A peek ahead to the 2011 free agent class

With the notable exception on Michael Vick, the Eagles have no key expiring contracts. Mid-level players such as Stewart Bradley, Quintin Mikell, Max Jean-Gilles, and Ernie Sims will be in line for new deals, but it is not exceedingly important that they receive them. I expect the Eagles to lock up Vick for around five years, and due to his likelihood of injury, string of late-season turnovers, and history of criminal and/or stupid decisions, don’t think Vick will command top dollar. His deal could be similar to Jay Cutler’s 5 year, $49.77 million contract or up near $12 million per year, but not an Eli Manning-esque 6 year, $97 million deal. Quintin Mikell, David Akers, Omar Gaither, Akeem Jordan, Jerome Harrison, and Dimitri Patterson should all be resigned to short-term and relatively inexpensive deals. Then, the Eagles can freely turn to the free agent market, where teams such as New Orleans, New England, and the Jets look to be preparing to let some of their valuable players walk. Here are a few names to keep an eye out for.

Antonio Cromartie, CB, NY Jets (26 years old). Cromartie had a very good season with the Jets and is one of the best pure cover men in the league. The Jets are rumored to be very interested in Nnamdi Asomugha, which would mean that Cromartie would more than likely be cut loose. His speed and gambling style of play fit what the Eagles covet in their corners, and his height (6’2″) would help against the taller receivers in the division such as Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and Hakeem Nicks. The knock on him is his inconsistent effort in run support, but Philly doesn’t put too much stock in that.

Estimated contract: 6 years, $50 million

Logan Mankins, OG, Patriots (28 years old). Mankins was involved in a nasty holdout with New England and it would be a shock if he were willing to stay in New England. He is regarded as one of the best guards in the league, especially in run blocking. He would settle in a left guard next to Jason Peters and allow Todd Herremans to kick out to right tackle or play the other guard spot.

Estimated contract: 6 years, $46 million

Jermon Bushrod, OT, Saints (26 years old). Bushrod is your run-of-the-mill left tackle, and is a very pedestrian run blocker, but could be a good fit at right tackle for the Eagles. Going against inferior pass rushers, Bushrod has the youth and athleticism to be the long-term solution as Michael Vick’s blind side protector. I would not pursue him if he is extremely sought after as a franchise left tackle, but his best fit is in Philadelphia in my opinion.

Estimated contract: 6 years, $40 million

Richard Marshall, CB, Panthers (26 years old). The Panthers will not resign Marshall, but the young veteran has proven that he’s a capable starter. He is excellent in run support and really does not have any glaring weaknesses in him game though he’s not really a playmaker like Asante Samuel. He doesn’t appear to be a great fit for the scheme, but since we have a huge need there, he would be somebody you have to at least consider as the next right cornerback for the Eagles.

Estimated contract: 6 years, $38 million

One of those high level guys would be a welcomed addition to the roster. However, don’t forget about small role players that the Eagles like to grab, especially proven veterans coming off of major injuries at a very reduced price. Here are some possibilities.

Seneca Wallace, QB, Browns (30 years old). A proven backup quarterback familiar with the west coast system should Kevin Kolb be traded to Miami, Minnesota, or whoever.

Jeff King, TE, Panthers (27 years old). A reliable blocker who can help out in pass protection and push youngsters Clay Harbor and Cornelius Ingram for the second tight end job.

Marshal Yanda, OT/OG, Ravens (26 years old). The former Hawkeye was in and out of the starting lineup for Baltimore at right guard and right tackle. He could push to start in Philly should the Ravens let him go.

Justin Durant, OLB, Jaguars (25 years old). Durant had a pedestrian, injury-filled season with Jacksonville and the coaching staff made him inactive for their final game. He fits the mold of an Eagle linebacker and could compete for the WILL job or be an outstanding reserve.

Deon Grant, S, Giants (31 years old). Grant was exceptional in his role as the third safety for the Giants this year. New York likely will let him go as they have two young stars at the position in Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips. Grant would be a great option for the Eagle secondary should Nate Allen be slow in his recovery from a torn patellar tendon or Quintin Mikell be released.

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