Philadelphia Eagles 2017 Free Agents: Stay Or Go
Who should the Eagles keep?
The Eagles have nine players who are currently scheduled to be free agents when the new league year begins on March 9. Philadelphia’s front office must decide by then which players deserve to stick around. Here’s a look at the Eagles free agents and my take on which players should stay or go.
DT BENNIE LOGAN
The Eagles have a big decision to make on one Logan.
The 27-year-old defensive lineman has been a nice player on Philadelphia’s defense since being drafted in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Logan isn’t known for his pass rush abilities but he’s very good at stuffing the run. The Eagles’ defense suffered when Logan suffered an injury in Week 6 and missed 3.5 games. Fletcher Cox didn’t record a single sack while Logan was out.
3.5 games without Bennie Logan: 138.3 avg rush yards allowed
12.5 games with Bennie Logan: 93.8 average rush yards allowed
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 11, 2017
Logan is well-liked in the locker room and he does a lot of good work when it comes to charitable efforts. The organization seems to be high on him.
“Bennie fits in that group as a fiber guy, a guy that we drafted that has great character, leadership and is a really good player,” Roseman said in November. “We’d love to keep Bennie around.”
The question, of course, is whether Logan will be worth the price tag it takes to keep him. Over The Cap told Birds 24/7 they expect Logan’s market value to be in the “$5.75 million to $6.75 million range.” There’s concern, however, that Logan could price himself out of the Eagles’ range. Philadelphia already has a lot of money invested in the defensive line, especially after giving a $100 million to Cox last summer.
The feeling here is the Eagles should try to keep Logan. Make no mistake: the team shouldn’t just hand him a blank check. But he’s a good player and keeping him would keep in line with Roseman’s culture of rewarding home-grown talent. It would be frustrating for the Eagles to have extended the contract of Vinny Curry, who played 42% of the snaps in 2016, to only not be able to keep Logan.
Another reason to keep Logan is the fact that the Eagles have no suitable in-house replacements. Beau Allen is fine backup but he’s not an ideal full-time starter. Defensive tackle becomes a big need if the Eagles can’t keep Logan.
CB NOLAN CARROLL
Carroll is one of the “bandaid” players Howie Roseman referred to in his press conference following the conclusion of the regular season. The Eagles only brought back Carroll last offseason after letting him test the market. It would only make sense for Carroll to return in a similar situation this offseason. The Eagles don’t need to be in a rush to sign the 30-year-old corner.
OL STEFEN WISNIEWSKI
Shortly after signing with the Eagles last offseason, Wisniewski made it clear he was looking to test the market again in 2017. He’ll probably get the opportunity the wanted all along. Wis was a decent spot starter for the Eagles in six games. If his market dries up and he’s willing to return as a backup, the Eagles should have interest. But it seems like he wants an opportunity for more playing time than what will be available in Philadelphia. Wisniewski turns 28 in March. The Eagles should be looking to get the younger Isaac Seumalo more involved in the future.
LB STEPHEN TULLOCH
The Eagles only signed Tulloch after Joe Walker suffered a season-ending injury during a preseason game against the Steelers. Tulloch played 69 snaps on defense but didn’t play a single snap on special teams. There’s no need for the Eagles to bring the 32-year-old veteran back.
LB NAJEE GOODE
Goode, who turns 28 this summer, finished second on the Eagles in special teams tackles in 2016. He’s a good ST player who also serves as a versatile backup linebacker. The Eagles should be able to bring him back on a cheap deal.
DE Bryan Braman
Braman is really a special teams player only. One might figure the Eagles would have already re-signed him by now if they wanted to keep him around. The Eagles didn’t choose to extend Braman when they gave out new deals to key members of their special teams unit (Chris Maragos, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos). Philadelphia should let him test the market and consider bringing him back on a cheap deal.
RB KENJON BARNER (RESTRICTED)
Barner made the most of his limited touches in 2016. He finished the season with 129 rushing yards on 27 attempts (4.8 average) and two rushing touchdowns. He also had 42 receiving yards on five catches. Along with his offensive contributions, Barner filled in nicely at kick returner after Josh Huff was released. Barner averaged 30.7 yards on nine returns, including a long return of 61 yards. The Eagles should offer Barner the lowest restricted free agency tender and give him a shot to make the 2017 roster.
TE TREY BURTON (RESTRICTED)
The Eagles’ third string tight end played 29.2% of Philadelphia’s offensive snaps last season. He ended the 2016 campaign with 37 receptions for 327 yards and one touchdown. Burton finished fourth on the team in special teams tackles with five. He also forced a fumble and recovered one while playing on special teams.
The 25-year-old Burton is a nice role player to have around. He arguably has some of the most reliable hands on the team. That’s not saying much considering how bad the Eagles’ receivers are, but still.
The Eagles should look to give Burton the second-round restricted free agent tender. He’s deserving and it would make it easier on the team to keep him around. Other teams might try to make him offers if the Eagles give him the lowest tender.
DB JAYLEN WATKINS (EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS)
Watkins is an exclusive rights free agent which means he has to accept the minimum tender the Eagles offer him or else he can’t play for anyone else. Watkins had a nice summer showing in order to make the 2016 roster but he didn’t play great during the season. The Eagles should bring him back to compete for a depth safety job but he shouldn’t be guaranteed a roster spot. He’ll be competing for a backup job with Terrence Brooks and perhaps a rookie or two as well. Watkins will need another strong offseason to make the team in 2017.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles signed two players to reserve/futures deals, including an offensive lineman who was once on a division rival.
Is it possible that Bennie Logan could end up in Washington next season?
With Ryan Mathews‘ career in Philadelphia more than likely over and Darren Sproles retiring after next season, it’s time the Eagles begin to look for a new top running back.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The Eagles reportedly interviewed Bills wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal for the same position, from CSNPhilly.com’s Dave Zangaro.
With the Bills’ firing of Rex Ryan, their position coaches have uncertain futures.
A big problem with the Eagles’ receivers group — aside from an obvious lack of talent — is unfulfilled potential. The Eagles started the season with a first-round pick, two second-round picks and a third-round pick at the position. And the only player who had a good season was Jordan Matthews.
Nelson Agholor, the team’s first-round pick from 2015, was slightly better in his second season but wasn’t able to come near fulfilling his potential.
Lal should know something about unfulfilled potential. In 2009, his first season as the Raiders’ wide receivers coach, the team drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh-overall pick. In his first two seasons, Heyward-Bey had numbers worse than Agholor’s. But in his third season, and Lal’s last with the team, Heyward-Bey caught 64 passes for 975 yards and four touchdowns. It’s the best season he’s ever had in the NFL.
Former Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was named the new head coach of the Buffalo Bills, from John Wawrow of the Associated Press.
McDermott replaces Rex Ryan, who was fired two weeks ago. He becomes the team’s ninth head coach since 1999, when Buffalo last made the playoffs under Wade Phillips. The Bills went 7-9 this past season, extending the NFL’s longest active playoff drought to 17 years.
McDermott has 18 seasons of NFL experience, spending his first 12 years with the Philadelphia Eagles. He started as a scouting coordinator for two years, then mentored under late defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. He eventually succeeded Johnson in 2009.
He takes over a team in Buffalo that featured the NFL’s top running attack but an underperforming defense in two seasons under Ryan.
The Bills defense finished 19th in yards allowed two years straight, and was particularly porous against the run. Buffalo allowed 200-plus yards rushing to opposing running backs three times this season, including twice against Miami’s Jay Ajayi.
We’ll keep you updated on any Eagles news that happens.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.