Setting Odds for Philadelphia Eagles Signing Their Top 10 Free Agent Targets

Bryn Swartz@eaglescentralSenior Writer IIIFebruary 10, 2014

Setting Odds for Philadelphia Eagles Signing Their Top 10 Free Agent Targets

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    The long offseason has started for the Philadelphia Eagles, following a surprising division title in Chip Kelly's first year as head coach. 

    For the Eagles, the goal is obviously improving the roster in as many ways as possible. That likely means a major upgrade at one or two defensive positions and some necessary depth on both sides of the ball. 

    General manager Howie Roseman has already stated that the Eagles won't ever again have an offseason like 2011, when the Eagles signed a number of high-priced, veteran free-agent players who did not work out in the long run. But that doesn't mean the team won't spend a lot of money for a star player or sign a number of solid starters or role players. 

    The following slides will highlight ten players who are sure to peak the interest of the Eagles. This list includes five players who were on the 2013 roster and five from elsewhere around the league.

1. Michael Vick, Quarterback

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    You can just forget about quarterback Michael Vick returning to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014. He's made it clear that he wants to start next year. Even though it would be a big surprise if he was handed a starting job without any competition, he's still likely to head to a team like Minnesota or Oakland, where he can compete for a starting job. 

    If he did return, he would provide much-needed stability at the backup position. He'd be more than capable of filling in for a couple of games if Nick Foles suffered an injury. He's also a tremendous presence in the locker room.


    Probability he returns to Philadelphia: 15 percent 

2. Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver

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    Although wide receiver Jeremy Maclin missed the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL, he is expected to be fully healthy at the start of the 2014 season. 

    As a free agent, Maclin will likely command a one- or two-year deal. He's only 25 years old, and he has proven to be an effective receiving option but he's not the number one weapon the Eagles hoped for when they drafted him in the first round in 2009. 

    The Eagles are interested in him, but so are the New York Jets, whose offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, is familiar with Maclin from their time together in Philadelphia. 

    It makes sense for the Eagles to re-sign Maclin before the start of free agency. He's expected to turn in his best season in 2014 with Chip Kelly and Nick Foles. 

    Probability he returns to Philadelphia: 65 percent 

3. Riley Cooper, Wide Receiver

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    Perhaps no player on the Eagles was a bigger surprise in 2013, other than quarterback Nick Foles. 

    Cooper was your typical fourth receiver during his first three years on the team, catching just 46 passes. But he turned in a breakout year with Nick Foles, finishing with 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, Cooper turned in a 137.0 passer rating with Foles throwing to him, easily the best mark in the National Football League. 

    At 27 years old at the start of the 2014 season, Cooper will likely command a multiyear deal worth about $4 or $5 million per season. Because of his tremendous chemistry with Foles and his emergence as a blocker, it makes complete sense to bring him back as the team's number three receiver (assuming Maclin is also re-signed). 


    Probability he returns to Philadelphia: 70 percent 

4. Nate Allen, Safety

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    The big question regarding Nate Allen is whether the Eagles want to bring back the 26-year-old safety or if he should just walk in free agency.

    Allen has definitely been a disappointment since he was drafted in the second round in 2010, but he turned in probably the best year of his career in 2013, playing in all 16 games and recording a career-high 89 tackles.

    It would make sense for the Eagles to bring him back as a likely starter at one of their two safety positions, which would allow the team to spend a high draft pick on another safety. 


    Probability he returns to Philadelphia: 60 percent

5. Donnie Jones, Punter

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    All Donnie Jones did in 2013 was set the franchise single-season record for punts inside the 20-yard line, while also providing huge punts in the final minutes against both the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys

    As a free agent, there is absolutely no way the Eagles should allow the soon-to-be 34-year-old to walk. They need to lock him up for a multiyear deal worth a couple of million per season.

    Special teams is an underrated part of the game, and the Eagles have a keeper at punter. It needs to stay that way. 


    Probability he returns to Philadelphia: 60 percent 

6. Tarvaris Jackson, Quarterback

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    With Mike Vick almost certain to not return to the Eagles in 2014, Chip Kelly will likely be on the market for an experienced, veteran quarterback to back up Nick Foles instead of relying on Matt Barkley. 

    Tarvaris Jackson fits the bill, as the 30-year-old backup has spent the last few years bouncing around the league. He's not necessarily a running quarterback, but he has some mobility (much more than Foles).


    Probability he signs with Philadelphia: 15 percent 

7. Ted Ginn Jr., Wide Receiver/Returner

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    Ted Ginn is exactly the type of player Chip Kelly would try to sign in free agency. He's a speedy, versatile player who could serve as the team's fourth receiver, while also returning both punts and kicks. 

    The former top 10 pick in the 2007 draft has never quite lived up to expectations as a big-play threat. He's now 29 years old and is clearly in the second half of his career.

    But he's also still a valuable weapon, the kind of player Kelly would be able to use in the backfield, outside at receiver and in the slot. He hasn't returned a kick or punt for a touchdown in either of the last two seasons, but he would still be an upgrade over Brad Smith.

    Signing Ginn would also allow DeSean Jackson to focus primarily on playing wide receiver. 


    Probability he signs with Philadelphia: 30 percent 

8. Tyson Jackson, Defensive End

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    The Eagles' weakness against the run was displayed in the Wild Card game against the New Orleans Saints, as they surrendered 185 rushing yards (5.1 yards per rush) and a number of short-yardage conversions. 

    Cedric Thornton is one of the best run-stopping defensive ends in the NFL, but the Eagles could use another defensive lineman in their rotation. Kansas City's Tyson Jackson, a former top-three overall draft pick, would be able to help shut down some of the division's top running backs like Alfred Morris and DeMarco Murray.


    Probability he signs with Philadelphia: 20 percent 

9. Jason Hatcher, Defensive Tackle

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    The Eagles likely need to upgrade at defensive tackle this offseason. Veteran Isaac Sopoaga was traded to the New England Patriots in the middle of the season, opening the door for rookie Bennie Logan to become the every-down player. He had a solid rookie year but he may be best suited as a rotational player.

    If the Eagles could sign Jason Hatcher from the Dallas Cowboys, they would acquire one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL while weakening a division rival.

    Hatcher isn't young. He turns 32 this offseason. But he's also one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL. He had the best year of his career in 2013, collecting 11 sacks and earning his first Pro Bowl selection. He's not much of a run-stopper, but he would be a perfect complement to players like Cedric Thornton and Tyson Jackson (if signed).


    Probability he signs with Philadelphia: 15 percent 

10. T.J. Ward, Safety

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    A late selection to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement will likely raise T.J. Ward's value this offseason but he's a player the Eagles likely had their eye on, Pro Bowl or no Pro Bowl.

    The former Oregon Duck has quietly established himself as one of the top safeties in the National Football League. It's no secret that the Eagles need a major upgrade in their secondary, especially at one or both of the safety positions. 

    Ward is just 27 years old and is a terrific player against both the run and the pass. He would probably command a four- or five-year deal at about $8 to $10 million per season. If that's worth it to the Eagles to upgrade their worst position, don't be surprised to see Kelly reunited with his former college star. 


    Probability he signs with Philadelphia: 20 percent