In the first of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — Part 1 is Nelson Agholor to Kenjon Barner.
Cap hit: $2.13M
Roob: The first one is one of the most intriguing ones. It’s easy to just say, “Get rid of all the receivers except Jordan Matthews and start over!” And tempting, too. But the real world doesn’t work like that. Agholor would count a couple million more against the cap if the Eagles release him than if they keep him, so that’s one compelling reason to give him another year to try to find his way. And then there’s the simple fact that you can’t add four new wide receivers in one cap-strapped offseason, so somebody other than Matthews has to stay. And the biggest reason to keep Agholor around for another year is simply because somewhere lurking inside there may be a capable NFL wide receiver and the Eagles need to be absolutely sure a former first-round pick isn’t going to help them before cutting him loose so he can go to New England and catch 88 passes for 1,373 yards and make a Pro Bowl and win a Super Bowl ring. Maybe with a new position coach it will click in Year 3. I doubt it, but the Eagles have to find out.
Dave: You guys aren’t going to like this, but Agholor is going to be an Eagle in 2017. No, he probably doesn’t deserve it and has been a complete disaster of a first-round pick, but it would actually cost the Eagles more to cut him than it would to keep him on the team thanks to the way these rookie deals are structured. Now, the Eagles obviously need to upgrade the receiver position, so even while Agholor will be back for the 2017 season, he shouldn’t have the same starter-type role. If he does, the Eagles have done a terrible job at upgrading one of their worst positions. After two years, it really doesn’t look like Agholor will ever play up to his first-round draft status. Now, it’s about trying to get something out of him, making him at least a competent backup.
Cap hit: $705K
Roob: Allen played 40 percent of the defensive snaps this year as the third defensive tackle, and he played pretty well. Nothing spectacular, but pretty steady. Depending on what happens with Bennie Logan in free agency, Allen could be asked to start next year, and he can probably handle it. The Eagles would still need a third D-tackle to rotate in there, and I’d be careful about increasing Allen’s snap count too much beyond 50 percent. But he’s a good effort guy who's durable, solid and cheap.
Dave: There was clearly a dropoff this year when Bennie Logan went down and Allen came in to replace him. Logan is a good pass rusher and a good run stuffer. Allen doesn’t have the same impact as a pass rusher. But he still played well in 2016 and there’s no reason to get rid of him now, especially with how little he gets paid. If Logan doesn’t return, there’s a decent chance Allen will be a starter.
Cap hit: $615K
Roob: Andrews is going into his fourth NFL season and has never played a snap on the offensive line. He must have something going for him to stick around under two head coaches without playing a snap. The Eagles have some depth in the interior of the offensive line, but Andrews is a Jeff Stoutland favorite, and I’m going to guess he keeps him around for another year.
Dave: Andrews has been with the Eagles for a while now and still hasn’t played a role on offense. The team seems to really like him, but he was only active this year when other injuries came up. I think the Eagles continue to draft and bring in new linemen.
Roob: Bailey’s a great kid with a great story, a Philly native, played Division III ball at Delaware Valley College in nearby Doylestown. I’d love to see him make it, but the Eagles need real change at wide receiver, a genuine infusion of speed, size and ability, and Bailey just isn’t the kind of upgrade the Eagles need. Hope I’m wrong. I’d love to see the kid come out of nowhere and be a player, but the odds are overwhelmingly against him.
Dave: This spring, Bailey and Paul Turner should be on the same football field, which will make the city implode, so there’s no point to even continuing this list. Seriously, though, Bailey probably wouldn’t have been any worse than some of the Eagles’ wideouts this year. Still, he has an uphill battle ahead of him.
Cap hit: $1.95M
Roob: Barbre turns 33 this offseason, but he comes fairly cheap. He can play guard or tackle, and he seems to be another Stoutland favorite. I don’t want Barbre to be a starter next year. The Eagles need to get younger, stronger and more athletic up front. Depending on what happens with Jason Kelce, I’d expect Isaac Seumalo to start somewhere – either center or left guard. But I’m fine keeping Barbre around as a versatile backup who can fill in anywhere but center.
Dave: The Eagles could choose to cut Barbre and save $1.7 million, but it’s probably not worth doing it for that little bit of money. He's not nearly as good at tackle but he can play guard and his versatility is something NFL coaches really love. Barbre should be back next season, but not necessarily as a starter. Keep him around to push Isaac Seumalo, but eventually Seumalo should be able to take over the left guard spot.
Restricted free agent
Roob: Barner is a strange case. He made plays every time he got a chance, but he rarely got a chance. And the further along into the season we got, the fewer chances he got. Barner clearly has talent, and the Eagles clearly need to rebuild the running back position, but it sure seems like the coaches don’t like Barner. Heck, he was inactive against the Redskins a week after a 61-yard kickoff return. Barner averaged 4.8 yards per carry and 30.8 yards per kickoff return on a team with very few weapons, yet the coaches seemed to go out of their way to not play him. He was only the seventh NFL player since 1980 to average 4.8 yards per carry and over 30 yards per kick return. It’s obvious he can play. It’s equally obvious the Eagles have no interest in keeping him.
Dave: Barner has barely seen the field over the last two years with the Eagles and during that time, the team could have really used a new running back. While many fans look at Barner and wonder why he hasn’t gotten more of an opportunity, it’s become clear that this coaching staff just doesn’t think all that much of him. I expect the Eagles to place a right of first refusal (lowest) tender on the restricted free agent, but he’d then have to fight his way onto the team and I’m not so sure about his chances.