Ranking Eagles' needs in free agency

Posted: March 12, 2012

Here is a listing of positions, each with analysis of how likely it might be that the Birds will add a free agent, on a 1-to-10 scale:

Quarterback: No chance. Peyton Manning apparently doesn't want to play in the NFC East and the Eagles are smart enough not to damage Michael Vick's status in the locker room by making some sort of harebrained play for Manning. They might draft a QB in April. On the free-agency scale, that's a zero. Scale: 0

Running back: The Eagles need a backup/complement to Shady McCoy. Dion Lewis was a bust as a rookie kickoff returner, but he might deserve a better look as a runner. The opening is probably a spot for a veteran, not a draftee. Maybe, this time, a veteran with a little more left than Ronnie Brown? No, not Brandon Jacobs. He'll want more money and a bigger role, and he isn't a West Coast offense back. Scale: 5.

Offensive line: If somehow Evan Mathis ends up taking his wry Twitter feed elsewhere - something neither Mathis nor the Eagles wants to happen - then the Birds might be in the market. Otherwise, the quick, undersized guys Howard Mudd likes will be there in the draft, and not just in the early rounds, witness Jason Kelce last year. Scale: 3.

Wide receiver: Could still use that red-zone guy. Don't have an opening in the starting lineup, so it isn't going to be Vincent Jackson. Could be a draft priority. Scale: 4.

Tight end: Don't see it, even though the draft class here is terrible. Brent Celek and Clay Harbor finished the season strong. A depth signing? Sure, why not. But nobody's coming who will make a big impact. Scale: 4.

Defensive line: It's very rare somebody like Mario Williams hits the market. You can bet the Eagles have noticed this, and talked about it. But you're paying Trent Cole and Jason Babin. You have a lot of important deals to do this season with stars like Shady McCoy. Break the bank for Williams? Highly unlikely. And unless both Derek Landri and Trevor Laws leave in free agency, depth here is good. Scale: 2.

Linebacking: Ding-ding-ding! We have a winner. I'll be shocked if the Eagles don't sign somebody here. (Of course, I was shocked when they didn't sign a linebacker last summer, too.) Might not be a game-changer, but you need to upgrade, in free agency and in the draft. Scale: 9.

Defensive backs: Don't see anything happening at the corner spot. How you view safety is a lot about how you view Jaiquawn Jarrett. Was he lost because of the truncated offseason after the lockout? Or did the Birds make a huge reach in the second round last year? There doesn't seem to be a safety on the market who will make a big difference. The Eagles might have to go back to the draft for this position, third year in a row. Scale: 4.

- Les Bowen

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