Soon, Howie Roseman and Nick Siriani will be sitting down and figuring out who needs to go and who needs to stay.
We figured we’d help them.
With the 2021 season in the rearview mirror, here’s a look at the 11 players (and one coach) the Eagles need to move on from. Some slam dunks. Some calls are tough. Some have had disastrous seasons. In fact, some have not played badly but are getting old or too expensive. A couple are Super Bowl champions.
But everyone’s time eventually comes, and this group needs to go for one reason or another.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside: Sixteen Sidon in three years. JJ Arcega-Whiteside is the third WR team in NFL history to be drafted in the first two rounds to play at least 40 games in their first three seasons and have 16 assists or fewer. The other two are Bobby Crespino of Brown (6 catches from 1961 through 1963) and Gerald McNeil, also of Brown (14 catches from 1987 through 1989). So JJAW was the least productive WR drafted in the first or second round in over 30 years. I give him credit for working hard to become a functional special team so that he can at least help the team in some way. But that’s not why the Eagles recruited him. time to move on.
Derek Barnett: One of the biggest underachieving first-round picks in Eagles history, all Barnett has to show for five seasons is 21 sacks. Or exactly 10 less than Mike Mamula had in his first five seasons. Of the 74 defensive goals conceded in the first half of the first round since sacks became official sackings in 1982 and have started at least 45 games, only 16 have had fewer sacks in the first five seasons. Barnett has made just under $23 million and has a cap figure of $10.05 million this year. He only managed to get two bags, and tied for 168th place in the league. Barnett will count $7.25 million in dead money if the Eagles release him, but it’s a move they need to make.
Brandon Brooks: It hurts because Brooks is a Hall of Fame man and played at such a high level for the Eagles from 2016 through 2019. But he’s played two games in the past two years, hasn’t finished a season in good health since 2017, and turns 33 next summer, playing a center be The Eagles have some depth in them now with Landon Dickerson, Isaac Sumalo, Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig and Soa Obita. Cutting Brooks would yield $15.74 million in dead money, but keeping him would count $19.44 million against the Eagles cap. I just don’t see Brooks as part of this team’s future.
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Michael Clay: The Eagles special teams, very well led by Dave Vaib, have really struggled this year. Arryn Siposs ranked 30th out of 36 punters, the Eagles ranked 28th in average kick return, 29th in average kick return, 24th in kicks covering kicks, and 28th in overall kicks. The only special team area where the Eagles weren’t among the worst in the NFL was goal kicking, and Clay has said multiple times that he’s not a kicking coach and has nothing to do with Jake Elliott’s success. The Eagles’ special teams ran into wild card games with Galen Rieger floundering, some poor kicks and poor production in the second leg.
Jordan Howard: This really has less to do with Howard, who gave the Eagles his all when he was healthy, and has less to do with Kenny Jenwell, who needs more involvement in the attack alongside Miles Sanders. And Boston Scott, too. Howard gave the Eagles a good boost mid-season, but frequent injuries are worrying. If the Eagles get banged up and need a back and it’s available, I’m fine to return it. But Gainwell in particular needs a few more touches. He made every chance he got. Howard is a sore indoor runner, but Gainwell is a more versatile player as a runner and receiver and only 22 years old.
Ray Didinger and Seth Joyner broke the Eagles’ loss to the Buccaneers in the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs.
Ryan Kerrigan: Despite 1 sacks he’s played against one-legged Tristan Werfs in the wild card game, this season has been disastrous for the former Washington Pro Bowler four times. Kerrigan finished the regular season without sacks, three tackles and one tackle for a loss at 330 shots over 16 games. Kerrigan and Zach Wood of the Saints have been the only defensive end in the NFL to play in at least 16 games this year without scoring a sack. Wood did not play a moment defensively. I don’t want to say Kerrigan has been going through these moves this year, but… sometimes you can just tell when a player is ready to move on to the next stage of their life.
Anthony Harris / Rodney MacLeod / Steve Nelson: All three of them played really hard this year and gave their all. McLeod in particular has been a fantastic eagle for six years and has been a fixture in the Super Bowl defense, and I have an enormous amount of respect for him as a person and as a player. But MacLeod will turn 32 this summer, Harris turns 30 and Nelson turns 29 on Sunday. They are all free agents. The Eagles need to get younger, faster and more athletic in high school, they need the elite back-end playmakers for a match against the fast young WRs they face most weeks. Darius Sly had a great year and so did Avonte Maddox in the slot. But the Eagles in the past four years have ranked 25th, 22nd, 29th and 20th in interceptions. That must change. This secondary needs an overhaul.
Galen Rigor: Only six WRs in NFL history were drafted in the first round, started at least 20 games in their first two years, and had less than 700 yards. Only three since 1977: Raiders’ Darius Hayward Bay in 2009 and 2010, Nelson Agulor in 2015 and 2016 and Jalen Regor in 2020 and 2021. This year Rigor became the sixth WR drafted in the first round since 1977 to start at least 12 games She has just under 300 yards and only the third ever was not a rookie—along with Tex Coulter of the Giants in 1947 and Larry Burton of the Saints in 1976. I don’t care about $7.84 million. He has to go. It must be. Come on, hoy!
Hassan Ridgway: When was the last time you noticed Ridgway on the court? He had a sack, a tackle loss, three quarterback hits, a tackle loss in the opening game against the Hawks and then…nothing. Ridgeway played 373 shots in the defensive tackle this year – just 83 fewer than Milton Williams – and barely caused a ripple. He got sent off late in the Lions game when the Eagles were leading 38-0. But for a six-year veteran, it was basically invisible after opening. Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox and Milton Williams will all return next year, but Jonathan Gannon plays four men inside and four men outside, so the Eagles will have to upgrade across the defensive line, and it will be important to replace Ridgway with someone who can make at least some impact.
Jenard Avery: The Eagles have to upgrade their squad in a big way, and while I think TJ Edwards and Devon Taylor will have roles in defense next year, I’d advise Alex Singleton to return to a smaller role as an essentially special team. Avery, a trade deadline acquisition in 2019, has played a lot this year – 358 shots, the third most among midfielders, with very little impact. Avery, who tasked the Eagles with a fourth-round pick, is a free agent and this trial must be terminated.
Aryn Sebos: Siposs made a strong start and averaged 46.3 yards per kick over 10 games. Last eight games, he averaged 40.3 — the worst in the NFL in the second half of the season. This is the lowest average chaser for the Eagles during the second half of any season since 2002, when Lee Johnson averaged 38.8. Siposs finished 30th out of 36 gamblers with an overall average of 43.9 and a net worth of 38.7, which ranked 31st out of 36 gamblers. His contradiction was on full display in Tampa, when he hit 58 yards and 49 yards but also 27 yards and two 36 yards. It is a liability and must be replaced.
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