The Philadelphia Eagles started 2016 NFL free agency off with a bang. The team made five signings and two trades on the first day of the new league year. Executive vice president Howie Roseman has been busy spending a lot of money in order to fill roster holes. Overall, it's been a strong performance by him so far. I've been critical of Roseman in the past but working with contracts and understanding value is always something he's done well, so I'm not totally surprised he's got the Eagles off to a strong start. Here are some grades for the moves the Eagles have made so far.
Rodney McLeod - A
Five years, $35 million, $13 million guaranteed
The Eagles really needed a new starting safety to pair with Malcolm Jenkins. McLeod proved to be a very good player for the Rams. At only 25 years old, he's still an ascending player. He's an upgrade over Walter Thurmond because he's more physical and actually has experience at the position. McLeod's big-hitting ability brings a new nastiness to Philadelphia's defense. The combination of Jenkins and McLeod should give the Birds one of the top starting safety tandems in the league. This is an easy signing to like.
Brandon Brooks - A-
Five years, $40 million, $17 million guaranteed
Philadelphia NEEDED to walk away from free agency with at least one new starting guard. They may have overpaid Brooks a little but the contract isn't really that bad. Brooks is a huge blocker at 6-5, 345 pounds. He has the ability to maul defenders as a run blocker. For what it's worth, Brooks has earned high PFF grades in past seasons. He ranked 7th in 2013, 8th in 2014, and 34th in 2015. Perhaps the greatest thing about Brooks is that he's durable. He's only missed a total of four games in the past three seasons. That's good news for an Eagles offensive line that's dealt with a lot of injuries in recent years.
Chase Daniel - C+
Three years, $21 million, $12 million guaranteed (max value $36 million)
I probably like Chase Daniel more than most. I remember watching his playing against the Chargers in 2013 and liking what I saw relative to him being a backup. He's also put up some strong preseason numbers, which might not be worth much. It's been awhile since I watched him closely so I'll have to go back and look again. In the meantime, this is a lot of money for a backup. Daniel is reportedly being given a chance to compete for the starting job, which is good. I don't think Sam Bradford played well enough in 2015 to be the team's undisputed franchise quarterback. Even if Daniel doesn't win the job, he still provides value as a guy with experience in the scheme who can help Bradford and/or the new rookie understand the offense. Daniel is also a good insurance policy to the oft-injured Bradford. I don't think this deal is terrible but it's not great either, hence the average grade.
Nigel Bradham - A-
As of this posting, Bradham's contract details haven't been revealed, so it's hard to fully judge this signing. What we do know is that Bradham played well under Jim Schwartz in 2014. The Eagles needed a new 4-3 outside linebacker with Kiko Alonso being traded and Bradham makes sense. As BGN writer Dave Mangels points out, Bradham played so well under Schwartz in 2014 that he made Alonso expendable in Buffalo. The hope for the Eagles is that he'll be much better than Alonso was in Philadelphia last season. Like McLeod, Bradham brings physicality to the defense. He's a welcomed addition.
Ron Brooks - B
Three years, $5.5 million, $1.5 million
I'm choosing to think of Brooks as an upgraded version of E.J. Biggers. He has some versatility and he can contribute on special teams. He'll potentially have the chance to earn a starting job if he plays well in the summer, but more likely than not he's a rotational player at best. He led the Bills in special teams tackles in 2014 so at the very least he'll contribute on that unit.
Eagles-Dolphins Trade - A-
The Eagles got rid of Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso, and their own first round pick (No. 13) to move up into the top ten (No. 8). Not bad. Maxwell wasn't as bad as some of his detractors made him out to be but he was still overpaid and his effort was questionable at times. Alonso might bounce back to the player he was in 2013 but it's hard to count on that. He was so terrible last season. Apparently Schwartz just wasn't a fan of him, either. Alonso is an incredible physical talent but there have been mental struggles. Neither Maxwell nor Alonso were sure-fire long-term pieces. The Eagles dumped both of them to save money and to have a better chance at drafting an impact player.
DeMarco Murray Trade - A
It's really amazing that the Eagles were able to get anything for Murray. He looked so cooked last year and his effort was questionable as well. (Just look at that play where he slid against the Dolphins.) The Eagles only moved up 13 spots or so in the fourth round so it's not like they got some huge return but getting rid of Murray was worth it. He was a disgruntled, declining player for the Birds.
Leodis McKelvin - B+
This deal happened before free agency started since the Bills released him last week but I figured I'd include it here. McKelvin gives the Eagles a potential starting option at cornerback. The versatile veteran has experience at multiple positions in the secondary. Injuries have been an issue for him so there is some risk here. He's played well in his career so this is a risk worth taking. He's a stop-gap fix while the Eagles look for a more long-term solution at corner.
Once again, I think Roseman has the Eagles off to a good start. There are still some moves that need to be made. The Eagles could afford to add a wide receiver, for example. Mark Sanchez should be traded or cut.
While these moves are nice, they don't completely assuage concerns about Roseman. You still have to wonder about his ability to get the biggest and most important things right. Did he hire a good coach in Doug Pederson? Can he find the Eagles a franchise quarterback? Can he nail the team's draft picks? Time will tell.