Like the 2020 Rams, the Eagles are a playoff team whose cap was limited by their quarterback play. Jalen Hurts carried Philadelphia to the playoffs on the strength of his legs, and Gardner Minshew proved to be a valuable quarterback on a limited sample (104.8 passer ratings in three appearances).
But Minshew’s two starts came against the Jets and in a meaningless Week 18 game against the Cowboys. Hurts was pressured to lead a comeback in the Wild Card round against the Buccaneers and needed 43 passes to throw for just 258 yards and a pair of interceptions. Both are young and cheap, but it’s possible the Eagles don’t see either as a long-term solution.
There’s room for improvement here, but an aggressive Rams-style rebuild may not fit — even with three first-round picks up for sale in 2021.
Philly upended expectations of rallying to a playoff spot after a 3-6 start, but its success under first-year head coach Nick Sirianni was mostly due to a flexible schedule. His nine wins in 2021 have come against teams that failed to qualify for the playoffs. The best of them was on a Saints team led by Trevor Siemian.
The Eagles ranked 25th in defensive DVOA and 14th in passing efficiency. They’re not one or two missing pieces away from racing to a Super Bowl. And that’s it! Not making the playoffs next winter wouldn’t even necessarily mean the team hasn’t improved; 2022 could end up being a gap year that sets up the dominoes rather than the incentive action that knocks them all down.
Philly has several cheap plays in its closet and is set to add several more in the 2022 NFL Draft. General manager Howie Roseman has the chance to add several rookie difference makers to bolster his block, bolster his pass defense and even take a wide Day 1 for the third year in a row. This team will likely be better off even with a modest trade and free agency move.
And that’s what could set up a Rams-style buy-in down the line. If the Eagles get off to a hotter-than-expected start and see significant improvements on both sides of the ball – but issues at a specific position that call a post-season offer into question – the pressure could build to swing a trade in. season to turn a good team into a great team. With over $40 million in cap space slated for 2023, Philly could accept larger contracts without necessarily locking itself into a set path.
It may not happen this spring, but the Eagles could find themselves drawn to the Rams’ philosophy of instant gratification to pair thriving young stars with established veterans. If Philadelphia comes out hot in 2022, Roseman could see a lot of value in adding short-term gains at the expense of potential long-term building blocks.