Ranking the Biggest Free Agency Priorities for Philadelphia Eagles

Yueh HoCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2013

Ranking the Biggest Free Agency Priorities for Philadelphia Eagles

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    Despite the disastrous 2011 spending spree, expect the Philadelphia Eagles to still be active in free agency. The team has plenty of holes and cannot hope to fill all of them with inexperienced rookies. 

    Free agency will continue to be a very important part of filling holes in the Eagles roster. The Eagles may not be looking at finding immediate starters through free agency, but will certainly look to at least add depth at the following positions.

5. Linebacker

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    Even though the Eagles' linebacker corps has come a long way since its abysmal 2011 showing, the unit still has a ways to go. Especially since the team is likely to switch to a 3-4 defense.

    Mychal Kendricks, for instance, has shown potential, but has struggled at times and is only 5'11". 

    Switching schemes usually takes a season or two to adjust, but acquiring veteran linebacker help will help speed up the process. A veteran such as Anthony Spencer, who has experience as a 3-4 outside linebacker, could be a great fit.

4. Wide Receiver

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    The Eagles may have one of the most talented and explosive wide receiver corps in the NFL, led by DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, but they still lack a reliable red-zone target. The unit overall lacks size and Riley Cooper does not play physically enough to fit that role.

    In previous years, Eagles fans have called for Plaxico Burress, but a better option may be found in free agency. Dwayne Bowe, for instance, is a very large receiver and could be a good option if a good deal can be struck. If Brian Hartline is not re-signed, he could be a possible project, as he is 6'2".

    The team also should not ignore the tight ends in free agency. If the Eagles can somehow wrestle Martellus Bennett away from the Giants, he would be an excellent, big-bodied receiver. It's certainly possible, since the Giants typically do not like to give tight ends big paychecks.

3. Safety

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    Safety is a position that desperately needs to be upgraded, both free safety and strong safety. Kurt Coleman is not a good player, consistently making wrong reads, blowing coverages, and missing tackles. And Nate Allen, expected to make a big comeback this season, was no better.

    The position needs an immediate impact player or at least some depth in training camp. If the Eagles address this area in free agency, there are some big names who are now suddenly available.

    Ed Reed's services could potentially be acquired, although Charles Woodson may be more realistic. Woodson has had trouble staying healthy, but when he has been 100 percent he has been one of the more consistent players on Green Bay's dismal defense, overall tackling with consistency.

    Woodson could instantly solidify potentially a strong safety spot. He is also a leader and could help the Eagles defense play better as a cohesive unit.

    While Jairus Byrd and Dashon Goldson are both free agents, don't expect them to hit the open market, as their teams will do everything in their power to retain them.

2. Cornerback

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    It's almost laughable now to think back to the 2011 offseason, when all the sports writers were touting the Eagles cornerbacks as the best possibly in NFL history. How wrong they were.

    The Eagles have seemingly no depth at corner and need all the help they can get. They will have little choice but to find a way to retain Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a player who did not live up to expectations but is still somewhat serviceable.

    In terms of free agents, there are a few options. The best option may be Sean Smith, who is large, being 6'3" and only 25 years old. Smith is not an elite player but is a solid one, so the Dolphins may be willing to let him walk.

    If the Eagles are willing to take a chance, they could also attempt to sign Derek Cox. Cox has had injury problems, but is only 26 and was the best cornerback on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

1. Offensive Line

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    The offensive line, at the end of the day, is still the biggest priority this offseason. Even though there will be key veterans returning, such as Jason Kelce and Jason Peters, the play of the O-line was too poor to not add much needed depth through free agency.

    Especially this season, there are so many options for the Eagles to choose from. They should pass on the big name Jake Long, who is no longer the dominant player he once was. Ryan Clady can expect to be re-signed, so the Eagles can pretty much forget about him.

    Although many fans will cringe at another Bills O-lineman being signed, Andy Levitre is a very solid player. He has started 64 straight games and was one of the bright spots on the Bills, particularly in run blocking, which could be useful in Chip Kelly's new offensive schemes.

    If the Eagles are lucky, they could attempt to court the services of Andre Smith. Smith is a dominant run blocker on the right side of the field and the Bengals averaged 5 yards per carry in his direction. Signing Smith would allow the Eagles to slide Todd Herremans back inside. If Peters and Kelce can then return healthy, the Eagles could find themselves with a very good O-line after just one offseason.