While not tipping his hand in either direction new Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said the team would do whatever it takes to improve the club. Hereâ€™s a position by position look at what the Eagles have and who they may go after on the free agent market.
Running Back â€“ The release of Brian Westbrook creates a void behind projected starter LeSean McCoy and there are some decent backs available. The problem is players such as Darren Sproles, Chester Taylor, LenDale White (restricted), and Pierre Thomas (restricted) are going to want to go somewhere to be the featured back. Look for the Eagles to address this need with a mid-round draft pick.
Fullback â€“ Reports say the Eagles are close to getting a new deal done with soon-to-be-restricted free agent Leonard Weaver. That would be a good thing and make this position not a need.
Wide Receiver â€“ Unless the Eagles fail to keep No. 3 receiver Jason Avant, there is no need to look here for help. Youngsters Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson along with the tough Avant give the Eagles a good trio of receivers no matter who the quarterback is.
Tight End â€“ Again, the team is more than set here with starter Brent Celek and backups Cornelius Ingram, who should be healthy for the first time in two years, and the very promising Martin Rucker. Alex Smith, not a bad veteran backup, will likely be allowed to test the free agent market himself.
Tackles â€“ Jason Peters and Winston Justice are both on long-term contracts, so donâ€™t look for the Eagles to spend any more money here. And while they could use a better backup than King Dunlap, he will probably come from the draft.
Guards â€“ Depending on what the team decides to do with Stacy Andrews, or if Andrews gives in to a restructured contract, could determine if the team goes the free agent route here or spends a draft pick on a guard. Some of the better ones available are New Orleansâ€™ Jahri Evans, who the Saints will likely re-sign, New Englandâ€™s Logan Mankins, Atlantaâ€™s Harvey Dahl and former Eagle Bobbie Williams, who developed into a nice player with Cincinnati.
Center â€“ A definite area of need even before Jamaal Jackson tore his ACL near the end of last season and now the biggest need on the offensive side of the ball. Nick Cole will be given a chance for the job, but you could do better. Seattleâ€™s Chris Spencer and Green Bayâ€™s Jason Spitz are both restricted free agents.
Defensive End â€“ The Eagles are going to add someone here be it through free agency or the draft. They need a left-side end to play opposite right end Trent Cole and there are options. The big name, of course, is Julius Peppers and youâ€™ve heard the rumors. The feeling here is the Eagles arenâ€™t going to pay a big, big contract to a 30-year-old end who has been known to be inconsistent at times. Then again, you never know. Other more affordable and perhaps even more productive options include Green Bayâ€™s Aaron Kampman, Minnesotaâ€™s Ray Edwards and Dallasâ€™ Marcus Spears.
Defensive Tackle â€“ The Eagles like their starters â€“ Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley â€“ and got a real find in Antonio Dixon off the waiver wire. They could use an inside pass rusher, but who couldnâ€™t? They donâ€™t just fall off trees, or become available in free agency.
Linebackers â€“ The Eagles havenâ€™t taken one of these in the first round since 1979 (Jerry Robinson), but they have done their share of free agent shopping here. If they want to go after a middle linebacker and move Stewart Bradley back to the strong side, Indyâ€™s Gary Brackett, a South Jersey native, would be ideal. Good luck getting him away from the Colts, however. Outside, Arizonaâ€™s Karlos Dansby is the best available and is unrestricted. He would be ideal for the Eagles.
Cornerbacks â€“ The Eagles could use some depth here, but would most likely address the need through the draft where they could develop a player to eventually replace Sheldon Brown.
Safeties â€“ Perhaps the teamâ€™s biggest need, there does not appear to be any help available on the free agent market. With that in mind, look for a safety to get drafted in the first two rounds.
Contact Mark Eckel at Meckel@njtimes.com