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The Philadelphia Eagles have had some interesting storylines play out during Pre-Draft free agency. The first interesting storyline involves Michael Vick. Vick after being replaced by Nick Foles last season never got a chance to get back into the starting lineup and not being content to be a backup Vick was allowed to walk. Vick signed with the Jets. To replace him the Eagles signed Mark Sanchez the former starting quarterback for the Jets. As far as durability is concerned I think Sanchez is an upgrade over Vick. He has a winning record in the playoffs and despite his apparent regression after his first two seasons, the Eagles could do significantly worse. Sanchez with the right coach is still young enough that he can unlearn those bad habits he picked up as a member of the Jets. The only major question with Sanchez will his shoulder be a factor going forward. Overall the Eagles improve at quarterback a good pickup.
The Eagles released wide receiver Jason Avant. Entering his 10th season in the league Avant is not fleet footed enough for Chip Kelly’s high octane offense. Avant averaged 2.3 yards after catch last season. He was 4th on the team in receptions with 38, 3rd on the team in targets with 76 for a paltry 50% reception ratio, 6th best on the team amongst receivers with 50 or more targets, clearly not a big loss. Although in Avant’s defense he does have a 62.6 reception ratio for his career. The Eagles might want to consider former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin as a replacement for Avant. Agreed that he had a equal or worse year in every way then Avant, except in one category that Kelly’s offense runs on yards after catch. Austin averaged 4.7 yards after the catch this past season, I would venture to say that Avant and Austin are more or less the same player except in speed as such Austin would be a logical replacement for Avant, unless the Eagles think the draft is deep enough at the receiver position were they can pick up two receivers in the first three rounds.
The Eagles released starting safety Patrick Chung who had a poor year statistically as well as many miscues among them tackling players on his own team, Eagles fans must have rejoiced when he was cut. While the Eagles lost out on the Jairus Byrd the premier free agent safety on the market to New Orleans, they signed the man he is replacing there Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins was 4th on the Saints in total tackles as well as adding a pair of interceptions and a forced fumble with six passes defensed. A significant upgrade from last season.
The Eagles traded a late round draft pick to the Saints for Darren Sproles. This is a good trade as Sproles is an upgrade in the return game especially in the punt return game.
The second major storyline for the Eagles in this off-season is the release of DeSean Jackson. From a football standpoint this is an idiotic move. Jackson led the team with 82 receptions a 65% reception ratio a 16.2 yards per catch and a 6.0 yards after catch average. On the other hand if the reports about the friction between Jackson and Head Coach Chip Kelly are to be believed then this is an excellent move. There are reports that claim that Kelly doesn’t like Jackson and there is friction between them. Add the alleged rumors of affiliation with members of gang who are on trial for murder, creates a toxic and divisive atmosphere and Jackson needed to be jettisoned almost as quickly as Santonio Holmes. The problem for the Eagles though is this unlike Santonio Holmes, Jackson still has an upside to him and the Washington Redskins are willing to take a chance on him and this could wind up coming back to haunt the Eagles. On the flip side a divided locker room never wins championships. Go Eagles Fella!