Ranking the Eagles’ Potential Free Agents
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Things move fast in the NFL and while 12 teams will begin pursuit of the game's ultimate prize on Monday, 20 others, including the Philadelphia Eagles, have turned their attention toward 2016.
The first order of business at One NovaCare Way is obviously the head coach and interim chief Pat Shurmur will get an opportunity to plead his case on Monday with the knowledge that the belle of this year's Coaching-Search Ball, Adam Gase, is scheduled to arrive in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
That doesn't mean you cant multitask, however, and the Eagles newly revamped personnel department is already hard at work trying to decide which potential free agents it wants back in the City of Brotherly Love next season.
Here's out take on who is most important:
1. - Sam Bradford, quarterback - With Chip Kelly gone, the need for a signal caller with more functional mobility evaporates and while Bradford is never going to live up to the promise of a former No. 1 overall pick, his accuracy in the second half of the season was impressive. A coach like Shurmur or Gase could better take advantage of Bradford's skill set and the veteran signal caller seemed to grow far more comfortable the further he got from his second ACL tear and would welcome a more traditional offensive setup.
2. - Vinny Curry, defensive end - If you thought it was strange that Jeffrey Lurie mentioned Curry by name at his press conference explaining Kelly's firing, think again. Roseman drafted and loves Curry as a player and believes he was jerked around by Chip and Bill Davis with the aborted move to outside linebacker. The fact that Curry fought through all the politics, the bad scheme and played lights out down the stretch did not go unnoticed and he's already been offered an extension.
3. Walter Thurmond, safety - Kelly gets killed for all his personnel foibles but to be fair, Thurmond was one that worked beautifilly on a one-year, make-good deal. The ex-cornerback flashed the ball skills the Eagles have been searching for and in today's era of NFL football his tackling deficiencies are not as pronounced.
4. Cedric Thornton, defensive end - Thornton is both serviceable and versatile in that he could probably handle the base left end in a 4-3 cheme as well as the five-technique in the 3-4. That makes him valuable to this organization although the veteran mentioned Monday that he would like to test the free agent waters and see what's out there.
5. Nolan Carroll, cornerback - Carroll was a solid starter on the outside before breaking his ankle on Thanksgiving Day at Detroit. With Eric Rowe on the ascent and Byron Maxwell locked in, Carroll may go looking elsewhere for an opportunity.
6. E.J. Biggers, cornerback - The undersized corner was a great presence in the locker room and scratched and clawed every time he was on the field. His lack of size makes him strictly a sub-package player but you could do a lot worse if he's your fifth or fifth option at the position.
7. Matt Tobin, offensive lineman - Tobin is a restricted free agent and has enough versatility to be a backup but this season has proven he's going to be exposed the more he plays. ProFootballFocus.com rated Tobin as the worst pass-protection guard since 2007 so the upside for him is likely a one-year deal at the veteran's minimum.
8. Seyi Ajirotutu, wide receiver/special teams - The one positive of the Kelly era no one should dispute was his strong emphasis on special teams play, something that is often a catch-22 with the limited game-day rosters in the NFL. A player like Ajirotutu isn't going to help you at WR, a position of limited strength for Philadelphia, so the new regime may deem him expendable.
9. Thad Lewis, quarterback - Lewis served as the team's scout-team QB for most of the season behind Bradford and Mark Sanchez. As a veteran guy with some experience playing, his fate is likely tied to the next staff and what kind of player they want in that role, a developmental type or a competent stop-gap.
10. Najee Goode, linebacker - A restricted free agent, the Eagles re-signed Goode after the season-ending pec injury to Jordan Hicks. He's a good special teams player but the numbers game looks bad for him, especially if the team moves back to a 4-3 base.
11. Steven Means, outside linebacker - The Eagles added Means late in the season when they released Miles Austin. He's an OLB/DE hybrid that fit the prototype for what Kelly and Bill Davis wanted to run. With that off the table, the restricted free agent may go untendered.
12. David Molk, center - An undersized backup Molk missed most of the season after tearing his biceps in September and his return isn't a high priority.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen