Philadelphia Eagles must commence rebuild right away to pave path for Super Bowl return

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Sirianni's Eagles need to fortify themselves for a Super Bowl return

Reaching the Super Bowl and losing is simultaneously the zenith/absolute rock-bottom of the sport, and that’s exactly what happened to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022.

A hugely surprising season saw Philly soar to the showpiece event with a 14-3 regular-season record and an offense that was dubbed ‘unstoppable.’ Jalen Hurts finally stepped up into his role as franchise quarterback and was a nominated finalist for MVP award voting.

All was rosy for the Eagles until Patrick Mahomes entered the second half of Super Bowl LVII with one leg and an irrepressible desire to win. Mahomes single-handedly turned the tide of the game, and the Kansas City Chiefs were eventually able to record a 38-35 victory despite being outplayed in the first-half.

It’s at this moment the sobering reality of finishing as the NFL’s runners up truly hits.

The Philadelphia Eagles are unlikely to be in such an advantageous position again. The exact same roster won’t be kept together due to salary cap rules and both their offensive and defensive coordinators are leaving for head coaching jobs.

Meanwhile, Hurts will now have to be given a mammoth contract extension which limits future roster building.

Losing a Super Bowl leaves you with a scar as a franchise. Some use it as motivation, as the Chiefs did following their defeat to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Others never recover and fall into a spiral like the Atlanta Falcons following their collapse against Brady and the New England Patriots.

We don’t yet know which path the Philadelphia Eagles will take on this road, but one thing is certain: the rebuild must begin right away.

What do the Philadelphia Eagles need to do first to kick-start the rebuilding process?

First up on the agenda for the Philadelphia Eagles is to quickly identify replacements for the two departing coordinators.

Defensive guru Jonathan Gannon has been poached by the Arizona Cardinals. Meanwhile, the mastermind behind the elusive Eagles offense, Shane Steichen, has been officially hired as the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

Coordinators only provide so much. A head coach comes up with the scheme and gives his assistants scope to work within the parameters of it. They often provide valuable input and suggestions as part of that.

Coordinators have their own ideas, but at the end of the day they are employees of the head coach. With that being said, it is incredibly difficult to find other candidates who can perfectly fulfil what the boss wants.

Steichen is a genius playcaller. He knew Nick Sirianni’s system and picked the perfect plays within it for the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense to thrive. Finding a new candidate to come in and pick players that are equally as good will be challenging.

The key is this must be done quickly: Philadelphia has to know who it is heading into draft season with.

Their planning is bound to be much more effective when they know the limits of the people they’re working with. It’s no good hiring a run-first coordinator and then drafting a big 6’6’’ tight end with their first-round selection.

One of the easiest moves would be for the Eagles to promote from within. This is a model which an awful lot of NFL teams follow. The thinking behind it is that a coach has already been part of the offensive structure will know it well. They will merely have to adapt to a new set of responsibilities, rather than a new scheme.

Brian Johnson is the team’s QB coach now and would be the plug-and-play candidate to become the new offensive coordinator. He knows how to get the best out of Hurts and there wouldn’t be a dramatic change in personnel if he was promoted.

It has been almost 30 years since an NFL team lost both their senior coordinators to head coaching jobs in the same offseason. Thus, there is further upheaval on the defensive side of the ball.

Dennard Wilson is currently employed as the Philadelphia Eagles' secondary coach/passing game coordinator. He is the favorite and clear candidate to be promoted to defensive coordinator.

Throughout the 2022 season, he virtually worked as Gannon’s right-hand man and knows exactly how Sirianni wants the defense to run.

Whilst a bleak situation on paper, the Eagles being able to promote two candidates from within would be a superbly efficient way of solving their major problem this offseason.

Which players are the Eagles set to lose?

Impending free agents are words that no general manager wants to hear, especially after coming so close to a Super Bowl championship.

The 2023 Philadelphia Eagles are likely going to be decimated by departures. Of their current roster, 19 players are scheduled to hit free agency, whilst Jason Kelce could even retire from the sport.

Veteran defenders are hard to replace, especially those with the experience of Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox. Both of those players are set to depart this offseason. This would clear around $27 million in combined salary.

Ndamukong Suh, Linval Joseph and Javon Hargrave are all due to leave too, which leaves the team with very little strength at the DT position.

The Philadelphia Eagles will have to prioritize who to keep, all whilst keeping Jalen Hurts’ contract in mind.

Cox is getting older, but he is the heartbeat of the Eagles defense and has been for years. Can he be replaced by Jordan Davis in the long term? Yes, but the rookie isn’t near ready for that responsibility yet.

If the Eagles can keep their Super Bowl window open for another season and extend Cox for a further year, that would be a smart move. However, you’re kidding yourself if you think there aren’t teams who would offer the veteran a multi-year deal to lead a defense at a rebuilding project.

Offensive linemen are vital, but teams often find it difficult to pay them. Isaac Seumalo and Andre Dillard are both due to become free agents and the Philadelphia Eagles might not be able to keep both.

Seumalo’s next contract is estimated to be worth upwards of $12 million and that is expensive. He is likely going to be sacrificed, with Cam Jurgens being promoted to the guard position.

It’s vital that the Philadelphia Eagles ensure their roster evolves this offseason rather than having to rip it up and start from scratch.

The scenario on paper looked like a rebuild was required instantly, but with regards to the playing roster, the window is open for another year.

What will the Eagles have to pay Jalen Hurts?

Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts is due a massive contract extension after Super Bowl LVII
Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts is due a massive contract extension after Super Bowl LVII

Jalen Hurts is still on his rookie deal, which pays him a grand total of $6 million in salary. You don’t take a team to the Super Bowl, finish second in MVP voting, and then play another snap on that lowly contract.

He will be paid this summer as the Philadelphia Eagles seek to avoid falling into a nightmare scenario similar to what the Baltimore Ravens have with Lamar Jackson.

Hurts has every stat in his favor, aside from a win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Arizona. He can demand top five QB money, and nobody can look him square in the eye and say he doesn’t deserve it.

The 24-year-old is among the top five quarterbacks in the NFL and will be fundamental in the Eagles reaching the Super Bowl again in the near future.

While franchises have to pay these guys, they also need to be clever with inserting break clauses after 2/3 years. This is because the quicker athletes reach their primes, the quicker they reach their decline as well.

Putting Hurts on a $45 million contract would put him level with Patrick Mahomes. However, it does vastly restrict the options the team’s general manager has in terms of roster building.

The Philadelphia Eagles must become smart in the draft. There can be no more dramatic trades for A.J. Brown. Hurts’ next raft of offensive weapons will need to come through the draft.

Yet, with the team picking at the back end, their scouting has to be sensational. Value needs to be found where others have missed it. That’s what made Bill Belichick able to build a dynasty for so many years, even while Tom Brady’s contract ate up a large proportion of the New England Patriots' cap.

Philly has no wriggle room here as Hurts is too good not to pay. They’ve had so many false dawns since Donovan McNabb, and they need to keep their franchise star.

In doing so, the Philadelphia Eagles must be aware that the recruiting they’ve been used to doing is no longer viable. They need to get smart in the draft and do so immediately, which is a crucial part of this rebuilding step.

Although, perhaps reloading is a more accurate term.

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Edited by Anantaajith Raghuraman