2017 NFL free agency begins soon (March 9, 4:00 PM ET). We won’t know for sure who the Eagles will sign until after the new league year starts, but maybe we can glean some hints based on past relationships. With that in mind, here’s a look at some logical connections the Eagles have to this year’s crop of free agents.
Let’s start off with the man supposedly running the show now: Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas. Douglas spent many years with the Ravens before working on the Bears’ staff for a year.
WR Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery is arguably the best wide receiver available in free agency this offseason. The Eagles are reportedly interested in the 26-year-old pass catcher. Jeffery would be a nice addition for the Eagles because he’d give Carson Wentz a big, reliable target. Jeffery is a guy who can go up and get the ball. He only dropped one pass in 2016.
Now, there are some significant concerns with Jeffery. His price tag will be high and he comes with the risk of being suspended for 10 games if he fails another drug test.
Interestingly enough, odds-makers think the Eagles have the best shot at landing Jeffery if he doesn’t stay with the Bears.
Jeffery also shares a connection with new Eagles wide receivers coach Mike Groh (see below. That rhymes.)
FB Kyle Juszcyzk
Spelling this dude’s last name is difficult so let’s just refer to him by his nickname: Juice. The Ravens drafted Juice in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Juice measures in at 6-1, 240 pounds and he turns 26 in April. You may laugh at the idea of the Eagles signing a fullback, but it’s something Doug Pederson has talked about wanting since taking over last year. The Eagles didn’t have a real fullback in 2016 but they tinkered with the position. They tried to move tight end Chris Pantale there, but that didn’t work. The Eagles also signed former North Dakota State fullback Andrew Bonnet to the practice squad and now he’s back with the team on a futures/reserve deal.
Juice is a capable receiver for his position; he was named to the Pro Bowl for his efforts last season. It’s worth noting Juice, who attended Harvard, was from Andy Weidl’s focus area when he was still scouting with the Ravens. Weidl now works under Douglas with the Eagles as Philadelphia’s assistant director of player personnel.
WR Kamar Aiken
Aiken bounced around the league a little bit before catching on with the Ravens in 2014. In three years with the Ravens, Aiken caught 128 receptions for 1,539 yards and nine touchdowns. His best season came in 2015 when he had 944 yards and five scores. Aiken is far from the solution to the Eagles’ receiving corps but he could be a solid mid-to-low tier option who won’t be too expensive. The 6-2, 213 pound Aiken turns 28 in May.
WR Marquess Wilson
Douglas was with the Bears when Wilson had his best season in 2015. The 6-3, 194 pound receiver caught 28 passes that year for 464 yards and one score. He averaged 16.6 yards per reception in his third season before then averaging 17.8 yards per reception in 2016, although on only nine catches. Could be an inexpensive low-tier option for the Eagles.
Wilson also shares a connection with new Eagles wide receivers coach Mike Groh (see below.)
DT Brandon Williams
Williams is expected to be one of the best free agent defensive tackles on the market. The Eagles will have a big need at DT if they don’t keep Logan, but Williams will be even more expensive so he’s not a realistic option. Spotrac projects Williams will get $12.5 million per year.
WR DeSean Jackson
Pederson and Jackson overlapped in Philadelphia from 2009-2012. Here’s what Jackson said about the Eagles’ current head coach during last season:
“I’m happy to see Doug there, man. I respect him when he was there with Coach [Andy] Reid. I congratulate him on getting the job I think he deserves. He’s done some good things when he left and went to Kansas City, and now he’s back in Philadelphia. So I definitely have a respect for Doug. A good relationship with him as well, too, so it’ll be good to see him when we play Sunday.”
There’s already been a lot of discussion about Jackson’s potential return by this point. Reports indicate there’s mutual interest in Jackson coming back to Philly, but there’s little doubt Jackson will take the best deal he can get in free agency.
RB Jamaal Charles
Charles isn’t a free agent (yet) but he seems like an obvious cap casualty for the Chiefs. The 30-year-old running back can be released for a savings of $6.1 million with zero dollars in dead money. Charles was one of the best running backs in the NFL a few seasons ago but he’s only played in eight game since 2014. His injury history is an obvious concern at this point.
The Eagles already have an injury-prone veteran running back on the roster in Ryan Mathews. Charles wouldn’t be a solution for the Eagles by any means; Philadelphia’s best hope of adding running back talent should via the 2017 NFL Draft. But maybe taking a flier on Charles is something Pederson, his former offensive coordinator, would be interested in.
RB Knile Davis
The Eagles didn’t show interest in Davis when he was available as a free agent multiple times last season, so I doubt they will this offseason. But the 2013 third round pick is still only 25. You could do worse for an offseason body at running back.
RB Dexter McCluster
Pederson overlapped with McCluster in Kansas City for the 2013 season. I’d put McCluster in the same boat as Davis here: nothing more than a flier for the offseason roster.
New Eagles wide receiver coach Mike Groh has a lot of connections to upcoming free agent pass catchers. Isn’t that convenient?
WR Alshon Jeffrey
Groh was the Bears’ receivers coach for two of Jeffery’s best career seasons: 1,421 yards in 2013 and 1,133 yards in 2014. Jeffery also had 17 combined touchdowns during that span. Jeffery has a double connection to the Eagles given the Douglas mention listed earlier in this post.
WR Kenny Britt
Groh coached Britt last year in his first and only season with the Rams. Britt had a career season under Groh, hitting over 1,000 yards (1,002) for the first time in his eight-year NFL tenure. It’ll be interesting to see what Britt’s market will be like. The former first round pick has size and talent. But he turns 29 in September and he had off-the-field issues earlier in his career. Groh’s familiarity with Britt could give the Eagles a good sense if he’s worth the risk. Britt might be affordable to the Eagles given his inconsistent production over the years.
WR Brandon Marshall
Marshall isn’t a free agent (yet), but the Jets can save $7.5 million in cap space by cutting him with zero dead money. Marshall believes the Jets won’t cut him but we’ll see. If he makes it to the market, the Eagles should absolutely have interest. He turns 33 in March, which isn’t ideal for Philadelphia in the long-term, but Wentz does need immediate help for the sake of his development. Marshall had 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns under Groh’s tutelage in 2014.
WR Brian Quick
Quick is hardly a flashy name in free agency this offseason but the Rams receiver could draw interest from the Eagles. Quick had a career year last season under Groh; he recorded 41 receptions for 564 yards and three touchdowns. Quick is long and has good size at 6-4, 210 pounds. The Eagles need all the receiver help they can get and the 27-year-old Quick might be a solid yet unspectacular addition for Philadelphia.
WR Marquess Wilson
Like Jeffery, Wilson was mentioned above in the Douglas section. Wilson was a seventh round pick in Groh’s first year as Chicago’s receiver coach in 2013. Wilson had a career year under Groh in 2015.
WR Stedman Bailey
Along with Britt and Quick, Bailey is another Rams receiver set to hit free agency. Bailey hasn’t played since the 2015 season because he suffered multiple gun shots to his body that year. Thankfully, Bailey said he’s cleared to return to football this offseason. Bailey never actually played under Groh so their relationship might not be very close. Bailey tweeted he has a strong possibility to stay in Los Angeles and that’s where he wants to be.
Last year the Eagles signed a number of Schwartz’s former players: Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, and Nigel Bradham. Will that happen again this year?
CB Stephon Gilmore
Gilmore started 14 games under Schwartz in 2014. The No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft has three interceptions and one forced fumble that season. Gilmore is expected to be one of the best available free agent cornerbacks this offseason. With that said, he doesn’t come without concerns. Bills writers have described his play as “up and down” and PFF projects him to be one of the most overpaid players this offseason. Buyer beware.
DT Nick Fairley
I’m fairley certain there was some report about Fairley ending up in Philadelphia, but he signed a one-year deal with the Saints instead. Fairley had a productive season for New Orleans. The former first-round pick racked up a career-high 6.5 sacks while playing in 68.8% of the Saints’ defensive snaps. The Eagles might have a need at defensive tackle if they can’t re-sign Logan. It remains to be seen if the 29-year-old Fairley would be more affordable, but Schwartz might prefer him. Schwartz and Fairley overlapped in Detroit from 2011-2013.
DE Mario Williams
The Eagles could use some defensive end depth with Connor Barwin expected to be traded/cut. Williams had a career-high 14.5 sacks playing in Buffalo under Schwartz in 2014. The 32-year-old only had 1.5 sacks with the Dolphins last year, though, and there are questions about his motivation and passion for football. The former No. 1 overall pick would be an intriguing flier but he isn’t worth any kind of big money.
DT Stefan Charles
Charles had a career year under Schwartz in 2014. While playing in 31% of Buffalo’s defensive snaps, Charles notched three sacks, 12 tackles, and one fumble recovery. That’s not very impressive by most standards, but it’s a decent for a career backup like Charles. He could be a very cheap veteran flier the Eagles take a chance on if they aren’t able to keep Logan.
CB Ross Cockrell
Cockrell was a fourth-round pick by the Bills in 2014. He only played 11 snaps as a rookie. Buffalo cut him prior to the 2015 season and he’s been decent for the Steelers ever since he was picked up by Pittsburgh. Cockrell is a restricted free agent so it’s unlikely the Eagles get him.
Eagles cornerback coach.
CB Kayvon Webster
Webster was a third round pick by the Broncos in the 2013 NFL Draft. He overlapped with Undlin in Denver from 2013-2014. Webster had his most productive season as a rookie when he had one interception, 10 passes defensed, one forced fumble, and 37 tackles. Webster’s playing time decreased ever since then because he’s been stuck behind big money corners Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. along with 2014 first-round pick Bradley Roby. Broncos writers identify Webster as a very good special teams player and suggest he could be looking for a bigger role on a new team. The 26-year-old defensive back might be an interesting buy-low option for the Eagles.
Eagles offensive line coach.
OG Chance Warmack
Warmack played under Stoutland at Alabama. The former first-round pick is expected to enter free agency this year since the Titans’ new regime doesn’t appear to be high on him. Tennessee declined to pick up his fifth-year option last offseason. Here’s an assessment of Warmack from a Titans writer:
“While he's been a disappointment, he certainly hasn't been a total bust either. He's an average guard in the league [...]”
Warmack only played in two games last season after suffering a season-ending hand injury in September.
The 25-year-old blocker might be available at a reasonable price. The Eagles could look into him to play left guard if they opt to move on from Allen Barbre, which is reportedly possible.
Eagles offensive coordinator.
RB Danny Woodhead
The Eagles don’t need Woodhead since they already have Sproles.
FORMER EAGLES PLAYERS
Some overlap with the Pederson section here.
WR DeSean Jackson
Already mentioned him above.
CB Brandon Boykin
With Chip Kelly gone, Boykin expressed interest in returning to the Eagles last offseason, but the team never showed interest in him. So I’d say this is doubtful.
WR Jeremy Maclin/RB LeSean McCoy
Neither of these players are free agents, but there’s been talk they might end up being cut in order to save cap space. Personally, I doubt that happens, but it’s something to keep an eye on.