Eagles mailbag: Picking 2 free agents for the Birds

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Eagles mailbag: Picking 2 free agents for the Birds originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Well, that was a fantastic weekend of football. Hope everyone got to enjoy it.

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 of the mailbag, I answered questions about Jordan Mailata, the future of the OL, possible trade candidates and more.

But we got enough question for a Part 3. Here it is:

This is fun. I’ll go with two positions where I think the Eagles might very well turn to free agency instead of the draft to fill their needs.

Offense: WR Mike Williams. The Eagles are looking for the right complement for DeVonta Smith and Williams (6-4, 220) might be it. The former No. 7 overall pick is coming off his best NFL season in 2021; he had 76/1,146/9 with the Chargers this season. Williams is huge but is also a great deep threat, averaging 16.1 yards per catch during his career, including 20.4 back in 2019. And he already knows Nick Sirianni from the 2017 season, Williams’ first in the NFL and Sirianni’s last with the Chargers as their receivers coach.

Defense: S Marcus Williams. I promise I didn’t do the Williams x2 thing on purpose. But safety is a position where the Eagles will need to fill with Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris hitting free agency too. Maybe McLeod will be back but either way, they need to bring someone in. I was tempted to put Tyrann Mathieu in this spot just because I love to watch him play; but ultimately I went with the 25-year-old who already has five NFL seasons under his belt. Williams played on the franchise tag in New Orleans in 2021 so the Saints will try to re-sign him. But the Eagles should keep an eye on him too.

It is definitely on the table because there is still a pretty clear need at the receiver position. The Eagles need a WR2 opposite DeVonta Smith and it has become pretty clear that Jalen Reagor isn’t it. The Eagles would be better off first signing a receiver in free agency. There’s nothing wrong with having young players at a position but adding a veteran in the receivers room could help too. And the Eagles might be better served using those first-round picks on the other side of the football.

I’m guessing you’re talking about the financial side of things. The Eagles can cut J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and save about $1 million in cap space. The Reagor one is tricky as he enters the third year on his rookie contract as a first-round pick. Cutting him would leave the Eagles with a significantly bigger cap hit than having him on the roster in 2022. They’d be left with a dead cap figure of $7.8 million in 2022 if they cut him; that’s tough to swallow.

So if I had to guess, I think Reagor will be back in 2021 and JJAW will be gone unless he has a tremendous training camp and makes the team on merit. But for the record, Reagor deserves to be gone too.

We got several questions about Miles Sanders in this mailbag. In 2022, he enters the season with a $1.7 million cap figure on the fourth year of his rookie contract. Not sure I understand the rush to get rid of him. Sure, Sanders has struggled to stay healthy in his NFL career and that’s a concern. But he also averaged 5.5 yards per carry this season and has averaged 5.1 yards per carry in his career. He hasn’t blossomed into a Pro Bowl player but he’s pretty good and is their best option in 2022 unless they draft someone in an early round.

Maybe Sanders can’t stay healthy this season and the Eagles simply let him walk after this year. But I also think there’s a chance that if he gets off to a fast start in his fourth season the Eagles could offer him a modest contract extension.

Nope! Even well after his Achilles tear, Graham stayed around the building and was very much part of the team. In the end-of-the-year press conference, GM Howie Roseman said Graham was in their plans going into 2022. Now, expectations should be tempered. Graham will be 34 in April and is coming off a serious injury — the Eagles still need to upgrade at the DE spot — but we’ll get the chance to see what he has left.

For those who don’t know who Jordan Palmer is, he’s the younger brother of Carson, a former sixth-round pick and now he’s a QB coaching guru of sorts. He’s worked with some big-time QBs in the league, including Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and more. Don’t know if Jalen Hurts will be going to Palmer, but we know Hurts worked out with another QB expert, Quincy Avery, before the 2021 season. If some of Hurts’ improvement in 2021 can be traced back to Avery, then they ought to work together again this offseason.

If Reagor can turn his career around and it just takes a pair of Rec Specs, I’m in.

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