Shutdown Corner Offseason Blueprints: Philadelphia Eagles

Eric Edholm
February 28, 2014

After the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII, all 32 teams officially entered the offseason and started plotting how they could position themselves for a shot at Super Bowl XLIX. Shutdown Corner will look at the offseason blueprint for each of the 32 NFL teams, presenting one team a day (using the 2014 draft order, starting with the Houston Texans and finishing with the Seahawks), leading you right up to the start of free agency on March 11.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

2013 record: 10-6

Projected current salary-cap space (according to OverTheCap.com): $26.2 million under the cap

Key free agents: QB Michael Vick, WR Jeremy Maclin, S Nate Allen, S Colt Anderson, P Donnie Jones.

Possible salary-cap casualties: LB DeMeco Ryans, WR Jason Avant, CB Cary Williams, FB James Casey, WR-KR Brad Smith.

Draft situation: The Eagles will draft 22nd in the first round. They traded Isaac Sopoaga and their sixth-round pick for the New England Patriots' fifth-round pick.

Revisiting 2013: The excitement over the Chip Kelly hiring and the curiosity of what he might bring to the Eagles was as high for any new head coach in several season. The opening-night product (for the first three quarters at minimum) was even more than fans could have hoped for, as dreams of endless snap totals and a neck-breaking offense tickled their dreams. That soon came crashing down in the seven games that followed, as the Eagles limped to 3-5 — unsure who their quarterback should be and relying on a patchwork defense. Enter Nick Foles. The second-year QB wasn't thought to be an idea fit in Kelly's offense, but he took care of the ball, made clutch throws and assimilated exceptionally well — even earning a Pro Bowl bid in the process — during a stunning 7-1 finish to win the NFC East. The one-and-done postseason loss to the New Orleans Saints was disappointing, but considering where the Eagles came from (a 4-12 season in 2012, with no clear picture at quarterback) it was a worthy accomplishment.

Reasons for optimism: The offense could co supersonic this season in Kelly's second year. Foles is in place with a great supporting cast that includes LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper (and maybe Maclin, who appears close to returning), a few good tight ends and an offensive line that is strong across the board and signed up through 2016 now. Defensively, there are holes for sure, and a few salary-cap cuts could cause a little more bloodletting. But Fletcher Cox and Trent Cole are strong rushers, Mychal Kendricks appears to be ascending and there are a few serviceable corners to keep around.

Glaring hole to fill: The middle of the 3-4 defense needs patching, but so do the edges. Cox is strong at one defensive tackle spot, and Bennie Logan has upside, but the Eagles could use a big body up front to absorb blocks and clog running lanes. They also need to help out Cole with a bookend end rusher. If Ryans is released, the inside would be pretty bare; the Eagles would love to land a younger thumper in the middle even if Ryans is spared. It's likely that the team will be starting two new safeties come Opening Day, and it's a safe bet that reinforcements will come via free agency and the draft. Williams didn't stack up to his salary in Year 1 and could use some pushing at outside corner (if he's not cut, that is).

Toughest decision: The immediate question is with Maclin, and whether he could return on a one-year deal (Maclin's preference) or a longer-term contract (the team's preference). Why would a player prefer a short-term arrangement? For Maclin, who is still only 25, he really hasn't had a chance to prove himself in Kelly's offense after tearing his ACL last summer and would love to hit the market again with an opportunity to truly cash in. Naturally, the team wants to keep him because it believes in his talent — but doing so at a cheaper rate makes more sense for them. Chances are, this gets rectified in short order as both sides want a reunion, even if Maclin could get more money on the open market from a desperate team such as the New York Jets. Longer term, the status of defensive coordinator Bill Davis might be something to keep an eye on, but that's nothing immediately pressing.

Best-case offseason scenario: Once GM Howie Roseman finishes taking care of his free-agents-to-be, the team can find some defensive help in free agency — and they will be active. This is a team that has carte blanche to solve needs, and it could add 2-3 starters or key contributors in free agency. Then it's onto the draft, where the team can fill in the missing pieces from there. Again, they'll look to be aggressive. The division-foe Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants pick in the 10 spots ahead of them, and they both need defense, too, so it wouldn't be shocking to see the Eagles try to move ahead of them at some point to get that safety or edge rusher of their liking. Another wide receiver might be nice, too, plus some offensive line depth, but otherwise that side of the ball is in great shape.

Previous Blueprints: 32. Houston Texans; 31. Washington Redskins; 30. Jacksonville Jaguars; 29. Cleveland Browns; 28. Oakland Raiders; 27. Atlanta Falcons; 26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 25. Minnesota Vikings; 24. Buffalo Bills; 23. Detroit Lions; 22. Tennessee Titans; 21. New York Giants; 20. St. Louis Rams; 19. Chicago Bears; 18. Pittsburgh Steelers; 17. Dallas Cowboys; 16. Baltimore Ravens; 15. New York Jets; 14. Miami Dolphins; 13. Arizona Cardinals; 12. Green Bay Packers

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!