A Realistic Free-Agent Wishlist for the Philadelphia Eagles

Bernie Ollila@@bernieollilaContributor IIIDecember 26, 2012

A Realistic Free-Agent Wishlist for the Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Philadelphia Eagles' future is as unclear as it's ever been. After their abysmal 2012 campaign, the Birds will be looking to rebuild themselves through the draft and free agency.

    However, there isn’t a name in the football world whose migration to the City of Brotherly Love could single-handedly turn around the Eagles franchise. And there is also only so much talent available in the upcoming draft.

    A major flaw in the team’s current philosophy has undoubtedly been its reliance on free agency. Although it has been a failure to this point, that doesn’t mean that the Birds should shy away from adding talent from the free-agent pool. This is especially true when considering the amount of young talent that will be available during the 2013 offseason.

    To be specific, the offensive line, the secondary and the wide receiver positions can be strengthened this upcoming offseason. If nothing else, some of these players could serve as placeholders to keep the team competitive while the next regime develops its draft class.

    For a team with as many big names as the Eagles, they have a surprising amount of salary cap space. And if the team decides to part ways with some of its high-priced underachievers, like Michael Vick, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Demetress Bell, they will have even more money to work with—much of which will be allocated to adding depth through free agency.

    The following slideshow will provide a realistic view of who the Eagles could add during the upcoming offseason.

Jairus Byrd, Safety

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    Jairus Byrd is the first of two Buffalo Bills on this list, and he is arguably the most needed of any player on this list because of how weak the Philadelphia Eagles are at safety.

    Byrd is a dynamic threat on defense, and he has a nose for the ball.

    Byrd has the wherewithal to take the ball, he’s excellent in coverage and he’s good against the run. Oh yeah, he’s an outstanding tackler. These are the fundamental essentials for an NFL safety’s skill set. Byrd not only has all of these in his repertoire, but he also excels at each of them.

    There hasn’t been one Eagles safety since Brian Dawkins who was able to do two of these things well, which makes Byrd not only an ideal fit for the Eagles, but kind of a must have.

    The upcoming free-agent period will feature several notable safeties; however, Byrd is unquestionably the best available and the best fit for Philadelphia.

    He’ll command a lot of money, but the Eagles should be able to pay him.

Shaun Phillips, Outside Linebacker

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    Of course, the Eagles need to get younger. However, they are so weak at the linebacker position that they’re almost laughable. No one is good in coverage. Period.

    That’s not to say Shaun Phillips is great in coverage. Nonetheless, it is to say that he is a better option than anything the Birds have available.

    Phillips is a veteran who brings the kind of experience that would at least ease the burden on DeMeco Ryans and the kind of savvy that the team’s younger LBs (looking at you, Mychal Kendricks) can learn from.

    Of course, bringing in Phillips would depend on what kind of defense the next head coach implements. Regardless, he is a good name to keep in mind. 

Andre Smith, Tackle

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    The big problem with Andre Smith, literally, is his weight. To put it simply: He’s fat. This demonstrates a lack of self-control and would make challenging his commitment and work ethic valid.

    However, he’s pretty good when he’s on his game. Since the Eagles need so much help on the offensive line, Smith is a great option to add depth, if nothing else, to the Birds’ lackluster O-line corps.

    Of course, his addition would only merit celebration if the Birds are unable to draft Luke Joeckel, or sign any of the other available offensive linemen.

Dwayne Bowe, Wide Receiver

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    The fact that there are so many possible landing spots for Kansas City’s second-best player points to the fact that no one knows where he could go.

    The Eagles have been in need of a big, physical wideout since the departure of Terrell Owens after the team’s 2004 Super Bowl appearance. That’s almost seven years!

    The addition of Dwayne Bowe would do wonders for the Eagles moving forward. He’s 28 years old, stands 6’2" and weighs about 220 pounds.

    Although he isn’t the ideal height, Bowe brings the strength and physicality to the position that would instantly make the Birds offense dynamic.

    With Bowe, DeSean Jackson could move to the slot—a place where is best suited—and Jeremy Maclin would play the other side.

    Bowe would draw coverage off of Jackson and Maclin, which would leave opponents vulnerable. That would actually give the Birds the kind of deep-ball threat they have been seeking for so long, which would especially allow Jackson to shine.

    Moreover, DeSean Jackson can finally return to the return game and make the kinds of meaningful contributions that would allow him to earn all of the money he is making. 

Andy Levitre, Offensive Guard

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    The Eagles' offensive line trouble has been observed, discussed and well-documented throughout the course of the 2012 season.

    The team simply cannot go forward without addressing its needs on the O-line.

    Andy Levitre has quietly been one of the best OGs in the NFL this season. He is a 26 year old, 6’2”, 305-pounder who is able to handle oncoming defensive players with the kind of force and precision that affords Ryan Fitzpatrick all the time he needs to not make any plays.

    He’ll likely have a fairly high price tag, but the Eagles need to sign him to actually make the term “shore up the O-line” validly applicable.

    There are quite a few free-agent O-linemen, but Levitre is the best fit because he is a guard, and because he is young.