Philadelphia Eagles' Top Five Offseason Priorities

Written By Bob Cunningham On Monday, February 15, 2010

Replacing Jamaal Jackson is near the top of the list.

It's no secret that the Eagles have a lot of things on their plate this offseason. Certain positions must be addressed, certain players must be addressed, and it all comes with the extra added stress of operating without a salary cap for the first time for a lot of these guys.

How the Birds handle this offseason will of course have a telling result on the 2010 season, but will also have an effect on this team years down the road. This team is at a crossroads, and Andy Reid is looking at his most important decision since his first draft in 1999.

So let's take a look at this team's most pressing issues, from the least to most important.

5. Addressing the Problem at Free Safety

It just makes you miss Dawkins even more, doesn't it?

Dawk was obviously slowing down and didn't really fit this defense anymore, but he would certainly have been a better option than anything the Eagles fielded this season.

It was disappointment after disappointment from Quintin Demps to Sean Jones to Macho Harris and back to Sean Jones, and with Jones entering free agency, it doesn't seem likely that any of those three are the answer. Demps and Harris are still young, but they seem to be quickly losing favor as starting candidates.

I've said how I would like the position handled, but it doesn't seem like the Eagles share my vision. In that case, it's imperative that the Birds either use a high draft pick (second round, at least) on the position, or find someone in this ridiculous restricted free agent market.

4. Addressing the Offensive Line

More specifically, the position of center. With Jamaal Jackson getting hurt so late in the season, no one is particularly optimistic that he'll be ready to start the season. If that is the case, the Eagles need to be ready with a capable center.

They signed A.Q. Shipley, a guy I really like out of Penn State, but he's young and I'm not sure that the Eagles are really going to give him a shot at starting. Because of the CBA uncertainty, the Eagles will also keep Nick Cole as a restricted free agent, but I think he's shown that he's not a starting center.

There's also the issue of the Andrews brothers and what the Eagles are going to do if those guys, yet again, cannot get into playing form for the season. The Birds will most likely draft a guard or two, as they always do, and would be wise to take a flier on a center in the fourth or fifth round.

3. Make a Decision About Brian Westbrook

Westbrook has seemingly resigned himself to the fact that he will not make the $7.25 million that he's scheduled to make in 2010 -- which is also the final season of his current contract. The deal originally ran through 2013, but the Eagles opted out of the final three years.

It sounds, to me, like the Birds had it planned all along that 2009 would be Westbrook's final season as an Eagle. He was demanding a new deal, so they gave him one, but made it very easy for themselves to get out of it with few repercussions.

Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Westbrook come back -- at a reduced rate, of course -- but it's something the Eagles have to decide very soon. They may decide it's not worth asking him to take a pay cut, but there's a chance he could take it if he's truly faced reality about the status of his career.

2. Deal With Pool of Restricted Free Agents

The Eagles have 10 restricted free agents this year, which has got to be some kind of record in the Reid era. I can't ever remember the Eagles having that many restricted free agents, but this is obviously a special situation.

Eight of the 10 RFA's would have normally been unrestricted free agents in a normal season, but it's clearly not a normal season with the CBA unrest.

Leonard Weaver, Jason Avant, Alex Smith, Max Jean-Gilles, Chris Gocong, Omar Gaither, Sav Rocca, Nick Cole, Akeem Jordan, and Ellis Hobbs are all RFA's and the only two who would have been even with a CBA are Rocca and Jordan.

The Birds are going to have to decide who to use which tender on, and they're going to have to decide soon because March 4th is the deadline to use said tenders.

1. Handle the Quarterback Situation

Andy Reid has said that Donovan McNabb will be the quarterback for 2010, but no one seems to be taking him at his word.

Personally, I do, but I'm in a very small minority. I think Reid and McNabb are basically attached at the hip and that Reid will not just trade him away to the first team that calls. If he is going to trade McNabb, it's going to be a blockbuster deal -- and nothing less.

Kevin Kolb, McNabb's well-publicized backup, will probably not be moved either. Again, unless a team is willing to offer up a Matt Schaub-type deal to the Birds, that is.

It's more likely that Kolb gets moved more than McNabb, but Michael Vick is almost guaranteed to get moved to the St. Louis Rams. If the Eagles can get a mid-round pick out of him then this little project was a roaring success.

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