Last year, when Chip Kelly was still the head coach, the free agent acquisitions of Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso, DeMarco Murray, and Sam Bradford gave the impression that the Eagles were attempting to win that season by solving all their needs in free agency at the expense of players such as LeSean McCoy, Nick Foles, and Jeremy Maclin.
Long story short, that experiment failed and the head coach was relieved of his duties before the season had ended. With Howie Roseman back in full control as general manager, it appears that the Philadelphia Eagles are again trying to hit the ground running in 2016.
While the concept of making a splash in free agency is familiar, unlike last season, there is reason for optimism regarding the pending outcomes of 2016’s free agent acquisitions. The front office is covering all bases with positional depth, and they are also axing the idea of selecting only “prototype” players based on height and weight requirements before determining whether or not they could play football at a higher level than the competition.
The popular free agent pickups by the Philadelphia Eagles lists as Leodis McKelvin (CB – Buffalo), Rodney McLeod (FS – Los Angeles), Chase Daniel (QB – Kansas City), Brandon Brooks (OG – Houston), Nigel Bradham (OLB – Buffalo), and Ron Brooks (CB – Buffalo).
All three defensive backs signed measure at 5’10”, an already far different stature from the Kelly-preferred, 6’1”+ cornerback. Under then-Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, both McKelvin and Bradham both had career years. Ron Brooks serves as another player who understands the language within in the defense, and Nolan Carroll, who signed a one-year contract on Tuesday, will offer added support to Philly’s growing secondary.
Prior to the week of free agency, guard was a massive area of need after the disastrous run-game of 2015, and at 6’5” and 335 lbs., Brandon Brooks will surely solidify the right guard position as said by his new teammates.
“[He’s] everything you’re looking for in a guard – big, tough, athletic,” said center Jason Kelce after Brooks’ introductory press conference. Peters, Kelce, as well as Lane Johnson had all reached out to Brooks prior to the contract agreement in the hopes of bringing him to Philadelphia.
Quarterback had it’s fair share of concerns prior to the beginning of free agency as the return of Sam Bradford was questionable, but the Eagles were able to bring back Bradford on a two-year deal while also signing Chase Daniel to a three-year contract.
To cap off the rest of Roseman’s restless moves, Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso were traded to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the #8 overall pick. With these moves, the front office has given themselves the opportunity to draft the best player on the board, whether it is a position of need or not. They also now possess the ability to trade back in the first-round and possibility pick up a lost second-round draft pick.
After listing off all these moves that the Birds have made in the new NFL year, it is clear that the team is attempting to be a real player in 2016 and is planning on taking full advantage of the incredibly weak NFC East.
Doug Pederson may not have been the sexiest hire back in January and the return of Roseman to GM power might have created anxiety for some, but when paired with the hire of defensive coordinator Schwartz, added to the selection of players based on scheme and proven playmaking ability from playing in an exact or similar program, is why the Eagles are poised to win big in 2016.
There are still many moves left for this team to make that could be detrimental to how the regular season plays out, but as far as offseason victories go, the Eagles are placing themselves in a very positive light.