Newly hired Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is no stranger to successful coaching philosophies. He is one of many coaches, including names like Brad Childress, Ron Rivera, and Leslie Frazier, who grew from the Andy Reid tree, and has reached the title of head coach.
However, there are a fair amount of skeptics that are not quite sure what Jeffrey Lurie saw in Pederson (or his resume) that had him ready to offer the job of head coach without interviewing more candidates.
With that being said, Pederson has a contract, and has begun to assemble his staff at a rapid pace. There is no point in questioning past actions in a business that is constantly moving forward.
It’s time to figure out how Pederson can improve HIS team for next season.
The first order of business for Pederson and his staff should be to determine what the defensive front the Eagles will use as a base formation next year. Staying in a 3-4 base defense seems to be unlikely, considering the background of Pederson’s newly hired defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz.
Schwartz successfully implemented a 4-3 base defense with all his previous teams, and the Eagles definitely have the personnel to do the same. Although it is possible that Pederson could choose to keep a 3-4 base defense as his primary defensive front, it does not seem like that will be the case.
But Pederson has a chance of a lifetime this offseason.
The Eagles do have a number of positions to fill on this roster, most notably the starting quarterback role. However, the free agency crop is going to be fruitful this year, and features a number of young studs and older vets that can fill this roster out at a fair cost.
It is much too soon to know who the Eagles could target in the free agency pool, but I took the liberty of creating a list of 20 players the Eagles should CERTAINLY have an eye on if they aren’t re-signed to their respective teams.
The list also features some of the Eagles own unrestricted free agents. Keep in mind that the Eagles have about $23 million in cap space without taking into account any players who could be cap casualties.
- Chase Daniel, QB
Pederson should be familiar with this name. Daniel played under Pederson in Kansas City, and could be a definite option to step in to run the new Philadelphia offense while a younger quarterback is being found or developed. Daniel doesn’t have a ton of starting experience (2 games) in his 7-year career, but he is capable of being brought in for cheap money to compete with Mark Sanchez for the job if a rookie quarterback isn’t ready to step in.
- Sam Bradford, QB
Anyone who thinks this is a surprise isn’t thinking about the team’s short term success. Bradford will be the most expensive option on the market, but he is also the best option. His $20+ million price tag is almost surely going to see him fly out of Philadelphia, but Pederson could choose to bring Bradford back if he believes he can win with the current roster. There is no price tag too high when you know you can win with a specific guy. Bradford could be that guy but price definitely means something in a situation like this one.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB
Fitzpatrick had an outstanding 2015 season with Todd Bowles and the Jets, and will look to cash in on the production. The Jets will definitely make resigning Fitzpatrick a top priority, but they are cash strapped because of several contracts on their books. This gives the Eagles a chance to swoop in and make an offer. The Jets have around $10 million in cap space, and Fitzpatrick could easily want to begin contract negotiations at $15+ million per season. The $20+ million that Bradford is looking for to return to Philly is a little rich for the team to take on but Fitzpatrick’s $15 million may be easier for Howie Roseman and the crew to justify letting Bradford slip away. Pederson could still invest in a rookie quarterback with this signing as well.
- Jason Avant, WR
Pederson has clearly shown the propensity to seek to surround himself with familiar faces he believes knows this game. Jason Avant is another player from Kansas City, and a former Eagle, who could benefit from Pederson’s presence with the team. Avant is no spring chicken, but he knows this offense, and he could still have some of the surest hands on the team because of his work ethic. Avant could also come at a very discounted price, and that could be the real reason Pederson brings back an old Eagles’ favorite.
- Wes Welker, WR
Sounds like a long shot among long shots, but Welker could sneak onto Pederson’s radar of attractive play-makers. Howie Roseman won’t like the injury history that Welker brings along with him, but a short incentive laden contract could be of mutual interest to both teams because Welker may want to prove his worth on the market after the season. Concussions are turning teams away from players at all positions, but Welker could steal production and snaps away from receivers on the Eagles roster who haven’t proved themselves. Low risk and high reward would have to drive the thinking in this scenario but, if the money seems right, I don’t see a downside to this pick.
- Anquan Boldin, WR
Boldin is on the downside of his fantastic career, and will look to play with a contender sooner rather than later. His legs began giving out years ago, but his hands and his brain is still top-notch. That being said, Chip Kelly in now in San Fran, and Boldin simply doesn’t have the legs to run many snaps in that offense. Coming to Philly could be an option if the money is there and the situation is right. Pederson would need to pull out the stops to convince Boldin NOT to go to another team and win sooner but, sometimes, all you need is a conversation. It’s a tough sell but the worst he can say is ‘no.’
- Jake Long, OT
Long was a surefire hall-of-famer 3-4 years ago, but injuries have mauled that destiny to pieces. The offensive line situation for the Eagles will almost certainly be addressed in the draft, but signing Long could provide much needed depth that the Eagles sorely needed this past season. He will be expensive for a back-up tackle, but Peters is not the player he once was. He will need someone to spell him for a certain amount of snaps throughout the year, and allowing Long to back up Peters could be a logical fit.
- Mike McGlynn, OT
Mike McGlynn played for the Eagles for a stretch while Andy Reid still ran the show. He also has a certain level of versatility that could come in handy for Pederson when he looks to sure up a lacking offensive line unit. McGlynn has experience playing all 5 offensive line positions. Think Howie Roseman won’t raise an eyebrow at that if the money sounds right?
- Richie Incognito, OG
The Eagles won’t have many chances to find a starter on the offensive line like this one. Incognito will cost a pretty penny to bring into Philadelphia, but it could be worth the consideration since the Bills are having cap issues. Mario Williams will almost surely be cut from the Bills roster, and Incognito will want to get a piece of that pie, but the Eagles could offer a good system and the cap space to satisfy his agent (which is just as important these days). Incognito no longer seems to be the locker room problem he was before, but Rex Ryan gave him a chance no one else gave him. That could be the difference maker at the end of the day.
- Evan Mathis, OG
Could a return to Philadelphia be in the cards for Mathis after Chip Kelly leaves? It’s not outside the realm of possibilities. Mathis was a dominant lineman who was sorely missed after his departure. If the money is right and the Eagles can find enough money for this guy over a short term deal, it could happen. On the other hand, Mathis is 34 years old and it would be tough to justify him as anything more than a glorified quick fix for a season or two. A youth movement on the offensive line is almost certain in Philadelphia.