Ranking Philadelphia Eagles' Best Remaining Free Agency Options
It's been five days since the start of the free agency, and it's become clear that the Philadelphia Eagles' plan is continuing to build the team through the draft. That doesn't mean they're not signing players in free agency. They definitely are. But they're mainly focused on adding rotational pieces on both sides of the ball instead of landing an impact player like Jairus Byrd or Darrelle Revis.
So far, the Eagles have signed three players who should see significant playing time in 2014: safety Malcolm Jenkins, running back Darren Sproles and cornerback Nolan Carroll. They've also added a backup linebacker, Bryan Braman, and a backup safety, Chris Maragos. Both are expected to be major contributors on special teams.
But the Eagles still have a ton of cap space, and there's a number of players on the free-agent market who could still be valuable rotational pieces for the 2014 squad. The following slides will highlight, in order, the top five players the Eagles should still be looking to sign.
1. Michael Vick, Quarterback
The market for veteran quarterback Michael Vick hasn't been particularly high. Although Vick has expressed his desire to start for another team in the 2014 season, he hasn't been offered a starting job yet. The New York Jets have expressed interest, but they probably wouldn't be willing to hand him a starting job without making him beat out Geno Smith in training camp.
The possibility that Vick could return to Philadelphia for the 2014 season has to be increasing with each passing day, and that's great news for the Eagles.
Vick should be the team's top option among current free-agent players to bring back next year. He's been a tremendous presence in the locker room during his five years in Philadelphia. The players and coaches love him. He's a hard worker who could fill in for Nick Foles for a few games in the event of an injury.
If Vick did return, the Eagles likely wouldn't have to spend a draft pick on a quarterback, as Foles, Vick and Barkley would be the three quarterbacks on the roster for the second straight season.
2. Nate Allen, Safety
Nate Allen has taken a tremendous amount of criticism by Eagles fans for failing to live up to expectations as a second-round pick, but he's really not that bad of a player.
He had the best year of his career in 2013, particularly as a tackler, where he showed significant improvement over the previous few seasons. He's never played for the same defensive coordinator for two years in a row, but another year in Billy Davis' scheme could help him continue to develop as a player.
If re-signed, he's likely not going to be handed a starting job. That wouldn't make any sense. Veteran Malcolm Jenkins was brought in from the New Orleans Saints to be one of the two starters. Either a rookie, Earl Wolff or Allen, if re-signed, will man the other safety position.
But Allen is still young and is one of the top safeties still available on the free-agent market. At this point, it's time for the Eagles to seriously consider bringing back Allen.
3. Steven Hauschka, Kicker
Veteran Steven Hauschka was one of the best kickers in the National Football League in 2013, connecting on 33-of-35 field goal attempts, plus a perfect five-for-five in the Super Bowl. He's currently a free agent and hasn't been re-signed by Seattle yet.
The Eagles could really use an upgrade at kicker. Alex Henery connected on just 23-of-28 field goal tries in 2013, including just one above 50 yards. He also displayed an inability to consistently reach the end zone on kickoffs. Three years into his career, there's really no point in continuing to roll the dice with Henery. He lacks power and consistency. An upgrade needs to be made.
The Eagles could bring in an undrafted rookie free agent to compete with Henery for the starting job, but it makes a lot of sense to try to ink Hauschka to a multi-year deal. The Eagles have the available cap space, after all.
4. Corey Wootton, Defensive End
Although the idea of attempting to lure in a proven sack artist like Jared Allen might be tempting, that's not the route the Eagles are going to go. Allen plays defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, and the Eagles run a 3-4. Plus the team wants to get younger on defense. Bringing in a 31-year-old veteran on the decline likely isn't the route general manager Howie Roseman is going to.
Corey Wootton is the type of player the Eagles would sign. He would be a rotational defensive lineman who displays the versatility to play tackle or end. He struggled as a starter in 2013, recording just 3.5 sacks, but he played well in a limited role in 2012, collecting seven sacks and two forced fumbles.
If the Eagles signed Wootton, he would compete for playing time behind Bennie Logan, Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton.
5. O'Brien Schofield, Linebacker
O'Brien Schofield is a player I had originally predicted the Eagles to sign before the start of free agency last week.
If the Eagles decide that his knee issues aren't serious, they could take a flyer on the soon-to-be 27-year-old outside linebacker, who collected 11.5 sacks in 50 games. Schofield played in 15 games for the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks last year, mostly contributing on special teams.