The start of 2014 NFL Free Agency is less than a month away. Yesterday, BGN took a look at which free agent that Eagles fans covet the most. The majority of the responses indicated Eagles fans want a safety, especially one named Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward. But is a safety the Eagles' most ideal free agent target? Not everyone agrees. SB Nation NFL released a list of the ideal free agent for all 32 NFL teams. Here's who they had paired up with the Eagles:
Philadelphia Eagles: OLB Brian Orakpo
The Eagles may be cautious about investing in high-priced free agents after their so-called "dream team" of 2011 imploded, but Orakpo is worth the money. The Eagles' secondary also needs an upgrade, but adding a pass-rushing threat like Orakpo, who had 10 sacks last season, will indirectly help that issue as well.
The Eagles' pass rush was below average in 2013. The team ranked 20th in sacks (37) and 22nd overall in Pro Football Focus's pass rush grading. Starting outside linebackers Trent Cole (8) and Connor Barwin (5) combined for 13 of those sacks. It took some time for veteran Cole to get adjusted to his new position as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Cole had been used to playing with his hand on the ground as a 4-3 defensive end until last season. Cole only recorded 1 sack in the first 8 games but finished with 7 in the last 8 games. Barwin was a natural fit as a 3-4 OLB but was more of a jack-of-all-trades than a consistent, reliable pass rusher.
Adding a pass rusher like Orakpo could make life on the Eagles' secondary easier. Orakpo is still in his prime at 27 years old and has racked up a career 39.5 sacks in 64 games played, or about .6 sack per game average. The Eagles will have to pony up some serious cash for acquiring Orakpo's services. He's the top 3-4 OLB in free agency and one of the best pass rushers on the market.
While it's clear the Eagles need help in the pass rush department, it remains to be seen if the Eagles choose to address that need in free agency. It doesn't seem like the Eagles are ready to part with Trent Cole just yet. Cole finished the season strong, played well against the run well all year, and is a team leader. Perhaps taking a pass rusher in the 2014 NFL Draft to be groomed as a backup behind Cole would make more sense.
On a different note, one Eagles player set to hit free agency is listed as another team's ideal free agent target. Can you guess who and where?
Kansas City Chiefs: WR Jeremy Maclin
Alex Smith needs someone to throw to other than Dwayne Bowe. Maclin played under Andy Reid in Philadelphia, and after missing the entire 2013 season with an ACL tear, could come at a bargain price.
Maclin would be reunited with the only head coach he's every played under at the NFL level, and KC could really use help at receiver. I'm not sure so he would go to Kansas City for a bargain price, however. As of now, it still seems like Maclin will return to the Eagles.
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