Philadelphia Eagles, Losers Of More Talent Than Anyone This Offseason, Still Trying To Run It Back

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After the Philadelphia Eagles lost Miles Sanders in free agency and signed Rashaad Penny as part of the plan to replace him, quarterback Jalen Hurts called and spoke to the new running back addition about winning a Super Bowl for Philadelphia.

And this is indicative of where the Eagles are this offseason:

The defending NFC champions have been bleeding talent in free agency. They’ve lost six starters so far.

But amid the losses, some significant and painful, the Eagles still believe they can not just survive the losses but continue to be a championship contender capable of running it back in 2023.

It’ll be interesting to watch them try. Because so far the weight of losses tilt toward a team that doesn’t look quite as good.

Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles pitches the ball to Miles Sanders against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field on October 30, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles Hope To Replace Leading Rusher Sanders

In the Sanders-Penny case the club is moving on from the league’s fifth-leading rusher who gained 1,269 yards, and adding a player who has played only 38 of a possible 66 games with Seattle because of injuries, the latest a broken fibula last season.

And, yes, I get the idea of not overpaying for a running back considering Sanders got a four-year, $25.4 million deal from the Carolina Panthers.

But no one can look at the exchange dispassionately and suggest the Eagles are better because of it. At least not yet.

The same is true about some of the significant losses the Eagles have endured.

The loss of defensive tackle Javon Hargrave to the 49ers makes the Eagles weaker and the Niners, who played Philly in the NFC championship game, better.

Hargrave, who had 11 sacks last season, is perhaps the team’s biggest offseason loss.

Javon Hargrave of the Philadelphia Eagles sacks Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears during the third quarter at Soldier Field on December 18, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Eagles Losing Hargrave Has To Sting

The Eagles in free agency have also lost … starting guard Isaac Seumalo, starting inside linebacker T.J. Edwards, backup receiver Zach Pascal, starting safety Marcus Epps, inside linebacker Kyzir White, backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, reserve tackle Brett Toth, and reserve tackle Andre Dillard, a former first-round pick.

But the coach Nick Sirianni, general manager Howie Roseman, and players all believe the Eagles are nonetheless reloading for another championship run in 2023.

“I wake up every morning thinking about this football team, and I go to bed every night thinking about this football team,” Roseman said at the NFL Combine three weeks ago. “It’s constant communication about some of the things we are going to do.

“At the same time, we’re going to prioritize the things that are important to us, that we build our team on. We’re going to make sure those areas are strong.

“Are we going to get all the free agents back? We’re just not. We’re not capable of getting all those guys back, but we also understand we’re in a good situation in terms of picks that we have going forward. We have a lot of guys under contract, not only for this year, but going forward. We’re not going to make excuses for the position we’re in.”

Howie Roseman
General manager Howie Roseman of the Philadelphia Eagles talks to the media during training camp at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Howie Roseman Trying To Reload Eagles

No excuses necessary. The Eagles, boasting two first-round selections including No. 10 overall in the April draft, should be able to add talent there this offseason.

But is the team that came within a couple of plays of winning Super Bowl LVII going to be better?

That’s hard to imagine at this stage.

The Eagles will definitely be relying on some younger players in spots. They have no obvious starter at right guard unless Cam Jurgens moves over from reserve center. Second-year player Jordan Davis will have to step into a starting role to replace Hargrave after being a first-round pick last year. Nakobe Dean may have to do the same at linebacker after the losses of the team’s top two tacklers. And the back end of the defense is a question mark.

About that safety situation: The loss of playmaker C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who led the team with six interceptions, has to sting.

There were multiple reports coming out of Philadelphia that Gardner-Johnson signed for less with the Lions than he initially got in an offer from the Eagles. But there’s questions about that.

He turned down a three-year offer from the Eagles worth up to $24 million, according to his representation, and instead got a one-year deal from the Lions for $6.5 million.

But Gardner’s agents explained how numbers can be deceiving, making the point that Philly’s offer was heavily, heavily backloaded.

Tweet from C.J. Gardner’s representation.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson Departs To Lions

Gardner-Johnson has the certainty of the one-year in Detroit because his deal comes with $6.5 million in guarantees. And he can hit free agency again next year at age 26. This as opposed to playing for less than half that amount in Philadelphia and not being able to try free agency again until he is possibly cut before the 2025 season.

Good try, Howie.

The GM has done great work bringing back some veterans. Center Jason Kelce is back, as is reserve defensive end Brandon Graham, interior defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, and cornerbacks James Bradberry and Darius Slay (on a restructured contract).

The Eagles obviously saw these moves as “important to us” but there’s mixed reviews among other NFL teams.

The team keeping Slay, for example, had one NFL personnel man actually laughing out loud at the move. Why?

“He’s a bigger name than contributor at this stage,” he said. “That whole pass defense even last year was suspect against good quarterbacks. And they’ll see a few next season.”

Kelce is 35 years old and Graham will be 35 in April, which shouldn’t imply they’re not very valuable. But the clock is ticking.

It’s a fact that shows where the Eagles are now: Their championship window opened last season and now they’re trying to do what they can to keep it open.

Despite losing half a dozen starters.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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