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What a quick turnaround for the Philadelphia Eagles under first-year NFL coach Chip Kelly, who — successfully — brought his high-octane offense to the professional ranks. But in order to make sure the offense doesn’t lose a step, Philadelphia has to make sure it retains or replaces some of its major weapons, including Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, both of whom are set to hit free agency.
Re-signing Cooper and Maclin are the team’s biggest priorities in free agency, according to reports. Philadelphia has a lot of cap space to work with, and Maclin — coming off an injury-riddled couple of years — should not command too lucrative of a deal. Cooper is coming off a career year and should draw a lot of interest on the open market and may find a home elsewhere.
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Given that Cooper may walk and Jason Avant doesn’t offer too much out of the slot at this juncture in his career, the Eagles could add a wide receiver through the draft. LSU’s Jarvis Landry is projected to be a slot receiver in the pros and could be a perfect fit with Maclin and DeSean Jackson split out wide.
Philadelphia has to do most of its work in the draft to address the defense, which finished as the worst-ranked unit against the pass. Though the team did improve as the season progressed, the defense could use some upgrades in areas that’ll help it to take the next step in Year 2 of the Kelly Era.
The Eagles could afford to add another cornerback and a safety in the draft to improve to secondary. Numerous mock drafts project them to go after a corner with their first-round pick, as last offseason’s free-agent addition, Cary Williams, wound up as one of Pro Football Focus’ lowest-rated defensive backs. Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin were welcomed surprises, but the team needs another corner to defend split ends.
Jason Verrett and Bradley Roby are both options for Philly in the first round. Verrett is the No. 3-rated cornerback in this year’s crop after being named the Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year. Roby is a former All-American out of Ohio State. Both are considered smaller-sized defensive backs.
Finally, the Eagles could sure up the back of the secondary with another safety. Patrick Chung and Nate Allen are likely on their way out, and the team needs a complementary piece opposite of Earl Wolff. The team nabbed Wolff in the fifth round and could look to add another safety late this year.
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