The 2014 NFL offseason has begun for the Eagles, which means Chip Kelly and his staff will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the 2013 roster. While the team was able to manage a 10-6 record along with an NFC East crown, there are still many ways the Eagles roster could be improved upon. By the time NFL free agency starts on March 11, the Eagles will have a good idea of which players they'll want to bring back for the 2014 season. Today we'll continue this offseason review series by looking at the outside linebacker position.
Stats: 908 snaps, 1 penalty, 9 sacks, 14 QB hits, 28 QB hurries, 2 batted passes, 40 tackles, 3 assisted, 5 missed tackles, 42 stops, 3 forced fumbles, 1 safety
Review: Many were skeptical of Cole's fit in the new 3-4 scheme heading into the season. Cole proved his doubters wrong by putting together a pretty good season. The old narrative with Cole is that he used to start the season out hot and finish the year cold. He flipped the switch this year with a slow start (1 sack in first 8 games) and a fast finish (8 sacks in last 8 games). Chip Kelly really valued Cole's veteran presence in the locker room as well.
Stats: 1158 snaps, 4 penalties, 5 sacks, 7 QB hits, 32 QB hurries, 7 batted passes, 47 tackles, 13 assisted, 5 missed tackles, 32 stops, 1 interception, 1 pass defensed, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
Review: Connor Barwin turned out to be a very good pickup in free agency. Barwin is a man of many hats. When he's not bringing his super cool hipster style to the city, he's doing a handful of things on the football field. Barwin did it all: rushing the passer, batting down passes, making open field tackles, dropping into coverage. Barwin wasn't especially adept in any one area, making him the jack of all trades but master of none (except for batting down passes).
Stats: 331 snaps, 3 sacks, 4 QB hits, 17 QB hurries, 12 tackles, 2 assisted, 1 missed tackle, 13 stops
Review: The transition to the 3-4 was the toughest for Graham. He didn't look very natural in coverage during training camp and preseason. This comes as no surprise since it was new for him and he's more skilled as a pass rusher. Graham provided some a good pass rushing effort off the bench.
Stats: 70 snaps, 2 QB hurries, 3 tackles, 1 assisted, 1 pass defensed, 1 fumble recovery
Review: Winner of the 2013 Reno Mahe award, many were irked to see Matthews make the final roster. Matthews largely contributed on special teams, where he finished with the third most special teams tackles (12).
Review: Kaddu joined the team on a reserve/futures deal after the 2013 season ended. Kaddu formely played for Oregon (Duck bias!) under Chip Kelly. Could Kaddu be this year's Chris McCoy?
Who Could Leave
It's possible the Eagles could trade Brandon Graham to a 4-3 team. Some have speculated about a Graham trade to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for Dion Jordan, but that seems unrealistic.
Trent Cole is due $6.6 million in 2014 but it would cost near $5M to cut him.
Who Could Sign
Brian Orakpo of the Washington Redskins is the big name target. It would take a fairly big contract for the Eagles to sign him. Another option could be OLB Jason Worilds from the Steelers. These players would be signed as starters. Are the Eagles ready to move on from Trent Cole? If not, the taking a pass rusher in the 2014 NFL Draft as a depth player who be can step into a starting role down the road would make sense. That route seems the more likely option.