While the Eagles don’t have a ton of players on their team whose contracts are expiring, they definitely have some big names on that list. Guys like Jeremy Maclin and Brandon Graham should both get paid this offseason regardless of the team they end up on. It seems most likely that Maclin will re-sign and Graham will go elsewhere, but nothing is final. Here are all of the guys on the roster who have expiring contracts and whether the Eagles should re-sign them.
WR Jeremy Maclin
Maclin is by far the Eagles’ most important target this offseason regardless of position. The Eagles would be pitiful at the wide receiver position if they didn’t get Maclin back. He had an excellent season in 2014 and finished in second for the Comeback Player of the Year Award. Maclin did switch agents recently, which is part of the reason why he hasn’t been re-signed at this point. He will definitely receive a lot of money in his new deal, whether it’s a franchise tag or a long-term deal. It seems most likely that the Eagles would lock him up for at least four years, but obviously, that has yet to be decided. They need to do everything in their power to keep Maclin in Philadelphia.
OLB Brandon Graham
Graham was a great player for the Eagles in 2014 and was quietly efficient in his other years with the team. His rookie contract has now expired, and now the Eagles have to make a decision. He definitely stepped up his game this past season, but he probably fits better as a 4-3 DE than a 3-4 OLB. He also wants a big deal, asking for around four years for $30 million. This is likely only a bit higher than his actual worth, but considering he may not even start for the Eagles next year, it would seem like a waste of money to re-sign Graham. Let him get paid somewhere else.
After a horrendous season in 2014, somehow the Eagles still wanted Fletcher back on the team next year. Or at least, that’s what they said at the end of the season. According to Pro Football Focus, he gave up the most passing yards and passing touchdowns last year. Why should the Eagles have any reason to bring him back? Well, they don’t have many other options at cornerback, and he likely would be much cheaper than what Cary Williams is supposed to make in 2015. Still, I would be stunned to see them re-sign him. It just shouldn’t happen.
QB Mark Sanchez
Everyone knows the story with Sanchez by now, but there are still people out there that think he played better than Nick Foles last year. He looked good at times, but he ultimately failed in the big games. The Eagles haven’t named Foles the starter 2015, but one can pretty much guarantee that Sanchez won’t even be back on the team next year. He played well enough to at least earn himself a chance to compete with someone else on a bad team, but he’s definitely not a starter for a team actually trying to compete. The Eagles are low on quarterbacks and should probably draft someone else this year. The Sanchize in Philly is over.
Allen is a guy who has struggled a lot in his time with the Eagles, and they’ve kept him largely because there’s “no one else.” After finishing his one-year contract this year, he seemed to have a slightly better year than usual, although that’s not really saying much considering the terrible secondary that the Eagles have. It was announced yesterday that he was arrested, but he was released because the accuser was lying. Whether or not he had even gotten mixed up in this, I’m not sure if he’s worth re-signing. But it may just come down to whether or not they can find anyone else.
WR Brad Smith
Smith was added to the team a couple years ago as an “x-factor” type player. He could run sweeps or run plays out of the Wildcat formation because of his past history at the quarterback position. Smith has essentially done nothing for the Eagles though other than provide depth at wide receiver which, while important, is not important enough to keep Smith around. I’m guessing they’ll let him go and find someone else.
Thornton has played very well as a 3-4 DE/DT these past couple years. He hasn’t stood out as being one of the best players on the defense, but he’s played well enough to keep him on the starting lineup. Thornton is a restricted free agent, which means the Eagles definitely have a chance to keep him if they want to, which I think is an action they should pursue. Thornton has provided them with quality play on the inside and has been an important part of their improving front seven.
ILB Casey Matthews
Up until this past year, most people agreed that Matthews was the worst player on the roster. It was a surprise he even made the team again, although he did go to Oregon so maybe that had a play in it (just kidding…sort of). Matthews was forced to start for more than half the season last year due to injuries, and by the end he was at least better than before. He improved to the point of “respectable backup,” but there’s no way he stole DeMeco Ryans‘ job. He’s pretty good on special teams, but I doubt that would be enough to re-sign him. I think his career as an Eagle is over.
WR Jeff Maehl
Maehl is another Oregon product, although he’s done even less for the team than Matthews. He made the team this past year over multiple wide receivers who deserved it more, and he basically did nothing all season. He was obviously not supposed to play that much, but he didn’t deserve to even make the team, so he should’ve had the attitude that he needed to prove something. The only thing he proved is that he is expendable. He’s an “exclusive rights free agent,” but that shouldn’t really matter. Let him go.
RB Chris Polk
The biggest problem with Polk in his first few years in Philly is his injury problem, although he seemed to overcome that about halfway through the season. He came in and returned a kick for a touchdown, as well as playing very well as a goal line back. He finished with just as many total touchdowns as LeSean McCoy, proving that he should be brought back for goal line duties. The Eagles have three very different types of running backs, but they’re all important to the game. Polk is a must-keep.
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