This past offseason was one of many changes. The uncapped season came as a blessing in disguise for the Philadelphia Eagles. It allowed them to rid themselves of some underachievers without having to suffer because of a cap hit.
If this season had the normal collective bargaining rules, players like Kevin Curtis, Darren Howard, Reggie Brown and even Shawn Andrews would probably still be wearing midnight green.
Stacy Andrews would not have been traded over the weekend, either.
It was a necessary evil for the future of the franchise. Whether it’s called rebuilding or retooling, the bottom line was to get younger and correct previous mistakes.
The 2011 offseason is going to involve its share of changes for the Eagles, also. Assuming a new CBA is worked out and an NFL lockout is avoided, it will be Howie Roseman’s first time as general manager with a salary cap.
Currently, the Eagles have seventeen players scheduled to be free agents after the 2010 season. Six enter this season as starters, four are primary backups and two more essential to special teams.
Some of the potential free agents you know won’t be in an Eagle uniform next year. Others you might deem it mandatory that they are resigned.
Let’s look at each player and rate the likelihood (10 the highest; 1 the lowest) of him returning to South Philly in 2011.
- Michael Vick-QB: Vick is currently Kevin Kolb’s backup and the team’s ‘wildcat specialist’. Even though he seems to support the team’s decisions, he wants to be a starter again. Chance of being re-signed: 0 (The Eagles were Vick’s NFL halfway house. He’ll move on after this season)
- Quintin Mikell-SS: Mikell made his first Pro Bowl in 2009 and was voted 2nd team All Pro in 2008. Despite his recent accolades he’s a solid player, but not a game changer. Mikell also turns 30 this month. I’ve said the last few years that it wouldn’t hurt if the Eagles looked to improve at strong safety. Chance of being re-signed: 6 (I see the Eagles finding their SS of the future in next year’s draft)
- Stewart Bradley-LB: Bradley’s ACL tear last summer was a brutal loss for the defense. Not only can he play both the run and pass, he’s the leader of the defense. If he stays healthy, there’s no way the Eagles are letting him walk. Chance of being re-signed: 9.5 (Only another season ending injury would cause the Eagles front office to hesitate)
- Mike Bell-RB: Bell is a stopgap solution who’s had a history of nagging injuries. When the next CBA is in place, the Eagles will pursue a younger, healthier running back to complement LeSean McCoy. Chance of being re-signed: 2 (Only because you just never know)
- Eldra Buckley-RB: Buckley’s a traditional, north/south runner but it’s his special team play that has kept him on the roster. I don’t know if that’ll be enough to get him another contract. Chance of being re-signed: 5.5 (It depends on the market when the next free agency period begins)
- Hank Baskett-WR: I still don’t know why he’s on the roster and think Kelley Washington should be here instead. Chance of being re-signed: 7 (Whatever he brings to the table, Andy Reid likes it)
- Reggie Wells-OG: The recently acquired Wells is a veteran in his 8th season who’s accustomed to starting. We’ll find out more about him as the season goes on. Chance of being re-signed: 6 (He has to first take the starting right guard spot from Nick Cole to start proving his worth)
- Max Jean-Gilles-OG: Jean-Gilles is better at run blocking than pass protection although he plays in a pass oriented offense. He was cut over the weekend in order for the Eagles to follow league rules while the Stacy Andrews trade was finalized. The next time his contract ends, I think we’ll see the last of him as an Eagle. Chance of being re-signed: 4 (The improvement and versatility of Mike McGlynn makes him expendable)
- Nick Cole-G/C: Cole is a dependable backup. When he’s starting it’s mainly due to an injury or someone underperforming (Good thing the Andrews brothers are gone). I see Wells taking his spot at RG by week 3 at the latest. Chance of being re-signed: 7.5 (Can’t deny the fact that Cole provides quality depth on the roster)
- Victor Abiamiri-DE: Even when healthy, which is rare, Abiamiri doesn’t make enough plays. I think is safe to fully label him as a bust and part ways ASAP. Abiamiri’s currently on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list, but do you really think he’s going to contribute this season?? Chance of being re-signed: 0 (On top of underachieving, microfracture surgery comebacks are extremely difficult. I think Abiamiri’s NFL career has come to an end)
- Ernie Sims-LB: I think Sims’ fast, hard-hitting style will fit this defense well. Unlike with the Lions, he’ll get his chance to make some game changing plays. That’ll be what keeps Sims around. Chance of being re-signed: 5 (One would think Sims will be back in 2011, but I thought Will Witherspoon would be back this year. A lot depends on the progress of rookie Keenan Clayton, also)
- Akeem Jordan-LB: Like Nick Cole, when Jordan’s starting someone else isn’t doing their job well enough (Omar Gaither, Moise Fokou). Jordan’s better off as a reserve/special team player. Chance of being re-signed: 8 (The coaching staff likes Jordan too much to let him walk)
- Omar Gaither-LB: Gaither has had multiple chances to be a starter on this team. I’m pretty sure he views himself as one and will look to join a team that feels the same. Chance of being re-signed: 2 (If no other team gives him a decent contract and the chance to start, he may return to Philly)
- Ellis Hobbs-CB: Hobbs will replace Sheldon Brown this season as the starting right cornerback. So far, so good. Hobbs health and the progress of Trevard Lindley are two huge factors. Chance of being re-signed: 6 (Hobbs has to prove to the coaches that he can hold down the starting spot the next 3-4 years)
- David Akers-K: How much longer can Mr. Automatic be automatic? Akers made his first Pro Bowl since 2004 last season. I think he has about 3 years left in him. Chance of being re-signed: 10 (There’s no way the Eagles let him go just yet.
- Sav Rocca-P: Rocca looked wonderful during training camp. The problem is the wind isn’t a factor like it will be in December. He does this every year and every year the Eagles bring in other punters to challenge him. I’m still wondering how he beat out Dirk Johnson in 2007. Chance of being re-signed: 3 (At 36, Rocca’s not improving. He’s mediocre at best)
- Antwan Barnes-DE/LB: The Eagles traded for Barnes over the weekend, stating he can play the ‘joker’ position. He’ll likely only be on the team for special team plays. Barnes is currently playing on a one year tender he signed with Baltimore. Chance of being re-signed: 5 (His special team performances will be key)
Other players whose contracts might be ended after the season
- Jaqua Parker-DE: With the likely return of a salary cap 2011, Parker will make too much money ($4.3 million) for a 33 year old reserve. Rookie Brandon Graham should have the starting left defensive end position complete secure by then.
- Joselio Hanson-CB: I didn’t think Hanson should’ve had his contract extended last year. I don’t think he should’ve made the final cut this season. Hanson is a mediocre nickel back who can’t be counted on to move outside if needed. By keeping six corners on the 53 man roster, the Eagles are monitoring their productivity closely. Hanson’s salary may be expendable once a salary cap returns if he makes it though this season with the team.