The ride of a relatively exciting season is over and the questions are starting to arise as to what direction the Eagles are headed in terms of upgrades or changes at certain positions. There are some glaring needs on this team that need to be addressed, but none greater than the Safety position. How ironic that we are talking about this position when one of the Eagles biggest mistakes was passing on Earl Thomas, who is playing in this weekends’ Super Bowl. Thomas would have been the perfect heir apparent to the great Brian Dawkins, but instead we are stuck with another mediocre defensive lineman who always seems to be a half step away from sacking the opposing Quarterback. On a positive note, that regime is gone and a new regime started to make their presence felt last year, as they turned over almost the entire defensive roster. This is something the Philadelphia fans were clamoring for, and finally got their wish.
All of these prior season moves bring me to wonder as to what the front office is thinking when it approaches free agency on March 11, 2014. The Eagles have always shown in the past that they are willing to pay for premium free agents, as long as they fit into their scheme. I would have to think they know the Safety position is an integral part of this roster that needs to be upgraded, but it will be interesting to see by what means. In my opinion they have 3 options:
1) Will they decide to use a high draft pick on someone who may take a year or two to develop?
2) Will they try and make due with Nate Allen on one side and hope that Earl Wolff develops on the other?
3) Will they put their efforts into signing a high priced free agent such as Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward? Both of these guys have Oregon ties, which leads me to believe Chip Kelly will bring both of the guys in for a look.
In my opinion, building off the success of last year, you pull up the Brinks truck and pay T.J. Ward whatever he wants to be the leader in the secondary and to set an example for the younger players, helping with their development along the way. Why Ward instead of Byrd you ask? If you look at both players by comparison, they are both 27 year old established players who have had great success, but Byrd comes with some risk has he had trouble staying on the field last year due to plantar fasciitis. All of us know how horrible of an injury this is because of its persistence and pain. If you are going to commit millions of dollars to a player, you need to be certain that they will be able to perform up to capabilities. On the other hand, T.J. Ward has been a consistent performer over the years and most recently in 2013 has started all 16 games, racking up 116 tackles in the process. He has shown the ability to play all over the field, including up in the box for the run game like Earl Thomas, which is why I think you make up for the previous regime’s mistake and make him apart of you plan going into the future.
Obviously, the Eagles showed last year that they are looking to build the core of this team predominately through the draft, while adding some mid-tier free agents to throw into the mix for stability. Howie Rosman has been on record numerous times this offseason saying that the team really does not want to hamstring themselves with high priced contracts, but I think he realizes this is an opportunity that rarely comes around and he needs to jump on it if he wants to build a contending team for years to come!!!!!!
Reported BY: Tony Cutillo
***As always I appreciate all feedback and responses..You can follow me on twitter @TCutillo23…..