Changes in store for Eagles next season

Posted Dec. 30, 2011 @ 6:12 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

What the Eagles will not do this offseason is blow up the whole operation in the wake of a disappointing season. Privately, team officials were saying back in August that they had a long-team plan in mind when they put this club together, even though the aggressive nature in free agency and through trades appeared that they were selling out for a big run in 2011.

The truth is that the Eagles were aware of their vast changes likely not reaping total reward until late this season, and that's exactly how it panned out. After a horribly disappointing 4-8 start, the team played its best ball of the season down the stretch.

But that also doesn't mean that changes — some of them major — are not coming.

The defense, which took most of the season to jell, has a lot of promising pieces, and the hope is that big-money investments in CBs Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will reap more benefits in 2012 than they have in '11. But another big-name member of the secondary might not be a part of the immediate future. CB Asante Samuel is a likely trade candidate, we hear, and the asking price might not be more than a third-round pick given Samuel's age (he'll be 31) and tackling issues.

Other defensive spots could be up for grabs. Second-rounder Jaiquawn Jarrett could earn the chance to unseat Kurt Coleman as the starting strong safety, and changes could be in store for an underachieving linebacker group.

The biggest unknown is the future of coordinator Juan Castillo. Given the defensive improvement as the season wore on, he could stay on the staff, but considering the fact that much of that improvement came after head coach Andy Reid got more involved in the scheming, Castillo might be replaced as the primary play-caller.

On offense, the biggest potential change might be with WR DeSean Jackson. He is a free-agent-to-be and negotiations have been testy at times with the team, perhaps affecting his play at times. But we hear Jackson is a good bet to return, with Reid likely standing behind the talented but mercurial wideout.