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February 12, 2018

The Eagles' five biggest offseason needs

Eagles NFL
021118HalapoulivaatiVaitai Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles have to feel a lot better about Big V after their playoff run.

This time last year, the Philadelphia Eagles' cornerbacks were Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll, Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks, C.J. Smith, and Dwayne Gratz. Their receivers were Dorial Green-Beckham, Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Bryce Treggs, and Paul Turner.

You could safely say that the Eagles had glaring needs at corner and receiver last year, among other spots.

This year? Not so much. The Super Bowl-winning Birds don't have much in the way of glaring needs. Rather, they have some positions where they could use some upgrades, added depth, or young players to groom for the future behind aging vets.

Here are the Eagles' five biggest needs to address this offseason, in no particular order.

Tight end

The Eagles are set with Zach Ertz as a starter at tight end for the foreseeable future, but their excess of depth is likely to erode this offseason. Brent Celek's body has taken a pounding over 11 years with the Eagles. Now that he has a ring, there's a thinking that he will retire. Meanwhile, Trey Burton is set to become a free agent and may make starter money on the open market. The Eagles aren't going to be able to afford to match that, if so.

With Burton and Celek both potentially no longer on the roster, the Eagles will need to fortify that position, ideally with at least one guy who can block well.

Offensive tackle

Gun to his head, Doug Pederson thinks Jason Peters will be his starting left tackle next season. Prior to the 2017 season, we noted that you have to go all the way back to 2001 to find a player older than Peters who started at least 10 games at left tackle in a season. That would be Lomas Brown, who started at LT for the Giants at the age of 38. And now Peters is another year older. Still, if there's a freak of nature who can come back after a torn ACL at the age of 36, it's JP.

Peters aside, the Eagles have to love what they saw from Halapoulivaati Vaitai in the playoffs, who more than held his own. After a rough start to his career, Big V has slowly but surely gotten better. My guess is that there are differing opinions on the second floor of the NovaCare Complex on whether or not Vaitai should be viewed as a long-term starter.

Either way, the Eagles need to add to their offensive tackle pipeline. When the Dallas Cowboys lost Tyron Smith for a couple games, their offense completely fell apart. Credit crappy depth, as well as crappy adjustments by their coaching still, but it remains a lesson learned on the importance of depth at that position.

Wide receiver

The Eagles will have to decide if they want to pay Torrey Smith $5,000,000 this season, or part ways with him. In my view, he did not play well enough in 2017 to justify that price tag. If Smith agrees to a pay cut, then the Eagles should consider keeping him. If not, they are better served using those resources elsewhere.

The Eagles are set at two receiver spots with Alshon Jeffery, and slot receiver Nelson Agholor. Beyond them, Mack Hollins showed some promise as a rookie, but it's too soon to rely on him as your No. 2 receiver heading into 2018. That is why I believe wide receiver is a position the Eagles need to continue to look to upgrade this offseason.

I'll also note here that the Eagles need a returner. If they can find a receiver or running back who doubles as a return specialist, that would be ideal.

Linebacker

The Eagles got unexpectedly very good play out of Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks this season after losing Jordan Hicks to a ruptured Achilles. Bradham is a free agent, Kendricks is making a lot of money, and Hicks may not immediately be the same player he was, pre-injury. He'll also be in the final year of his deal in 2018.

No matter how it all shakes out with those three linebackers, the Eagles need to add depth at the position, which was exposed at times this year.

Defensive tackle

Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan are a good duo on the interior of the Eagles' defensive line, though Jernigan slowed down as the season progressed. Beyond them, depth could be thin if Beau Allen bolts in free agency, which is a decent possibility, as some teams out there may view him as a starter.

The Eagles need to keep adding to their depth along the line, both at DT and DE, but maybe more urgently at DT.


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