The Eagles came out of last week's draft with some good players, but still some potential holes left to fill. The only spot that absolutely must be addressed is right cornerback. Joselio Hanson isn't meant to be a starter. Trevard Lindley is still a project. I'm not sure what Dimitri Patterson's future is. Rookie Curtis Marsh isn't a player that is likely to do much in 2011. The Eagles really do need to bring in an outside player to fill the hole.
Jimmy Smith was a player the Eagles had targeted prior to the draft, but late in the process they pulled him off the draft board. That tells me that there is some other plan in place. The Eagles have set their sights on a free agent or player they feel can be acquired in a trade.
Raiders corner Nnamdi Asomugha is the big name in free agency. Actually, that description doesn't do it justice. Think of Eagles fans as Capatain Ahab and Nnamdi as Moby Dick. Asomugha is an obsession among Eagles fans. He would make a lot of sense. Asomugha can literally shut down his side of the field. Adding a guy with his size and cover skills would be a huge help to the defense. That would force quarterbacks to throw over the middle or to Asante Samuel's side. The defense could then anticipate those throws better and that might lead to a lot of broken up passes and interceptions.
There are only a couple of downsides to Asomugha. He will turn 30 in July. Cornerbacks have a tendency to really slide once they hit 30. They can still play and be effective in some cases, but not in the same way. Will Asomugha decline this year, next year, or in a few years? That's a question that teams must address before going after him. The other downside is cost. Asomugha has a huge salary now. I don't know that he's looking for a raise, but he will expect to make a lot of money. Teams would be comfortable paying him a lot if they knew he'd continue to be a shutdown corner. There is tremendous value in having a player like that. There is a very real possibility you could give him a big deal, but only get a year of elite play. Asomugha would likely remain a good starter even if he slipped a bit, but would he be worth a huge salary at that point? He's not a playmaker like Charles Woodson, another big corner who had to adapt as his cover skills slipped.
I know some people will ask why I care about money. Just go pay the guy and hope for the best. It is Jeff Lurie's money so I have no problem spending it. The problem comes in the locker room. Other players see how much a guy gets. If you pay huge money to a player you need to be able to sell his teammates on the notion that this guy can help get us to the Super Bowl. Even then, some guys get jealous and that leads to bickering with management over raises or even arguments between the players themselves.
I think some desperate teams will pay Asomugha huge bucks. The Houston Texans have never made the playoffs. Gary Kubiak isn't on a hot seat. He's sitting on the surface of the sun. He'll do anything to win. I can see him writing a blank check to Asomugha. Detroit is a team I wonder about. They have acquired a lot of talent, but desperately need secondary help. The Lions saw the effect a star free agent had for the Bears last year when they added Julius Peppers. Could Asomugha have the same effect for the Lions? We can also never count out Jerry Jones. He's almost addicted to rolling the dice and taking chances.
While we do have a hole at right cornerback we do have a star player in Samuel on the other side. That means we can go after Asomugha if we want, but aren't a desperate team. There are some other potential targets to go after. I'm not going to get into every possible name because we just don't know who is available and who isn't. A couple of fans came up with an interesting notion that is worth discussing. I had multiple people ask me if we could see the Eagles trade Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Interesting idea.
The Cardinals don't have a legit quarterback on their current roster. They just spent the number five pick in the draft on LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. He will be expected to be the star cover guy. That could free them up to trade Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC for short). Would the Eagles even be interested? Very possible.
Back in 2008 the Eagles scouted DRC heavily. They met with him at the Senior Bowl and later brought him to Philly for a visit. The Eagles held the 19th pick in the first round and may have had him targeted. Arizona took him with pick 16. The Eagles then traded back into the second round. DRC played well for the Cardinals for a couple of years, but hasn't turned into the star player they hoped for. He still is very talented. DRC has good size and elite speed. He's picked off 13 passes in three years, which shows you he's got some playmaking skills. He's also broken up 61 passes in that time. DRC turned 25 about a month ago so he's not even reached his peak yet.
This is all pure speculation. The lockout is still in place so teams can't officially talk to each other. We don't know the rules of free agency for sure. Bengals corner Jonathan Joseph might be on the market or he might not. We do know that Kolb is virtually assured of being dealt. Arizona just makes a lot of sense as a trade partner. Seattle was really interested in McNabb and Kolb last year so I can see them still being a trade partner. Other teams it is hard to figure. Who knows what the Dolphins are thinking? I've had some people ask me about Cleveland, with the Tom Heckert-Kevin Kolb connection. I think the Browns will stick with Colt McCoy.
The Eagles wanted a cornerback last year, but nothing worked out. They had Ellis Hobbs in place as a fall back plan. There is no Hobbs this year. The Eagles will do everything in their power to land a high quality corner. In a fantasy world I'd love to see Asomugha be the guy, but I'm just not sure the money will make sense. The one x-factor that could help is if he wants to come to a winner and stable franchise. After suffering in Oakland Asomugha might decide taking less money is the way to go if it gets him to the right team.
I don't think the Eagles have any other holes that must be addressed. There are some areas that could be improved upon. If the right player is available to help up front, the Eagles will always take a look. Brandon Graham is still a player the team believes in, but coming off a knee injury makes him a non-factor in 2011. Juqua Parker wore down last year. There is no one person who is "the answer" at left end. I'm sure Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn will push Howie Roseman and Andy Reid to sign someone.
I think the Eagles will stick with the current guys at defensive tackle, but I don't say that with any sense of certainty. To me, defensive tackle is the position of mystery. We have four guys with talent and potential, but we just don't know if Washburn likes them. The one name of interest is Albert Haynesworth. He's been a major turd in Washington, but was a star for Washburn in Tennessee. If he's cut by the Skins, I'll be fascinated to see how we handle that. Haynesworth can still be an impact player when used right. I'm not sure if the outside distractions he brings have gotten so bad that he's no longer worth the hassle.
A lot of fans want a linebacker. I don't see that happening. I think Castillo will stick with Moise Fokou, Stewart Bradley, and Jamar Chaney to see what they do. That group has potential. There is uncertainty at strong safety. I think Quintin Mikell will leave in free agency. In the past I expected the Eagles to go after a veteran as a temporary fix, but the drafting of Jaiquawn Jarrett at pick 54 has me re-considering. The Eagles really like him. Maybe they will let him and Kurt Coleman battle for the starting job.
Finally, once Kolb is dealt there will be a need for a veteran quarterback. The fantasy addition here would be Matt Hasselbeck. I think he'll look around and see if he can find a starting gig. If that doesn't pan out, he would be a great backup. I don't have faith that Mike Vick will start all 16 games with his reckless/aggressive style of play. Mike Kafka is a year away from being legit backup material. Hasselbeck would be an ideal addition