By Peter Gleason
Okay, let’s assume there was no pandemic and we knew the Eagles season starts unimpeded by health concerns.
With the exception of linebacker, most of the positions appear set in stone. This is especially true on offense and the defensive line.
Alshon Jeffery was reportedly on the trade block this offseason, but the combination of his guaranteed salary and recovery from Lisfranc surgery made a deal impossible. It’s unclear if he’ll be ready for the season, but anything he gives the Eagles this year should be considered a bonus.Jeffery’s status puts a lot of pressure on rookie Jalen Reagor to make a quick impact. Greg Ward is the top option for the slot receiver role. General manager Howie Roseman would love for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, a second-round pick one year ago, to make an impact after a brutal rookie season. Trade pickup Marquise Goodwin is worth taking a flier on.
The questionable receiver group feels like less of a problem because the Eagles have a strong quarterback, a strong offensive line and the best two-TE set in the NFL. Dallas Goedert not only played more than any wideout on the Eagles a year ago, but the ostensible “backup” played more than all but nine tight ends in the league.
Jalen Hurts was drafted to be Carson Wentz’s long-term backup. In a shortened offseason, it’s possible Nate Sudfeld beats out Hurts for the No. 2 job, which could open up Hurts to play a handful of snaps each week as a gadget player.
It’s possible that free agent Jason Peters could return to the Eagles, but would he want to come back as a backup/swing tackle? Philadelphia took Andre Dillard in the first round for a reason, and the Eagles would have already re-signed Peters as a starter if that’s what they wanted to do.
Some of the names change, but Philly’s starting defensive line always looks great on paper. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson, coming off a foot injury, figures to play a lot in a rotation. After that, the team has much less depth overall than in its title season. The Eagles could sure use a positive step from 2017 first-rounder Derek Barnett.
The Eagles re-signed Jalen Mills with the intention of moving him to safety. He looks like the best option to replace Malcolm Jenkins in the starting lineup, which is a bit of a gamble.
Long a question spot, the cornerback group looks so much better after the additions of Darius Slay and underrated nickel cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. When the team has three former starters coming off the bench (Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas and Cre’Von LeBlanc), the group is in better position to succeed.
The linebacker corps is unproven. Philadelphia professes a lot of faith in middle linebacker T.J. Edwards, even if he only played 112 snaps as an undrafted free-agent rookie in 2019. Nate Gerry can also play all three downs, but this is clearly a position the Eagles brass doesn’t prioritize with big money or draft picks.
Philly’s roster looked better than any in football entering 2018, and it was close in 2019. The team was ravaged by injuries in both seasons but still made the playoffs. The roster doesn’t look quite as beautiful this time around, but it’s a group that should still contend in the NFC if the injury luck improves.
|QB||Carson Wentz||DE||Brandon Graham|
|RB||Miles Sanders||DT||Fletcher Cox|
|WR||DeSean Jackson||DT||Javon Hargrave|
|WR||Jalen Reagor||DE||Derek Barnett|
|TE||Zach Ertz||OLB||Nate Gerry|
|TE||Dallas Goedert||ILB||T.J. Edwards|
|LT||Andre Dillard||CB||Darius Slay|
|LG||Isaac Seumalo||CB||Avonte Maddox|
|C||Jason Kelce||CB||Nickell Robey-Coleman|
|RG||Brandon Brooks||S||Rodney McLeod|
|RT||Lane Johnson||S||Jalen Mills|