Eagles' Early Report Card for Most Impactful Offseason Decisions

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMarch 22, 2021

Eagles' Early Report Card for Most Impactful Offseason Decisions

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    After making a major trade (in which they parted with quarterback Carson Wentz), the Philadelphia Eagles have since had a fairly quiet offseason. That was to be expected given the team's lack of cap space.

    Still, the Eagles have been making moves as they go through a period of transition. And when the team takes the field for the 2021 season opener (which will be new head coach Nick Sirianni's debut), the lineup will probably look a bit different than it did at the end of last year.

    While Philadelphia has addressed a few needs, it still has work to do this offseason. It's currently $12.17 million over the salary cap (according to Over the Cap), so some of those areas may need to be addressed during the 2021 NFL draft rather than free agency.

    Here's a look at the players who the Eagles have added during free agency so far, along with grades for several of their key early offseason decisions.

Free-Agent Additions

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    Alex Menendez/Associated Press

    S Anthony Harris: one year, $5 million

    S Andrew Adams: one year, $1.13 million

    Moves via ESPN's Tim McManus. Contract information via Spotrac.

Parting Ways with Wentz May Benefit Both Sides

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Carson Wentz was a solid starting quarterback early in his career, and he may be again in the future. But it became evident in 2020 that it may not have been a good fit for him in Philadelphia, as he passed for 2,620 yards, 16 touchdowns and an NFL-high 15 interceptions in 12 games last season.

    The Eagles sent him to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2021 third-round draft pick and a conditional 2022 second-round draft pick. And if Philadelphia wasn't planning on starting him moving forward, it's good that it got some value in return. Plus, it got rid of Wentz's large contract (he's set to make $128 million over the next four seasons).

    Meanwhile, the Eagles can fully commit to Jalen Hurts as their starting quarterback as the 22-year-old heads into his second NFL season. He flashed his potential at times last season, and if Philadelphia can start to put a better offense around him, it could be moving in the right direction for the future.

    Wentz could return to his early-career form, but that seems more likely with the Colts, where he's reunited with Frank Reich, the former offensive coordinator in Philadelphia who is Indianapolis' head coach. This trade could end up being the right move for both sides, and for the Eagles, it allows them to fully begin a new chapter on offense and start to construct a roster that can help them return to contention.

    Grade: B+

Harris Could Provide Big Boost to Secondary

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    The Eagles lost a starting safety last week when Jalen Mills signed with the New England Patriots, but it didn't take long for them to find a new player for their secondary. Philadelphia signed Anthony Harris, who has developed into a strong player in recent years with the Minnesota Vikings.

    After spending the early years of his NFL career in a reserve role, the 29-year-old Harris has started 30 games over the past two seasons. He had six interceptions in 2019, tied for the most in the league, and he had a career-high 104 tackles while playing every game last year.

    It was wise for the Eagles to sign Harris to a one-year, $5 million deal. If it turns out he's regressing after having no interceptions last season, Philadelphia can go in a different direction in 2022. But if Harris has a strong season and becomes a leader in the Eagles secondary, they could potentially work out a new deal to bring him back next offseason.

    Because of its financial situation, this is likely to be Philadelphia's biggest free-agent move of the offseason. And it appears to be a good one that has the potential to be great. It all depends on how Harris fits in on the Eagles defense, which will be led by defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who coached Harris from 2015-17 when he was the Vikings' assistant defensive backs coach.

    Grade: A

Graham Still Has More to Offer Defense

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    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    Brandon Graham has spent his first 11 seasons in Philadelphia, and his time there won't be over after the 2021 season. The Eagles signed the soon-to-be 33-year-old to a contract extension that will pay him $20 million over the next two seasons, per ESPN's Tim McManus, adding a year to his deal.

    Graham was originally set to make $13 million in 2021, so this decision helped Philadelphia clear some cap space. And that was one of the team's primary objectives heading into the offseason, which it has been successful in doing.

    This move also helps the Eagles defense in the short term, as Graham is still playing at a high level. The defensive end was selected to his first Pro Bowl last season, recording 46 tackles and eight sacks in 16 games. Graham also brings reliability, as he's played all but one game over the past nine seasons.

    There's some risk involved, as it's possible Graham could start to regress at some point in the near future. However, the Eagles not only saved some cap space, they may have also guaranteed that one of their best defensive players will get to end his career having only played for one team. So it was a solid move all around.

    Grade: B