The Eagles Head Into the Offseason With a Bright Future—and Difficult Questions
Minutes ticked by long after the red and yellow confetti had landed on a field in Glendale, Arizona. Super Bowl LVII ended more than an hour before the first Eagles players began leaking into their post-game media sessions. Many of the Chiefs’ winning players had already arrived and left early, despite being delayed on the trophy field. But the Eagles lingered in the locker room, spending a few extra minutes together as a team before heading into an off-season that will inevitably see new faces come in and others leave.
“[General manager] Howie Roseman has a lot of work to do in the off-season,” center Jason Kelsey said. “There are a lot of free agents and a lot of guys. This is one of the things that is frustrating. Obviously we knew as a team that it would look very different next year and there are a lot of guys who have been here for a long time. Let’s see how it develops in the offseason.”
How It Will Play will include decisions on 18 pending free agents, including eight starting or key defensive players. It will feature high-profile players, including two in the first round and four in the top 100 this April. This will require the replacement of key members of the coaching staff, including potentially both coordinators; Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen is expected to become head coach at Indianapolis, while defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon is expected to be among the Cardinals’ coaching finalists. And that will include making a franchise-changing decision about when and how to pay quarterback Jalen Hurts, who completes a career-high 374 yards in the Super Bowl with four touchdowns, that will affect just about everything else they do.
Hurts is good news. He’s the main reason the Eagles can come out of a Super Bowl loss with serious roster building problems and still feel optimistic next year and beyond. Herts was a legitimate MVP candidate in his third season and answered questions about his ability as a clean passer during a Super Bowl that should have left none behind.
“For me, Jalen played the best game I’ve ever seen in the two years we’ve been together,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said.
Sirianni went on to say that he still doesn’t think the Eagles know what Hurts’ ceiling is as a player because he’s still getting better. However, they are about to find out as Hurts is now part of the team’s long-term vision and is in line for a contract extension that could easily be worth over $45 million a year. The price Philadelphia pays for not drafting Hurts in the first round is that his rookie contract does not include a fifth-year option, meaning the 24-year-old enters the fourth and final year of his contract. . He is on his way from earning just over $1 million and being the 47th highest paid quarterback in the NFL to one of the highest paid players in the league. The loss from this decision is huge, according to Spotrac, especially for a team currently ranked 18th in the NFL in the 2023 cap, breaking the cap by $1.3 million.
Still, the Hurts are worth it, and paying a quarterback of his caliber is a problem any NFL team would love to have. The salary cap is raised by more than $16 million to $225 million and Philadelphia could add cost-controlled talent through the draft, using two first-round picks that looked like ammunition a year ago to get a quarterback if the Hurts don’t will prove. myself. There are questions down the road, but in the coming years, the Eagles offense can pretty much look forward to being similar to a division that has been one of the best in the NFL this year. Losing Steichen would be a major blow to the coaching staff and leave Sirianni with the choice of whether or not to take over call-out duties, but quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson is a good substitute for a full-time coach. Johnson has been a popular choice for offensive coordinator this training cycle, but with the promotion open in Philadelphia, it looks like the Eagles have an inside avenue to keep him. Three of the most important pass catchers – DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown and Dallas Godert – are under contracts and the offensive line should remain largely intact, especially if Kelsey didn’t retire (a decision he said he wasn’t prepared to make in Sunday evening). ).
There are big questions on the defense whether or not Gannon leaves. Linebackers Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave; linebackers TJ Edwards and Keezir White; quarterback James Bradbury; and safety CJ Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps should become free agents. The Eagles won’t be able to get them all back, especially after Hurts gets his paycheck.
More importantly, the Super Bowl showed that teams need to think about what kind of defensive unit they want to have going forward if their goal is to stop the best quarterbacks in the league. The Eagles were the more talented team and certainly had more talented defense in the game, but Gannon’s strategy of selling to stop the pass allowed the Chiefs to run for 158 yards at 6.1 yards per carry and allowed Mahomes to hit 78-. completion percentage, mostly on short, easy shots that kept Kansas City on positive downs and distances and softened Philadelphia’s pass rush.
One of the most exciting news ahead of the Super Bowl was that the Eagles had hired defense guru Vic Fangio on a two-week deal to help develop the game plan. Before the game, it seemed like a masterstroke. Looking back, one wonders if Sirianni thinks his defensive staff needs a fresh voice in the room.
Roseman will be the main architect of these off-season moves. It’s an exciting situation for one of the NFL’s most successful and experienced general managers to get another chance to build a roster capable of the kind of sustained dominance that has eluded him in the past. Roseman’s best success stories as a general manager have mostly been of two kinds: building stacked lineups around rookie quarterbacks and making successful moves, such as picking Australian rugby player Jordan Mailata in the seventh round and preparing him for a franchise tackle. What Roseman hasn’t always done is hit his top picks in the draft, which is a necessary component of staying competitive when paying a quarterback at the market rate. However, he has two more chances in the first round and he has a strong core to add.
“I know we have a few free agents. There will be time to discuss this. There will be time to discuss all this, but I know that we have a good core of guys on whom we can continue to work,” Sirianni said. “There was a lot of good football this year. We have done a lot of good things. As a team, it stings. It hurts. We will no doubt recover from this. We have a good young quarterback who has had a phenomenal year, a good offensive line, a good defense. All accounts only. We know we have the right people.”
Another thing the Eagles are leaving with this offseason is a lesson in failure. As Hurts, Sirianni and the rest of the team crowded into another room, Patrick Mahomes spoke from the MVP podium about how losing the Super Bowl two years ago helped the Chiefs win it this time around.
“The failure of losing the Super Bowl and losing the AFC Championship gives you more appreciation for standing here as a champion,” Mahomes said.
This quote reminded me of what Tom Brady said when he was interviewed for part of the NFL 100 All-Time Team programming in 2019. Having been in and winning the Super Bowl in three of his first four seasons in the NFL, Brady said that was not the case. Until nearly a decade into his NFL career, when the Patriots lost Super Bowl XLII to the Giants and found themselves in a postseason rut, he realized how hard it was to win that game.
The Eagles know how hard it was now. They understand how hard it was to walk out of the dressing room knowing that the season was over and they didn’t make it. Before they left, Hurts apologized to his teammates for messing around in the second quarter despite being the best player they had on the field during the game. Although Hurts is usually stoic, when he mentioned this game during his post-game hard-on, tears welled up in his eyes.
“I think the beauty of it is that everyone experiences different pains; everyone experiences different life agonies, but you decide if you want to learn from it,” Herts said. “You decide if you want this to be a learning moment. I know that.”
That feeling won’t add a dollar to the salary cap or win a single draft pick. But as the Eagles move forward, it must mean something.