Eagles have tough free agent decisions ahead

Mike Vick, Eagles quarterback, Giants
Eagles quarterback Mike Vick will become a free agent prior to next season.

Eagles’ management will have a tough time determining the fates of some key players before training camp starts this summer.

Jeremy Maclin, WR: It’s a cruel and harsh thing to think, but the fact that Maclin tore his ACL last July and missed the entire 2013 season may have been the best thing that happened to the Eagles. Maclin had been coming off his second-best statistical season in 2012, when he hauled in 69 balls for 857 yards and seven touchdowns, and was poised for a breakout 2013. He was going to be looking at a multi-year deal worth around $8 million a year. That was a steep price before the injury. After it, Maclin may have to play on a one-year deal to prove his right knee is 100 percent.

Riley Cooper, WR: There were audible “Coop” chants this year at the Linc after Nick Foles established the 26-year-old as one of his go-to guys. Cooper was the second-best receiving weapon on the Eagles, with 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. Hard to believe after his tumultuous summer when half of Philadelphia wanted him cut outright for his use of a racial slur. But his size and length proved invaluable on short slants, in the blocking game and especially down in the red zone. Cooper earned just $495,000 in 2013 – if the Eagles want to keep him, they’ll need to pay him, maybe $3-4 million per season. Cooper told reporters after Saturday night’s loss that he wanted to return.

Nate Allen, S: The fourth-year safety was the early-season poster boy for poor draft choices during the Andy Reid era. In Week 2, he was literally run over by the Chargers on the ground and exploited over the top on big passing plays. He looked lost in coverage and unprepared to make game-saving tackles. By season’s end, he was one of the best players on the Eagles’ defense. With question marks at the other safety spot – Patrick Chung was a disaster, Earl Wolff showed flashes – it looks like Allen has played himself into a new contract.

Mike Vick, QB: Vick won’t sniff the starting job here. That ship has sailed. The question is, is there another NFL team willing to give him a shot as a starting quarterback? He’ll be an injury-prone, 34-year-old running quarterback by the time training camps get into full swing and there won’t be many teams knocking down his door. His only hope is that a team wants some cheap publicity (Raiders? Redskins?) or maybe he can turn into a reliable backup. The latter would be an intriguing option for the Eagles considering the abysmal play of rookie Matt Barkley.

Expect these guys back in 2014:
Jeremy Maclin, WR; Riley Cooper, WR; Cedric Thornton, DE; Colt Anderson, S; Donnie Jones, P; Nate Allen, S

Don’t expect these guys back in 2014:
Mike Vick, QB; Kurt Coleman, S; Arrelious Benn, WR; Brad Smith, QB; Phillip Hunt, DE; Clifton Geathers, DE



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