P Donnie Jones- Multiple special teams player of the week awards, best punter for us in awhile, no brainer (4 yr, 6 mil)
WR Jeremy Maclin- He wants to stay, we wanna keep him. Extra year on prove it deal so we can extend his contract rather that compete for him on the market next year (2 yr, 7 mil)
S Colt Anderson- Keep him for excellent special teams play (3 yr, 3 mil)
DE Cedric Thornton- Big breakout for the Eagles, restricted so we can lock him up on a multi-year deal (5 yr, 18 mil)
Nate Allen- Depth purposes most likely, but let him compete in camp, you never know (2 yr, 1.5 mil)
WR Arrelious Benn- Never got a chance, low money to compete in camp (1 yr, 750,000)
OLB/DE Phillip Hunt- Shown some promising edge rush ability, another camp competitor (1 yr, 350,000)
Money Spent- 9.85 mil (average of yearly salary of each player added up)
I hope we keep Riley Cooper but with how many teams need WR, I think some team will overpay him and the Eagles won't be willing to match it. Kurt Coleman needs to get out, he gets stupid penalties and falls for play action every time. I'd love Mike Vick as a back up but its not happening, he'll start somewhere this year, my guess is either Minnesota or Tampa Bay. Clifton Geathers could compete in camp, I just haven't seen enough of him to have an opinion.
Restructures and Extensions:
DeMeco Ryans (restructure/extend)- cut his base salary down to an average of 5 mil a year, tack on an extra year or two and more guaranteed money (Money saved- 2 mil)
Trent Cole (restructure)- Keep this years salary, but fix next two years by bringing down base salary from 10 mil to 7 mil but guarantee him more money and add sack and tackle incentives (Money saved- 0)
Jason Peters (extend)- He's making a little over 10 mil, I say extend him with that same average salary for 2-3 more years (Money saved- 0)
Jason Kelce (extend/pay raise)- He's earned the money and we don't want him to hit free agency (5 yr, 19 mil) (Money LOST- 4 mil)
Money Lost- 2 mil
Cuts and Trades: (Gonna estimate trades)
James Casey- Little room for Casey with Ertz and Celek in town, could also be traded to a team in need of a TE for a pick from the 4th, 5th, or 6th round pick, depending how much teams value him. (Money saved- 4 mil)
Patrick Chung- He's just cut, not worth the money and Earl Wolff is a cheaper and better option. (3.25 mil)
Jason Avant- I don't wanna lose him, he makes some great catches and is a great leader, but the way Howie has been talking, I think he's gone. (Money saved- 3.25 mil)
Alex Henery- Not much cap room, but we need an upgrade at kicker (Money saved- 600,000)
Brandon Graham- This won't surprise Eagles fans but it would surprise me. In my opinion it all comes down to if Chip thinks the kid is worth the money. If he doesn't like him I expect him to be dealt for a pick anywhere from the 4th to the 7th, again it just depends on the market for him and how bad Chip, Howie and the front office want him out of town (if they want him out) (Money saved- 4 mil)
Brad Smith- Though I give him the benefit of the doubt for entering midway through the season and having to learn a whole new system, he showed little potential in the return game and could be cut if eagles wanna make a little extra cap space. (Money saved-1.5 mil)
Total Saved Money= 11.1 mil-16.6 mil
Total Cap Space= 18 mil (estimated cap w/ 2014 rookie contract estimates included) + 5 mil (NFL's increase in cap space) -9.85 mil (re-signings) -2 mil (restructures/extensions) + 11.1-16.6 mil (Cuts and Trades) = 22.75 mil- 27.75 mil in cap space for Free Agency
Translation: Howie and Chip now have a good amount of money to work with in Free Agency and with the last two draft classes, this year should yield another impressive result.
Before I start Free Agency and The Draft, lets just go over the positions of need- S, WR2 (prefer someone who can play outside so we can kick maclin into the slot), Backup QB, Pass rushing OLB, DL depth, OL Depth, Secondary Depth, Kicker, returner
Safety is just a tough position to gauge right now. Ward and Byrd both look to be getting the franchise tag. If they don't I'm unsure if Howie wants to spend the money. Donte Whitner is going to command too much money wherever he ends up, and a lot of teams have made resigning their free agent safeties a priority (Mike Mitchell, Both guys from the Colts), so Eagles fans our options are limited. I've narrowed it down to a few options based on what I see happening right now. James Ihedigbo, and the two "Stop-gap" options, Chris Clemons and Ryan Clark. So before you all start criticizing me, I want you to know who I was picking between (I don't like it either)
S James Ihedigbo- With the Ravens set to lose both starting tackles, their starting tight end, and some other defensive pieces, while also having soft-more safety Matt Elam on the roster, they will most likely let Ihedigbo hit the market. Ihedigbo beat out Elam for a starting spot at safety and is a solid payer. He is 30, so he won't get too many years, but he had a career year last year with 3 INTs, 11 pass breakups, and 100 tackles. I would normally mock draft a safety in this situation, but Howie said he doesn't wanna go into the draft needing a safety, so I see us with Ihedigbo. (2 yr, 7 mil, low to no guaranteed money in year 2)
K Graham Gano- This guy is a favorite on a lot of mock off-seasons. with the Panthers in a position where they have to resign eight starters, and only have about 11 mil in cap space (and one of those free agents is Greg Hardy), they might lose their kicker. I've heard no word of the Panthers prioritizing Gano as a resignee, so I think we could get him. (4 yr, 11 mil) (that's an average of 2.75 mil a year and that about what kickers of Gano's caliber are getting payed)
The Pass rushing OLB is another difficult position to project. This years OLB class is weak. A few standouts likely to either be resigned or over payed (Jason Worilds, Brian Orakpo, Wesley Woodyard) and the rest of the class is weak. That makes me look to the DE's, specifically the ones in 4-3 sets who can make the transition to OLB. It's tough to find that, and I would look to the draft, but Mack and Barr will be gone before we pick, and there's no telling which OLB/DEs will be available at 22, so again, here's my opinion.
DE Everson Griffen- 6'3', 273 pounds. ran a 4.66 at the combine (4 years ago though) and shows impressive strength and pass rush ability. Described as small for his position (as a 4-3 DE, but perfect height for a 3-4 linebacker) I have no clue how he would play in coverage, I've never seen that tape on him, but he as all the intangibles to make a good pass rushing 3-4 OLB (has size to also play at DE, won't do it consistently but could help to give Cox or Thornton and breather). Vikings are looking to keep Jared Allen while also missing a starting QB and seem to be just outside of the range to get a good one in the draft (Texans, Browns, Jaguars, Raiders, Buccaneers all pick before them and have a need at QB), so they'll most likely have to buy one in free agency. They also need upgrades and replacements all over their defense, so Griffen is most likely a luxury they can't afford. (4 yr, 20 mil) (it's a little high but it's free agency, there's always competition and the man is gonna be sought after)
I would normally suggest depth players, but the positions we need to get deeper at I'm just not too familiar with honestly. I'm willing to assume based on who I'm gonna take in the draft we add a cornerback (I don't believe we replace Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher yet, they did a good job in my opinion and I think there the starters until I here otherwise from Chip), one or two DL, maybe an interior OL or two as well. I expect the cost of these players to amount to about 5 mil, mostly one to two year deals and low guaranteed money in case they lose a camp battle
The Draft- First four picks only.
Round 1, Pick 22- Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State- Today is the day before WRs run at the combine. The Eagles met with Benjamin today and so far at the combine have only met with WRs all projected to go in the 1st and 2nd rounds (SO FAR). Rumors as of right now lean towards Cooper being allowed to walk, and I think Chip is eyeing a new toy for Nick Foles. I am not making this pick because the Eagles and Benjamin met, I'm making it cause it makes the most sense. Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans will me gone before this pick. Marqise Lee is a little too much like Maclin and Jackson physically, and the Eagles will need a new big bodied receiver if we really do lose Riley. The 6'5' Benjamin fits that description and gives the Eagles a receiver who can play on the outside at the WR2 spot so Maclin and dominate as a slot receiver
Round 2, Pick 54- Deone Buchannon, S, Washington State- This is where things get difficult to mock, the Eagles go for best player available and at this point in the draft someone has always fallen pretty far. But as of right now, I'm drafting on what we need and what I think will be available, this is who I think the Eagles get. I like Trent Murphy and Jimmie Ward, but I see them as early second round picks, and if not, the cowboys have expressed interest in ward and the packers in Murphy, and they both pick before us. Doesn't necessarily mean they will take them but I don't think they will be options at 54. Buchannon is debated to be a 3rd round talent, but I honestly don't see it. In my eyes he's a second round talent and I believe a lot of people would agree with me. He's a physical tackler, smart and can read the play well to determine to drop or play the run, and has a knack for special teams play. He could easily be thrown into a competition with Ihedigbo, Wolff, and Allen for one of the two starting safety positions. If he loses he can develop for a year or two and play on special teams. He also has good size which is something Chip Kelly likes in his defenders.
Round 3, Pick 86- Telvin Smith, OLB, Florida State- Not sure where he would play at first, I think he could play at both ILB and OLB. He's got great closing speed, can sniff out screens very well, can run through contact very well and shows great coverage skill. He reminds me a lot of Mycheal Kendricks, I just think he's a tad slower. His coverage skills are what I like most about him, if we're playing a pass happy team with a good TE, Smith could be a very good option to match up with that. Also provides depth at LB and could potentially become a starter on special teams.
Round 4, Pick 118- De'Anthony Thomas RB/WR/KR, Oregon- I know this isn't how it will really be, but I just have this picture in my mind on the beginning of Day 3 of the draft, and Chip Kelly is just banging on the table chanting "De'Anthony, De'Anthony, De'Anthony". Anyways, Thomas is of course an Oregon player and already has a very good relationship with coach Kelly. He has tremendous speed, and can be our primary returner on both kicks and punts. I also believe he can beat out Damaris Johnson in camp to be WR4 on spread plays. Every once in a while he could also take a run play or two, even though Shady is fast, Thomas is faster and could be considered a change of pace back. With Brad Smith potentially being cut in my mock offseason, I also see Thomas being the primary recipient of the trick plays we saw Chip Kelly try to run with Brad Smith at the end of last year
The rest of my draft I leave to Chip, I expect a QB and some O-lineman in the late rounds, possibly a fullback too.
This was just what I think is gonna happen based on what I see right now, let me know what you think.