By Connor Thomas

 

With the Los Angeles Rams win in Super Bowl 56 over the Cincinnati Bengals, the 2021-22 NFL season has officially concluded. For some, it has been over for over a month, but now, for every team, eyes turn towards the 2022 offseason and how they can replace the Rams this time next year. For the Eagles and Howie Roseman, the task is no different. There is a lot to take in over the next couple months, and some huge decisions to be made, and that’s a great sign. There are franchises out there (see: New Orleans Saints) who don’t have the option to make decisions because they are so hamstrung by a terrible situation. The birds have draft capital, cap space, and roster flexibility, giving them the opportunity to make those big decisions between now and September. Here’s a road map for what those decisions should look like as the birds navigate one of the more important offseason periods in recent memory:

  • Step 1: Commit Big Free Agent Money To A Position Of Need

    The Eagles don’t have a TON of cap space, but they do have enough to make a splashy move with about $22mil of free money to work with. There are a few positions of need that should be targeted with this money, the top 3 being wide receiver, linebacker, and safety. Wide receiver because I believe it significantly helps a young WR room to bring a proven veteran at the position to take some heat off of DeVonta Smith. Linebacker because, well… it’s the Eagles, and they always need linebacker help. Safety because both Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris are free agents, and neither are long term options at the position even if they do get re-signed. They could also take a peek at the edge rusher market considering the age of Brandon Graham and the still somewhat inexperienced Josh Sweat. One of these positions deserves to see big money thrown at it, and Howie Roseman has been known to be aggressive with these types of opportunities.

  • Step 2: Re-sign Important Veteran Players

    This is somewhat interchangeable with step 1, but the Eagles should also spend free agency locking up some of their free agent-eligible players. Jason Kelce isn’t under contract; he’ll need another one year deal. Rodney McLeod is also unsigned and may be the Eagles safest option at one of the safety spots. Alex Singleton is worth another contract (at the right price) at the linebacker spot. Guys like Anthony Harris, Derek Barnett, Steven Nelson, and Ryan Kerrigan can walk, but depth options like Boston Scott, Nate Herbig, Hassan Ridgeway, and Genard Avery should be strongly considered to be brought back. Howie Roseman has to bring back as many of those desirable vets as possible in addition to making a splashier new acquisition.

  • Step 3: Explore The Veteran QB Market

    No, I’m not talking about Kirk Cousins, or Ryan Fitzpatrick, or Jameis Winston. Howie Roseman should absolutely kick the tires on the likes of Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers though. I would prefer the Eagles to not sign Deshaun Watson, or Derek Carr, (obviously each for different reasons) but if Howie makes calls, it would show his head is in the right spot. Hell, you can even give Tom Brady a call and see if he wants to come out of retirement to play a final year in midnight green. Ultimately, I’d expect these efforts to be unfruitful, and Jalen Hurts is a fine option for another season at QB in Philly, but an important part of having the type of draft capital the Eagles have with their 3 1st round picks is exploring the huge trade options. Those types of moves just helped the Rams hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

  • Step 4: Nail A Pair Of 1st Round Picks, Trade Another

    This is what I consider to be the ideal scenario for the 1st round of the 2022 NFL Draft in the eyes of the Philadelphia Eagles: Use the first 2 picks in the arsenal to address a couple defensive positions of need. Those are: edge rusher, linebacker, cornerback, and safety. The goal should be to pick the best players available at one of those 4 positions with picks #15 and #16. My ideal prospects would be LB Nakobe Dean and CB Ahmad Gardner, but any top players at each of those positions would be welcome. Then, I would move pick #19, which still should be in the zone for one of the top QBs in the first round, to a team looking to get a quarterback in exchange for draft capital next year. Even though Jalen Hurts would be a comfortable option at QB next year, there are still fair questions about his long term success potential. Moving the 3rd of 3 1st round picks pushes the Eagles flexibility back another year and gives them a potential out if Hurts disappoints in 2022.

  • Step 5: Round Out The Draft With Good Need Filling

    Outside of the 2 defensive studs that the Eagles should get by following step #4, there are other positions of need that still need to be addressed by way of the draft. The Eagles have 7 additional draft picks that are not 1st round selections, giving them ample opportunity to do just that. If they indeed cover cornerback and linebacker in the 1st, then a safety and edge rusher should absolutely follow at some point. This is also the year where the birds need to address the offensive line in preparation for Jason Kelce’s assumed retirement after this next season. The tackle positions are still set, but the interior is now in need of a couple long-term replacements for the retired Brandon Brooks and the soon-retiring Kelce. Another WR later in the draft is always a good idea, and an interior defensive lineman would help to buffer Fletcher Cox’s aging. Of less need, but still interesting, are the quarterback, running back, and tight end positions. The QB factory always needs new releases, Miles Sanders is set to be a free agent next year, and Dallas Goedert could use a steadier backup. If the Eagles fill out those remaining needs, they should be a much improved team come training camp. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll be enough to make them next year’s surprise contender.