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Offseason Forecast: Philadelphia Eagles

With the offseason officially under way, Around The League will examine what's next for all 32 teams. The series continues with the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles.


With the offseason underway, Around The League explores what's next for all 32 teams.

AFC East
» Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
» Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
» Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
» Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
» Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
» Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
» Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
» Cardinals | 49ers | Rams | Seahawks

What's changing


After winning the division in Year One, coach Chip Kelly now has the benefit of a full offseason to further fine-tune his roster. Only four teams house fewer free agents-to-be than Philadelphia, so Kelly has a chance to keep his squad intact. With young quarterback Nick Foles in place as the starter behind one of the NFL's most athletic offensive lines, the Eagles would be smart to zero in on a defense that improved down the stretch but still has plenty of holes to fill. Philly is in a good situation to trim the fat and import players who fit the scheme. We don't expect this team to sit still.

Biggest free agents


» QB Michael Vick: He was a good soldier on the heels of being benched, but Vick, at 33, still wants to start, and we don't expect the Eagles to match what another quarterback-needy team is willing to pay for his services. If Philly decides to keep him, Vick remains a picture-perfect backup to Foles.

» WRs Riley Cooper & Jeremy Maclin: Asked if he'd be open to re-signing both wideouts, general manager Howie Roseman said this month, "I think it is complicated, because you have guys that you want to have back ... (but) what resources are you going to devote to that position?" With word that the New York Jets are hot for Maclin (coming off a torn ACL), we wouldn't be surprised to see the Eagles settle on keeping one of the two. While Maclin looms as a high-upside slotman, the Eagles got plenty of production from Cooper, who finished ninth in the league in yards per reception (17.8) in his first year as a wire-to-wire starter.

» S Nate Allen: Three Eagles safeties -- Allen, Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson -- are entering free agency. With Earl Wolff far from a sure thing, Philly has to decide who stays and who goes. Allen played well under coordinator Billy Davis and might be worth bringing back, unless the front office has an alternative plan to restock the back end of this defense.

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Other key free agents: DT Clifton Geathers, S Colt Anderson, S Kurt Coleman and P Donnie Jones

What they need


Along with the potential holes at safety, the defense also needs pass-rushing help. While Trent Cole finished with eight sacks, he's on the wrong side of 30 for a team that lacks a true 3-4 edge rusher. You can't have enough war-daddy quarterback killers in the NFC East, and Philly would be wise to stock up on potential difference-makers. Depending on what happens with Cooper and Maclin, Foles also might be short on targets in an offense that likes to overload opponents with three- and four-receiver sets. Back on the defensive side of the ball, Philly could use a big-bodied nose tackle to control the line of scrimmage, clog running lanes and set the pass rush free.

On the way out?


» TE James Casey: Signed as a potential X-factor last offseason, Casey hauled in just three receptions all year. Set to make $3.99 million in 2014, he's a solid blocker, but expensive for a third tight end behind Brent Celek and Zach Ertz. If he proves us wrong, it's because his gaudy contract guarantees him $2 million.

» S Patrick Chung: After signing a three-year, $10 million contract with the team last March, Chung was a hot mess in pass coverage and against the run. As Chung is also the furthest thing from a ball-hawk, we don't expect the Eagles to keep him around.

» WR Arrelious Benn: Coming off a torn ACL and due $1 million this season, Benn's time could be up. With just 59 catches in 37 games, he's already suffered two major knee injuries in four years.

Offseason crystal ball


With ample cap room to play with, the Eagles likely will try to churn the bottom of this roster continually all spring and into summer. Roseman is on record saying that Philly will add talent through the draft with a "best player available" philosophy, meaning that May could bring a surprise or two -- even at the quarterback position.

Kelly deserves plenty of credit for what he accomplished this season with a roster he largely inherited. With another draft haul and round of free-agent signings, his plan will crystalize further, and we expect the Eagles to go into next season as the favorites to win this down-and-out division.

In the latest "Around The League Podcast," the guys ponder the future in both Seattle and Denver and break down the teams that intrigue them most this offseason.

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