When you look at the Eagles’ roster, it’s definitely one of those good news-bad news type of situations.
The bad news? The Eagles need to completely rebuild wide receiver and cornerback from the ground up.
The wide receiver position is in shambles, with a couple long-ago Pro Bowlers with uncertain futures, a 2nd-rounder who showed little as a rookie, a bus load of practice squad alums and a one-time Super Bowl hero facing free agency after a disastrous season.
The cornerback position is worse, filled with heralded draft picks who’ve underachieved, later-round picks who’ve been inconsistent and veteran free agents who can’t stay healthy.
The good news? Other than those two debacles, they’re in pretty good shape.
This isn’t the worst situation in the world. This isn’t a complete rebuild. There’s a lot to like about the Eagles’ roster.
On offense? There’s an elite quarterback, two electrifying and versatile young running backs, an offensive line stocked with Pro Bowlers and two big-time tight ends.
On defense? There’s a solid if somewhat underachieving defensive line that’s potentially one of the league’s best units. There’s an unspectacular but competent group of linebackers. There are two veteran safeties that both have question marks next to their names but aren’t huge concerns.
Special teams? They’re fine.
You don’t need an all-pro at every position to win a Super Bowl, as we learned in 2017. You just need to be solid across the board, great in a few critical areas, stay relatively healthy and have a coach that knows how to make the whole thing work.
And the reality is the Eagles are good enough everywhere other than cornerback and wide receiver to compete for a Super Bowl.
Granted, the two areas where they need total rebuilds are two of the most important areas in the modern, pass-obsessed NFL.
And that’s not to say there aren’t other needs. The Eagles can get better across the board.
But if Howie Roseman and his staff can figure out wide receiver and cornerback through free agency and the draft, there’s no reason this team can’t be as good as anybody in 2020.
It’s a lot to ask. There’s a reason those two areas are lacking.
Years of poor drafting, poor free agency signings and poor player evaluations have left the roster sorely lacking at corner and receiver.
The Eagles overcame it to win a Super Bowl largely because guys like Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby and Nelson Agholor had the best seasons of their lives, and free agents like Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Patrick Robinson played over their heads.
If the Eagles are going to fix these two areas it’s going to have to be through a combination of free agency and the draft.
There are some intriguing corners who could be available in free agency – Chris Harris, Byron Jones, James Bradberry, Trae Waynes. And someone like Robby Anderson would make a lot of sense at WR.
Fair to say the CB issue runs even deeper than WR because at least you can hope DeSean Jackson comes back healthy, although at 33 who knows? And at least Alshon Jeffery is under contract, although there’s a lot of questions there as well. And Greg Ward is at worst a functional slot. So at least there’s a starting point.
Cornerback is a total rebuild. Can you count on getting anything out of Sidney Jones or Rasul Douglas? Do you even want to keep Mills or Darby? Can you get consistent play out of Avonte Maddox or Cre’von LeBlanc? It’s possible – maybe even likely - that neither 2020 starting corner is on the roster right now.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a lot of work to be done.
The good news is Roseman has the luxury of being able to focus a good chunk of his energy on two specific areas.
The bad news is that they’re historically his two worst areas.
Which is how the Eagles got into this position in the first place.
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