National Football League
Eagles' offseason grade: Will spending spree put Philly back on top?
National Football League

Eagles' offseason grade: Will spending spree put Philly back on top?

Published Jul. 8, 2024 2:45 p.m. ET

One thing that no one will ever accuse Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman of doing: Standing pat.

He certainly could have done that after last season, when his team finished in a 1-6 spiral that ruined what they hoped would be a Super Bowl encore. It would have been easy to say he still had the core of the 2022 NFC champions. It would've been easy to blame injuries for how his team so alarmingly fell apart.

Instead, he went on a spending spree, not only locking up some of his key players to long-term contracts, but bringing in what some might call a "Dream Team" of high-priced free agents. He signed running back Saquon Barkley, who was arguably the best offensive player on the market. He added edge-rusher Bryce Huff, one of the best defensive players available. And he brought back safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who in many ways was the heart and attitude of the defense that helped the Eagles to Super Bowl LVII.

Head coach Nick Sirianni also replaced his offensive and defensive coordinator after Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie decided not to make the head coach the fall guy for the disturbing, late-season fall. And the result of all that is an Eagles team that will seem familiar, but might look a lot different on the field.


Here's a look at how the Eagles redefined themselves over the past five months:

What they did

They brought in Barkley who, if he stays healthy, could change everything about their offense. They did get 1,049 rushing yards from the departed D'Andre Swift last year, but he wasn't much of a factor in the passing game. Barkley is capable of 1,400 rushing yards and can be a dangerous weapon through the air, too. He will force defenses to make a real difficult decision about which of the Eagles' many weapons to focus on this season.

They also brought Huff, who turned out to be a replacement for Haason Reddick who was later traded to the Jets. Reddick is better, but Huff, who had 10 sacks last season, is younger and was probably the best replacement available.

They also brought back Gardner-Johnson, whom they let leave in free agency one year earlier. Several players had pointed to the departure of Gardner-Johnson last season as a big reason why the Eagles defense wasn't as good. He not only had an NFL-best six interceptions in 12 games for them two years ago, he also brought an edge that they simply couldn't replace.

The Eagles also signed veteran linebacker Devin White and drafted two corners — Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean — making their defense a heck of a lot deeper than it was.

And, of course, they made big changes at the coordinator position. Kellen Moore was brought in to replace Brian Johnson, who was fired after one ugly year calling the Eagles plays. And 65-year-old Vic Fangio was brought in to straighten out the defensive mess caused by Sean Desai and Matt Patricia last year.

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What they didn't do

Honestly, there's really not much they didn't do. This was a good, deep team despite their late-season slide and they were well-positioned to withstand some of their departures. They'll be hurt by the retirement of future Hall of Fame center Jason Kelce, but they've been grooming Cam Jurgens to replace him. Fletcher Cox retired too, but with Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis at the top of the depth chart, defensive tackle is one of the deepest positions on the team.

They probably could have used more help in the pass rush, which they could have achieved by keeping Reddick and paying him the contract he wanted — which, to be honest, was probably way more than the Eagles would have been able to pay. And they could still use a No. 3 receiver after they signed Devante Parker, only to watch him retire, and then they grabbed Parris Campbell off the scrap heap.

But they were really aggressive. There wasn't much they left undone.

Biggest addition

Barkley might turn out to be the biggest addition to any team, anywhere in the NFL. Granted, he has to stay healthy, which has been a challenge for the 27-year-old running back. But when he was healthy in 2022 he had 1,312 rushing yards and 57 catches for 338 yards on a Giants team with a mediocre offensive line and no other dangerous weapons.

Just imagine what he can do behind one of the NFL's best lines on a team loaded with offensive firepower.

The Eagles have, which is why they gave him $26 million in guaranteed money and will make him a focal point of their offensive plan.

Biggest loss

It could be Reddick, who had 27 sacks in his two seasons in Philly. But at least they brought in Huff to fill some of the hole he left behind. Instead, the biggest loss will surely be Kelce, who retired after 13 stellar seasons in the league — all with the Eagles. His leadership might be impossible to replicate. But more than that, his play has been a big part of what made the Eagles' line one of the NFL's best for a long time. And he might be the reason why their famous "Tush Push" play has become unstoppable.

Jurgens will be a fine replacement. But stepping into the shoes of a Hall of Fame player and leader won't be easy. It might turn out to be impossible.

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Biggest question heading into camp

Will the secondary be as good as the Eagles think it is?

That is most definitely a unit in transition — especially at cornerback. Darius Slay is 33 years old. James Bradberry will be 31 in August and coming off a terrible season. Avonte Maddox has played in just 13 games the last two seasons and had to take a huge pay cut to return. Mitchell and DeJean are the future, but no one knows yet if they're ready to step in now.

The talent is clearly there, but there are a lot of question marks. The unit could be a strength. It also could turn out to be the biggest weak spot on the team.

Offseason grade: A

There's nothing not to like about what they did. Instead of resting on laurels, the Eagles got aggressive and went straight after the top free agents on both sides of the ball. They changed both their coordinators one season after they changed both their coordinators. And they were extremely aggressive in the draft, where they ended up with the two best cornerbacks on a lot of teams' boards.

It's a lot of change for a team that was 10-1 at one point last season, but they were spurred into action by their 1-6 finish. They think their championship window is still wide open. They were clearly not willing to just sit back and watch it close.

Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.


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