The Philadelphia Eagles proved by entering 2018 free agency with a whopping that assembling a Super Bowl-winning roster isn't necessarily as hard as keeping it together.
That seems especially true now that all but one of those 13 players have already either landed elsewhere or drifted into the pool of countless other unsigned veterans.
Anyone who's paid even a lick of attention to NFL headlines, however, knows the Eagles haven't exactly stood pat since capturing their first-ever Lombardi Trophy. No one's topped the Cleveland Browns this offseason in terms of sheer activity, but in the City of Brotherly Love, no one's been coasting through March as if the Eagles aren't gearing up for another run at glory.
With internal maneuvering thatin salary-cap space, perennial personnel wizard Howie Roseman quickly positioned Philadelphia to make some moves, and make them they did.
Here, discounting outright releases (like that of longtime tight end Brent Celek) or free agent losses (like that of Celek's counterpart, the handsomely paid Trey Burton) and acknowledging that Roseman could have more tricks up his sleeve, we grade every single one of the Eagles' 2018 moves thus far:
Traded for Seahawks DE Michael Bennett
This is the big one (literally). Even for an outspoken 32-year-old coming off a season in which he battled injuries, landing Bennett and a seventh-round draft pick for backup wide receiver Marcus Johnson and a fifth was a steal. Considering the Eagles dealt a reserve lineman to Seattle for a fifth the year before, the trade was essentially two backups for Bennett, whose 2017 "decline" included 8.5 sacks and all 16 games played. There's a little risk in bringing his unfiltered character into a locker room that went the distance in part because of its unity, but Bennett's disruptive skill set and title-winning experience very clearly make the Eagles' front four .
Traded for Panthers CB Daryl Worley
Worley himself is a question mark, but it's the fact that the Eagles got anything for wide receiver Torrey Smith, a guy they would've assuredly cut had the team not found a trade partner, that makes this deal a major win. Smith came up big in the postseason, but at $5 million in 2018, he was set to be an obvious cap casualty, so swinging him to Carolina for another playoff team's starting corner was a surprise. Even if Worley doesn't crack the 53-man roster, Roseman will have saved the Eagles money at receiver. And yet the ex-Panthers starter, a third-round pick in 2016, also seems like a candidate for playing time on the outside in the wake of the defensive back room losing Patrick Robinson.
Re-signed OLB Nigel Bradham
Outside of Robinson, Bradham was the Eagles' top internal priority, and in a market that saw Anthony Hitchens land a lucrative deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, it's a wonder Philly was able to secure its Pro Bowl-caliber imposer for less than $10 million a year (five years, $40 million). Betting half a decade on the 28-year-old Bradham to repeat his outstanding run in 2017 is a little risky, but as Spotrac notes, the extension has a potential out in 2020. Until then, the Eagles should be thirlled to have Bradham back, giving the defense its most durable and physical linebacker of the Jim Schwartz years.
Signed Broncos LB Corey Nelson
It's hard to get overly critical of a depth signing, but this one has the potential to mean more down the road, when Bradham companion and long-speculated trade chip Mychal Kendricks may or may not be on the roster. What Nelson offers is well-regarded special teams experience and time with what once was one of the NFL's top defenses. He's never started more than five games in a season, but as a class act who's betting on himself with a one-year, $1.6 million deal, he's not costing the Eagles a ton, either. Best-case scenario, he beats out Kendricks and serves as a cheap starter. Worst-case scenario, he replaces Najee Goode on special teams.
Signed Lions DT Haloti Ngata
Ngata's big name is intriguing, and his presence alone Beau Allen.. He may very well rekindle some fire with a lighter workload, too. But dedicating even $2.6 million guaranteed to a 34-year-old interior rusher who hasn't played a full season since 2011 and has missed 14 games over the last two years seems a tad like a reach, especially with how much Roseman has already invested into the D-line. The Eagles should be thankful that their "worst" move probably still makes them better. It just seems like there were cheaper, younger and just-as-effective alternatives to replace
Signed Ravens WR Mike Wallace
If you're harping on the Eagles for replacing Torrey Smith with another ex-Ravens speedster rather than just beefing up second-year target Mack Hollins's role, who do you think you are (other than the 2016 Eagles)? ensures not only that Philly has upgraded from Smith and retained a deep threat at receiver but that guys like Hollins won't be burdened with making an instant leap to starter material opposite Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz. Wallace can still run at 31, he's apparently a good locker-room guy, and his production has topped even that of Dez Bryant since 2016. Major low-risk victory.