Good morning, Eagles fan! That’s just a joke. I know there are thousands of loyal Eagles fans who are signed up for our newsletter, thousands more who read our stories, and millions more around the globe. There might not be a better fan base in this country. But it’s got to be difficult to bleed green — and my assumption is there has been a lot of figurative bleeding of the heart the last four months — after this season.
The best part of the Eagles’ 20-14 loss to Washington on Sunday was that it meant the end to what might have been the most dreadful season in more than 20 years. The 4-11-1 record does not do enough justice to how bad this team was in 2020. Three of the Eagles’ four wins came against backup quarterbacks, and the other one came when the New York Giants choked away a two-score lead with less than six minutes to play.
But now is not the time to look back, and who wants to relive those 16 games anyway? It’s time to start anew and see how the Eagles plan on rebuilding from the ashes of their three-year regression after winning a Super Bowl. So I’ll have a look later at how the offseason should unfold with key dates to remember as the team begins the process toward free agency, the draft, and offseason workouts.
The roster is likely to have as much of a one-year turnover as it’s had in two decades. Leadership, at least in terms of the personnel department and coaching, isn’t changing. Barring some unforeseen change of heart, owner Jeffrey Lurie plans on retaining general manager Howie Roseman and coach Doug Pederson. They begin roster evaluations Wednesday, first the offense, then defense, and will then pursue appropriate changes on the coaching staff as soon as possible.
Those changes, along with other personnel, football operations, and medical staff decisions, will be made over the coming weeks. And then, when most of the staff is assembled, they’ll reconvene and begin making decisions on individual players. It should be an eventful offseason.
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Dates to remember for the Eagles’ offseason
There aren’t many official dates on the NFL offseason schedule, and few are written in ink this year because of the coronavirus. But here’s a look at how the next several months should unfold for the Eagles and the league:
Jan. 25-30: Senior Bowl week. Many of the best graduating players who will be eligible for the draft will be in Mobile, Ala., for several days of practices, informal meetings with prospective NFL teams, and the Jan. 30 game. This year’s event will be scaled down in terms of media access, but it takes on slightly more meaning with the East-West Shrine Game, another opportunity for teams to evaluate players, canceled this year. The Eagles could be one of two coaching staffs chosen to run a squad. It would offer them a chance to get a closer look at prospects.
Feb. 7: Super Bowl LV. The Eagles, of course, won’t be playing in Tampa. But this date could be important if they have plans to hire one of the assistants coaching in the Super Bowl to replace the departing Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator.
Feb. 22-28 (unofficial): NFL combine. It’s difficult to imagine the league being able to pull off the combine as previously held. The entire league, plus hundreds of athletes and their handlers, typically descend on Indianapolis for a week of workouts, meetings, and medical examinations. The Eagles, like most teams, also use the gathering as an opportunity to meet with other teams and agents to discuss potential free agents and trades.
Feb. 23-March 9: Franchise/transition player designation period. The Eagles don’t have any pending free agents worthy of the franchise or transition tag. But they will be monitoring other teams to see if certain top players reach the market.
March 17: League year begins. The “legal” tampering period usually begins three days in advance of the opening of the new year. The Eagles aren’t likely to be major players in free agency because of their salary-cap issues. But they should be able to make a few minor moves. A blockbuster trade is more likely, and moving quarterback Carson Wentz would likely occur around this period.
March 20: Third league day. The Eagles would need to move Wentz before this date if they don’t want to pay the $10 million roster bonus he would earn in 2022.
March 28-31 (unofficial): League meetings. The NFL has quarterly meetings, but this is the big one when most rule changes are voted on. Coaches and general managers are also on location, and the event often acts as the unofficial end to free agency. Last year’s meetings were canceled because of COVID-19, and if numbers are still high by this time, it could again be done virtually.
April 19: Start of offseason workouts for teams with incumbent coaches. If the Eagles hire a new head coach, they would begin workouts two weeks earlier, but because Pederson is likely to return for a sixth season, they’ll likely reconvene at the NovaCare Complex (hopefully) for the start of voluntary practices and meetings.
Mid-late April: 2021 NFL schedule is released. The Eagles know their opponents: home and away games vs. NFC East rivals Cowboys, Giants and Washington; home games vs. the Saints, Buccaneers, Chiefs, Chargers, and 49ers; and road games vs. the Falcons, Panthers, Raiders, Broncos, and Lions. If there’s a 17th game, and it should be voted upon at the league meetings, the Jets will be the final opponent. The schedule release sets the dates and times.
April 23: Last day of restricted free-agent signing period. The Eagles have just two restricted free agents: punter Cameron Johnston and running back Boston Scott. There’s a good chance they will tender offers to both.
April 28: Last day to match offer sheets for RFAs. If any team were to try and sign Johnston or Scott, the Eagles would have until this date to match the offer. If not, they would receive a draft pick in return based upon the level of the original tender.
April 29 — May 1: NFL draft. The league has yet to announce a location.It held last year’s draft virtually, and it went off without a hitch. The Eagles have the No. 6 overall pick in the first round, and six more selections (second, third, fifth, fifth, sixth, and seventh).
What you need to know about the Eagles
From Jeff McLane: Eagles players, coaches were shocked by Pederson’s QB switch, resulting in sideline confrontations.
From Marcus Hayes: Pederson’s tank strategy in the Eagles’ finale will haunt him, NFL sources agree.
From Les Bowen: Roseman, Pederson say the Eagles’ focus remains on fixing Wentz, as they confront an overdue rebuild of the roster.
McLane writes that Roseman admits to repeat mistakes, so why is Lurie willing to make the same with his GM before the Eagles rebuild?
From the mailbag
How on earth is this possible? Nelson Agholor has more touchdown this season than Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Alshon Jeffery, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, DeSean Jackson, and Jalen Reagor COMBINED. — Hugh Hibbs, @HughHibbs1, via Twitter
That’s amazing, but I checked your math, Hugh, and it’s true. Agholor’s eight receiving touchdowns were one more than the seven from Goedert (3), Ertz (1), Jeffery (1), Jackson (1), Reagor (1) and Arcega-Whiteside (0). The Eagles overall had only 22 passing touchdowns. Greg Ward (6) and Travis Fulgham (4) led the team, which is also amazing. Nothing against both those guys, but in terms of salary-cap and draft-pick allocation, the team didn’t get much in return from the other guys this season.
The easy answer to your question, obviously, is, yes, it’s possible because it happened! Why did it happen? Well, for many reasons. Wentz was terrible. Pederson’s game-planning and play-calling were terrible. The high-priced, highly drafted receivers and tight ends were terrible, for the most part. And there were a bunch of injuries.
If you’re looking for a rainbow, my guess is that only two of six you listed, Goedert and Reagor, will be back next season.
As for Agholor, he’s always had the talent. It was just a matter of putting it all together. Agholor’s struggles in Philly were partially attributed to the pressure of being a first-round draft pick. He also had to endure a revolving door at quarterback. He had some highs. He found his niche in the slot in 2017. But there were a lot of lows. Anytime the Eagles moved him outside, he had trouble catching the ball.
He bet on himself last offseason, signed a one-year deal, and had his best season with the Raiders. He could be in line for a pretty nice free-agent contract this offseason.