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Looking at 10 critical decisions the Eagles have to make originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
It’s never too soon to start thinking about some of the major decisions that will face the Eagles over the next seven or eight months.
Some of these decisions will be made this summer, some during the season, some not until the spring. But they’ll all have a significant impact on what the franchise looks like in the near future.
We’ve already spent a good chunk of the offseason talking about Jalen Hurts, so here’s a look at 10 other huge decisions facing the Eagles as 2022 training camp approaches:
What happens with Miles Sanders? You can’t argue Sanders’ ability. His 5.0 career rushing average is eighth-highest in NFL history among running backs (minimum 500 carries). The problem is injuries, and Sanders hasn’t been able to avoid them. Sanders’ rookie contract is up this year, and the Eagles need to figure out whether to offer him a new deal and how much that deal would be worth. It’s not easy to determine his value, since he’s been unavailable so much.
Our guess: I think the Eagles will be able to get Sanders on a fairly cheap short-term deal. Running backs don’t make much anyway, and as skilled as Sanders is, nobody is going to offer him a huge free agency deal until he proves he can stay healthy, and he understands that. I’d guess the Eagles sign Sanders early in the season as long as he has a healthy training camp and first few games. But if he’s looking for anything more than $4.5 million or maybe $5 million per year, it’s time to move on.
Is this it for Fletcher Cox?: Cox is playing on a one-year, $14 million deal as he goes into his 11th season with the Eagles. Cox is an all-time great Eagle — six Pro Bowls, one 1st Team All-Pro honor, 58 sacks as an interior lineman — and his decline has been slow but steady. It sure seems like a final year here for Cox, but it’s hard to say good-bye to an all-timer. That’s one of the reasons the Eagles overpaid for him for one more year.
Our guess: I just don’t see Cox being here beyond this season. How can the Eagles pay him next year? He won’t come cheap. Heck, they overpaid for him this year because he’s Fletcher Cox. It’s clear Milton Williams and Jordan Davis are the future at defensive tackle. Cox is a lock for the Eagles Hall of Fame and could one day find himself in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But looks like his Eagles career ends this year.
What’s up with Javon Hargrave?: It’s a little surprising the Eagles haven’t extended Hargrave yet. It’s possible he’s asking for too much, and the Eagles would rather start the youth movement next year with Williams and Davis than overpay for Hargrave. But he’s a really good player, and at 29 he should be in his prime for a couple more years. The Eagles have some intriguing young interior linemen, but they’re a better team with Hargrave.
Our guess: Assuming the Eagles let Cox go, they should be able to lock up Hargrave at fair market value. Williams and Davis will be on rookie deals for a while, so there's no reason they can’t work out a deal with Hargrave and still have a reasonably priced defensive tackle room. I’ll be surprised if he’s not back.
James Bradberry: The only reason the Eagles were even able to sign Bradberry is because the Giants didn’t release him until the middle of May, and by then nobody had any money left to give him the long-term deal he was looking for. So the Eagles got him for one year at $7.25 million, and that’s great, but the problem with these one-year deals is they’re one-year deals. Bradberry fills a huge need as a CB2 opposite Darius Slay, but what happens next?
Our guess: If Bradberry plays well, he’ll want to break the bank when he hits free agency in March. If he doesn’t play well, the Eagles won’t want him back anyway. At some point the Eagles are going to need to figure out a new deal for Slay, so the odds they’ll be able to keep both of them are not great. You’d love to keep Bradberry, but I think it’s more likely than not that he’s one-and-done.
Isaac Seumalo: He’s due to hit free agency after the season and the Eagles like Seumalo, but if he finally stays healthy, he’s going to probably be looking for in the range of $8 million per year, and the Eagles will have to ask themselves if he’s worth it. Seumalo is solid, but with his injury history I’m not sure the Eagles want to take on the massive cap responsibility it will likely take to keep Seumalo.
Our guess: This could wind up like a Rodney McLeod type of deal. Yeah, he’s a good player, but if you can find a guy who’s cheaper and almost as good, it might make sense to do it. Maybe that’ll be Sua Opeta (who’s also a free agent after this year) or Jack Driscoll. But Jeff Stoutland loves Seumalo, and Howie Roseman generally doesn’t go against Stout. I’m thinking he stays.
Kyzir White: Another defensive player the Eagles landed only because they were able to get him on a one-year deal. Like Bradberry, White is betting on himself and will be looking for a long-term big-money deal this offseason, and the Eagles will have to figure out how his value lines up with their needs.
Our guess: I’m thinking the Eagles will build their linebacker corps around Nakobe Dean, T.J. Edwards and Davion Taylor and let White go via free agency for a price they’re just not in position to pay. It’s one of those situations where the better White plays, the harder it will be for the Eagles to keep him.
Anthony Harris: Another defensive guy on a one-year deal, Harris returns for a second season with the Eagles after starting 14 games at safety last year. Harris did not play particularly well last year, but the Eagles brought him back instead of McLeod, who’s now with the Colts.
Our guess: Harris feels like a stopgap, a guy the Eagles brought back because he knows the defense, he’s durable and he’s got a comfort level with Jonathan Gannon after playing for him for three years in Minnesota. But if they have a chance to replace him, they won’t hesitate to do it. I’ll be shocked if he’s back next year, and with just $1 million guaranteed it’s not a lock that he’s even here this year. If Jaquiski Tartt has a big preseason it could render Harris expendable before the season even begins.
Should they trade Andre Dillard? What do you do with the 2019 first-round pick? He’s got some value as a backup left tackle, but he’s never shown any form at right tackle, and nobody wants a backup tackle who can only play one side. It’s just not smart use of a roster spot. Dillard is going into a contract year and would have a modest $2.18 million cap figure for a team that acquires him, which makes him even more attractive.
Our guess: I would expect the Eagles to get Dillard some work at right tackle in the preseason games to try to boost his value. If he holds his own, he becomes a lot more tradeable. And I still think that’s what happens. I expect the Eagles to unload Dillard for a mid-range pick or two this summer and go with Jack Driscoll, Le’Raven Clark or Brett Toth as backup two-way tackle.
Is this it for Brandon Graham? B.G. is going into his 13th season with the Eagles and coming off a serious injury. It’s hard to imagine the Eagles signing him to another deal, but Graham is a unique case, an all-time Eagle, and if he shows he’s as productive as he was the few years before the injury — when he had the three best seasons of his career — anything is possible.
Our guess: B.G. is 34 now and he’s won a Super Bowl, he’s made a Pro Bowl, he’s earned over $80 million, he’s become one of the most popular players in franchise history. I think this is it for Graham. I just can’t see him going to some other team and playing out the string in a new town for a few paychecks. I think he retires after the season and goes to work for the Eagles in some capacity that makes use of his personality and devotion to the team and the city. Can’t imagine a better ambassador for the franchise.
They can’t keep Jalen Reagor, can they? The decision facing the Eagles is unloading Reagor, getting him out of the building, ridding themselves of the headache of having a first-round disappointment who’s not playing, letting him start fresh somewhere, and taking on a $2.5 million cap hit OR keeping him around in case of emergency and hoping things click if he does get a chance to play.
Our guess: The cap hit if the Eagles release Reagor is significant but not catastrophic. Could go either way, but I just think with a receiver corps of DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal — along with whoever else emerges — there’s really no reason to keep Reagor around and waste a roster spot just to save some cap space. Nobody wants to release a first-round pick two years later, but I think the Eagles will.