Eagles Mailbag: Receiver solutions, linebackers, free agency

Eagles Mailbag: Receiver solutions, linebackers, free agency

Other teams are still playing and there are still months before free agency and the draft, but the NFL never sleeps. 

You have questions, we make up answers. 

Let's hop into this week's first mailbag: 

There are a few guys who would be good picks in the first round with that 14th or 15th pick. Mike Williams (Clemson), Corey Davis (Western Michigan) and John Ross (Washington) are considered the top three by most.

Ross is an interesting name because he's a lot like DeSean Jackson — a sub-6-foot burner who can deliver on deep balls. The other two are 6-3. 

There will be some options in the second round, too. If JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC) falls or if Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington) is still there, either would be a fine pick for good value. 

This kind of works with the first question, so we'll go back to back. I think they try to fix the receiver position through the draft and in free agency. That's how much help they need there. 

Remember, Howie Roseman put everything into getting a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz last offseason. So it would be crazy for the Eagles to not give him some help. Wentz's biggest weapons in 2016 were Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews. He needs a big-time weapon on the outside. 

If you're looking at free agents, there are plenty of options, but the Eagles don't have a lot of cap room. Everyone's going to talk about Jackson, but aside from him, there's Kenny Britt and Kamar Aiken. They're a couple years younger than Jackson, which would allow Wentz to grow with them some. Britt is a big receiver and Aiken has the ability to play inside and outside. Either would help upgrade what they have. Among those two, Britt will cost more money. 

On the list of needs the Eagles have, linebacker isn't near the top of the list for me. There's receiver, cornerback, running back and edge rusher, so linebacker isn't up there. 

The Eagles were very fortunate this season to have Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham on the field for most of it. Bradham has just one year left on his contract, and it might make sense to figure out a new contract with him. He's had his issues off the field but formed a nice duo with Hicks. 

And Joe Walker was just a seventh-round pick last year and suffered an ACL tear, but the team really liked him last training camp. He'll have a chance to return from injury and be the team's backup MIKE linebacker in 2017. 

So maybe the Eagles use a mid- or late-round pick on a linebacker, but if I was running the show, I wouldn't make it the biggest priority. 

Free agency starts at 4 p.m. on March 9. The legal tampering window begins on March 7. That's when teams can talk to soon-to-be free agents but can't agree to deals yet. 

The Eagles will have nine free agents. Take a look at them here

I think the Eagles need to sign a receiver. Maybe not a top of the line one, but not a bottom of the barrel either. They need to get someone they're confident will make them better there, not take a chance on a draft pick. It would just be unfair and cruel to Wentz to not offer him some immediate help. 

Eagles pick up compensatory fourth-round pick from Browns

Eagles pick up compensatory fourth-round pick from Browns

The NFL announced the list of compensatory picks for the 2017 draft and the Eagles weren't awarded any.

They're still going to get one, though. 

Thanks to the trade with the Browns to move up to No. 2 in last year's draft, the Eagles got back a conditional fifth-round pick that has now turned into a fourth. 

Basically, if the Browns received a fourth-round compensatory pick, the Eagles would get it. The Browns were awarded two (Nos. 139 and 142), so the Eagles get one. According to a league source, the Eagles will get No. 139 overall, the higher of the two.  

This is the first year teams are allowed to trade compensatory picks. The Bengals, Browns, Broncos and Chiefs were each awarded four compensatory picks. The highest compensatory pick awarded this year belongs to Miami at No. 97 in the third round. 

The Eagles still don't know where they'll pick in the first round -- either No. 14 or 15. That will be determined by a coin flip next week at the combine in Indianapolis. They have eight draft picks in total.

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

This isn't a big surprise, but Jason Peters will be back with the Eagles -- big salary and all -- for the 2017 season.

While the Eagles approached the veteran left tackle about his contract in January, Peters has not restructured his deal, according to a league source. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Thursday morning reported that Peters will be back next season on his normal contract. 

Yes, Peters is expensive in 2017. His base salary after hitting another Pro Bowl escalator written into his contract is up to $10.45 million for next season (plus a $250K workout bonus), which comes with a big cap hit of $11.7 million. That cap hit is the highest on the team, but not outlandish for a high-caliber left tackle. 

The Eagles could have very well cut Peters and moved on. It would have saved them significant cap space to use elsewhere. They just wouldn't have found any player more valuable to pay with that money. 

Peters, 35, is still their best option to protect Carson Wentz's blind side. He made his ninth Pro Bowl in 2016 after playing all 16 games. The team hasn't been shy about wanting him back and Peters toward the end of the season said he wanted to return for another year. 

"We certainly want to have him back," Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said of Peters in early January.

“I love him. I want him on the team,” head coach Doug Pederson said with two games remaining this past season. “I don’t want him to go anywhere."

With Peters back, it means Lane Johnson's eventual trip to left tackle will be held off for another year. Eventually, he'll take over that spot … just not right now. 

During the season, Peters opened up about his future, saying he hopes Wentz can be the guy who finally gets him a Super Bowl ring (see story).