Free Agents: Resign or Release?
Unlike last year’s lockout-disrupted offseason, 2012’s free agency period will occur before the draft on March 14th. The Eagles have a grand total of 12 players with contracts expiring on that date and will have to decide who to keep and who to let go. Here are my thoughts on what I’d like to see us do.
Vince Young, QB: Ok, I hold my hands up. Last offseason I was calling for the Eagles to pick up Young as a backup to Vick and believed he could help us out. I was wrong. VY did nothing for us in 2011 and failed to show any flashes that warrant another year. He had a sub-60% completion percentage and threw 9 INTs from just 114 attempts: roughly an INT every 13 throws. Mike Kafka is now coming into his 3rd year in the league and looks to be a far more capable back-up to Vick. With such a quiet QB market, I don’t see where Young will be in 2012, but I hope it’s not with us. Verdict: RELEASE
Ronnie Brown, RB: When Ronnie joined us there was a lot of fantastical talk about what he and Vick could do with the wildcat package he had made famous in Miami. The reality was somewhat different: Brown only averaged 3.2 yards per carry and he managed 136 total yards on the season. The closest we got to a wildcat play from him was his crazy pass-attempt goal-line fumble vs. the 49ers in Week 4. The Eagles even traded Brown to the Lions, but had to accept him back when Jerome Harrison failed the physical. Talk about knowing you’re not wanted. Verdict: RELEASE
Owen Schmitt, FB: By no means the league’s greatest fullback, but Scmitt hasn’t done anything bad enough to outright lose his job. He gets the job done and is capable as a receiver. I expect the Eagles to give him a shot to defend his job but I’m sure they’ll be monitoring him carefully in training camp. Stanley Havili and others will be in the wings and could get a look-in. Verdict: RESIGN
Steve Smith, WR: His 2011 performance was underwhelming to say the least. I don’t know how much of that was due to lingering injury concerns, but what is clear is that Smith did nothing for us. Riley Cooper and Chad Hall showed more promise this season and I expect us to pick up another WR in free agency or the draft. Bottom line: goodbye Steve. Verdict: RELEASE
DeSean Jackson, WR: Probably the hardest call for the Eagles this offseason will be deciding what to do with DeSean. He’s got speed and youth on his side and we all know Jackson has the potential to make explosive plays, both as a receiver and as a punt returner. But at the same time, Jackson’s holdout, inconsistent effort and idiotic taunting this season have highlighted his attitude problems. He also has a pronounced drop problem, with 9 on the season and a higher percentage of passes dropped than all bar 15 NFL receivers. Add to this his worrying concussion history and Jackson becomes one hell of a risky player to invest in.
And the reports are that the type of investment that Jackson and Rosenhaus want is somewhere around the $9m per year mark. To put that into perspective, that kind of deal would make him the 4th highest paid WR in the league, behind only Fitzgerald, Megatron and Brandon Marshall. This kind of price would be an astronomical over-valuation to put it mildly. With McCoy and Maclin coming up to renewal over the next couple of years, there’s no way the Eagles can afford to spare that kind of money. On balance, I think we have to pass on the gamble and say goodbye. Verdict: RELEASE
King Dunlap, LT: If we were handing out most improved awards, Dunlap would be on my shortlist. First impressions didn’t bode well, but King has filled in capably when needed over the past two seasons. He’s also shown versatility, playing at LT, RT and OG. He’s a good asset to have for maintaining line depth. Verdict: RESIGN
Evan Mathis, LG: Arguably the most important FA on the list after a fantastic 2011 season. Mathis did well in pass-protection and didn’t allow a single sack this year. He also created holes for the running game: Shady averaged nearly 6 yards per carry when running up the middle. As with Dunlap, his versatility adds to his value, Mathis has been able to play at LG, RG and even RT. Verdict: RESIGN
Victor Abriamiri, DE: A bust in every sense of the word. He was taken by us in the 2nd round in 2007 and has floated around the IR/PUP lists for most of his time in the NFL. To misquote Winston Churchill: “Never has so much been paid for so little”. Verdict: RELEASE
Juqua Parker, DE: He took a backseat in the D-Line rotation this season, with a big reduction in his number of snaps. The Eagles’ policy on age is no secret and Parker is turning 34 this year. Phillip Hunt has improved and Brandon Graham will be back next year. After 7 years good service, I think Parker’s time is up. Verdict: RELEASE
Antonio Dixon, DT: Dixon had a strong year in 2010 but had trouble staying healthy this season. Even when he was fit, he seemed to struggle in Washburn’s Wide 9 scheme. Nevertheless, the Eagles’ decision to trade Brodrick Bunkley to Denver showed that they are clearly counting on Dixon to bring something to the team. Hopefully he will stay healthy in 2012 and return to his 2010 form. Verdict: RESIGN
Derek Landri, DT: Unlike Dixon, Landri flourished in the Wide 9 scheme. Landri saw 355 snaps in 2011 and in that time had 21 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 QB hits and 13 QB pressures. Landri demonstrated a strong work-ethic and has earned himself a new contract. Verdict: RESIGN
Trevor Laws, DT: Laws looked promising last year and created some buzz in preseason. In the end though he made little impact and lost snaps to the aforementioned Landri. Laws was used less and less throughout the season to the point where it seems likely that Philly aren’t interested in holding on to him. Verdict: RELEASE