The Philadelphia Eagles will soon have to decide the fate of eight upcoming free agents for the 2013 season. Only one or two are Eagles starters (on a healthy team), but every piece of an NFL team's 55 man roster is valuable in some way.
As the Eagles showed this season, backups play a critical role in making sure an offense or defense can continue to play consistently when a starter goes down. Unfortunately, the 2012 Eagles displayed the complications a team can face when forced to field inferior backups.
The question now to consider is whether or signing the Eagles' eight free agents will help improve a team coming off a dismal 4-12 season.
Last week, when I gave grades on each of the Eagles starters, King Dunlap didn't fair too well. Dunlap is big and bad—unfortunately, "bad" takes on the negative connotation when applied to Philadelphia's offensive tackle.
Dunlap is a gigantic man who doesn't move, protect or play smart enough for an NFL backup, let alone a starter. Down to a single starter at one point during the season, the Eagles' offensive line was an injury nightmare in 2012. This injury issue will hopefully have been remedied by the start of the 2013 season.
The return of Jason Peters would eliminate the need to re-sign Dunlap, and a better backup could be had whether it come from the current roster, the draft or free agency.
Verdict: Let him walk
Derek Landri managed to start seven games in 2012. Unfortunately, this was due less to his skill than to issues that sidelined Eagles' defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Mike Patterson.
Landri made an appearance in all 16 games yet still only managed to accumulate 13 tackles with zero sacks. Although he had a somewhat memorable 2011 season, he fizzled in 2012, doing nothing to distinguish himself from any of the other backup defensive linemen.
The Eagles should go after younger faces on the defensive front for the upcoming season, as Landri's career may be in decline.
Verdict: Let him walk
Out of Division I-AA James Madison University, linebacker Akeem Jordan has had to scrap his way to playing time over the past couple of years. A spot starter, Jordan hasn't exactly been at the top of the depth chart.
With that being said, Jordan has played well enough to garner a spot on next year's roster. The team will still have to look for an above-average option to start along Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans, but Jordan has showed the ability to "stop the bleeding" when something goes wrong.
Whether he's called upon because of poor play or injury, Jordan should provide valuable experience for the Eagles defense. What's the point in pursuing a viable free-agent backup when one is already on the roster?
Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, J.J. Watt and...Colt Anderson? What could these names possibly have in common? Well believe it or not, they are all players who made the CBSSports.com 2012 NFL All-Pro team.
Colt Anderson has fought for playing time his whole career. From a walk-on in college at University of Montana to the Eagles' special teams, Anderson earned it the hard way. It's nice to see that the hard work is garnering some positive publicity.
As a safety, Anderson doesn't offer much to a team. That's alright as long as his high level of play on special teams continues. The question that will be answered in the offseason is whether any other team is willing to pay a little more for a guy who really has value only on special teams.
If the answer is no, then there's a good chance we'll see him in Eagle green next season.
Jon Dorenbos is all that a fan could want in a long snapper.
You never hear his name, which is perfect. The best long snappers are those who keep their names out of the press. If they're blending in, they're doing everything right.
Dorenbos reached the Pro Bowl in 2009, but he should be heralded for his overall consistency since joining the Eagles in 2006.
This is a team that needs to do the little things right moving forward. Experimenting with basic foundational pieces such as long snapping should be the lowest priority for the organization at this point.
Given the circumstances, it's hard to put much fault on Jake Scott this season. He's not exactly a veteran, and he had the misfortune of being cast into the offensive line equivalent of the Bad News Bears.
However, the Eagles should hopefully have all five starting linemen back next season. This of course includes former first-round pick Danny Watkins, who many Eagles fans believe will never pan out; it's hard to argue that Watkins doesn't provide a better future prospect than Scott.
Look for the Eagles to add offensive line depth through the draft and possibly free agency. If there is room (and a need) for Scott on the 2013 roster, Eagle fans should probably be a little worried.
Verdict: Let him walk
Defensive end Darryl Tapp appeared in 13 games in 2012, and failed to do much with his playing time.
Tapp would be nothing more than a second backup in 2013 (barring Eagles drafting or signing another end), behind Trent Cole, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry.
At 28, Tapp doesn't offer much promise. His play on the field is uninspiring, and it's hard to imagine that his best is yet to come. The team would be much better off bringing in a young player with something to prove.
Verdict: Let him walk
Dominique Rodgers-Cromarite definitely hasn't lived up to the expectations he brought with him from the Arizona Cardinals.
After the trading Kevin Kolb for him, the organization saw complementing the shutdown and big-play abilities of corners Nmamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel. It's fair to say that those prospects for DRC got lost in translation.
Given the circumstances of the Eagles' secondary, DRC managed to have a decent season. In some games he looked good; in others, he didn't. But who knows how much he suffered because of the players around him.
Since the days of Lito Shepard and Sheldon Brown, the Eagles have no had secondaries that there were the envy of the league. And that was supposed to continue when they brought in Nnamdi Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie, but everyone knows how that story ended.
When it comes down to it, the Eagles can't afford to go into next season with no solid starting cornerbacks. DRC is still young and athletic, and who knows what level he can reach if playing in an average-to-above average secondary. The organization will have the money to spend, and Rodgers-Cromartie is a high-upside, low-downside gamble.