Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer posted a column pertaining to some of the sourced information he's heard during his time at the 2014 NFL Combine this past week. Read the piece in its' entirety here. Some of the notes are fairly interesting. Here are the main takeaways from McLane's post, and my thoughts on them:
1) DeMeco Ryans isn't going anywhere, and a pay cut is unlikely.
Ryans was a solid starting inside linebacker and a leader on the defense in 2013. The issue is that Ryans will be 30 when the season starts and he will be due close to $7 million for this year. Ryans can be cut this offseason without any dead money, which could save the team the cost of his salary. Then again, it hardly makes sense to cut Ryans when there is no clear replacement in line. As McLane notes, a pay cut for Ryans doesn't seem to be a realistic option either. Expect Ryans to be starting in the middle of the defense again next season.
2) Jason Avant is likely gone.
Avant is a great teammate but his on the field performance just didn't cut it last year. Despite Avant's blocking efforts, he didn't offer much as a receiving threat. From the BGN position review series:
Avant only caught 50% of the passes thrown his way in the slot, which ranked 32 out of 33 slot receivers. Avant was credited for 3 dropped passes. He just wasn't a reliable target. Avant was graded 89 out of 111 total receivers per PFF. His 2.3 yards-after-catch per reception ranked 103 out of the 111 receivers.
The Eagles owe Avant a $1 million roster bonus due in March. By cutting Avant, the Eagles would save $3.25 million.
3) Evan Mathis isn't expected to hold out.
I'm not sure if anyone was really concerned about this. Mathis will make $5M in 2014.
4) Chris Polk could have a bigger role in the Eagles offense next year, especially if Bryce Brown is traded.
This is interesting. Polk had a really great training camp and preseason heading into last season. He was hardly utilized until later in the season. I wonder if the shoulder injury Polk sustained early in the season affected his playing time. McLane says Kelly prefers Polk's "north to south running style."
As far as Bryce Brown goes, he didn't exactly make that second year jump some were expecting based on flashes of potential from his rookie season in 2012. Brown is still young (22) and has potential. I'm not sure the Eagles are willing to give up on him unless they received a trade offer that blew them away.
5) Brandon Boykin and Mychal Kendricks are "hot commodities" and could be extended as early after the 2014 season.
The greatness of Brandon Boykin knows no bounds. The second year cornerback had a breakout year. It sounds like the Eagles will continue to play Boykin in the slot and on special teams as a gunner. If he keeps his play up, the Eagles will be more than happy to pay him when the time comes. Kendricks is a little more tricky given his up and down performances. There's no doubt he's flashed some talent. McLane says people he's talked to think 2014 is the season Kendricks puts it all together.
6) Matt Barkley was "100%" a Chip Kelly draft pick. Some scouts think Barkley is "a backup at best."
How does Barkley fit into the 2014 roster? If the Eagles add a veteran in free agency, Barkley is likely relegated to the number 3 role again. If the Eagles look to add a quarterback through the draft, Barkley would seemingly be the number 2 guy on the depth chart. Barkley needs to make a big jump from his rookie year to earn the team's trust in him as a reliable backup. It remains to be seen if that progression will be made. I think there's a chance Barkley could be one of those players who really benefits from their first full offseason in an NFL program.
7) Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams won't be cut.
I've said numerous times that I feel the Eagles are comfortable with their starting cornerbacks. Fletcher and Williams aren't stars by any means but they are solid starters on the outside.
8) The Eagles' "lesser" pending free agents (Kurt Coleman, Clifton Geathers, etc.) probably won't be back.
Nothing too surprising here.