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Stay or Leave: Early look at Eagles’ 2014 free agents

Jan 6, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

While it came too early this year—as it does too often around these parts—the offseason is one of the best things about the NFL. Organizations construct their rosters through free agency and the draft, and we get to play along as fantasy general managers, dissecting each decision along the way.

As always, we’ll be examining each position and several players on their own in-depth as we dig in for a long winter. First thing’s first though, and that is the Philadelphia Eagles will have decisions to make on some of their own free agents before they start signing players away from other teams.

For this preliminary look ahead, we simply asked which Birds free agents will be back next season

source:  Nate Allen

Went from looking like a surefire bust to the Eagles’ most-improved player. Took his lumps early in the season, but wound up being a rock at safety in the end. Still wasn’t much of a playmaker, recording one sack, one forced fumble and one interception in 16 games.

At 26, the question is whether what we saw was Allen’s ceiling. If it is, you could do worse back there, but it’s a deep free-agent class at safety if the front office is willing to invest. Somebody will probably make him a starter again, it just shouldn’t necessarily be the Birds. Leave

Colt Anderson

The Eagles only have two safeties under contract heading into 2014 (and one of them is Patrick Chung), so they should probably re-sign somebody for some continuity. Colt has the least ability of the impending free agents. He does have a reputation as a strong special teams player, but he’s a liability on defense. Leave

Kurt Coleman

A two-year starter at safety, I’d be more comfortable with Coleman back there than Anderson in a pinch. Plus, according to metrics site Pro Football Focus, Coleman actually had a better season on special teams. As reserves go, the Eagles could do worse. Stay

Clifton Geathers

Was part of the rotation along the defensive line this year, but he had minimal impact. At 6’8”, 340 pounds, his build is almost too awkward for the NFL. It’s too easy for offensive linemen to get under Geathers’ pads. Can’t see him ever improving. Leave

Phillip Hunt (restricted)

One of the defensive ends attempting to make the transition to outside linebacker in the Eagles 3-4, Hunt missed all of 2013 with a torn ACL suffered at training camp. I would expect the team to tender him, but he’s a long shot to make the roster, so maybe they give him a shot to catch on somewhere else. Whether he’s back in camp this summer or not, his days are likely numbered. Leave

Donnie Jones

Has anybody ever used the franchise tag on a punter before? I’m not joking. Jones won the Eagles some games with that fine left leg of his, putting 33 punts inside the opposition’s 20-yard line in 2013—a franchise record. Arguably the club’s most important free agent. Stay

source:  Jeremy Maclin

Imagine how much better the Eagles’ offense would’ve been with a healthy Jeremy Maclin to take pressure off of DeSean Jackson. Riley Cooper picked up some of the slack in the wake of Maclin’s torn ACL, but let’s not forget we’re talking about a wide receiver who was widely considered a top-10 talent back in the ‘09 draft.

Maclin has never quite reached the proverbial next level, posting career highs of 70 receptions, 964 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2010. Then again, we just saw Jackson and LeSean McCoy reach new highs under Chip Kelly, and at 26 years old, Maclin could do the same. Philadelphia can possibly retain him on a two-year “prove it” deal. Stay

Riley Cooper

Was useless for the first five weeks of the season, catching all of eight passes. Over the next five games, he posted all three of his 100-yard performance and hauled in six of his eight touchdowns. Down the stretch, he was ordinary at best.

The 2010 fifth-round pick exceeded most people’s expectations by becoming a competent No. 2 receiver in Maclin’s absence. You could see Cooper has a rapport with Nick Foles, and is a willing blocker which is vital in Chip Kelly’s scheme. Somebody is going to throw a lot of money and years at a 26-year-old wide receiver that stands 6’3” and just posted an 800-yard/eight-touchdown season, but he’s too feast or famine for my taste. Leave

Cedric Thornton (exclusive rights)

Exclusive rights basically equates to a restricted free agent, only better. As long as the Eagles tender him, they own his rights in 2014. According to Pro Football Focus, Thornton was one of the top run defenders in the league this season. He’s completely one-dimensional, but very good at that dimension. Stay

source:

Michael Vick

Vick’s future is really out of his hands. He’d like to start, but there might be just a few organizations left that will consider a 34-year-old signal-caller with two career playoff wins.

If the Eagles are serious about winning a Super Bowl in the next year or two though, having a veteran backup around would be wise, and Vick is clearly the best option. He knows the offense and is great in the locker room. Plus, No. 7 might be at his most dangerous when he’s coming off the bench against a team that wasn’t preparing for him. Would love to see him back for another year. Stay

  1. Jason R. - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    Think someone might use Vick as the bridge for their franchise QB they draft in 2014? I know everyone expects their first round QB to be Cam Newton as a rookie, but he’s the outlier. I guess it’s because of McNabb’s success, but Andy’s strategy of feeding Doug Pederson to the wolves in lieu of McNabb appears to have benefitted him. Maybe McNabb was just special and could’ve been a stud from the first snap, but guys that get thrown in with all the bright lights and expectations, usually on bad teams ala David Carr and Brandon Wheedon, seem to crumble or turn into whiny, pampered RG3.

    Reply
    • Andrew Kulp - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      Someone might, but does Vick really want to be somebody’s bridge? What if he gets there and the head coach decides the QB is ready Week 1, or midway through the season? Vick is definitely going to have opportunities to play somewhere, but they’re not all necessarily good opportunities. If he’s just going to end up a backup somewhere, why not just stay here?

      Reply
      • Jason R. - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        Good point. What about competing for a starting job though? Maybe in New York, Minnesota, Oakland, or Cleveland (just off the top of my head), somewhere they haven’t drafted “The Guy” or “The Guy” kinda sucks?

      • Andrew Kulp - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:28 PM

        I don’t see why a bad team that has no hope of going anywhere would sign Vick. Most of those teams are better off with whatever crappy QB they have and taking the high draft pick rather than shell out millions of dollars for 2-3 more wins.

        And aside from Minny, why would he want to go any of those places? I know he said he wants to start, but does he want to start so badly that he’d go to Oakland where he’ll win eight games at best and taking a beating in the process?

      • Jason R. - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:30 PM

        Money?

  2. Franchise - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    I think Vick goes to Minnesota

    Reply
    • Andrew Kulp - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      It’s the one place that I think would be a really great fit (well, as great as having Vick as your starter can be) because there is a lot of dynamic talent on that offense.

      Reply
      • 2sentz - Jan 6, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        Plus every aging Philly QB must go thru Minn, league rules.

    • nyphilsphan - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:37 AM

      The ” Jackson Contract Demand Situation” is a a non-story designed to provoke a large portion of the fan base who irrationally hates one of the best Eagles WRs of all time.

      The question he was asked was a total lead. I don’t understand how some people are so mindless as to immediately react to an article on Philly.com like they’ve been some paragon of journalistic integrity for the past 5 years..,

      A rework of his deal benefits both parties- less of a cap hit for the Birds, and security for DeSean. You may not like him, but he’s just being reasonable here in answering a question about reworking his deal

      Contracts in sports aren’t like the contracts signed by people like us. It’s fluid and it has been for 20 years. Wake up

      Reply
      • Andrew Kulp - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        Eh, I agree people are probably getting worked up over nothing, since DeSean was directly asked about this and he added he wasn’t going to be a distraction. However, I do not necessarily agree reworking the contract right now is beneficial to the Eagles. They don’t really need to reduce the cap hit right now because that’s not even close to being an issue for them, and particularly not if it means giving him more years/money when he’s two years into a five-year deal. Personally, I wouldn’t do a thing to his contract until next year, and he would like it.

      • Edward Louka - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:33 AM

        100% CORRECT!!! I’m not even the biggest Jackson fan, but the dopey Philly fans fell for this one hook, line and sinker! They may be the most passionate fans, but Philly fans have always been easily the DUMBEST FANS IN THE NATION, NO DEBATE!!!

  3. jim wilson - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    Jackson…Leave
    There guy is already telegraphing problems if he doesn’t get a new contract. Won’t go over the middle and struggles in press coverage. Trade em !

    Reply
    • wil - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      because everyone wants their 5’10, 175 pound deep threat wr going over the middle.

      Reply
      • dubeedubeedu - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:30 PM

        Maybe not but we should be able to expect him to run out the play to completion. To many times I’ve watched him get a little pressure or contact on a route and he slows down throwing up his hands rather than trying to get open. If the play isn’t to his side he can be seen standing by watching rather than working. This guy has already taken a year off while under contract. Now we’re supposed to watch him undermine what continuity Kelly has built up going forward? Let him go and save the team, he’s just going to bring it down. Keep Cooper, as Jay D says his 5 week famine was force fed by Vick, who can also be sent packing.

      • will - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:37 PM

        and cooper’s last 6 games?

      • jim wilson - Jan 6, 2014 at 5:02 PM

        5’10″ 175 you said it.
        Little guy with a big mouth.

      • will - Jan 6, 2014 at 6:05 PM

        let’s replace him with avant. he’s big, goes over the middle, and keeps his mouth shut for the most part. shouldn’t see any drop in production from the number 1 wr spot.

      • brandonphilly - Jan 7, 2014 at 6:39 AM

        dubee,

        If Kelly can handle that Cooper situation, he can handle this Jackson contract-demand situation.

  4. Jacc - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    Get rid of Jackson. Whatever it takes to trade him, do it. Even if we get nothing in return, he’s the last true thorn on this team now that Nick has taken over at QB. LEAVE DJACC! We don’t want your cancer in the locker room.

    Reply
    • will - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      get rid of the team’s 2nd best skill position player who just posted the best season of his career. honestly, some of this fan base is amazingly stupid at times.

      Reply
  5. Jay D - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    Cooper was silent for first 5 weeks…. Vick was QB

    I think that is gonna be a tough one for eagles…Maclin and Cooper

    Reply
  6. David - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    I think Patrick Chung might find out very soon that he’s a free agent after all.

    Reply
  7. jtripper - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:14 PM

    Enough with keeping Vick. If he was so dangerous about coming in when other teams weren’t expecting him, don’t you think Kelly would’ve gotten him into a game or two?– even if it was just for a play. Vick is clearly the best option as a back-up QB? Really? Clearly? Just because he spent one year in the system doesn’t make him CLEARLY the best option.

    And I love reading how everyone assumes Maclin will just jump right in– as if he missed the season with a slight head cold. You never know how the guy will come back.

    I like reading your stuff, Andrew, but go back and read your “Saints/Eagles- 4 stats that matter” entry. Yikes!- 0 for 4 and couldn’t have missed by more if you tried.

    Reply
    • Andrew Kulp - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Why would they work Vick into a game? He’s still a backup quarterback. You don’t bring him in for one or two snaps or a series. He plays if the starter gets hurt. That’s the job.

      And yes, he is clearly the best option. Go look at a list of free agent quarterbacks, then get back to me.

      Reply
      • jtripper - Jan 6, 2014 at 4:25 PM

        What did Vick do in Kelly’s system that makes him so appealing as the back-up? Oh wait, it must be the 55% completion percentage or the fact that he gets hurt every other game. I don’t get why people are so fascinated with Vick. And yeah, I know the list of Free Agent QBs and who knows what kind of money these guys are looking for so if I said a guy (such as McCown), you’d probably come back with how much money he would take to sign, etc…

        And I agree– you don’t use your back-up to come in for a play or two (stupid) but I’m not the one that said he’d be at his most dangerous when teams aren’t expecting him. If you believe that then why wouldn’t you stick him in when teams aren’t prepared for him?- whether it be for 1 play or 2 plays. He needs to go. He’s been great with the whole Foles transition and now it’s time to let him go.

  8. reasonablemindsays - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    Are you kidding? You want Nate Allen and Riley Cooper to leave? Both were big reasons for our success this year. Coop was our best receiver in the red zone and one of the main reasons that Foles was so efficient. Allen was the main reason for why our defense rarely gave up big plays down the field compared to last year.

    Also, I disagree with Colt Anderson. He should stay as well. He’s consistently been our best special teams player. I think you’re just down on both Anderson and Cooper from the Saints game where they both had big screw ups. But one game shouldn’t influence a major decision.

    Reply
    • Andrew Kulp - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      I’m not down on Riley Cooper at all, I think this fan base severely overrates him. Look at the game logs. He basically had three good games. He’s going to get paid and a 4-5 year deal. I don’t necessarily want him gone, just looking at the reality of the situation that he’s probably not worth the contract he’s going to get.

      Same with Nate Allen. Yes, Allen did a good job, but if this was his ceiling, there are much better safeties that can be had on the free-agent market this year. If they bring him back, so be it, but I would question why they wouldn’t upgrade if they have the chance.

      Reply
      • reasonablemindsays - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:50 PM

        Appreciate the response. It’s cool to have a writer who has discussions with the commenters.

        Looking at Coopers stats, I agree that he’s overrated in that sense. He’s had two big games against crappy opponents where 5 of his 8 TDs came against. Other than that he hasn’t had many big games. But watching him play and seeing him make bad throws by Foles into completions and his blocking down the field makes me see him as a valuable guy to have. He’s had some really clutch catches for us this season that have won us games. I doubt he gets any big offers so I would think it would be easy to keep him.

        I also agree that Allen is a guy who is not great and may be at his prime, but at the same time you can’t get greedy. He’s a solid player to have and if we let him go, we are stuck with really bad safeties in Chung and Coleman. My optimal offseason would be re-signing Allen and then signing Jairus Byrd to a contract.

      • Andrew Kulp - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        I could be way off, but I think if Cooper hits the market, the deal he gets from another team will surprise people enough that fewer people would be sorry to see him go. He was third in YPC, 6th in REC over of 40+, t-16th in TD, and 38th in YDS, and you almost always overpay when you sign a free agent.

        I agree that it would be nice to sign a Jairus Byrd and still hang on to Nate Allen, but I think Allen is going to want assurances he’ll start. With Earl Wolff also in the mix and perhaps another draft pick, he’s not going to get that here if the Eagles sign another safety.

      • Craig - Jan 6, 2014 at 5:09 PM

        I think what you are saying (and I would agree with you) is that Cooper is a good WR, but not good enough to get paid what some other team may drop on him in the open market. I wonder how much the controversy he had in the pre-season is going to hurt his marketability?

      • mehhhhh1 - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        I don’t get why people say stuff like “Cooper had 3 good games.” When you pass him the ball, he catches it. When you don’t pass him the ball, “he has a bad game”. Avant has 1 catch every 2 games. Not sure why people don’t say to look at his game logs…

      • Andrew Kulp - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        No one is looking as Avant’s game logs because he’s not up for a big contract extension, not to mention he’s on the roster bubble anyway. Nobody is trying to convince you Avant needs to be here next year.

        As for Cooper, people (me) are saying he had three good games because that’s what he had. This idea that he only has bad games because the QB isn’t throwing him the ball is ridiculous. He’s not open all the time because he’s simply not that talented. Did we forget he was a fifth-round pick who only got to play because the team had no one else? Yes, Cooper did an adequate job this year, and Eagles fans should be grateful, but he’s replaceable.

      • mehhhhh1 - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:48 PM

        My reference to Avant wasn’t to be restricted to this free agent discussion. All Philly radio personalities constantly blast Cooper when he has the ability to be much more effective than Avant.

        How can someone who supposedly “simply isn’t that talented” have 3 great games once a new QB comes in and gets comfortable? You believe it’s a fluke.

      • Andrew Kulp - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:46 PM

        I’m not “blasting” Riley, and fluke is probably a strong word, but three of his touchdowns were against the Raiders.

        All I’m saying is he’s got limited talent and there’s really no need to keep him around at an inflated price. I have a story coming on the topic tomorrow so I’m going to leave it at that for now. If you still disagree then, feel free to call me an idiot.

  9. Lol - Jan 6, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    I’m fine keeping Maclin if they give him #3 receiver money.

    I’m on the fence with Cooper. At least he’s bigger than our other 5 foot nothing receivers.

    Reply
    • willh888 - Jan 6, 2014 at 4:31 PM

      I don’t know if they should treat the guy like an amputee. He’s a pretty good receiver coming of a devastating yet common injury in the nfl. All that rehab he might even be stronger. Check out Peters after he drove his scooter like an excitebike and tore the achillies a 2nd time. He’s just as good if not better. Maclin can probably still play so at least offer him something a bit more reasonable than number 3 money. My guess is most teams would be willing to take a chance on him

      Reply
      • BenE. - Jan 6, 2014 at 11:42 PM

        This. Like pitchers coming back from the dreaded ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, all the rehab on the ACL tends to make one stronger.

        Don’t lowball Maclin, but keep it reasonable. I agree with the commenter who suggested giving Maclin a respectable two-year deal during which he can earn a payday when he’s 28 years old. Hell, make it three years if he won’t budge off it.

    • Lol - Jan 7, 2014 at 8:18 AM

      I was never blown away with him when he wasn’t hurt. Which isn’t often.

      Reply
      • willh888 - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        he’s speedy, bigger than desean, and younger. I think the two pair up well if they can add a bigger 6^ body

  10. 2sentz - Jan 6, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Cooper is the biggest WR we have. Given Avant’s lack of deep speed, you can’t get rid of Coop unless you sign another big guy. We’ve seen the limitations of a bunch of tiny receivers.

    Reply
  11. BenE. - Jan 6, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    Keep Maclin and Cooper. Both have their assets, mostly pertaining to their size/physicality. Cooper also caught some big passes for us this year.

    Reply
  12. matt - Jan 7, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    I just read who would stay and go I like what i read but it wrong about copper he stay

    Reply
  13. Dreday410 - Jan 7, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    “just posted an 800-yard/eight-touchdown season, but he’s too feast or famine for my taste. Leave”

    That makes no damn sense at all

    Yeah he had great numbers but lets get rid of him for no reason and if someone get hurt we would be in a world or trouble

    Reply
  14. Bonsai - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:54 PM

    People forget that during a limited stint at qb two seasons ago Maclin was Foles go to guy

    Reply

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