Good morning. This is a relatively slow time on the NFL calendar, but it will pick up quickly. The window to use the franchise tag begins on Feb. 19 and the combine begins in two weeks.
— Zach Berman
With the attention shifting to free agency and the draft, it’s hard to forget that the Eagles don’t have a third-round pick this spring after trading it to Detroit for Golden Tate at midseason.
At the time of the deal, there was little question about the talent upgrade for the Eagles – any debate about whether it was a good trade focused on the price and the fit. Tate had 30 catches for 278 yards and one touchdown in eight regular season games before finishing with seven catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in the postseason. That touchdown, of course, was a game-winner in the wild card round over Chicago – a play that prompted NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth to declare the trade worth it for the Eagles.
Despite the touchdown, Tate seemed like an odd fit for the Eagles, considering they liked playing two-tight ends with Dallas Goedert, and that forced Tate or Nelson Agholor off the field. But there’s little doubt he came through on a big stage. Howie Roseman stood by the trade after the season.
“No question,” Roseman said. “When we made the trade, we were 4-4. We were looking for a spark. We were looking for more firepower on offense. When you talk about Golden, here is a guy who has incredible character, incredible production, can really fit any scheme. Everyone in this building was incredibly excited about adding him to our football team. We knew the price to pay.
“We wanted to make a playoff run. We wanted to make sure that we were putting our team in a position to do that. And we're always going to put our foot on the gas. It doesn't mean we're always going to be right, but we don't look back with regret. We look back at our process, and I feel very good about our process.”
So what’s ahead for Tate? He’s an unrestricted free agent. Unless the Eagles sign him to a contract extension during the next four weeks, he’ll be free to sign elsewhere. My guess is he’s in a different uniform next season. The only way I can see the Eagles bringing him back is if they let go of Agholor and wanted to allocate cap space in Tate’s direction.
But Tate should have a lot of value on the open market – he’s likely the top free agent wide receiver available – and he’ll find a bigger and better role than the way he was used in Philadelphia. He’s better than his 10 games with the Eagles revealed. When they made the trade, I figured it was more to plug a short-term need than as part of a long-term solution.
The Eagles will likely get a good compensatory pick for Tate, unless they’re big spenders themselves this spring. So that will help mitigate the cost of the trade. But when the third round begins in April, the Eagles will need to live with missing a top 100 pick for 37 catches in 10 games.
The Buccaneers released former Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry after one season on Tuesday. Curry, who signed a three-year, $23 million in Tampa Bay, had 2.5 sacks last season.
The question naturally comes up about whether the Eagles should have interest in a reunion with Curry. He was a solid player for the Eagles, although he’s only once had more than four sacks in a season, and that was in 2014. He turns 31 in June. He was a starter on the Super Bowl roster, but sentimentality shouldn’t rule. Perhaps if the Eagles were looking for a depth defensive lineman, they can turn to Curry’s direction. However, they already have decisions to make on three defensive ends north of 30 (Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, and Chris Long).
They return Derek Barnett as a starter and significant contributor, but they need to get younger elsewhere at the position. My guess is they’ll be active searching for edge rushers in a deep draft class, and the free agent class offers pass rushers who are younger and better than Curry. I think Bennett is back next season and Long’s decision will likely depend on what kind of role he would have with the Eagles next season. But who’s in the pipeline at the position? Josh Sweat? If the Eagles are bringing in pass rushers who weren’t on the team last season, their age should begin with a 2 – not a 3.
There were two draft-related stories this week that could affect the Eagles. The biggest story was that Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray is committed to playing football – not baseball. The Eagles obviously won’t be in the Murray market early in the draft, but this could send ripples through the first round. Also, it might even make a quarterback-hungry team consider waiting until the draft to address the position instead of committing big money to Nick Foles. Certainly, it’s worth watching.
Elsewhere, Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffrey Simmons tore his ACL while training for the combine. Simmons was a projected first-round pick, and the injury hurts what’s considered a historically deep defensive line draft class. That could push a defensive lineman up on the board, potentially affecting who’s available when the Eagles pick at No. 25.
If I had to guess today, I’d say one of their two second-round picks. But it all depends who’s on the board. They shouldn’t force it if the player isn’t there.