Philadelphia Eagles Free Agency: Evaluating Offensive Options Available
Supposedly the NFL lockout will end on Thursday, setting up a 72-hour window for teams to sign their own free agents. I am not a pessimistic person, but until I see it, I still will not believe it.
Here's a look at some of their offensive options available.
Note: I left out a few positions that I do not think the Eagles will address, which includes offensive guard, center, fullback and tight end.
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Personally, I do not think that the Eagles will pursue a tackle in free agency, but fans still clamor over replacing right tackle Winston Justice. Andy Reid still believes in Justice and he hired a legendary offensive line coach, Howard Mudd, to teach Justice and the rest of the offensive line to become technicians.
Entering the league as an undrafted free agent, Tyson Clabo of the Falcons will be set to get a lucrative contract.
He is an elite run blocker. Clabo can bulldoze opposing defensive ends and set the edge for the running back, something we saw last season with Clabo.
He has really come along in pass blocking and is underrated in that facet of the game.
The Eagles have a chance to sign a 29-year-old tackle at 6'6", 330 pounds—one that is arguably the best at his position.
Jared Gaither, the 25-year-old tackle, was considered one of the better left tackles in all of football, until injury and inconsistency struck.
This past season was injury-riddled, but he still can be dominant in both run and pass blocking.
The Ravens want him back to move him to RT, but the Eagles can pry him away with a big contract, hoping he remains healthy.
Gaither would provide a significant upgrade, and the Eagles could have the best bookend tackles in the game with Gaither and LT Jason Peters.
Gaither would be protecting Vick's blind side, which he did for Joe Flacco at LT.
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The Eagles have really only been linked to one wide receiver this offseason considering the success at the position this past year.
At wide receiver, the Eagles sport arguably the best tandem in the league with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. The best part is, they are only going to get better. They are only 24 and 23 years old respectively.
At first, I was skeptical that Burress would even be an upgrade over the young Riley Cooper. Burress, though, never relied on his speed; he depended on his strength and ability to get open against smaller defensive backs.
He can definitely regain that part of his game with basic conditioning.
Even if Burress does not make an impact the first few weeks of the year, he should be able help in red-zone opportunities.
The trio of DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Plaxico Burress could be unstoppable, and I have not even talked about one of the best slot receivers in the game with Jason Avant.
Both Jackson and Maclin would benefit from a huge possession receiver like Burress, allowing for more one-on-one coverages.
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The Eagles are not expected to re-sign backup running back Jerome Harrison, who was severely underutilized in his short tenure in Philadelphia.
Though the Eagles drafted Dion Lewis, an impressive runner from Pittsburgh, most do not expect the Eagles to trust him with the backup job to LeSean McCoy.
The Eagles, though, may have a need for the backup running back spot. Dion Lewis is an elusive runner, but with the lockout, he may need time to adjust to the NFL game.
Bush would start right away as the punt returning specialist replacing Jackson. Jackson may not want be the punt returning specialist because he won't want to risk an injury that would affect his contract status. Bush would be an electrifying punt returner and would add another dimension of speed to the backfield.
Darren Sproles can do it all for your football team.
Though he is undersized, he plays with heart, can be effective as a change-of-pace back and is legitimate in the passing game.
Sproles is one of the better returners in the game, so he could also provide a spark to the special teams.
He has to compete with Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert, so the likelihood of getting carries is very slim.
The Cardinals running back will probably not re-sign with the team, especially with the recent drafting of talented back Ryan Williams in the second round.
Hightower is a solid third-down back who doesn't do anything spectacular, but is consistent.
Carnell "Cadillac" Williams
Carnell "Cadillac" Williams is a solid running back who can excel as a backup.
Williams lost his job in Tampa Bay to LeGarette Blount, but he can still catch the ball and block well. Williams caught 46 balls last season.
The Eagles' backup running back job will not be attractive, considering the Eagles had one of the best with Jerome Harrison and barely used him.
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With Kevin Kolb likely to be traded, the Eagles should look into signing a veteran backup who can perform if Michael Vick gets injured.
Vick takes numerous unnecessary hits and his playing style does not seem like it can hold up for an entire season, so signing a dependable backup is a must.
When Kolb is traded, the Eagles will have Mike Kafka as the backup, and as talented as the second-year pro is, he is not ready to assume the backup job, as I noted in this article.
Vince Young (via trade or signing if cut)
Since Young is currently under contract with the Titans, but with the drafting of Jake Locker, he is expected to be gone.
The coaching staff refined Vick's game, turning him into a legitimate quarterback. He was accurate enough and made great decisions with the ball.
Vince Young has starting potential, which is what the Eagles need as the backup.
If Vick gets hurt—something that is likely—the Eagles offense would not have to adjust that much, since Young is a mobile quarterback like Vick. Let's say Young performs well in that game or games—he would be another sought-out commodity the Eagles could possess.
Imagine what Young could learn from the helpful Michael Vick.
Besides, Young still had a pretty solid year last season, sporting a 10-touchdown-to-three-interception ratio and a 98.6 passer rating.
Marc Bulger was supposed to be an elite quarterback for many years during his days with St. Louis.
Injuries derailed his career. He could still be a capable backup to Vick, like the way he did with Joe Flacco in Baltimore.
Bulger is 33 years old and could be a great fit in Andy Reid's offense; hopefully no team pursues him to be their starter.
When Volek is given the chance to play, he performs well.
Many remember Volek when he came into the 2008 AFC Divisional Playoffs and led a comeback victory against the defending Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts.
Volek is now 34 years old and teams will not be giving him a starting opportunity.