Eagles 2014 free agents: who should stay, who should go (part 1)

After a very successful year in comparison to what was expected, the Eagles enter the offseason with very few key pieces of their team as free agents. They actually have 10 people whose contracts are set to expire, but only a couple of them are people who the Eagles truly need to keep. The Eagles have one of the largest space in terms of cap in the NFL, so they should be able to pay these players as well. They currently have $17.2 million in cap space, and they will get another $22.97 million to spend from the players whose contracts are up. This should be more than enough to make room for the people they want to keep, other free agents from other teams, and draft picks this offseason.

Restricted Free Agents

DE Cedric Thornton

Thornton was a big part of the defense this past year and consistently started at the DE position after switching over from DT. He had a great year, finishing sixth on the team in tackles with 60 and first among all defensive lineman. He only had one sack on the season, but he finished first on the team in TFLs with 7. He also had a forced fumble. He made $555k this year, a lot lower than his value, so he’s going to want a pay raise. He deserves it though, and I think he fits well in with the new 3-4 system at DE. I expect him to get re-signed, but he’ll probably he making a few million more per year. The Eagles have a lot of defensive lineman, but I think Thornton is one of their best. He’s a keeper.

DE Philip Hunt

Hunt made about $329k this year, but he didn’t play in a single game after getting hurt in the preseason and landing on injured reserve. Since the Eagles haven’t really gotten to see him play, it’d be wrong to consider him worthless, but in the grand scheme of things he’s not very valuable. He hasn’t done much in the 3 years that he’s been on the team, and I’m sure they could pick up a player of equal value in one of the late rounds of the draft this year. I don’t think he’s worth enough to keep, even at a low amount.

Unrestricted Free Agents

QB Michael Vick

If there’s one free agent the Eagles should cut ties with, it’s Vick. He’s basically a low-end starter to a high-end backup at this point, but he’s burned out in Philly and isn’t of very much value to them. He has the potential to become a starter on another team, but it’s going to be for a bad team and for a much lower value. His $12.2 million cap hit this year was the highest on the team, and he barely did anything to help the team. He’s said that he would be open to coming back as the backup, but he’s also said he wants to be a starter next year, which won’t happen in Philadelphia. Unloading Vick and signing a new, lowly paid veteran backup QB would be much more beneficial. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of Vick with the Eagles.

WR Jeremy Maclin

On the flip side, if there’s one player the Eagles need to keep in their free agent group, it’s Maclin. He’s been a starting receiver for basically his entire career, and despite missing all of last year with a torn ACL, he’s healed now and should be an important part of their already great offense. I wouldn’t even mind giving him a pay raise from his $4.5 million he earned this year, but I wouldn’t go for anything more than about a $1 million increase. Getting hurt in his contract year probably saved the Eagles money in the long run because it’s less likely now that he’d get a raise. Either way, he’s an important part of this team and must stay.

S Nate Allen

Next to Vick, Allen is the second-least valuable player on the team. He’s coming off his rookie contract after making just under $1.3 million last year, but he’s not worth any more than that. The problem is he’s a “starter” and will want more money, but their group of safeties are pathetic and need to be cleaned out. He may have finished third on the team in tackles, but that was solely because of the many injuries to other safeties and the fact that he was required to make tackles on run plays. He’s terrible in pass coverage and has been a huge bust for the Eagles. They need to just let Allen go and try again with someone else because he’s no better than a backup, and I would have no interest in keeping him around even for that.

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