Now that the season is over, the process of figuring out how to get better for next season can begin. And the first step in that process is figuring out who were the weak spots on the roster.
Here's my analysis, which admittedly should be taken with a grain of salt. I tend to try and glean as much info as I can from other sources rather than relying on my own eyes when it comes to player evaluations, but I think there is some value is trying to figure out the best way to make the team better, and then to compare that to what they end up doing.
Starting with qb, the Eagles have Hurts, Minshew and Sinnett returning. This is obviously the most important decision the team will make in the offseason, and the one where I will probably disagree with the general consensus the most. Before making any decision, I would watch how the game between the Rams and Bucs goes. Hurts obviously struggled, but he threw for more yards against the Bucs Sunday than both Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes did last year in the playoffs, and Brees was at home.
The truth is, we ran into a defense that was ready for us, and we weren't ready for them. And I would hesitate before making any decisions based on one game. And while I haven't looked at the game film, I did see at least one example of no one getting open on Sunday, meaning Hurts wasn't getting much help.
To me, there are three scenarios - an open competition between Hurts and Minshew; Trade Hurts and Dillard plus a first for Russell Wilson (which seems unlikely); Or draft a qb who falls to them with the 15th pick. There are four qbs with first-round potential (Howell, Willis, Corral and Pickett) and one of them will likely be there at 15. I don't know if any of them are any good, but I tend to think drafting qbs is a crap shoot anyway. So rolling the dice on one seems fine, as is just letting Hurts and Minshew battle it out. There is enough evidence that a mediocre qb can win a Super Bowl with an excellent supporting cast, but the one thing I wouldn't do is go all in on a vet by using all our top draft picks. I don't think just swapping Wilson for Hurts wins us the game on Sunday, or gets us to a Super Bowl next year.
At running back, adding a bigger back on day three seems like an obvious move. Sanders, Gainwell and Huntley seem like a solid group, and with a bigger back we have our running back room set. Tight end also seems set with Stoll and Jackson backing up Goedert. I would be fine adding someone here late in the draft to compete. I would argue offensive line is set even if Jason Kelce retires and we trade Dillard. A starting group of Mailata, Dickerson, Seumalo, Driscoll and Johnson, with Clark, Herbig, Opeta, Toth, Awosika and Anderson as the backups, seem fine. If there's one thing this season showed us is that we are super deep on the oline, and adding someone means cutting someone with talent, a move this team can't afford to do.
Wide receiver is the obvious issue. I would add a veteran free agent and a high draft pick regardless of what we do at quarterback. A group of Smith, a high pick and a solid vet, plus Ward, Watkins and Reagor seems fine for next year, and is a necessity regardless of whomever is throwing the ball.
On defense, edge rusher is a clear need. A group of Sweat, Graham, Jackson and a premium draft pick seems solid. I would add a defensive tackle late in the draft, as Cox, Hargrave and Williams are a solid rotation, and then there can be an open competition for the fourth spot.
Linebacker is another spot where I will probably disagree with the masses. I thought Edwards and Singleton were fine, even against the Bucs. They aren't all pros, but they aren't killing the team, either. Give Taylor another year to see what he can become, and add a day three draft pick to the room. I see a lot of mock drafts having us snag someone in the first, but I would use that pick on a qb prospect before a linebacker.
The secondary needs top-end talent. I would add a corner and a safety in the first three rounds of the draft, and would spend on a top free agent as well. Slay and Maddox are the only starters I see on the roster right now, and then we have a bunch of depth guys. A first- and second-round pick, plus a top free agent, should make our secondary much better than it was this year.
So, in summary, I see our most pressing needs being wide receiver, defensive end, corner and safety. If we can somehow flip Dillard for a draft pick, we should have six in the first three rounds, and doing so would allow us to take a flyer on a qb while also filling all of those needs.
As far as free agents, I would add a wide receiver and a safety, and spend pretty big money on both spots. We have about $36 million in cap room between our carryover from this year and expected room for next year, and can create at least $30 million more if Brooks retires and by restructuring Slay and Hargrave. I wouldn't go crazy if I was the GM, but I would look to add a top-end wide receiver and defensive back.
We have eight pending free agents, and I wouldn't bring any of them back. The most prominent are Harris, McLeod, Barnett and Nelson, and only McLeod interests me as a depth piece on a cheap deal. The defense has to get better, and I would start by upgrading at every one of these spots through the draft and free agency.
And that's where I stand on the current state of the team. Four new starters on defense, two new starters at wide receiver (I like Watkins as a fourth wr) and one of the three scenarios I laid out at qb.
I think that's the best way to make this team better next season. It remains to be seen if the front office agrees with me or not.