ESPN writer Mike Sando recently posted an In$ider column that features NFL executives anonymously commenting on the free agent moves of other teams. Three different execs weighed in on what the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles have done so far this offseason. Here are some thoughts on what they had to offer.
“I like what Philly did. You trade Torrey Smith for corner help [Daryl Worley] and you go sign a better receiver [Mike Wallace]. I think the [Michael Bennett] signing was a little out of character for them because of what you are adding to your locker room. That was a stretch.”
Howie Roseman did a great job with the Torrey Smith trade. He essentially turned Smith into: a talented young corner with starting experience (Worley), a flat out upgrade at receiver (Wallace), and extra cap space.
As far as the Bennett comment goes ... first of all, the Eagles traded for him. They didn’t sign him. And I don’t really see how it was totally out of character for the Birds. Everyone should know by now this is a team that really wants to invest in the trenches. When we talk about the Bennett move from a personality standpoint, it’s not like the Eagles didn’t take chances on guys with locker room question marks last year with Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, etc.
It remains to be seen if the Bennett move will work out, especially considering his legal situation. But the results don’t change the process. I don’t think this trade was really “a stretch” for a team that needed defensive end help knowing they had to move on from Vinny Curry’s salary.
Another insider also saw risk in bringing in a relatively high number of “name” veterans. ”It is hard to microwave a team,” this insider said. “You can argue that they did it last year, but I would not agree. Their offensive line and defensive line had guys who had been there in that system. The quarterback was a homegrown guy. They brought in some receivers, which I think skill guys you can do easier. It will be interesting to see how they sustain the success.”
This is a silly comment because this is exactly what the Eagles did last year.
Think back to the NFC Championship Game for a second. Literally every Eagles player who either scored a point (touchdown or kicking) or recorded a turnover wasn’t on the roster in 2016. They were all 2017 offseason additions.
The note about the lines isn’t completely true.
Most of the offensive line had been in place, yes, but free agent signing Chance Warmack made three starts and played in 11 games. Stefen Wisniewski had also only been an injury replacment in 2016 before evolving into a full-time starter in 2017.
On the defensive line, Chris Long was a huge factor. Timmy Jernigan and Derek Barnett were also new significant contributors to that unit in 2017.
It’s not like the Eagles’ 2018 offseason additions are coming to Philadelphia to be pillars of the team. Bennett, Wallace, Haloti Ngata, and Corey Nelson all project to be role players this season. Some of those roles project to be bigger than others.
The Eagles aren’t trying to microwave a team. They don’t need to do that. They have a Super Bowl winning roster with most of the core returning in 2018. The free agency moves they made are about filling some of the gaps.
A third insider called Curry and Allen “integral role-playing glue guys” who could be missed. ”I would rather have Michael Bennett for the money over Vinny Curry all day, so I get that part of it,” this insider said. “I do like what Philly has done overall. [GM] Howie [Roseman] has been extremely good at figuring out ways to work out deals in his favor. The biggest thing is just the type of guys they are bringing in, but they have so far been able to make it work between [LeGarrette] Blount and Jay Ajayi and guys who were considered castoffs from other teams.”
I do wonder if Vinny Curry and Beau Allen might be missed a little more than we realize. That’s not to suggest the Eagles should have kept them around. Doing so wasn’t financially realistic. On paper, at least, Bennett and Ngata figure to be upgrades. We’ll see if that’s the case, especially since these players are reaching their mid-30s.
This third executive ended up being the most informed of all three. The other ones got some basic information wrong. No wonder some teams are as bad as they are.