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Eagles offseason is going well ... so far

It’s a good plan, but so far just a plan

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

I love it when a plan comes together. But it’s got to come together, and even the best laid plans go awry.

The Eagles 2017 offseason plan has been a pretty good one on paper. The series of one year contracts handed out gave the Eagles instant upgrades without any long term detriments if and when they flop. The Eagles haven’t been shy about paying players, so if they perform they know they can get a fair deal, or better. The LeGarrette Blount signing was another potentially shrewd move, but also another card in what is a house of them.

The signing of Alshon Jeffery was a masterstroke, even if he leaves after one year the value of giving Carson Wentz a true “#1” wide receiver is huge. The downside is that he gets injured, which goes for everyone; and that he gets another suspension, which the Eagles must feel confident in him avoiding.

Jeffery alone makes the Eagles WRs no longer the worst in the league--they’re not even the worst in the division anymore with the Redskins losing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon--but it’s far from a dynamic one. Torrey Smith was, somehow, even less productive than Nelson Agholor in 2016. He should be a nice addition simply for his legitimate deep threat skills, but he’s no sure bet to be the Ravens version instead of the 49ers version.

Right now, the secondary isn’t any better than it was last year. By the end of the year it could easily be, and drafting two cornerbacks was a welcome and needed move. But today, it’s paper thin on experience. That’s a necessary downside, as the Eagles desperately needed to draft cornerbacks. But rookie CBs struggle, and the rest of the depth chart is poor.

Will the pass rush even be better? Chris Long wasn’t much more effective than Connor Barwin last year, with one less sack but seven more pressures in 32 fewer snaps. By the end of the season Derek Barnett should pass him on the depth chart, but to start the season, the pass rush isn’t suddenly fixed. Timmy Jernigan should be an improvement over Bennie Logan, but then last year we were looking forward to Bennie Logan being even better in the 4-3, and he wasn’t.

Blount fills a big need for the Eagles, who didn’t have anyone on the roster that could be relied on in short yardage situations (and he has a better fumble rate than Ryan Mathews). But he’s 30, coming off a career high in touches, and if that isn’t enough to give one pause, the track record of players the Patriots deem no longer necessary doesn’t inspire confidence.

Chances are, some of these signings won’t pan out. That’s okay, it’s unrealistic to expect every move to work out. If a majority of them do, the Eagles are in a much better place than they were in 2016. And that’s the goal of every offseason: improve. Just be careful not to confuse improvement with perfection.

Four Downs

1 The NFL is inching closer to a sensible IR solution

The NFL is considering increasing the number of players who can return from IR from one to two. This is quintessential NFL: a good move that only shows how stupid their situation is to begin with. There’s no reason to limit the amount of players who can come off of IR. Teams shouldn’t have to choose between wasting a 53 man roster spot or wasting the player’s season on a six week injury. No other sport does this. There are minimums to the length a player must remain on IR to keep teams from dicking around, but all are eligible to return in one way or another. Nothing should be holding back the NFL from adopting a similar rule. Make IR a minimum of four weeks, with all players eligible to return. This is such a simple fix, but the NFL can’t see it.

2 Yes, the Eagles can afford to franchise tag Alshon Jeffery if they have to

The franchise tag for a WR for 2017 is $15.6M, so it’s likely to be around $17M in 2018. The Eagles aren’t in great cap shape for 2018, but they will be able to clear that money. And that’s assuming they don’t work out a long term deal. There’s no reason to think the tag is more likely than the other at this point. And it would be foolish to think the Eagles signed Jeffery to a one year deal without taking the franchise tag into consideration. Whatever you think of Howie Roseman, there’s no debating he knows the salary cap as well as anyone. The idea that they’ll be sitting around their office and go “oh crap, we can’t make this work, how did we not know this” is funny.

3 The Na Brown Award competition already heating up

We’re in the worst part of the offseason, the dead space between the draft and training camp. To fill that void, one thing we do is overhype everything. We’re all guilty of it. I was (well, still am) looking forward to what Corey Clement can bring. Mack Hollins’ skillset is intriguing, as is Greg Ward making the transition from QB. But let’s remember it’s not even Memorial Day when we spit out the takes.

Every team has a handful of rookies who are somehow destined to be stars at this point in the season. Let’s see what they look like with pads on first. Then we can get excited for the next let down.

4 Thanks for the memories Charles Walker

Speaking of the Na Brown Award, Charles Walker had decent odds in it, getting “first round talent!” hype after being signed as an UDFA. Then he got cut to make way for Blount.

Walker should be back after he recovers from surgery, but for now, all we have is memories. Pour one out.

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