With the firing of head coach and general manager Chip Kelly the Eagles roster will certainly be in a state of flux during the offseason. I’ll go through some of the main names who I believe will stay or go also with a little personal reasoning behind each as well.
Sam Bradford- Stays (Hopefully)
The contract of Sam Bradford will be one of the many hot button topics for the Eagles offseason including the new head coach. Bradford has seemingly been on the fence in recent weeks on whether he wants to return as Eagles starting quarterback in 2016. It may very well come down to the new head coach who is hired along with the front office deciding to pony up the cash it will take to extend a starting quarterback in today’s NFL. Bradford will likely test the free agent market to see what kind of offer he can get, but at the end of the day there’s really not too many teams in need of a starting quarterback. The Browns will more than likely select a quarterback with their first pick, but then again it is the Cleveland Browns. They were rumored to have serious interest in Bradford last offseason before Chip swooped in. A new front office and head coach in Cleveland may change that as well. I would prefer if Bradford returns because I think he’s turned a corner in his career. At the same time it’s very difficult to invest the type of money it takes for a quarterback when he’s struggled to stay healthy for the large part of his career. Stay tuned…
Mark Sanchez- Goes
Sanchez was a Chip Kelly guy and signed two contracts under him. The only way I see Sanchez returning is if the Eagles decided to let Bradford walk and draft a young quarterback who isn’t quite ready to start the season. In that instance Sanchez would have the keys to start with and then ultimately screw it up as he always has. Sanchez has a base salary of $4.5 million for 2016 and would be $2 million in dead cap to the team if they decided to simply release him. Hopefully another NFL team is in need of a backup and offers the Eagles a late round pick for Sanchez.
Demarco Murray- Stays
Murray will be back next season his contract is too hefty to think otherwise. We can hope as Eagles fans the new coach and offensive scheme will be tailored better towards the strengths of the highest paid running back on the roster. Murray poured salt in the 2015 wound as he ran for a 54 yard touchdown against the Giants as Bradford lined up under center instead of the shotgun. We may very well see a fullback on the Eagles roster for the first time in a while to provide Murray a better chance of success. At the very least I would like to see what Murray can do as an Eagle without all the sweeps Chip had him running this past season. However, I’m still not sold he’s a Philly type guy based on some of his actions since signing.
Darren Sproles- Stays
The 2015 Pro Bowler will be entering the final year of a three year deal in 2016 where he’s set to make $3.5 million. I think it would be a huge mistake to let Sproles walk or get rid of him based on his recent performance. He may have lost a step in recent years, but he’s still a game changer in the return game along with providing a change of pace to the other running backs. Sproles will turn 32 in 2016 so his carries will need to be monitored as always. I love Sproles during his short time as an Eagle and think he would be harder to replace than most think if the Eagles decide to move on from another Chip Kelly acquisition.
Riley Cooper- Goes, Goes, Goes
If Cooper is on this roster come Week 1 in 2016 then I give up on the Eagles organization. Actually if he’s on the roster come day one of training camp I’ll already be questioning whoever the new coach is. Cooper is vastly over paid and flat out sucks as a wide receiver in this league. He’s a glorified special teamer who honestly isn’t even that important in that role either. Cooper is set to make $4.5 million in base salary for 2016 which is disgusting to think about. He would cost the Eagles $2.5 million in dead cap money. I’ll use the overused cliché of driving the player to the airport once the Eagles chose to cut ties. He is the epitome of a Chip Kelly player to me. You have no clue why he’s on the roster and a starter to boot. Chip supposedly liked his blocking on the outside which is the biggest load of garbage I’ve ever heard. Anyway here’s to Riley Cooper no longer getting the right to wear our beloved Eagles green.
Josh Huff- Stays
Huff will stay in the role of kick returner, but his place on the wide receiver depth chart should drop significantly. He’s been a disappointing 3rd round pick coupled with the fact Donte Moncrief and John Brown were drafted after him as well that year. Huff is an Oregon Duck alum which is why he was taken so high regardless of what Chip says. He makes some nice, tough plays here and there but at the end of the day he’s really no more than a 5th wide receiver for an offense. Huff will stick around this year and after that point I really don’t see a place for him on this roster moving forward. His rookie contract will expire after the 2017 season.
Brent Celek- Goes (Unfortunately)
Celek is a fan favorite without a doubt and his passion is something a lot of guys on this roster should look towards as an example of a professional. Unfortunately, the nine year tight end will be entering the final year of the six year contract he signed with the Eagles. Celek is set to make $4.9 million this season and would cost the Eagles zero in dead cap if they were to cut him. The last part of that sentence is the important piece. Zach Ertz is finally beginning to emerge as the lead tight end on this roster and Celek has fell into more of the blocking tight end role which he does very well. However, the new regime for the Eagles may deem Celek expendable at this point in his career along with using his money to resign other players or free agents. Celek could take the route of restructuring his contract as I’m sure he would since he’s spent his entire career with the Eagles.
Jason Peters- Stays
The Pro Bowl left tackle has certainly had his troubles in recent times staying healthy for entire games if he’s not pulling himself out of them altogether. Peters will be 33 and entering the third year of his five year deal where he’s set to make $7.5 million in 2016. He’s still one of the better tackles in the game, but is showing signs of dropping off with some of the pass rushers beating him pretty easily. Maybe a new coach who has easier practice habits will allow Peters to better maintain his body throughout the course of an NFL season. Overall he’s still a pretty fragile player who is constantly battling tissue or lingering leg injuries. At the end of the day, though, this team has much larger issues to tackle than replacing their left tackle. I would like for Peters to come back for another year allowing Lane Johnson to stay on the right side before eventually flipping over.
Allen Barbre- Stays
Barbre was not terrible this season, his first as a starter. That being said not being terrible should not be a qualification for getting another year as a starter. He is under contract through 2017 and will make $1.25 million in 2016 with only $300 thousand cap hit for the team should they chose to move on. I view Barbre as a solid backup and swing player on the offensive line should a starter go down. He’s nothing more than a backup player in this league especially at the age of 31. I would like for Barbre to return as a backup, but if the new coach decides to go another route I wouldn’t be devastated either.
Matt Tobin- GET OUT
As the audio drop goes on Middays with Rob Ellis and Harry Mayes from 97.5 The Fanatic “Get out, get out!!” Tobin is flat out awful and Barrett Brooks summed it up best by saying he doesn’t belong in the league. Somehow that same player started a majority of the season at right guard for the Eagles and was at best average for a small portion of those games. Tobin was one of Chip’s guys who kept getting chances to play at different spots along the line and sucked equally at each one. There is absolutely no reason for a guy like Tobin to return he brings zero talent to the table at this point in his career.
Andrew Gardner- Stays
Gardner was the starting right guard before he went down with a Lis franc injury early in the season after signing a contract extension before the year started. The six year pro will make $1.2 million in 2016 and is signed through the 2018 season with manageable cap numbers each year. At best I see Garnder competing for a starting guard spot, but outside of that I view him in a similar role as Barbre. This team and offensive line in particular needs to get tougher which starts with upgrades at both guard spots. Garnder would be a solid backup and has the ability to play tackle as well which always valuable when battling for a roster spot.
Taylor Hart and Brandon Bair- Gone
I grouped these two together since they are both from Oregon and brought in by Chip. They are rotational defensive linemen who can be easily replaced. Hart was a 5th round pick in 2014 who finally got onto the field this season and showed very little in the way of impact plays. Bair is an older player who finally cracked an NFL roster two years ago near his 30th birthday. He was a contributor on special teams blocking a few kicks during his time, but outside of that he’s just a body on the field. Hart and Bair will not be missed.
Cedric Thornton- Goes
The undrafted free agent has been a valuable member of the Eagles defensive line during his time with the club. However, Thornton is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and I don’t expect the Eagles to retain his services moving forward. The change in defensive scheme may have an impact on that as well. Rumors have been floating around the Eagles switching back to a 4-3 defense which they played for years. Thornton settled into his 3-4 defensive end role and would likely be seeking a similar situation on the open market. Bennie Logan and Fletcher Cox would be the starting inside tackle if the team went back to 4-3.
Vinny Curry- Stays
Reports surfaced near the end of the year that the Eagles and Curry’s camp were working on a contract for the Marshall product to return in 2016 and beyond. Just like Thornton, the return of Curry may depend on the defensive scheme the Eagles are running. He never really fit into the 3-4 defense even when he was used as a project at outside linebacker. Curry is one of the more underrated pass rushers in this league and would be best served coming off the edge in a 4-3 defense. The Eagles may get outbid by another team desperately in need of pass rushing help which there are many. I didn’t expect Brandon Graham to resign last year and he did. Curry is in a similar spot to that of Graham who was drafted as a 4-3 end then switched to linebacker.
Marcus Smith- Stays
Smith was very vocal following the release of Chip Kelly as head coach saying he was “ecstatic.” He later retracted those comments saying he spoke incorrectly. Sure Marcus. Either way he’s been a massive disappointment since he was taken in the first round in 2014, a surprise to many around the league. I think the Eagles new regime will give Smith one more chance and then after that he’s likely history. A new defensive coordinator could be just what the doctor ordered for Smith, but I don’t have too much faith in him as a player.
Demeco Ryans- Goes
Mufasa is a pro’s pro and shows flashes of being the player who’s proven to be an every down linebacker in this league for some time. However, multiple Achilles injuries and father time has caught up to Meco. He just doesn’t have it anymore in coverage and battled multiple leg injuries in 2015 as well which don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Ryans makes $2.5 million in 2016 which is the last year of his deal and would cost the Eagles $1 million in dead cap. At this point I would move on from Demeco and go elsewhere with the linebacker position including rookie standout Jordan Hicks.
Kiko Alonso- Stays
El Bravo made one play the entire year and it was Week 1 on Monday Night Football against the Falcons where he snagged a one handed interception in the endzone off Matty Ice. After that he battled a knee injury which some feared was another torn ACL and once he did return made little to no impact every game. Alonso is entering the final year of his rookie deal in 2016 and makes little salary to justify flat out cutting him already. 2016 will be his final chance in Eagles green if he displays the same kind of play as he did this past season.
Walter Thurmond- Goes
I wish Thurmond would resign for a couple more years as he was a huge upgrade at the safety position this season. Unfortunately, another team with cap space and need for secondary help will likely throw a big offer Thurmond’s way forcing his hand. He’s already indicated he doesn’t think he’ll return. The Eagles have gone quite some time since drafting an impact safety as Michael Lewis success was short lived. Losing Thurmond might hurt in the short term, but if the team can draft a playmaker at safety that will certainly ease the transition.
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