5 Big-Impact Free Agents the Philadelphia Eagles Must Target This Offseason
While it's usually best to build through the draft, it's always fun to think about big-name free agents who can come in and make an immediate impact.
The Eagles went 10-6 last season and seem to be a team on the rise. If Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman are willing to shell out the cash, a difference-maker free agent to the defensive side of the ball may be enough to make this team a championship contender.
This year's free agency class is filled with talent. Any one of these five players would instantly improve the team going into 2014...
1. Henry Melton
Taking Henry Melton would be taking a risk. But if it pans out, the reward could be great.
The Eagles have lacked an elite pass rusher all season, and Melton could be a great fit for a bargain price.
Melton played just three games in 2013 before being lost for the season to an ACL tear. Because of that injury, he may have to take a one-year contract to prove he can return to a high level of play.
But if Melton can get back to the player he was pre-injury, the Eagles will have one of the most underrated D-linemen in the NFL. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the seventh best D-lineman in the league in 2012, according to Jesse Reed.
Melton, Bennie Logan and Fletcher Cox would make for a great rotation at the line of scrimmage.
2. T.J. Ward
He may not get much press due to the team he plays for, but T.J. Ward is one of the best strong safeties in the game. He has a knack for bringing down defenders and is overall solid in coverage.
The Eagles have a sorry rotation at strong safety right now. Patrick Chung is just downright horrible and Earl Wolff still has some developing to do, particularly in pass coverage.
Ward would be an instant difference-maker and likely would be the best defender on the team if signed. And if the Eagles were to bring back Nate Allen, the safety position may go from being a team liability to a team strength.
3. Shaun Phillips
Shaun Phillips is another potential solution to the Eagles' pass rusher woes. Signed to a one-year experimental contract, he excelled when Von Miller went down, piling up 10 sacks.
It's possible that Phillips will want to stay in Denver. But if he's looking for a change of scenery and more guaranteed money, the Eagles could use a player of his tenacity.
Trent Cole had a resurgence at the end of the season, but it was very likely a final hurrah before he enters his decline. Phillips would be the perfect player to fill in for him.
4. Aqib Talib
Aqib Talib has really taken a step forward in 2013. He has emerged as a shutdown corner and one of the top five cornerbacks in the game.
Talib made both the Pro Bowl team and the All-Pro team. He has some off-field issues, but his play seems to make up for it.
So why would the Patriots ever let him walk? Talib is set to become a free agent, but applying the franchise tag to him will be very difficult due to salary cap reasons.
It would be easier to extend him to a long-term deal, but Bill Belichick may not be willing to take that risk. It is certainly possible that Talib is given the chance to test free agency.
5. Nick Folk
The Eagles will likely want to replace Alex Henery this offseason, either through the draft or free agency. If they go with the latter approach, Nick Folk may just be their guy.
Folk was possibly the most reliable kicker in the NFL last year, making 33 field goals and missing just three. He made 12 field goals within 40-49 yards and three from 50 yards or more, with the longest being a 54-yarder.
Henery, on the other hand, has shown unimpressive leg strength and is not reliable enough to be a franchise kicker. They should bring Folk in to at least give Henery some competition in training camp.
Follow Yueh Ho on Twitter @YuehHo
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