The Philadelphia Eagles are coming off of a disappointing season where they finished 11-6 and lost in the opening round of the playoffs. And spirits are relatively low, considering they went 1-5 in their last six games of the season leading up to that.
But the Eagles are still in a great spot. They are in a unique position where they have several true star players who are still in their youth years. If they are kept around for a while, Philadelphia’s wildcard exit might be the worst-case scenario for years to come.

Jalen Hurts

Starting with the most obvious contributor to the Eagles’ success, Jalen Hurts is still just 25 years of age and still very early into his NFL career. And clearly, the Eagles have something in him. Despite not having the best season in 2023 compared to the previous standards he has set, he was still a good quarterback.

And that was him at his worst. At his best, he is pretty much unstoppable. Whichever form of Hurts the Eagles get in the short- and long-term future is yet to be determined, but if it is anything like the latter, they will have no reason not to be competitive for years to come. It’s not an easy thing to be a losing football team with an elite quarterback — it’s looking like the Eagles have one.

Now, Hurts is on a five-year contract worth $255 million cumulatively. Sure, he’s being paid a lot of money to win football games. At a minimum, the expectation is that he should be at least a little bit better than he was last season, considering he is one of the highest-paid players in the history of the sport. But with that thought process aside, he alone should be keeping the Birds a legitimate contender for a long time. Quarterbacks of his caliber have a habit of making the playoffs virtually every season. You can’t survive in the NFL today without a good one.

A.J. Brown & DeVonta Smith

Both 26-year-old A.J. Brown and 25-year-old DeVonta Smith will give Hurts sky-high potential as long as they are both around. The last time Philadelphia had a one-two punch this good was with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in the early 2010s, but even they weren’t as dominant as these two youngsters.

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The value of both Brown and Smith cannot be understated. If the ball is in their hands, they are very dangerous players. They are both premier playmakers. Brown can make something out of virtually nothing, while Smith has evolved his game since his rookie season as a legitimate first option if Hurts really wants it. Since the duo was put together in 2022, they have not had a campaign below 1,000 receiving yards individually. The last Eagle wide receiver to have over 1,000 receiving yards before then was Maclin back in 2014. It’s easy to get numb to success.

It will be tough to manage the salary cap having both Brown and Smith on the roster for a long time, but the release of safety Kevin Byard on March 1, 2024, made that a bit easier. General manager Howie Roseman understands the importance of cap space and knows who he has to bring back. With Smith’s rookie contract expiring in 2025, he will be a candidate for a big extension.

If the Eagles are able to keep him for a long time without destroying the salary cap for years to come, they will be in a position to win a Super Bowl for a while. Hurts is obviously a great quarterback, but he will need some sort of weapons to make things happen. The hope is that he emerges as a player that can do it all on his own, but that can’t be the expectation. If both of these receivers remain on his roster, Philadelphia is a contender regardless of anything else.

Jordan Mailata & Landon Dickerson

The Eagles’ offensive line has been elite for what seems like forever now. They’ve been trading out star offensive linemen for younger ones for years, which has allowed them to remain, at the very least, a playoff contender for pretty much the entirety of the 21st century. 26-year-old Jordan Mailata and 25-year-old Landon Dickerson are just the latest examples of this.

When both Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson inevitably retire, whenever that is, both Mailata and Dickerson will be there to elevate the rest of the line. The former is an objectively elite tackle, while the latter has made it to the Pro Bowl in each of his last two seasons.

The Eagles have been spoiled with elite lines — that’s just the reality of it. It’s not normal for every single player on the offensive line to be one of the best players at their position; it’s just something the Eagles have had. When that changes, they will still have one of the best lines in football, thanks to both Mailata and Dickerson. It might not be at the level that it has been recently well into the future with these two as the major pieces, but it might be close.

Jalen Carter

Finally, the Eagles’ second-place finisher in Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY) voting in 2023, Jalen Carter, is already on the path to being a star. It didn’t take the defensive tackle long to get comfortable in Philadelphia. It’s hard to accurately determine what his future entails, but he could end up being a superstar if all goes well.

In the last 10 seasons, he is among the following to finish second place in DROY voting: C.J. Mosley, Ronald Darby, Jalen Ramsey, Tre’Davious White, Derwin James, Maxx Crosby, Jeremy Chinn, and Aidan Hutchinson. Did all of these players end up being superstars? Not exactly, but a few of them have arguably been a top-five player at some point. Signs that a player will become a formidable one start early — and it’s happening with Carter.

Luckily for the Eagles, his window is a little bit longer. He’ll be just 23 by the time the 2024 season starts. If he only takes small strides from here on out, he will be a player worth keeping for a while. That would obviously be ideal, but his potential is far greater — already a star player, he has room for more.

Not many teams in the NFL have star talent as abundant as the Eagles do. Even fewer have a younger group of stars.

If the Eagles build around their youth, they will be successful for a long time. Whether or not that means another Lombardi Trophy will find itself in Philadelphia is yet to be determined, but the potential of that happening is apparent.

The Eagles’ disappointing end to their 2023 season was not a great sign. But their talent is too good to have that be their ceiling. They are capable of so much more. That can be unlocked in 2024 and for years to come.

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