By: Dalton Rice
After the first-round exit in 2019, the Eagles offseason had begun. Holding the 21st overall pick, the Eagles front office decided yet again to avoid a highly-touted Power-5 conference stud wide receiver like Justin Jefferson or Tee Higgins and instead elected to choose Jalen Reagor from TCU, a player who was nowhere near the top of any scouts draft boards due to mediocre stats throughout college. Reagor was nowhere close to a bad player, but his ceiling and floor were hard to read due to the poor quarterback play Reagor dealt with during his three year college career. It is still too early to declare anything about Reagor, but it is important to note that the Minnesota Vikings took Jefferson with the very next pick and he became one of only two rookies to make the Pro Bowl this season. In the second round, the Eagles shockingly took QB Jalen Hurts, who has played great in his mere four starts after taking over for Carson Wentz.
As the 2020 regular season winds down, with the playoffs slated to begin in just a few days, it is time to look back and prepare for a brighter future. The Eagles finished the 2020 season with a 4-11-1 record and somehow eliminated themselves before Week 17 in a division where the two best teams had 6-9 records heading into their final games. This Eagles team will soon be one to forget, as the future may soon get brighter after solidifying the sixth overall pick in next year's draft. After having no spot in the playoffs due to only winning four games, the Eagles front office will now have plenty of time to reflect on what went wrong and hopefully make changes that will bring the Eagles roster back to a Super Bowl competitor level. There are plenty of hurdles in the way however, as it seems that multiple key pieces may be on their way out. If not for being on injured reserve at the trade deadline, Zach Ertz would have been traded by Week 8 as rumors of trade inquiries from other teams became public signalling the beginning of the end for Ertz’s stay in Philly. The Eagles roster is loaded with veteran players, having one of the higher average age of players on the 52-man roster with an average of 27.1 years, which is one of the highest in the league. The biggest controversy heading into the lengthy offseason concerns former franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. After a disappointing season that led many fans, including myself, to wonder why Jalen Hurts wasn’t played sooner, Wentz’s future in Philadelphia immediately became questioned. At 28 years old, Wentz is still young enough to play as the MVP-caliber player he was in 2017 before his injury that flung Nick Foles to the helm, we all know what happened next. News was broken just before the Eagles Sunday Night Football game against the Washington Football Team that both Wentz and Head Coach Doug Pederson’s relationship has become “fractured” beyond repair. It seems more and more likely that Carson Wentz will be the starting quarterback for a different team at the start of the 2021 season, it will certainly take some time for a trade to be made considering the free agency period does not begin until 4pm on March 18 and the three-day draft does not begin until April 29. Whoever comes or goes this offseason, the high expectations from fans will need to be met in some way, shape or form in order for this team to work its way back to a true competitor not only in the division or conference, but in the whole league. For the first time in a long time, an Eagles rebuild seems imminent. Another four-win season in a division as weak as the NFC East would cause great concern for a team that has reached the playoffs multiple times over the last 5 seasons. Cap space is tight, but GM Howie Roseman is known for his ability to negotiate with players, giving them higher signing bonuses which push off cap dilemmas until the next season.
There are many changes to make that start with Head Coach Doug Pederson, who just today (1/11) was fired after a meeting with the team’s owner, Jeff Lurie. Using up years of both Jalen Hurts and Carson Wentz careers will be tough to swallow, but this team has pieces that can fight to be a contender within the near future. Let's look at what the roster might look like next season:
Eagles Projected Starting Lineup for 2021-2022 Season:
QB: Carson Wentz (34.6 mil), Jalen Hurts (1.3 mil), Nate Sudfeld (FA)
RB: Miles Sanders (1.5 mil), Boston Scott (FA), Cory Clement (FA)
WR: DeSean Jackson (10.5 mil), Marquise Goodwin (4.5 mil), Jalen Reagor (3 mil), JJ Arcega-Whiteside (1.3 mil), Travis Fulgham (850K), John Hightower (855K), Quez Watkins (822K)
TE: Dallas Goedert (1.8 mil)
OL: Lane Johnson (17.8 mil), Brandon Brooks (14.5 mil), Jason Kelce (8.4 mil), Isaac Seumalo (5.4 mil), Andre Dillard (3.4 mil), Matt Pryor (955k), Jordan Mailata (940K), Jack Driscoll (900K)
CB: Darius Slay (15.8 mil), Avonte Maddox (1 mil), Cre'von LeBlanc (FA)
S: Rodney McLeod (5.2 mil), K’Von Wallace (956K), Marcus Epps (850K)
DL: Fletcher Cox (23.8 mil), Brandon Graham (18 mil), Javon Hargrave (15.2 mil), Derek Barnett (10 mil), Josh Sweat (1 mil), Genard Avery (920K)
LB: Davion Taylor (1 mil), TJ Edwards (854K)
ST: Jake Elliot (3.3 mil), Rick Lovato (1.2 mil)
Draft picks: 6 (1), 37 (2), 69 (3), 133 (5), 139 (5), 164 (6), 197 (7), two sixth-round picks as compensation for Jordan Howard and Ronald Darby who left in the 2020 offseason
Positional needs: OL, LB, CB, S, TE2, RB2, WR, P
Cap Space: Currently, the Eagles are working with -$51.6 million in cap space, per Over The Cap
After questionably earning the sixth overall pick thanks to an embarassing tank against the Washington Football Team to end the season, the Eagles are primed to select a player that could come in and greatly improve this time on their side of the ball. It is too early to know what will happen before the Eagles selection, but many fans are hoping for one of WR Ja'Marr Chase from LSU, WR DeVonta Smith from Alabama or LB Micah Parsons from Penn State. Howie Roseman
After the firing of Doug Pederson, I am expecting the Eagles to try and repair their relationship with Carson Wentz, to trade Zach Ertz like they were attempting to do before the trade deadline earlier this season and let go of both Alshon Jeffery and Malik Jackson whose contracts were recently renegotiated. From top to bottom, there will be plenty of new faces on this team, it will sure be interesting to see how the Birds stack up against their rivals next season, as their young players have developed a whole lot quicker than the Eagles last few draft classes have.
Through thick and thin, Fly Eagles Fly.