Examining the Eagles’ UFAs
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Life moves fast in the NFL and the playoff autopsy will quickly turn into "Howie Season" in Philadelphia as the Eagles turn the page and start looking forward to the 2020 season.
Before free agency and the draft, there are in-house decisions to be made with 14 players set to become unrestricted free agents including accomplished veterans like Jason Peters, Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills, and Jordan Howard.
Here's the list of the Eagles free agents listed in order of importance.
COULD BE BACK:
LT Jason Peters (37) - Peters is still a top 10 left tackle in the NFL but the Eagles have the heir apparent in-house in Andre Dillard. A potential move inside to left guard could be an option if Jason Kelce calls it a career and Isaac Seumalo moves further inside to the pivot, perhaps the one path where Peters stays. Otherwise, Peters is starting elsewhere as a LT and likely outplaying Dillard.
CB Jalen Mills (25) - The Eagles badly need to remake the outside corner positions but Mills is the one option Jim Schwartz trusts and if the defensive coordinator doesn't get the big chair in Cleveland he will push for Mills' return. The LSU product is also going to get more deference from Schwartz than anywhere else so Mills would be wise to want a new deal in Philadelphia.
FS Rodney McLeod (29) - McLeod returned from a nasty knee injury in 2018 and gave Schwartz a credible, reliable option to play center field. The two sides danced around a potential extension in-season but nothing got all that close, according to an NFL source. When you play as much single-high as Schwartz likes to do it would be nice to get someone with more range than McLeod but that's easier said than done.
DT Timmy Jernigan (27) - Jernigan has fought through injuries the past two seasons, most notably the herniated disc that threatened his career in 2018. When on the field he's still productive and would be a great third DT behind Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson but any deal would have to be cost-effective so a lot will depend on how much interest Jernigan gets elsewhere.
QB Nate Sudfeld (26) - The Eagles haven't trusted Sudfeld to be the backup to this point and Nate is certainly aware of that so he will look at all his options. If nothing is out there his Nick Foles/Josh McCown internship might land him as a low-cost backup to the suddenly pricey Carson Wentz with Kyle Lauletta taking over as the third QB.
DL Vinny Curry (31) - Curry had a solid second half to the season and could still serve as a valuable rotational player on the defensive line on a cost-effective deal. If someone wants to overpay an over-30 DE, however, the second Curry era will end.
DT Hassan Ridgeway (25) - Ridgeway could be a younger and cheaper option for the third DT spot than Jernigan. The Eagles traded a seventh-round pick for Ridgeway during last year’s draft and he showed some promise before going down with a foot injury.
TE Richard Rodgers (27) - The Eagles like Rodgers as a backup tight end and he knows the system but he's been injury-prone and forget about Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert he's now behind Josh Perkins on the pecking order as well so Rodgers will likely look for another job with the competition isn't as daunting. Another one-year deal for the veteran minimum could be in play after Rodgers can't get more elsewhere.
DESTINED TO LEAVE:
RB Jordan Howard (25) - Howard is a starting-level back in this league when healthy and someone is going to get a bargain. The Eagles would like him back as a complement to Miles Sanders, who seized the job over the final eight games after Howard went down with a shoulder/stinger issue. With Boston Scott also emerging as a third-down option, Howard is a luxury Philadelphia probably will not be able to afford.
OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai (26) - Vaitai is almost assuredly gone. The versatile veteran played his way into a starter's job in a league with a dearth of competent offensive linemen. He can play either tackle spot and inside as well as inside so he should have no shortage of suitors.
QB Josh McCown (40) - McCown left it all out on the field during his playoff opportunity and was a wonderful influence in both the locker room and the QB room with some calling him the adult in the mix considering the peer dynamic of Wentz and Press Taylor. It's time for the next step, though, and for McCown that's not only coaching his kids in high school, it means a future in the NFL as a coach.
LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (25) - An injury-plagued season that started with a sprained MCL after a strong start to training camp and a ended with a back injury that had his agent at least somewhat at odds with the organization allowed Nate Gerry to lap Grugier-Hill as the movement LB opposite Nigel Bradham. Add in the concussion issue where Grugier-Hill hid the symptoms and it's pretty evident that KGH will be located elsewhere in 2020.
CB Ronald Darby (26) - Darby never lived up to his talent level in Philadelphia and was injury prone, losing significant time in all three years in town to a dislocated ankle, a torn ACL, and finally a hip-flexor injury. Darby is still young but will likely have to settle for a second consecutive one-year, prove-it deal, one that will likely be elsewhere.
WR Nelson Agholor (26) - A troublesome knee injury that may or may not require surgery over the next two weeks essentially ended Agholor's run in Philadelphia as a failed former first-round pick, save for a decent season in 2017 and a solid Super Bowl performance that season. A change of scenery and getting away from a difficult market will only help Agholor.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen