It seems like every off-season there is speculation about Donovan McNabb's departure, and this one is no different. Given his history it seems likely that the rumors of his impending trade will eventually blow over and he will start the season as the Eagles' quarterback, but it's also possible that the team will look to trade him and get something in return rather than just letting him walk as a free agent in 2011.
If they were to trade Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia has a talented cast of young playmakers on offense who could potentially replace his production. Their most intriguing quarterback prospect is backup Kevin Kolb, but they also added a former starting quarterback last off-season in Michael Vick.
While Vick was clearly not ready to step in and play quarterback last year, who knows how much he will improve given a full off-season of preparation. He has admitted to being lazy during his time in Atlanta, so perhaps a revitalized work ethic can restore him to a legitimate starting quarterback.
Kolb on the other hand only has two career starts under his belt, but he played well in both appearances. The 25 year old is the youngest of the three quarterback options, and he could be a potential long-term solution if his development continues.
All three of these men are scheduled to be free agents in 2011, so the team will have to start making these tough decisions on the quarterback position sooner rather than later.
Let's take a look at the Eagles' 2009 free agents after the jump...
WR Jason Avant (RFA) - Avant is coming off his best season as an Eagle, recording 41 receptions totaling 487 yards.
C Nick Cole (RFA) - Cole was brought in as an insurance policy and played well. He is a versatile player, capable of playing both the guard and center position.
LB Omar Gaither (RFA) - Gaither suffered a severe Lisfranc sprain in his foot and ended the season on IR. He has not proven himself as a playmaker, and has struggled against the run.
LB Chris Gocong (RFA) - Gocong saw some time at outside linebacker before being relegated to special-teams.
DB Ellis Hobbs (RFA) - Hobbs is expected to make a full recovery in 2010 after undergoing neck surgery. He started the season as the Eagle's primary kick returner before getting injured.
G Max Jean-Gilles (RFA) - Jean-Gilles filled in at guard and was solid.
DB Sean Jones (UFA) - Jones has played well during his stay in Philadelphia, but he is not expected to be back with the team in 2010. He's reported to have lost a step in coverage, so he may have to accept a reserve role.
LB Akeem Jordan (ERFA) - Jordan missed time due to injury, but he saw time as the Eagles' middle linebacker.
P Sav Rocca (ERFA)
TE Alex Smith (RFA) - Smith only caught three passes this season, and he is not expected to be tendered a contract. He is a reserve tight end at best.
RB Leonard Weaver (RFA) - Weaver was a large part of the Eagles' success on offense. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry and earned his first Pro Bowl bid. The two sides are rumored to be nearing completion on a new contract.
RB Brian Westbrook (UFA) - Brian Westbrook is set to hit the open market this off-season. While he may be the most talented back on the market, there is a lot of risk involved for any team that brings him in. It's believed that he will have to practice and play on grass only, due to his oft injured knee. At his age and with his skill set, he is best suited for a role on third-downs.
Defensive End - The Eagles are often lauded for their complex blitz schemes, but they tend to struggle on non-blitzing downs. The root of their problem is the lack of a pass rush when they only send their front four. Trent Cole is a solid end, but if they could add a complement to the other side of the line he would be even better.
Free Safety - Free safety is a definite need for this team. The incumbent starter, Sean Jones, is not expected to be back and they need to find someone who can perform well in coverage.
Guard -Stacey Andrews is a dominant force on the interior of the Eagles line, but he has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. Philadelphia already has some capable back-ups, but it would be a smart move to continue to add depth at this position.
Outside Linebacker - Philadelphia was stretched thin at the linebacker position, especially on the outside. This problem could be exacerbated even further by the potential departure of free agents, so they will definitely look to add players at this spot.
Running Back - LeSean McCoy showed some potential in his rookie season, but the Eagles will lack depth once Brian Westbrook signs elsewhere. Look for them to add another runner to complement McCoy.
The Eagles have one of the league's most explosive offenses, but they need to get more consistent in 2010. Adding depth to solidify their offensive line is the first step. Next they need to add some talent in the backfield. If they can develop a more reliable running attack this off-season, Philadelphia should be back among the league's scoring elite next year.
Defensively they have a similar problem, in that they excel at making big plays via the blitz but can be exposed when straight up. For a team running a 4-3 defense, end is an obvious need in this situation. Because of perceived flexibility in the Eagles payroll, they have been listed as a potential destination for Julius Peppers.
This move would make a lot of sense on paper, but it's too early to accurately predict where Peppers is going to end up. It seems possible that he would have several potential suitors, but it's going to come down to the price. How much is Philadelphia willing to pony up for Peppers? We'll just have to wait if this rumor has any truth to it.
Be sure to let us know what you think by answering our poll question.
- Bleeding Green Nation addresses the rumors that Julius Peppers would like to play in Philadelphia.
- BGN discusses whether Brian Westbrook will be on an NFL roster by Week 1.
- BGN wonders if the Eagles would bid on Antrel Rolle should he become available.