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Domo: Eagles may take WR in first round despite additions of Jeffery, Smith

LET'S QUICKLY review all of the exciting things that have been happening with Jim Schwartz's defense the last couple of months:

LET'S QUICKLY review all of the exciting things that have been happening with Jim Schwartz's defense the last couple of months:

* Both of his starting cornerbacks are gone, baby, gone. Leodis McKelvin was released and Nolan Carroll signed with the Cowboys.

* Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox's very valuable interior sidekick, Bennie Logan, signed with the Chiefs.

* Defensive end Connor Barwin, who had 311/2 sacks with the Eagles the last four years, was a salary cap casualty.

* Safety Malcolm Jenkins may or may not have been dangled as trade bait for Tom Brady's new best friend, Brandin Cooks.

* And, oh yeah, Mychal Kendricks and Marcus Smith still have lockers at the NovaCare Complex.

The Eagles have signed four players since the start of free agency earlier this month. All of them - wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, guard Chance Warmack and quarterback Nick Foles - play on offense.

The assumption is that the organization now will turn its attention to Schwartz's unit in the draft, which is a pretty easy assumption to make since, well, the Eagles' current defensive depth chart looks like a piece of Swiss cheese.

"We're not going to go out and try to sign a high-priced free agent if we don't think the value is there, even if it might be hard to look at the depth chart for a couple of months,'' executive vice-president of football operations Howie Roseman said earlier this month before the start of the free agency signing period.

"It's just not the right thing to do for our football team and our organization. That's a hard thing to do to look at an open spot on your depth chart. But it might be the right thing to do for the long-term of our team.''

The Eagles are fortunate in that their two biggest defensive needs - cornerback and edge-rusher - happen to be two of the deepest positions in the draft.

That said, I'm still of the opinion that the Eagles will select an offensive player with their first-round pick in next month's draft before finally turning their attention to defense.

Why do I think this? Well, because it's all about the quarterback right now.

Roseman has made it very clear that the No. 1 priority in the current renovation of the Eagles' roster is putting as many good players around Carson Wentz as possible. Everything else is a distant second.

"We're trying to build this thing around a young quarterback and get some continuity,'' he said. "That's our priority.

"We may have to take it on the chin for a year or two here from a resource perspective. But if we get this right, we can build around him him for a really long time.''

Because of the free-agent acquisitions of wide receivers Torrey Smith and Jeffery, some think it takes the draft's three projected first-round wide receivers - Mike Williams, Corey Davis and John Ross - out of the equation for the Eagles.

It doesn't.

I believe that for a couple of reasons. One is Jeffery's contract. He signed for just one year at $9.5 million (with an additional $4.5 million in incentives), so there's no guarantee he'll be in Philadelphia beyond the 2017 season, or that the Eagles will even be interested in re-signing him after this season.

Their desire to bring him in for one season makes a lot of sense. While they aren't likely to contend for the Super Bowl this season, they feel it's important to make sure Wentz continues to progress in his second pro season.

The addition of the 6-4, 230-pound Jeffery provides Wentz with a big target who should immediately improve a meek red-zone offense that finished 24th in the league last year.

But re-signing him to a long-term deal would be expensive. And while Roseman has done an excellent fishes-and-loaves job with limited cap space this offseason, he's going to have a fair share of cap challenges next year as well.

Cox's cap number will jump from $9.4 million this year to $17.9 million next year and $22 million in 2019.

Tight end Zach Ertz's cap number is scheduled to shoot up from $3 million this year to $10.2 million next year.

Offensive tackle Lane Johnson's will jump from $9.8 million to $12.2 million. Right guard Brandon Brooks' increases from $7.2 million to $10.7 million, and Jenkins' from $7.5 million to $10 million.

Roseman has mentioned on several occasions that the 2014 draft, which included a slew of immediate-impact wideouts, including the Bucs' Mike Evans, the Giants' Odell Beckham Jr., the Bills' Sammy Watkins, the Saints' Brandin Cooks, the Panthers' Kelvin Benjamin and the Eagles' Jordan Matthews, was an anomaly.

He's usually said it as a defense of 2015 first-round pick Nelson Agholor. But it's true. The large majority of rookie wideouts need a year or two to ripen.

So, they can draft Williams or Davis or Ross and bring them along slowly, while Jeffery helps Wentz. Then, if Jeffery leaves after the season, they can just plug in the guy they drafted.

Another factor to consider is Matthews. He's entering the final year of his rookie contract. The Eagles obviously would like to re-sign him. But at what price?

Matthews has been their best wideout the last three years. He has 225 receptions and 19 touchdowns since they took him in the second round of the 2014 draft. Fifty-seven percent of those catches have resulted in first downs.

But he lines up mainly in the slot. When Doug Pederson was first hired last year, he said he was going to broaden Matthews' role and give him an opportunity to play outside more. But that experiment was short-lived.

Even on an offense that got next to nothing from its outside receivers last year, Matthews was kept primarily in the slot.

There are slot receivers in the league making good money. The Seahawk's Doug Baldwin signed a four-year, $46 million extension ($24.5 million in guarantees) last year. And the Packers' Randall Cobb signed a four-year, $40 million deal with $13 million in guarantees in 2015.

But it's hard to envision the Eagles, who also have to start thinking about the second contract Wentz will be asking for after the 2018 season, re-signing Jeffery to a big deal and then also giving Matthews a $12 million-a-year contract.

This draft doesn't have a terribly deep wide receiver crop. But as I said earlier, it is deep at cornerback and edge-rusher.

The Eagles can pass on cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and/or Tre'Davious White in the first and still get corners in the second, third, fourth, and even fifth rounds that might be able to help Schwartz right away.

They can pass on edge-rushers Derek Barnett and/or Taco Charlton at 14 and still get a guy with double-digit-sack potential on Day 2 or 3.

Right here, right now, it's all about the young quarterback and surrounding him with talent. After they've done that, then they'll worry about the defense.

@Pdomo Blog: