nakobe Dean appears to have a golden opportunity to play significant snaps this season. To say that there is a lot of doubt about what Dean brings to the table is an understatement and that concern is legitimate. One thing is clear, letting your 2 starting linebackers leave tells me that Howie believes he can replace that production with Dean. I don’t know whether that is a good plan or not, but I’ll trust he has a better gauge on that than I do. Losing Javon Hargrove to the 49ers is a huge departure. I’m skeptical that we won’t see a drop off from the 2022 production that Hargrove provided by inserting Jordan Davis. Once again, it’s clear the Eagles organization thinks he’s up to the challenge unless we see another starter signed in free agency which isn’t likely.
I’m a bit baffled that we haven’t heard anything about a Jalen Hurts extension. There has been no news leaking on progress at all. Having that deal secured would be a great step in allowing the Eagles to watch a long term plan fall into place. Until it is done, other holes can’t be filled because of the indecision. My biggest concern is that the Hurts camp has either not been pleased with what is being offered OR they want to wait out Lamar Jackson or Justin Herbert signing their new deals to insure he gets more. Either scenario doesn’t work well for the 2023 Eagles.
Having Brandon Graham and Jason Kelce back for one last ride is great from a leadership standpoint, but it’s $20M off the payroll flexibility index. The deal with James Bradberry is solid in that it’s only $20M in guaranteed cash. I’m surprised that Howie Roseman got him back at that figure. A failure to secure a deal with CJ Gardner Johnson would be a huge blow to defensive continuity.
Hold your breath Eagles fans, it’s about to get dangerous. 4 down, how many more to go?