Dropping Like Flies
On the first day of free agency the Eagles quickly lost three key components of their defense. TJ Edwards was the first free agent signed. Philadelphia also lost defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and safety Marcus Epps.
Edwards signed a 3 year, $19.5 million contract with the Chicago Bears. I would have liked to see the Eagles retain Edwards, but the Illinois native gets to head back home. Hargrave moved west signing a 4 year, $84 million contract with San Francisco. Epps signed a 2 year, $12 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Make no mistake it will not be easy for the Eagles to replace these players. All three player played in all seventeen games. It is nearly impossible to replace that kind of experience. Good thing Howie Roseman understands the cap situation better than perhaps any General Manager in the National Football League.
Howie was Prepared
Howie Roseman came prepared this off season. This Eagles team was filled with talent and there was no way they were going to be able to re-sign everyone. Howie was ready for this and started the replacement process multiple drafts ago. Hargrave will be the hardest production to replace but Philadelphia has that covered with not one but two defensive tackles. Both Milton Williams and Jordan Davis will be tasked with replacing Hargrave. Williams has been producing in his role the last few seasons and now is the time for him to shine.
The next player the Eagles need to replace is starting linebacker TJ Edwards. Good thing Howie already foresaw the future linebacker situation and drafted a linebacker last season. Now it is time for the former Georgia star, Nakobe Dean to slot into the starting linebacker role. This will be a big jump compared to the role he played last season, but Dean has the talent to succeed for this defense.
Now you have to replace a safety (maybe two). Reed Blankenship will take Epps’ role in the defense. Blankenship showed flashes last season filling in for Gardner-Johnson. He is ready for this role and will thrive next season starting at safety for Philadelphia.
Philadelphia lost three players early on in free agency yet, the General Manager was already prepared and has had his roster prepped for departures. This foresight by Roseman gives the Eagles a huge competitive advantage. He understands the cycle of NFL contracts and when players will want to cash out. This has allowed the Eagles to have players ready, once they lose guys in free agency. This foresight has also allowed Roseman to re-build rosters multiple times with multiple head coaches.
Photo Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports
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