Let’s be perfectly clear: the Philadelphia Eagles are locked and loaded on both sides of the ball, offense and defense. In fact, USA Today just released their updated win totals for all 32 NFL teams and the Eagles are targeted for 10.
That seems a little low, considering their relatively easy schedule. There were only four teams listed above them: Patriots (11), Saints (10.5), Chiefs (10.5) and Rams (10.5). Pretty fair predictions all around.
However, it’s always fun to toy around with the idea of shaking up the roster this time of year. What trades could the Eagles make before training camp? Which free agents could come in and contribute to the team? With that in mind, Heavy.com put together a list of “Top Players for the Eagles to Target.” Let’s take a look.
Jalen Ramsey, arguably the best cornerback in the NFL, has been vocal about wanting the Jacksonville Jaguars to negotiate an extension to his rookie contract despite still having two years left on the deal. Jacksonville has seemed unwilling to give into Ramsey’s demands and rumors started circulating last November that Ramsey could be traded. The Eagles were even reported to be in the mix. It’s true the team already has a vastly deep secondary, with promising young corners like Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Avonte Maddox and Sidney Jones, but right now they lack a true shutdown corner. Ramsey would solve that problem in a hurry.
Trading for Ramsey would require relinquishing a king’s ransom, including a first-round pick in next year’s draft. But what if the Eagles sweetened the pot by adding wide receiver Nelson Agholor to any proposed deal? The team didn’t reward Agholor with a contract extension and are on the hook for $9.4 million fully guaranteed. Financially, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for the Jaguars. But Nick Foles had great chemistry with Agholor in Philadelphia, so a reunion might be intriguing for them and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.
Connor Barwin’s love for Philadelphia and the Eagles has been well documented. The guy was depressed for days after his old team won the Super Bowl without him. While Barwin is getting up there in years, at age 32, he showed he can still motor last year as a member of the New York Giants. He recorded one sack in 15 games, including three starts. The hulking defensive end would fill the huge void left by Chris Long, sliding right in as a situational pass-rusher in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s attacking defense.
Fueling drama, Barwin was recently spotted at Lincoln Financial Field and has been seen around town drinking beers with his buddy Jason Kelce. Why not at least bring him in for a tryout before training camp? If Barwin has anything left in the tank, he could be an invaluable addition, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Tim Jernigan’s mysterious injury. The best part for the Eagles is they could bring Barwin back at a veteran’s minimum salary. That’s a win-win situation.
Eric Berry was once one of the most promising young safeties in the NFL. He was the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft and qualified for five Pro Bowls with the Kansas City Chiefs. Then, the injury bugs bit him hard. Berry has played in just three games since 2016 while dealing with a myriad of problems, including a highly-publicized bout with cancer in 2014. Several teams have recently kicked the tires on signing him, but the veteran free agent is readily available after the Chiefs cut him.
Can the 30-year-old Berry still play at an elite level? That’s the million-dollar question. When healthy, he was one of the best ball-hawking safeties in the league. On paper, the Eagles are stacked at the safety position. However, Rodney McLeod isn’t 100% from his season-ending knee injury and Malcolm Jenkins is unhappy with his contract. Both reported to minicamp and practiced with the team, but they bring a tiny level of concern. If Berry can be had on the cheap, it might be worth the Eagles’ time to make a phone call.
Are you done laughing yet? Look, the Eagles have been screaming from the mountaintops about how much they like backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld. OK, fine. But Sudfeld is the furthest thing from a guarantee since the Titanic hit an iceberg. He has looked shaky during OTAs and minicamp, causing the smallest ripple of doubt to creep in people’s minds about his ability to step in for the oft-injured Carson Wentz.
Enter Brock Osweiler. He hasn’t exactly oozed confidence since the Denver Broncos took him in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. However, he has flashed flares of hope here and there and was once deemed the heir apparent to Peyton Manning. In seven NFL seasons, Osweiler has thrown for 7,418 yards with 37 touchdowns against 31 interceptions. Not too shabby for a guy that has bounced around more than Sprinkles the Clown in a sandwich shop’s dumpster. Even bringing him in as a third-stringer might not be a terrible idea. Osweiler, that is, not Sprinkles.
Duke Johnson, Jr.
Do the Eagles need any more running backs? Absolutely not. The backfield is extremely crowded with Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Corey Clement, Josh Adams, Boston Scott and Wendall Smallwood. There are other reports predicting a reunion with Darren Sproles, too. Remember, both Clement and Sanders are nursing injuries. But think about this for a minute: Duke Johnson, Jr. has been one of the most complete backs in the NFL for the past five years.
Since the start of the 2015 season, he ranks tied for first in forced missed tackles per touch (0.24), fourth in yards per touch (6.45) and third in percentage of touches resulting in a first down or touchdown (32.7%). Johnson is also a great pass-catcher out of the backfield. What would the Eagles have to give up to get him? Not sure. Initially, the Browns were thought to be asking for a second- or third-rounder. But Johnson has been talking his way out of Cleveland for months and might let him go for a song and dance. Offer a sixth-rounder and see.
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