While the Eagles current philosophy is to build through the draft, that doesn't mean that veteran free agents can't come and make a positive impact on the team.
During Andy Reid's era, there have been a few veterans signed in March that helped the Birds continue to be playoff contenders: Jon Runyan, Jevon Kearse (his first season), Asante Samuel and most recently, Leonard Weaver.
Free Agency is probably the situation that will be affected the most by the CBA negotiations. The limitations an uncapped season would cause is the biggest reason I believe an agreement will come to fruition.
Who should the Eagles pursue? There are many angles to view to determine a realistic perspective. What price tag and/or contract length will a player likely command? Who’s likely to get franchised? Are they happy where they currently play? Will their style of play fit into the Eagles scheme?
Last year alone, there were numerous players scheduled for free agency that Philly fans felt the Eagles had to have. Most had no chance of hitting the market without a contract (Jordan Gross, Julius Peppers, Nnamdi Asomugha).
Others became free agents but weren’t pursued (Albert Haynesworth, T.J. Houshmandzadah or Jason Brown-whom I felt would’ve been perfect the Eagles O-line)
Reid and Co. will probably sign three (maybe four) free agents in March. Which players are very likely to make it to free agency and a good fit for the Eagles? Here are my choices...
Johnson lost his starting spot when Kansas City switched to a 3-4 defense. When they had a 4-3 set he was one of the best in the business. At the age of 27, if Johnson makes it to free agency, he should be the Eagles top priority. Picture Witherspoon, Bradley and Johnson as the starters. :)
With Romeo Crennel in as the Chiefs new defensive coordinator, the 3-4 will likely stay intact. That said, there's a good chance the former Texas Longhorn won't re-sign in KC.
If he makes it to free agency, he should be the Eagles top priority.
While I would prefer a younger Ray Edwards(Minnesota), I have a very hard time believing the Vikings are going to let a 25-year-old who recorded 8.5 sacks opposite Jared Allen go.
With Edwards staying in Minnesota, Kampman would be the best FA option. Like Johnson, Kampman struggled when the Packers switched to a 3-4 defense. He is at his best when playing left end in a 4-3.
Having said this, the Eagles must be sure a 30-year-old currently rehabbing from ACL surgery will be ready to go in August.
Philly is very likely to address this void in the draft (first round?).
Hixon wouldn't just add depth to the receiving corps. He's a very capable kickoff return who could replace Ellis Hobbs and help keep Jeremy Maclin out of equation.
He also can return punts should the Eagles ever decide to make DeSean Jackson strictly a wide receiver. The question is, do the Giants value his return ability enough to make sure he stays?
Both punters are an upgrade over Sav Rocca. Due to their age and the shortage of quality punters, there's a good chance neither make it to free agency, particularly Koch. If neither becomes a UFA, Hunter Smith (Redskins) is a stop gap option while the Eagles attempt to find a new punter via the draft.
Nobody can replace Brian Dawkins, we all know that. But, Atogwe may possibly be the closest solution. The Rams placed the franchise tag on him last season and with good reason.
He’s excellent in tackling, interceptions and forcing fumbles. I believe if he had made it to free agency the Eagles would’ve pursued him.
After a season with head coach Steve Spagnuolo, Atogwe would already be familiar with the defense. The only negative this year is he recently had shoulder surgery due to a dislocation.