Eagles' Top Players to Prioritize in 2021 NFL Free Agency

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMarch 8, 2021

Eagles' Top Players to Prioritize in 2021 NFL Free Agency

0 of 3

    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles aren't going to be big spenders when NFL free agency begins on March 17 at 4 p.m. ET. They're likely going to have to restructure some contracts and make some cuts if they're going to add any free agents to their roster for the 2021 season.

    According to Over the Cap, Philadelphia would currently be $34.1 million over the league's salary cap (assuming that will be about $180.5 million), so it will need to find ways to clear some space. Once that happens, the Eagles still likely won't be pursuing high-end free agents, as they'll look for low-cost players who can improve their team.

    Although free agency hasn't arrived yet, Philadelphia has already made some big changes this offseason. It hired Nick Sirianni to be its new head coach, then it traded quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts. That means Jalen Hurts could be poised to start under center in 2021.

    What's next for the Eagles? Here are three players they should prioritize when free agency begins.

Josh Reynolds, WR

1 of 3

    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Philadelphia could use a proven receiver to add to its offense after reportedly deciding to release veterans DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. Jalen Reagor, who was selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft, underperformed during his rookie season, and the Eagles have several other youngsters who have yet to break out.

    Reynolds could likely fill a big role on Philadelphia's offense, and that's what he could be looking for in free agency after being behind Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp on the Los Angeles Rams depth chart. The 26-year-old Reynolds has been a solid player through his first four NFL seasons, but he could be poised for even more with a larger opportunity.

    This past season, Reynolds set career highs in receptions (52) and receiving yards (618) while also hauling in a pair of touchdowns over 16 games. He's also yet to miss a game in his NFL career, so he would be a reliable, consistent receiving option for the Eagles.

    While other teams could prioritize going after top-tier free-agent receivers (such as Chris Godwin, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kenny Golladay and more), Philadelphia would be wise to chase a more affordable player like Reynolds. Plus, Reynolds already has ties to Eagles wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead, who was an assistant at Texas A&M during Reynolds' final two seasons at the school from 2015-16.

Xavier Rhodes, CB

2 of 3

    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    The Eagles are set with one starting cornerback in Darius Slay, who is still under contract for three more seasons. But they could use another corner to pair with him, especially if they don't bring back Jalen Mills, who is a free agent.

    Rhodes could be a strong fit after playing for the Indianapolis Colts last season. Philadelphia's new defensive coordinator, Jonathan Gannon, was the cornerbacks coach for Indianapolis in 2020, so he's already familiar with Rhodes and what the 30-year-old can bring to a defense.

    Last year, Rhodes had 42 tackles, two interceptions, 12 pass deflections and a touchdown in 16 games. It was his first season with a new team after spending his first seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

    Philadelphia likely wouldn't want to sign Rhodes to a long-term deal, but he could be a solid player to add to its secondary for the next season or two. With Slay and Rhodes, the Eagles would have an experienced cornerback duo who could mentor some of the younger players while also providing strong play in 2021.

Raekwon McMillan, LB

3 of 3

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    McMillan hasn't quite lived up to expectations in the NFL after he was taken in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins. He spent two seasons with them before being traded to the Las Vegas Raiders last August.

    This past season, McMillan was mostly a special teams player for the Raiders. He had 27 tackles, one forced fumble and one pass deflection in 16 games and had only four starts. But he's still only 25, and he had 105 tackles as a rookie for the Dolphins in 2018, so it's still possible he could develop into a solid inside linebacker.

    The Eagles need a boost in their linebacker corps, and it can never hurt to have too much depth at the position. McMillan may not be a flashy free-agent signing, but he'll likely come at an affordable price despite still having the potential to be a strong player in the future.

    There shouldn't be much risk in Philadelphia signing McMillan, so it should take a chance on the young linebacker and hope he can make an impact at one of its positions of need.