Here's my four point plan detailing the set of moves I will expect to see from the Eagles in this offseason if I am to continue believing that they are interested in winning:
1. Release/cut Ernie Sims - I think this move speaks for itself. He is simply a below-replacement-level player who was terrible in Detriot and played terribly in Philadelphia. Whoever was responsible for trading a 5th round pick for this player is a terrible judge of talent, but that's a story for another time. After showing that he is incapable of playing LB in the NFL for three consecutive years and for two different organizations, it's clear to everyone that he simply will never learn the position. If Ernie Sims is still on the roster going into training camp this offseason, then I will know with certainty that the organization is not committed to fielding the best possible team.
2. Re-sign Quintin Mikell - Yes, he's 30 years old, and yes, Kurt Coleman has shown signs that he is capable of playing strong safety in the NFL at an above-average level, but nevertheless, Mikell is clearly a top 5 safety in this league. He's one of the few arguably "impact" players the Eagles even have on defense. Profootballfocus.com rates him as their highest-rated safety in the NFL against both the run and the pass, even edging out Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu. He also provides a smart, veteran presence to the locker room. If the Eagles don't resign Mikell, they will needlessly be diluting the talent level on their roster. Relying on a second year 7th round draft pick as their premiere strong safety would be foolish. Despite being 30 years old, Mikell most definitely has at least three or four years of high level play left in him. I would understand letting him walk if he were, say, 33 or 34, but at 30, they need to keep him on board for at least one more contract extension.
3. Sign an impact free agent after the CBA is finalized - Obviously, no free agents can be signed until the details of the CBA is hammered out, but if/when that happens, I need to see the Eagles sign at least *one* impact free agent. Last year some guys were available that could have helped the team, but the Eagles didn't bother doing anything of note in free agency. This year must be different. There are several highly desireable free agent options this year in every area of need for the Eagles: CB, LB, and OL. I don't care if they decide to bolster the offensive line by signing, say, Logan Mankins, or if they want to strengthen their secondary by signing Nhammdi Asomugha or Jonathan Joseph, or if they want to sign a stud LB such as Chad Greenway - they need to pick one of the premier free agents available at any one of those positions (CB, LB, OL) and sign him. If they don't sign at least *one* impact free agent if given the opportunity, I will be skeptical of their commitment to winning.
4. Stay with the 4-3 defensive front. This may seem obvious, but it's extremely important. Many people are clamoring for a switch to the 3-4 defense because of all of the success that style has had in recent years in the NFL. Switching now would be disastrous for the Eagles. They have just hired a premiere 4-3 defensive line coach in Jim Washburn, and they have stocked their roster full of 4-3 defensive linemen who would be lost in a 3-4. Again, this move is not very likely to happen, and they will probably stay with the 4-3 front, but if they somehow inexplicably decide to switch in this offseason, they will be wasting the skills of their new defensive line coach and all of their most recent draft picks. I believe that they can still run a 4-3 and, with the right coaching and maybe 1-2 additional impact player, can field a top 5 defense. Don't give into temptation and switch to the 3-4. If they do, I will question the decision-making ability of the team and will seriously question their ability to assemble a winning team.