Free Agency Picks Bolster Birds' Bench Strength

It’s obvious the Eagles went into NFL free agency with a plan. You might not like that plan, but at least it’s appears to be well thought out and so far the Eagles have executed it flawlessly.

Whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen.

First, the No. 1 complaint most fans seem to have right now with general manager Howie Roseman and coach Chip Kelly is the failure to sign safety Dairus Byrd of Buffalo. Just about everyone agreed that one of the Eagles’ biggest areas of concern was the safety position and just about everyone agreed that the best safety available was Byrd. The Eagles had plenty of money to spend and a clear-cut choice of whom to spend it on, so many Eagles fans were crushed when their team signed Malcolm Jenkins of the New Orleans Saints instead, then watched the Saints sign Byrd to take Jenkins’ place in their secondary.

But a lot of fans feel the Eagles did the right thing. They upgraded a position that badly needed it and they did it with a pretty good player. And Jenkins was a contract bargain compared to Byrd – and we’re talking millions of dollars here — and there’s nothing wrong with a little fiscal responsibility.

On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with winning a Super Bowl, either, and the best way to do that is to acquire the best players you can. And if you have to overspend on occasion to get there, that’s OK, too – there’s a reason Cadillacs cost more than Fords. As in most things, you get what you pay for. The key isn’t how much money you spend, but how well you spend it.

But it’s clear that wasn’t the Eagles plan. Whereas other contending teams are signing big names like defensive end DeMarcus Ware (from Dallas to Denver), cornerback Darrelle Revis (Tampa Bay to New England) and Byrd, so far the Eagles used free agency mostly to shore up the bottom half of their roster. Of the five players the Eagles have acquired so far, only one of them – Jenkins – projects to be a starter. The others – linebacker Bryan Braman of Houston, safety Chris Maragos of Seattle, cornerback Nolan Carroll of Miami and running back Darren Sproles of New Orleans – are all role players. With the exception of Sproles, they will mostly make their contributions on special teams and three of them – Braman, Maragos and Carroll – have already established that they can have an impact on special teams. So, it’s obvious that Roseman and Kelly made that a priority.

And let’s not forget the biggest signings the Eagles have made so far this offseason were for guys already on their roster – tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce, wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, defensive end Cedric Thornton and punter Donnie Jones.

There is still work to do in free agency and the Eagles still have the money to do it, mainly because they didn’t throw it all at Byrd. So, we’re not going to judge the Eagles just yet, because we’re waiting to see what else they do. They still need help at linebacker, they still need depth along the offensive line and, most importantly, they need a stud or two for their defensive line, preferably a tackle who can pressure the quarterback up the middle and get in his face on a regular basis. From where we sit, that is the Eagles’ biggest need, even bigger than safety.

Maybe those needs will be addressed in the draft. For now, it appears the Eagles are doing exactly what they want to do, even though it doesn’t look like they’re doing much.

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