This week, the new league year is upon us. So far, we’ve seen teams dumping salary, we’ve seen teams securing talent to longer, more cap-friendly deals, and we’ve seen players like Jared Allen, and today, Peyton Manning, call it a career. The activity, though, has all been pretty much expected. This time last year, none of us could have predicted that Chip Kelly would trade for Sam Bradford. None of us could have seen the Eagles get Demarco Murray, either. I openly speculated about it on another site, only to be loudly ridiculed. Well, who’s laughing now?
As the New Year approaches, it gives way to fresh rumors around the league. What was rumor this morning, has now come to fruition, as the Eagles have dealt corner Byron Maxwell, and linebacker Kiko Alonso to Miami for undisclosed draft choices. Maxwell’s numbers were decent. He went for the money after winning a title in Seattle, and I, for one, don’t blame him. You could tell, though, that he benefitted greatly from playing in the Seattle secondary. Once he was away from that unit, he wasn’t as stellar as he once was. 2 interceptions in 14 games, and he played, what looked to be, 15 yards off of his receiver. And, that was what 63 million got the team? The move to trade Maxwell saves 5 million against the cap. Not bad. It would also open a spot for the team to pursue cornerback Josh Robinson, from Minnesota. He’s younger (25), and his last year’s number of just over 1.5 against the Viking payroll wouldn’t be so difficult to raise and absorb.
In trading Alonso, the team begins to shed itself of the “Oregon East” image it seemed Kelly was creating when he traded Lesean McCoy to Buffalo. True to form, Alonso turned into a glass player. He re-tore his repaired ACL in Week 2 against Dallas, and was not a full speed for the rest of the season. OK, now, his supporters will say he “soldiered through”, and continued to play. But, I saw a guy just trying to get by. Plus, and I’ll be honest here: I was a big McCoy fan, and seeing Alonso just reminded me that McCoy was gone. If the team is looking for a replacement at the linebacker position, might I suggest Courtney Upshaw, formerly of Baltimore. He’s only 26, he’s been part of a Super Bowl champion, would be an upgrade over Alonso, and could help mentor Jordan Hicks. Upshaw plays with a mean streak, something the Eagle defense could certainly use more of every week. And now that the team has more cap room, maybe Upshaw can be part of the wish list.
Another free agent that will be available come Wednesday morning is safety George Iloka, from Cincinnati. 6 feet, 4 inches of defensive back would really work well in the secondary. And, just like Robinson, he’s only 25 years old, so again, the team would get younger.
Other players that may take Maxwell’s spot, should the trade occur, are probably already on the Eagles roster. The cornerbacks in this year’s free agent list will all certainly want top dollar. Prince Amukamara, from the Giants, is on there. Certainly, he’ll get a raise, and it probably won’t be coming from Jeffrey Lurie. I believe the prudent thing would be to pursue Robinson, and maybe use one of these picks that will be coming back in the Maxwell-Alonso deal to acquire more defense.
Kelechi Osemele makes a lot of sense to bring in as a tackle. Release Jason Peters, free up his money, slide Lane Johnson over to the left, and it all makes for a perfect fit. His age (26) makes it better, as well. Is anyone else sensing a theme here??? You can make the case for Peters, that he’s an All-Pro, that he’s this and that. But, the Peters I saw last year was brittle and slow. And, to top it all off, he was selfish. That Washington game in December (the last two seasons, why is it always that one game against Washington that I can never forget) was still winnable at the point where Peters announced to anyone who would listen that he was quitting, and that getting hurt for the team wasn’t worth it. If I were the GM, he would have cleaned out his locker that night. But, now is a chance to right a wrong, since clearly Kelly lacked the stones to do so.
Russell Okung would make sense, if the team wanted to leave Johsnon on the right side. But, Okung’s price tag might be a little cost prohibitive. He’s another player looking for a “money” deal, since he has a championship ring. Bobby Massie from ARI might be worth the look, if the price is right. He’s still a mid-20’s guy, who just made right 1.5 million for his last season in Arizona. He’ll get a bump, but not in the 7-10 range you see some players, like a Tyron Smith.
All in all, what do I want to see the team get in free agency? Depth, and as much of it as they can afford. We’ve all seen how depleted this team got, in the last two seasons, because of Kelly’s foolish moves. I’m not saying go out and get every starter that the team can buy, I’m just saying to make sure your backup players are guys that can actually play, and not some stiffs that are overwhelmed on every play.
One final move that came in very late in the day, was the possibility of the team moving Demarco Murray. It was a hot topic of discussion amongst the writers on this site, and, I’m proud to say, we all called it around mid-afternoon time frame. Murray and his bloated salary will be moving off to Tennessee, with draft picks coming back to the team. Some of the backs that will be available out there are Lamar Miller of Miami, Ronnie Hillman of Denver, and, the dark horse candidate, Charcandrick West, of Kansas City. If anyone knows what West can bring to the team, it would be new head coach Doug Pederson.
I’m excited for this off-season, and I’m really excited about having money to spend come Wednesday. I want to see what the new vision is going forward. Something tells me, though, that the word “re-build” is going to be said more than once around the NovaCare Complex. If that’s the case, so be it. I stuck with the team through a 3-13 season. I’ll stick with them for a remodel, as well. Happy New Year, everyone!!!!!!