Bradford, Thurmond among key free agent questions for Eagles

Thomas Maney dives into the biggest FA decisions facing Philadelphia, including who to re-sign, let walk, and target.

| 7 months ago
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Bradford, Thurmond among key free agent questions for Eagles


After finishing 10-6 in both 2013 and 2014, a disappointing 7-9 record resulted in the Eagles replacing Chip Kelly with Doug Pederson. The team has a decent chunk of cap space to work with at the moment, and holes to fill on both sides of the ball—last season, they graded particularly poorly at receiver, on the interior offensive line, and at the second level on defense. But the most significant offseason job will be figuring out what to do at quarterback—will they re-sign Sam Bradford, or look elsewhere?

Looking through the lens of the Philadelphia front office, here are the free agency moves the Eagles should make:

Re-sign

Philadelphia has already been active in extending and re-signing their own players, locking in Brent Celek and handing out sizable deals to Vinny Curry, Zach Ertz, and Lane Johnson.

S Walter Thurmond

The player they should lock up next is Thurmond, who handled the transition from corner to safety well and finished with the 26th-best overall grade at the position. He’ll be 29 when the 2016 season starts, and provides the valuable ability to cover the slot when needed. The team will also have to consider his injury history, however, after Thurmond played more snaps last season (1,219) than in the previous three years combined—but when healthy, he’s been consistently above average.

Let walk

QB Sam Bradford

This will depend heavily on price, and whether new head coach Doug Pederson thinks Bradford is the long-term answer at QB. Last season, Bradford was solid, finishing with the league’s 10th-highest passing grade, and leading all quarterbacks in accuracy percentage when pressured (74.6 percent). But there isn’t much evidence that he can stay healthy, given that he logged more than 1,000 snaps for just the third season of his six-year career (out all of 2014). And with a likely steep price, the team might instead opt to look at a QB with the 13th draft pick.

If that’s the case, QB Chase Daniel could be an interesting lower-cost option after spending the last three seasons with Pederson in Kansas City.

CB E.J. Biggers

Biggers signed a one-year deal in Philadelphia last offseason and graded similarly to what we’ve seen in previous seasons. His overall grade ranked 105th out of 118 qualifying corners, while opposing quarterbacks had a 100.3 passer rating on throws into his coverage. This was the fifth time in six seasons that he’s graded below average in coverage (the exception being 2012), so the Eagles can likely find better production elsewhere.

Target

WR Marvin Jones

The Eagles saw poor production at receiver last season, and no one in the group finished with a positive cumulative receiving grade. Best case scenario would be adding Alshon Jeffery, but it seems unlikely that he’ll leave Chicago. Alternatively, they should consider the 25-year-old Jones, who’s coming off of career-highs in both receptions (69) and yards (848) with the Bengals. He also posted the eighth-highest receiving grade in 2013, and would add ability after the catch—Jones has forced 32 missed tackles in 149 career receptions, including 12 last season (ranked 16th).

G Brandon Brooks

This year’s group of free agent guards is a good one, and it coincides with a big need for the Eagles. Brooks would be an upgrade over Matt Tobin and Allen Barbre in pass protection, where he’s graded above average all four years of his career, improving in that facet each season. He fell off slightly against the run game in 2015, but ranked in the top-five at the position there in both 2013 and 2014. At 27 and having played at least 93 percent of Houston’s offensive snaps over three seasons, Brooks would be a good long-term option.

The team might also consider Chiefs free agent Jeff Allen, given his familiarity with Pederson, but he’s played just 633 snaps over the last two years, and 2015 was the only season he’s graded above average overall.

LB Danny Trevathan

Trevathan is just 26 years old and collected 65 stops last season, ranking fifth among ILBs in both run-stop percentage and tackling efficiency (eight missed tackles). He’s also graded among the 10 best linebackers in coverage, an area where the current Philadelphia LBs have particularly struggled.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Agree with the assessment on Bradford. Even when he does manage to stay healthy he always has the look of a deer caught in the headlights.

    • Frank

      you agree w/ the assessment? what part of “leading all quarterbacks in accuracy percentage when pressured” jives with your superficial “deer in the headlights” observation? obviously the health angle is the biggest deal no matter what. can’t sign him for tons of cash and lose him for 2 years in 4.

  • Frank

    What we don’t need is yet another ILB with 5 potentially there and moving back to a 4-3.

  • Jaron

    Biggest concerns with Bradford is his health yeah he was some what healthy this year but if that O-line is in transition to younger players learning the ropes you need someone back there who can protect themselves and get out of harms way just in case he cant pick up the blitzes or get the ball off. Trevathan is damaged goods another good when healthy player but why tie money we dont have into that. Marvin Jones might be a product of Andy Dalton throwing to him but he is a big target and may surprise as a number 2

  • Daniel

    Bradford played very well in the second half of the season, and his injury this season was entirely unrelated to his previous injuries. It also only kept him out for two games. Additionally, I don’t think a rookie QB will experience success in the Eagles Offense based on the O-line and Wr situations. IMO Bradford gives the highest chance of success moving forward. Agree completely with the rest of the analysis

    • Eaglehaslanded

      Seven win Sam “the sham” Bradfraud played Average in the second half of the season. People are under the impression that he played well in the second half because he was horrifically terrible in the first half. What we saw in the second half is Sam’s ceiling, his history in the NFL indicates that. Sham Bradfraud is fools gold.

  • D

    Sign RG3 and draft Mississippi State
    Prescott

  • Eaglehaslanded

    Seven Win Sam “the sham” Bradfraud has done nothing in the NFL that suggests or indicates he is able to move the Eagles forward or beyond his jersey # 7 (seven wins). He had a better second half of the season, he was just average in the second half, he went from horrible to average..great. Brafraud has been in the league 7 years as a #1 overall pick, never has won more than 7 games, never lead a team to a wild card playoff game to even lose and he was traded by the Rams. Any QB picked #1 overall with his record 25-37-1 and traded from the team that picked him is a BUST! Bye Sham Bradfraud, I’d rather roll the dice and draft a rookie, as a bridge QB I would sign RG 3, at least he has been to a play off game.

  • Forthebirds

    Imagine what Sam’s completion percentage would have been without 27 dropped passes and with a better OLine. There is no reason to believe he has reached his ceiling. You can only say that about players on the downside of their careers. Put the franchise tag on him and draft one of the top three qbs if one is available. I know there are other needs. Guards and tackles will be available in rounds three and four, Use one round three pick on WR. Okay, Fire away. I know a lot of you will think this is stupid.

  • Tim Edell

    Eagles are talking about moving Barwin to DE and going with Kiko at MLB , Hicks and Kendricks at OLB.