“Rich man problems.”
Those “problems” aren’t just limited to the defensive end position. The Eagles’ roster as a whole is pretty stacked. There are no glaring needs.
This notion is reflected in a recent ESPN In$ider article about each team’s biggest roster hole following the draft. Check out what was said about the Eagles:
Biggest hole: Special teams
Nearly every starter on both sides of the ball will return from last season’s championship team, and left tackle Jason Peters and quarterback Carson Wentz will return from injury. If anything, the Eagles should be more talented when they take the field against Atlanta in Week 1 than they were when they beat New England in the Super Bowl. The one clear hole on their roster is at punter, where they do not have a player who has ever appeared in a regular-season NFL game. Donnie Jones retired after the Super Bowl, then un-retired, but then the Eagles released him. Perhaps Cam Johnston, a former Aussie rules player who spent 2017 on the Philadelphia practice squad, will join the main roster in 2018. Meanwhile, the Eagles re-signed Darren Sproles to return punts this season, but can they really rely on a returner who turns 35 in June and is coming off a torn ACL?
I’m not one to downplay the importance of special teams, but, c’mon. If that’s your biggest need, you’re doing pretty well.
And, really, special teams isn’t that big of a need for the Eagles. It’s true that Johnston is unproven in the NFL. But the Eagles liked what they saw out of him last offseason to bring him back. There’s still plenty of time for the team to bring in another punter to compete with Johnston as well. Even if Johnston turns out to be a disaster, the Eagles might be able to bring back Donnie Jones, who un-retired after originally retiring earlier this offseason.
As for the returner position, the Eagles won a Super Bowl with Kenjon Barner as their main man for most of the season. He’s still a free agent and will likely remain one unless Philly needs to bring him back in a pinch. They won’t even need Barner at all if Sproles, who was still one of the league’s best punt returners before getting hurt, proves to be healthy.
The Eagles’ special teams coverage units have the potential to improve this year with ST captain Chris Maragos coming back. In addition to potentially being able to contribute as a returner, rookie corner Avonte Maddox could also make for a good gunner. Then you have continuity with guys like Kamu Grugier-Hill, Mack Hollins, Nate Gerry, etc.
If I’m being tasked with identifying the biggest concern on the Eagles’ roster, it wouldn’t be special teams. I’m not really worried about Dave Fipp’s unit. I might pick something like slot corner, which still doesn’t feature a proven starter. At least the Eagles have options there, though, with Maddox, Jalen Mills, and/or Malcolm Jenkins rotating in the slot. Defensive tackle also jumps out since Timmy Jernigan is expected to be out four-to-six months with a serious back injury. The good news is that the Eagles have Haloti Ngata in place and some intriguing young guys such as Elijah Qualls, Aziz Shittu, and Bruce Hector.
I think the “real” biggest hole on the roster has to be the third safety spot. I’m very intrigued by the likes of Jeremy Reaves and Tre Sullivan. But there’s also a reason both of those guys went undrafted. If Jenkins and/or Rodney McLeod goes down, are they really ready to be full-time starters? If not, the Eagles can always try to bring Corey Graham back.
So, yeah, not a lot of holes on this roster that was largely responsible for winning the Super Bowl last season. Life is good. A repeat is inevitable.
What is the Eagles’ biggest roster hole at this point?
This poll is closed
Defensive tackle depth
Other (explain in the comments)