4 Available Free Agents Still Within Philadelphia Eagles' Reach
Former Philadelphia Eagles starting safety Kurt Coleman signed with the Minnesota Vikings on Monday, evidence that there are still mild signs of life in NFL free agency. In other words, any team that’s willing to search long enough may find something passing for help.
While Philly fans can laugh derisively at the notion that Coleman offers much in the way of support, the reality is the Eagles shouldn’t necessarily be above making similar eleventh-hour additions. With only six picks in the 2014 draft, the organization currently has more needs than selections.
Unfortunately, no matter how many needs there are, we are five weeks into free agency at this point. Pickings are slim to say the least.
Needless to say, none of the remaining names the Eagles could target are going to wow. Anybody the front office signs from here on out is probably a stopgap at best, more likely just a camp body.
Competition throughout the roster is important though. Here are the leftover players who could provide it.
DE Adam Carriker
The Eagles are so thin at defensive line behind Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Cedric Thornton and Vinny Curry that it might be worth taking a flyer on somebody like Adam Carriker. Released by Washington, the ’07 first-round pick hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since early 2012 due to a quadriceps that’s since required multiple surgeries.
We saw last year, though, that this organization is willing to award a comeback attempt at a position of need. Former New York Giants safety Kenny Phillips tried out at safety, but he was limited by a chronic knee condition and ultimately cut after training camp.
Carriker may endure a similar fate, but if it turns out that his quadriceps is finally repaired, he could help the Birds. In '11—his last full season—Carriker registered a career-high 5.5 sacks in Washington’s 3-4 defense. The Eagles sure could use some pass-rush help.
The other downside is Carriker—6’6”, 300 pounds—is about to turn 30. However, due to numerous injuries, he’s only appeared in 49 games since entering the league in ’07. His body hasn’t taken the beating most have by the time they reach the big 3-0.
Carriker is undoubtedly a bit of a long shot to Philadelphia, but the defensive line depth is that scary that the team might consider it. With only six picks currently in this year’s draft, the front office probably should look to add some veteran competition at some point prior to camp.
K Rob Bironas
How bad is Alex Henery? So bad that you would legitimately weigh replacing the 2011 fourth-round pick with a 36-year-old who has only moderately better accuracy and roughly the same range at this stage of his career—if that.
The moment the Tennessee Titans released Rob Bironas, he instantly became one of the best free-agent place kickers on the market. That’s not saying much, though.
Henery made 82.1 percent of his field-goal attempts in ’13; Bironas made 86.2. Henery’s kickoffs resulted in touchbacks 41.1 percent of the time, compared to only 40 percent of Bironas’.
Yet if the Eagles absolutely had to sign a kicker today to compete with Henery, Bironas would be the logical choice.
Fortunately, there is undoubtedly going to be more, and probably better, options available after the draft—names that won’t get called. Then again, sometimes the known evils of aging veteran kickers win out in the end. If that happens here, Bironas could be the one that gets the call.
OLB O’Brien Schofield
The Eagles entered the offseason hopeful of upgrading their pass rush, but that hasn’t come to fruition. The only experienced starting outside linebackers for a 3-4 defense under the age of 30 were Washington’s Brian Orakpo and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Jason Worilds, both of whom were slapped with the franchise tag.
Unless the coaching staff is serious about using special teams ace and free-agent signee Bryan Braman—he of zero career starts or sacks—in a situational pass-rush capacity, the front office has been paralyzed over the matter.
Philadelphia will undoubtedly take a pass-rusher at some point in the draft. However, they might be interested in more immediate help depending on how late that is, especially if Brandon Graham happens to be moved in a draft-day trade.
The one name that’s out there that still has some appeal is O’Brien Schofield. A fourth-round pick in ’10, Schofield showed some promise with the Arizona Cardinals, racking up 4.0 sacks as a part-time player in ’11 and 4.5 in nine starts in ’12.
However, he became an afterthought with the Seattle Seahawks last year, getting to the quarterback just once in extremely limited playing time.
That and an apparent knee injury are the reasons Schofield is still available. The four-year veteran was on the cusp of signing a contract with the New York Giants in March but couldn’t pass a physical. That doesn’t mean he won’t play this season. One month later, he was able to pass a Tennessee Titans physical, but he remains unsigned.
Schofield has experience playing in Bill Davis’ defense from the defensive coordinator’s time in Arizona, so he seems a logical fit if healthy. Whether the Eagles make a move to add him may depend on what happens at the draft, though, and whether Schofield is still on the street at that point.
WR Danario Alexander
The greatest concern after the subtraction of DeSean Jackson from the league’s No. 2 offense isn’t necessarily the wide receiver himself. The Eagles can recreate Jackson in the aggregate with the return of Jeremy Maclin, the addition of Darren Sproles and the growth of Zach Ertz.
The primary issue after Jackson’s release becomes depth at wideout. Maclin missed all of last season with a torn ACL and is a bit of a mystery heading into ’14, while Riley Cooper is an adequate No. 2 at best—and there’s no clear-cut WR3 behind them. Philly will no doubt draft somebody, but rookie wide receivers tend to be extremely hit or miss.
Arrelious Benn is still in the picture as well, but he's also recovering from an ACL after Philadelphia sent a sixth-round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to acquire the former second-round pick. In other words, another injury-prone player.
Knee injuries have been Danario Alexander’s undoing as well. The 6’5”, 221-pound receiver has been extremely productive when he’s on the field, but that’s rare, as multiple knee surgeries and other injuries have shortened every season since he entered the league in ’10. He missed the entirety of last year’s campaign with the San Diego Chargers.
Still, it’s hard not to be enticed by a rangy athlete like Alexander, who’s recorded 83 receptions for 1,395 yards (16.8 average) and 10 touchdowns in 28 career games. He’ll only be 26 years old this year as well.
No joke, between Maclin, Benn and Alexander, one of them has to stay healthy, right? Alexander might be the most likely to get hurt, so he’s not the greatest insurance policy. If somehow he was able to stay on the field, though, the Eagles could bolster their receiving corps significantly with this one seemingly minor signing.