Eagles changing approach to free agency, eliminating ‘one-year window’ contracts

The Philadelphia Eagles have spent the past few seasons trying to repeat their Super Bowl glory from 2017, signing older players to one-year deals an an attempt to “win now” and make a deep playoff run. That plan didn’t reach fruition for general manager Howie Roseman, as the Eagles suffered a multitude of injuries throughout the 2018 and 2019 seasons while making back-to-back playoff appearances.

Philadelphia fell short of the Super Bowl the past two seasons, advancing only as far as the divisional round of the playoffs. January’s first-round exit convinced Roseman and company the Eagles need to get younger across the board, with a four-game winning streak to close the year as the driving factor behind the change in philosophy. The Eagles had an offense that featured a practice squad running back and multiple practice squad wide receivers getting valuable snaps en route to the NFC East title. 

Changing their free agent approach is the first step the Eagles are attempting in order to get younger, eliminating the one-year “win now” contracts and returning to signing players heading into their prime on their second contracts. 

“If we can get the right free agents, we’re not in a mode now where maybe we try to find the undervalued older guys that we tried to find the last couple of years,” Roseman said at the NFL Scouting Combine Tuesday, per the Eagles website. “Going forward, we’re trying to build this over a period of time. We’re not in this one-year window … looking at this 2020, 2021, 2022, in this three-year period of getting guys for a part of it. I guess similar to how we looked at free agency in 2016 and 2017.”

The Eagles took an aggressive approach in free agency in 2016, Roseman’s first season back in power as executive vice president of football operations. Philadelphia signed Brandon Brooks and Rodney McLeod, two players coming off their rookie deals and heading toward their best years of football ahead. Brooks has become arguably the best guard in the game, making three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances, while McLeod has solidified the safety position with Pro Bowler Malcolm Jenkins. 

The next season, Philadelphia signed Alshon Jeffery to a one-year deal and acquired Timmy Jernigan, adding two major contributors to the Super Bowl team. The Eagles signed both Jeffery and Jernigan to extensions later in that 2017 season. While the signings didn’t work out in the longterm, both players fit the mold of Philadelphia signing players in their mid-to-late 20s heading into their prime. 

Philadelphia shied away from that philosophy over the past few seasons in an attempt to get Carson Wentz’s deal done, but that has since been completed. The Eagles can get back to building around Wentz, signing players to team-friendly deals. 

The Eagles have a projected $41,875,800 in salary cap space (per Over The Cap), so there is room to be aggressive in free agency in 2020, unlike past offseasons. While Philadelphia can’t go crazy with its money, the Eagles can be aggressive in getting a player or two they covet. 

Perhaps a game-changing pass catcher for Wentz?

“We’re always looking to add weapons and help for our quarterback,” Roseman said. “It’s a big part of our job is to surround him with playmakers, protect him, of course. And so that’s something that will always be a focus as we start an offseason.

“We desperately want to win this year, but more building this team over 2020, 2021, hopefully, 2022 — it’s hard to look three years out really, but keep our eye on that. That maybe changes the complexion of our decisions this offseason that is different than coming off the Super Bowl or coming off losing to the Saints in the divisional round.”

Roseman has always been at his best when he’s aggressive on the free agent and trade market. Don’t sleep on the Eagles come March. 

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