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A Look Ahead: 2021 Free Agency Class

6 July 2020 Eagles News


Let’s go ahead and call 2020 what it is, an absolute nightmare straight out of an M. Night Shyamalan horror movie. Baseball is “back” with half of the games best players sitting out, basketball is “back” in a bubble, and people are wondering if football can truly make a safe return to a television near you. Much appreciated, COVID. We didn’t want to leave our homes for half of 2020 anyways. Either way, sports in 2020 are far less than the glory that we’ve come to love. So, I’m looking forward to the 2021 offseason already and those players set to hit the free agency market if the 2020 season doesn’t take place.

 

Quarterback

The self-proclaimed “Quarterback Factory” in Philadelphia shouldn’t be looking for a starting or backup quarterback in the 2021 offseason, nor should they even WANT to. The 2021 Quarterback Free Agent class is full of mediocrity and underachievers. Headlined by Dak Prescott, the list quickly drops off to the likes of Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston. Here are the top targets for the class.

  1. Dak Prescott – DAL
  2. Jameis Winston – NO
  3. Phillip Rivers – IND (Retire?)
  4. Andy Dalton – CIN
  5. Mitchell Trubisky – CHI

Eagles Losses: Nate Sudfeld

 

Running Back

Now the Eagles may look at adding a secondary option to spell Miles Sanders in the 2021 offseason. Given that they have basically punted the position in 2020, this could be a draft piece or a free agency addition. Boston Scott may definitively place himself in that backup role, but the Eagles have always done well to have a bruiser in the backfield for those short yardage, goal-to-go situations, which Scott is definitely not. Several believe that Michael Warren, the undrafted free agent from Cincinnati will find himself filling that role but how reliable is an undrafted free agent? It’s a long shot at best, so here are the top options at the running back position.

  1. Derrick Henry – TEN
  2. Dalvin Cook – MIN
  3. Alvin Kamara – NO
  4. Joe Mixon – CIN
  5. Aaron Jones – GB

Honorable Mentions: Marlon Mack – IND, Kenyan Drake – ARI, Tarik Cohen – CHI, Kareem Hunt – CLE, Phillip Lindsay – DEN (RFA), Leonard Fournette – JAX, Damien Williams – KC, James Connor – PIT

Eagles Losses: Boston Scott (RFA), Corey Clement

 

Wide Receiver

Wide Receiver will be a glaring need for the Eagles for a few years until the contracts of Alshon Jeffery and Desean Jackson are off the books. Plagued by injuries every year and overpaying for mediocrity has been an issue for the Eagles for several years now. The Eagles took steps to address this during the 2020 NFL Draft by taking Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, Quez Watkins and trading for Olympian Marquise Goodwin. However, until the Eagles show that they can develop young talent, after completely swinging and missing on J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Nelson Agholor, the fans should be skeptical of the flashy, young talent. So, here is the top proven talent hitting the market in 2021.

  1. Keenan Allen – LAC
  2. Juju Smith-Schuster – PIT
  3. Kenny Golloday – DET
  4. Chris Godwin – TB
  5. T.Y. Hilton – IND

Eagles Losses: Robert Davis, Shelton Gibson (RFA)

 

Tight End

Much like the quarterback situation, Philadelphia shouldn’t be in the market for any of the “premier” tight ends or even a back up for that matter unless Dallas Goedert keeps hanging out in South Dakota bars. (Too Soon?) I still love you, Dallas. Please don’t hurt me. Much like the quarterback situation, the Eagles should be happy to not be buyers in this market as it’s even more dreadful than most and, to be fair, the top two options won’t be playing anywhere other than their current squads.

  1. George Kittle – SF
  2. Rob Gronkowski – TB
  3. Hunter Henry – LAC
  4. Jonnu Smith – TEN
  5. Gerald Everett – LAR

Eagles Losses: Alex Ellis (RFA), Joshua Perkins

 

Offensive Line

This is somewhere that the Eagles always look for talent. We’ve seen Howie Roseman come out of the offseason with either, a new lineman or an extension for a current one, for as long as I can remember, and this is actually a pretty impressive class to be looking for improvements. There are standouts at each position along the offensive line. Here are those top targets.

  1. Ronnie Stanley – OT – BAL
  2. Joe Thuney – OG – NE
  3. David Bakhtiari – OT – GB
  4. Brandon Scherrf – OG – WAS
  5. Alex Mack – C – ATL

Honorable Mentions: Dion Dawkins – OT – BUF, Alejandro Villanueva – OT – PIT, Trent Williams – OT – SF, Lane Taylor – OG – GB, Ryan Kelly – C – IND, David Andrews – C – NE

Eagles Losses: None

 

Defensive Line

As is the case with Howie Roseman, see above, there is always an interest in bringing in new, shiny pass rushers to torment the minds of quarterbacks in the NFC East. This is the group to go all in on in 2021. This is the deepest group of pass rushers that could hit the market in quite some time. Former season sack leaders, young, budding superstars, multiple ten-plus sack seasons, crafty veterans and any flavor you may please. When the Eagles inevitably clear enough cap space to make moves, expect the big money to be committed to another pass rusher. Here are some potential options.

  1. Joey Bose – DE – LAC
  2. Yannick Ngakoue – DE – JAX
  3. Chris Jones – DT – KC
  4. Matt Judon – DE – BAL
  5. Kenny Clark – DT – GB

Honorable Mentions: Jihad Ward – DE – BAL, Melvin Ingram – DE – LAC, Leonard Floyd – DE – LAR, Jordan Jenkins – DE – NYJ, Bud Dupree – DE – PIT, Shaquil Barrett – DE – TB, Ryan Kerrigan – DE – WAS, Larry Ogunjobi – DT – CLE, Deniko Autry – DT – IND, Sheldon Rankins – DT – NO, Leonard Williams – DT – NYG

Eagles Losses: Daeshon Hall, Hassan Ridgeway

 

Linebacker

This section is pretty much a waste of time to write. The Eagles negligence and lack of interest in effectively upgrading the linebacking position has been nothing short of disgusting. There are even talks that Nate Gerry, who had the third highest missed tackle rate among all linebackers with 200+ snaps in 2019, is even a dark horse candidate to get an EXTENSION! Meanwhile, there are some impactful names that are set to hit the market.

  1. Dont’a Hightower – NE
  2. Jarrad Davis – DET
  3. Matt Milano – BUF
  4. Lavonte David – TB
  5. Avery Williamson – NYJ

Honorable Mentions: Hasson Reddick – ARI, Devondre Campbell – ARI, Reggie Ragland – DET, Anthony Walker Jr. – IND, Denzel Perryman – LAC, Nicholas Morrow – LVR, Craig Robertson – NO, Raekwon McMillan – MIA

Eagles Losses: Duke Riley, Nate Gerry, Jatavis Brown

Cornerback

This is my dark horse position for the Eagles to spend decent money, even though they just made Darius Slay Jr. the highest paid cornerback in the league. I don’t necessarily believe that they will want to spend the money on cornerback but, the amount of players that they are losing is alarming. The top names on the market are extremely talented, the rest of the market……not far behind them.

  1. Jalen Ramsey – LAR
  2. Patrick Peterson – ARI
  3. Desmond King – LAC
  4. Richard Sherman – SF
  5. P.J. Williams – NO

Honorable Mentions: Jimmy Smith – BAL, Levi Wallace – BUF (RFA), William Jackson III – CIN, Jourdan Lewis – DAL, Kevin King – GB, Holton Hill – MIN (RFA), J.C. Jackson – NE, Brian Poole – NYJ, Shaquill Griffin – SEA

Eagles Losses: Cre’Von LeBlanc, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, Trevor Williams

 

Safety

Until the Eagles fill the void of Malcolm Jenkins is filled, the Eagles will be on the lookout for their next defensive backfield leader. Yes, they have Darius Slay and Jalen Mills but few people rival the leadership that Malcolm Jenkins had on the defense. I am extremely excited at the additions of Will Parks and K’Von Wallace but Parks is on a one-year deal and K’Von is a rookie. Will may be more so motivated by that one-year deal but, the progression of K’Von Wallace will be something worth monitoring going into the 2021 offseason. The list of available players is very deep with the talent, but the drop off after the upper-echelon talent is very rapid.

  1. Justin Simmons – DEN
  2. Anthony Harris – MIN
  3. Marcus Williams – NO
  4. Keanu Neal – ATL
  5. Malik Hooker – IND

Honorable Mentions: Budda Baker – ARI, Damontae Kazee – ATL, Shawn Williams – CIN, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – DAL, Xavier Woods – DAL, Duron Harmon – DET, Damarious Randall – LVR, Marcus Maye – NYJ

Eagles Losses: Jalen Mills, Rudy Ford, Will Parks, Marcus Epps

 

At the end of the day, several of these players will sign extensions with their current teams or be dealt to teams that are willing to sign them to a long-term extension but the 2021 Free Agency class looks to be exciting. If the 2020 season does not come to fruition, this is at least something to be excited about as the months progress, although I expect it to happen and the birds to stay in strong contention as they always do. The future is bright in Philadelphia and the thought of these potential future acquisitions has me as excited as ever. Go Birds!

 

PC/NBC Sports


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