PHILADELPHIA — It was a busy, chaotic first week of NFL free agency for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The roster saw seven in-house free agents depart, including five 2022 starters. Running back Miles Sanders, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, both linebackers in TJ Edwards and Kyzir White, as well as safety Marcus Epps have all agreed to contracts with other organizations.
Backups in quarterback Gardner Minshew and offensive tackle Andre Dillard have also signed elsewhere.
Philadelphia has retained or added nine free agents however, bringing back veterans in center Jason Kelce, defensive end Brandon Graham, DT Fletcher Cox, RB Boston Scott, and both cornerbacks, James Bradberry & Darius Slay. General manager Howie Roseman brought in outside replacements for other departed free agents too, signing RB Rashaad Penny, DB Greedy Williams, and QB Marcus Marota.
So far, the Eagles are making the right calls on who to prioritize keeping, and who they are letting walk.
Although Roseman is “running it back” with many veterans, these aren’t the same type of investments he made after the Super Bowl run of 2017. Back then, Roseman needed his 30+ year-old starters. The roster had very little young talent due to poor drafting, and a small amount of draft capital to add more inexpensive core pieces.
The Eagles have those pieces and capital. The entire offense is loaded with stars that are either in their prime, or about to reach that level. All of them are also on multi-year contracts.
This includes franchise QB Jalen Hurts, top tier weapons in DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, and Dallas Goedert even the offensive lineman with Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, and Lane Johnson.
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The defense has more work to do long term, but it isn’t barren of young/prime talent either.
Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat are elite pass-rushers in their primes, and both are under contract. Jordan Davis and Milton Williams are recent Day 1 and Day 2 picks that will be featured on the interior of the defensive line. Then, there is Nakobe Dean who enters his second season with the responsibility of taking over for both 2022 starting linebackers.
The money invested in extended veterans wasn’t significant either. Graham, Kelce, and Cox will play big roles for the 2023 Eagles both on and off the field, but all three of them are on one-year deals. Graham and Cox also took less money to return to Philadelphia, making under what their market value indicated they could get elsewhere.
Slay and Bradberry both received multi-year extensions but the two elite cornerbacks also took less money to stay with the Eagles.
These aren’t crazy backloaded contracts that could come back to bite the organization years after their departures. All five of these veterans are still at the top of their game and are far more valuable than the money they are getting.
Roseman is focusing on the right positions too.
Where is the money? It is invested in players at positions that you need to have to consistently be a contender in the NFL: QB (eventually), offensive lineman, weapons, pass rushers, and corners.
The positions they have let free agents walk? Running backs. Safety. Linebacker. These are positions the Eagles and other teams normally don’t invest a lot of salary cap space in.
That doesn’t mean those positions are not important and Roseman can simply ignore them.
The Eagles have a lot of work to do at those spots and the entire roster before next season, but it is hard not to be pleased with the work Philadelphia did in the first wave of free agency.