5 Players Philadelphia Eagles Shouldn't Bring Back Next Season
The Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the surprise teams in the National Football League this season, as they've won eight games and currently lead the NFC East heading into Week 16.
Their offense is one of the most explosive in the league, the defense (except for last week) has drastically improved over the second half of the season and head coach Chip Kelly is one of the most impressive rookie coaches in recent memory.
That doesn't mean everything is perfect, though. For the Eagles, there are quite a few holes heading into the 2014 season. Here are five players who should definitely not be brought back next season, in no particular order.
1. Jason Avant, Wide Receiver
Veteran slot wide receiver Jason Avant has been an integral part of the team's offense for the last eight seasons. But this is the first year that his production hasn't increased from the previous year.
He increased his catches each year from 2006 through 2012. But this year, he's grabbed just 32 passes, a huge drop-off from his 53 receptions in 2012.
Even with the absence of Jeremy Maclin (torn ACL) and the disappointing play of Damaris Johnson, Avant hasn't established himself as a key factor of Kelly's offense.
Avant will be 31 years old at the start of the 2014 season and is scheduled to earn $3.96 million, according to Eaglescap.com. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin (if re-signed), Riley Cooper (if re-signed) and a potential mid- or late-round draft pick will be the likely receiving corps.
Avant's time in Philadelphia is over.
2. James Casey, Tight End
Signed on the first day of free agency, versatile James Casey was supposed to be a jack-of-all-trades for the Philadelphia Eagles, a player who could line up in the backfield, at receiver or tight end.
Nope, none of that has happened. Through 14 games, Casey has exactly three catches. He's been a total non-factor. He barely sees the field. It's unexplainable.
But that makes it a virtual guarantee that Casey will not be on the team in 2014. Why would he? He's scheduled to earn $3.985 million.
3. Brandon Graham, Outside Linebacker
A truly fascinating case, Brandon Graham was the Eagles' first-round draft pick in 2010, famously selected ahead of Jason Pierre-Paul and Earl Thomas. He struggled during his first two seasons but exploded in 2012, collecting seven sacks and 31 quarterback hurries, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Yet he really hasn't seen the field much in 2013, as he's played in just 283 snaps, an average of 20 per game. He's been productive, with three sacks and 14 quarterback hurries.
But he's scheduled to earn $3.38 million in 2014, which is way too much money for a backup linebacker. Graham has had four years to prove that he is a reliable NFL player. I thought he proved himself in 2012, but the Eagles apparently didn't agree.
4. Patrick Chung, Safety
This one is a no-brainer. Patrick Chung is probably the worst player on the 53-man roster for the Eagles.
He's gone from being a starter to benched and thrust back into a starting role because of injuries. The Eagles have tried Kurt Coleman and even special teams ace Colt Anderson in his place. Now they've brought Keelan Johnson up from the practice squad, per Reuben Frank of CSN Philly.
Chung, a former University of Oregon player under Chip Kelly, has allowed a 118.3 passer rating with nine missed tackles. He's scheduled to make $3.25 million in 2014. He's worth about one-fifth of that. He'll be looking for a new team.
5. Alex Henery, Kicker
David Akers wasn't just a kicker. He was a football player. Along with respectable power and excellent accuracy, Akers excelled at onside kicks and even made some tackles on kickoffs.
Alex Henery is the opposite. He's kicked just one field goal of more than 50 yards during his three seasons in the NFL. Watching games, it's obvious that the Eagles have continually passed up long-range field goals because they know that Henery can't make the kick.
His accuracy has declined each year since he was a rookie in 2011, and he's been streaky and inconsistent. There's no reason to keep him around for another year, even if he was a fourth-round draft pick back in 2011.