As the lockout continues, we still await trades and free agency. Sure, we have an idea of what we believe will happen when the period opens up. However, there are multiple options out there so it’s hard to be positive what the Eagles will do.
Despite not knowing who will stay or go, there are definitely some areas that the Eagles will need to address more than others.
Here’s a list of the top five positions I think the Eagles will need to look at the closest when the lockout is lifted.
The linebacker position has a lot of question marks as we look ahead to the 2011 season. Will the Eagles let Stewart Bradley and Ernie Sims walk? Will one of the rookies be asked to step into the starting lineup?
It’s been a long time since the Eagles had a linebacker who was a dominant force. Jamar Chaney is starting to emerge, but the Eagles could use a veteran presence to help all of the young guys learn.
If they keep Bradley, I’m not sure how likely they’ll be to bring in a top-notch player. Bradley’s suffered from some injuries recently and has played inconsistently at times, but he may be able to shine again when he moves out of the middle.
Regardless, Andy Reid needs more out of his linebacker unit than he has recently received.
4. Defensive End
After attacking this position hard last offseason, it’s a bit upsetting that it still remains on the list. However, the Eagles still haven’t received as much out of their defensive ends as they would have liked.
Trent Cole is a very talented player, but he tends to wear down late in the season as we’ve seen his numbers drop down the stretch. Brandon Graham was brought in to be the guy opposite Cole, but he suffered an injury late last year and looks unlikely to be ready for the start of the 2011 campaign.
There are some guys on the roster that could potentially step up and be helpful in the rotation. Even if a few a players do, it’s still unlikely that any of them will turn into the dominant pass rusher the Eagles are looking for.
After one run in Philly, many fans would like to see the Eagles get Jason Babin back. The Eagles just stole the Titans’ defensive line coach, and now they may be able to steal one of their defensive lineman.
3. Offensive Tackle
In Winston Justice we trust, or at least it seems like that is the belief for the Eagles. After some hoped the Eagles would draft an offensive tackle in the first round of the draft, the Eagles failed to do so. Actually, they didn’t draft an offensive tackle the entire draft.
Justice played very inconsistently last season and ended his season by being benched by Andy Reid. Having trust in a guy who ended his season in that fashion is very surprising. Add on the fact that Justice is responsible for protecting Michael Vick’s blindside and the thought is quite nerve-racking.
Justice definitely has the talent, but he has to be more consistent. Howard Mudd will try to help Justice with that, but the Eagles still may need to look to free agency. Bringing in a guy like Jammal Brown may be a good idea.
It seems likely that the Eagles will trade Kevin Kolb shortly after the lockout is lifted. When they do so, they will create a hole at the backup quarterback position. Mike Kafka simply hasn’t had enough repetitions to be relied on as a guy who can be called upon if needed.
When Kolb gets traded, the Eagles will need someone reliable who can step in if anything happens to Vick. There are some veteran options out there, so the Eagles will have options. However, they’ll want to trade Kolb quickly so not all the quarterbacks are gone when it’s time to take one.
Some rumors as of late have talked about the Eagles and Vince Young. I’m not sure if this is the best match in the world, but I wouldn’t rule it out completely.
There is clearly no bigger existing hole on this team than the cornerback position. The Eagles absolutely need to fill this hole immediately when free agency opens after failing to do so during the draft.
There’s been plenty of debate surrounding Nnamdi Asomugha. He’s clearly the best player available at the position, but he’s going to cost a lot of money. The Eagles have money available to make a play at Asomugha, but you must also factor his age into the equation. Typically, the Eagles start to fill weary about players when they turn 30. Asomugha will be 30 soon, so you have to wonder how concerned the Eagles feel about that.
Outside Asomugha, there are still some solid options available. Guys like Jonathon Joseph an Brent Grimes are on the next tier below Asomugha, and they will cost less money. Both of them are also much younger.
Regardless, I think the Eagles will know exactly who they want when free agency opens and will bring that player in immediately, without letting him leave until a deal gets done.