Eagles Free Agency: Chemistry is Just as Important as Adding Talent
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles didn't waste any time on Monday when the NFL's legal tampering period opened, picking up a pair of Jacksons in somewhat splashy moves.
Howie Roseman burst out of the blocks by signing former Jacksonville Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson, who was part of the purge on the First Coast in order to create room for Nick Foles. Later the city erupted when Roseman undid yet another Chip Kelly wrong by bringing back DeSean Jackson from exile.
The moves were both adept by filling obvious needs at the three-technique and speed receiver and intellectual by ensuring the talent added will not count against the compensatory-pick formula and the potential third-round pick the Eagles should get in 2020 by losing Foles to the bag with the Jags.
Other maneuverings saw the Eagles bypassing on their option with veteran offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, a fait accompli dating back to when Wiz questioned if his benching had to do with more than just performance, and the team extending a significant second-round tender on restricted free agent quarterback Nate Sudfeld, confirmation that Philadelphia expects Sudfeld to at least compete for the backup job with a potential veteran signing as Doug Pederson intimated at the scoring combine.
Maybe the most surprising news of all, however, was the Philly.com report which claimed the Eagles plan to not only bring back Nelson Agholor but likely on his fifth-year option of just under $9.4 million, meaning three receivers making significant money -- Agholor, Jackson and Alshon Jeffery -- are earmarked for a roster that also includes Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz and emerging second-year standout Dallas Goedert.
The traffic in Pederson's offense is already built in for Ertz, Jeffery and presumably DeSean but the volley between 11 personnel [Pederson's preference] and 12 will spawn questions about the use or lack thereof of either Agholor or Goedert unless the Eagles change their mind of Agholor in the final hours before the new league year starts on Wednesday.
On paper, the glut is an embarrassment of riches but one that will require chemistry to be built in the offseason and through training camp. Goedert isn't in a position to complain about playing time this early in his career so none of the potential landmines are likely to stem from that but there is a concern that you could fall into the trap of not playing your best players in order to serve personnel preference, the more established resume, and the higher-paid player.
In a league where talent is king the Eagles have a coach who both understands that and has proven adept at managing personalities. Potholes lie ahead, though, and that's why winning in March has never been a clear indicator of who will be standing tall 11 months from now in Miami.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen