Mailbag: On the Philadelphia Eagles' free agency haul, Jackson's future


I volunteered to give our esteemed, hard-working editor Troy Weller the week off by answering your questions. Thank you to those who sent them in.

There were a few quality pass rushers in free agency. Do the Eagles value the draft more for that position? – @Penseur76

I’m not sure I agree with the first statement there. The two best pass rushers from this free agent class never actually hit the market, as Washington and Pittsburgh retained Brian Orakpo and Jason Worilds, respectively. Beyond that, the only top pass rusher who was a fit was DeMarcus Ware, who is 31-years-old. Beyond Ware, no one available was a fit for what the Eagles were going for.

The Eagles value the draft at all positions because it yields young, cost-controlled players. Almost no team in the NFL is more conscientious of the salary cap than the Eagles are, and the draft is a critical part of accomplishing what they do with the cap year in and year out. Edge rushers are arguably the most important players on a defense, and I am confident the Eagles heavily value the position. That said, this does not necessarily mean they draft one in the first round. It will all depend on who is available.

Who are potential DeSean Jackson trade partners? – @TheGalviz_05

Right off the bat, you can eliminate teams that can’t afford Jackson’s $12.75 million cap hit in 2014. So even though Carolina needs wide receiver help in the worst way, they don’t have the cap room to accommodate a contract like Jackson’s. Obviously New England and San Francisco have expressed interest based on Derrick Gunn’s report. I expect the New York Jets to make calls as well because they have cap room and an open starting spot across from Eric Decker, and Oakland may kick the tires since they have a ton of cap room and may not be fully removed from their obsession with flashy acquisitions.

There will be interest for sure. The question, of course, will be how much will teams be willing to give up for a wide receiver who will cost nearly $13 million in cap room this season? His contract is very fair for his production, but it’s also a hindrance in trade talks.

How well did the Eagles address the secondary, at both positions? And how much more work do they need to do? – Corey L. from Reading

I like everything they’ve done. Nate Allen got a bad reputation after playing his second and third seasons behind a Wide-9, and quietly had an above average season in 2013. Malcolm Jenkins has question marks, but will be asked to play to his strengths for Billy Davis. And Nolan Carroll is a cheap contract that is, at the bare minimum, an upgrade over Roc Carmichael as the fourth cornerback. He could potentially challenge Cary Williams for one of the starting spots.

Jenkins and Allen can be penciled in as the starting safeties, though if a starting-caliber safety is drafted, my guess would be that it’s Allen who is shuffled out of the starting spot. I highly doubt the Eagles are using a high pick on a safety, though, as teams usually grade safeties lower than media entities do.

The goal of free agency is to go into the draft without having a position of need. They have accomplished that with these moves. The Eagles got themselves in trouble in 2011 by drafting for need and struck out on their first three picks because of it. Drafting best player available in the last two seasons has worked much better. The Eagles will draft at least one more secondary piece in May, though not necessarily in the early rounds. It all depends on how other teams go about their business.