The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles have already made several notable changes to their roster this offseason. Executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman forecast as much at the combine, warning that if they kept everything the same and just assumed that similar results would follow, they'd run the risk of getting passed by -- or having their "ass kicked," as he put it.
So, they've been aggressive and have made some significant alterations via release, trade and free-agent signings. Are they better for it? Let's take a look:
DT Haloti Ngata
LB Corey Nelson
DB Daryl Worley
WR Mike Wallace
TE Brent Celek
TE Trey Burton
DE Vinny Curry
DT Beau Allen
WR Torrey Smith
A few things stand out:
* The defensive line looks nasty. Bennett and Ngata have eight Pro Bowl selections and a pair of championships between them. They join a deep group that includes Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Tim Jernigan, Chris Long and Derek Barnett. Bennett and Ngata are certainly bigger household names than Curry and Allen, but at ages 32 and 34, respectively, have also logged more miles. Whether they end up being a more productive duo will depend largely on health. Bennett fought through plantar fasciitis last season while Ngata spent most of the year on injured reserve with a torn biceps. Assuming their bodies oblige, the defensive line -- a top strength of the world champs in 2017 -- could be even more of a force.
* The loss of Robinson hurts. Most will remember him for his pick-six that turned the tide in the NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings, but the fact is that he was an impact player for the Eagles all season, developing into one of the top slot corners in the game after struggling on the outside during training camp. The Eagles came close to striking a deal with Robinson but never got to the finish line, allowing for the New Orleans Saints to pounce. The Eagles have a good stable of young corners on the team that includes Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Rasul Douglas and Worley, but it's to be determined who will fill the nickel role, and how well they'll fill it.
* The Eagles need more offensive skill players. The departures of both Celek and Burton leave a void in the tight end room. Philadelphia has one of the game's top TEs in Zach Ertz, and will add complementary pieces in the coming weeks. The same thing can be said for running back. While Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement return, the Eagles' leading rusher, Blount, is now with the Detroit Lions, while Darren Sproles remains a free agent. There is some work to be done there. Receiver is in pretty good shape following the signing of Wallace on Thursday. He adds a big-play element and could end up being an upgrade over Smith. Wallace and second-year player Mack Hollins will compete for snaps on the outside opposite Alshon Jeffery.
Given the losses at the offensive skill positions and the departure of Robinson, it's hard to say the Eagles are better off as currently constructed, even if the D-line is bubbling with promise -- unless, of course, you're factoring in the return of injured players such as quarterback Carson Wentz, offensive tackle Jason Peters, Jones and linebacker Jordan Hicks, in which case you have a serious argument. But then, this is still a roster under construction. The Eagles hadn't even signed Robinson at this point last year, and made their trades for Darby and Ajayi in August and October, respectively. There will be more signings, trades and a draft before the 2018 Eagles take the practice field for the first time this spring.
It's also true that the Eagles spent 57 years trying to assemble a championship roster before finally striking gold. Even if the front office fills every need and hits a series of perceived personnel home runs in the coming weeks and months, it's no guarantee that this group will feel and function like last year's did. In other words, give the edge to the 2017 team until the 2018 version proves it's worthy of comparison.