There is, as always, more than one way to build a team. The Eagles in recent years have, on paper, a solid blueprint: address short term needs in free agency, reducing the urgency of having to draft a particular position. This year is no different, signing five rotation-to-starter level free agents at positions of short and long term need: wide receiver, offensive line, cornerback and defensive end.
In the abstract, it’s a sound plan. Adding two starting receivers allows the Eagles to take a developmental pass catcher in a later round rather than force an early round pick who has to be thrown into a starting role early. In a draft loaded with corners, penciling in a free agent as a starter allows the team to see how the picks in front of them in the first round unfold, giving them the patience to wait until the middle of the draft if need be. Adding a pass rusher in free agency gives them three veteran DEs and allows them to not have to reach in the draft to make sure have one. Adding another interior lineman on an already stuffed roster means they will probably ignore guard and center entirely.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this blueprint. They followed it in 2013 and won the division. They followed it in 2016 and were then in a position to trade up for Carson Wentz. Those were seasons of varying success, the former of which never got built on. They’re following it in 2017, giving consistency. It’s a blueprint that follows the patience that Jeffrey Lurie preached on Tuesday. If only they would admit it.
Earlier in the day, Howie Roseman made a puzzling statement.
“I think this is another step to showing that our actions are in conjunction with our words.”
His actions have been anything but. Roseman said he didn’t want to sign bandaids in free agency, then signed three of them, then clarified his remarks, then signed two more, then justified it as “short term value”. The team has just three players from the 2014 and 2015 drafts combined that can be relied on, there is no shame in admitting that free agency will have to substitute. It’s the reality of the situation.
And none of the moves were really original ideas. Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Chance Warmack have previous ties to members of the Eagles coaching staff and front office, the team had pursued Patrick Robinson in free agency last year, and then there’s Nick Foles. Which is another area of saying one thing and doing another, Doug Pederson said he didn’t want to look to former teams for players, and yet they have done exactly that.
So the Eagles haven’t done as they’ve said. But doing as they’ve done isn’t so bad. Having Jeffery for a year is better than not having him at all. Smith and Warmack are fine gambles, Robinson and Long won’t handcuff the team.
But own it. Don’t give us an ever changing explanation for sticking with the same, solid plan.