NFL free agency 2019: 5 offensive targets that make sense for the Eagles


We already know about the 17 pending unrestricted free agents already on the Eagles’ roster (see story), but now it’s time to look at some free agents from around the NFL who might be potential targets. 

The Eagles are a little bit up against it in terms of cap space, so they probably won’t break the bank in free agency. But here are some names that make sense: 

Tevin Coleman, RB     

The former third-round pick just finished his four-year rookie deal with the Atlanta Falcons and will be a free agent for the first time in his career. He had another big year in 2018, rushing for 800 yards and adding another 276 as a receiver. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Coleman has become a big dual-threat in the NFL. 

In his four years in the NFL, he rushed for 2,340 yards and added 1,010 receiving yards. He’s one of 10 players in the NFL to have 2,300 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards over the last four years. The other names are impressive: Lamar Miller, LeSean McCoy, David Johnson, Mark Ingram, Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Devonta Freeman, Ezekiel Elliott, Le’Veon Bell. 

Spotrac estimates Coleman’s market value at four years, around $20 million, with an average salary around $5 million. That’s not terribly expensive, but there will be cheaper options in the draft if the Eagles choose to go that way. But it is pretty clear they need help at the running back position and a top-tier guy could really change the offense. 

Spencer Ware, RB  

If the Eagles want to add a free-agent running back but want to spend less, Ware could be an option. He’s 27 and after three years with the Chiefs, he has some familiarity with Doug Pederson from Pederson’s time in Kansas City. I know fans might want to see Kareem Hunt’s name on this list, but I didn’t want to go there. From a purely football standpoint, Hunt would be a perfect player in Philly, but you can’t just sign Hunt the football player; the guy would be a big part of the package. So I decided to list Hunt’s backup. 

No, Ware isn’t Hunt. But he is a dual-threat running back with an understanding of the basics of Pederson’s offense. In 2018, Ware rushed for 246 yards (4.8 average) and caught 20 passes for 224 yards. His best season came in 2016, when he rushed for 921 yards and added 447 as a receiver in 14 games. He then missed the 2017 season with a torn PCL. 

John Brown, WR  

It seems like every year the Eagles find a new speed guy and hope he’s the one who works out. Torrey Smith, Mike Wallace and now John Brown? Brown (5-11, 178) definitely fits the description of a speed guy. He’s played five years in the league, but you’ll remember his 4.34 time in the 40-yard dash at the combine when he was coming out of Pittsburg State. 

After four years in Arizona, Brown played last season in Baltimore, where he caught 42 passes for 715 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 17.0 yards per catch in 2018 and has averaged 15.0 per catch in his five-year career. The one element that was really missing from the Eagles’ offense last year was a field-stretcher. 

Joe Douglas hasn’t been in Baltimore for several years now, but a quick phone call to his mentor, recently-retired Ozzie Newsome, will tell Douglas all he needs to know. 

Cordarelle Patterson, WR  

He’s never lived up to being a first-round pick, but Patterson has turned into a decent pro during his time in New England. No, he hasn’t had a huge impact on offense with the Patriots this year, but he’s found a niche on offense as a receiver/gadget player and Pederson would find a use for him. He actually had 21 catches and 42 carries in 2018, which shows the way the Pats used him. 

The other part of Patterson’s game that is probably more important is his ability as a kick returner. He’s consistently been one of the best kick returners in the NFL since he was drafted. In fact, he had another KR touchdown this season, making it six for his career. He’s the active leader in the NFL and is two away from the all-time NFL record for a career, held by Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington. He has double the next guy on the active list Ted Ginn (3). 

Donovan Smith, LT 

I tend to think the Eagles are going to be just be happy if Jason Peters decides to keep playing and they’ll try another year with him at left tackle, but if Peters doesn’t come back or the Eagles decide to move on, they’ll need a replacement. Perhaps that replacement could come in the draft, but asking a rookie to step in and start at left tackle would be tough. And I haven’t seen enough good from Big V to think he’s the answer. 

So maybe Smith from Tampa Bay could be. Smith (6-6, 338) is a four-year starter and has played and started every game for the Bucs since they drafted him in the second round in 2015. Smith hasn’t missed time in Tampa Bay, but he hasn’t been great either. But with his size and measurables, Jeff Stoutland would probably love to get his hands on him.

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