Tuesday 4:00 PM simulates Christmas morning for football fans. Front offices function as toy-making factories, tinkering away and working on “presents” to give to their respective teams/fans. Contracts are being agreed to while the public waits to unwrap their team’s new tool.
In Philadelphia, the emphasis will be to shower their fans with trinkets galore, piling them up to form a cohesive structure known as a contending team. “Safety, I think outside linebacker, wide receiver, and possibly cornerback–I think cornerback is a better chance at the draft than free agency, and I think depth at the offensive line,” responded ESPN analyst Adam Caplan when asked which positions the Eagles would look into this March. However, it’s unlikely any if the top-tier players(not that many are left, as many have been resigned/tagged) will be signing a deal in Philadelphia, namely Jarius Byrd or T.J. Ward: “It depends where the money goes. Last year, for instance with Dashon Goldson, as soon as they found out how much money he was looking at they had no interest. So if the money gets too rich, I don’t think they’ll be involved. If it’s fairly reasonable, they could be involved,” Caplan explained. Ironically, 47% of Eagles Nation wants Byrd to sign in Philadelphia. Fans will wait and see if general manager Howie Roseman delivers.
Additionally, linebackers Jason Worilds and Brian Orakp–who have been resigned by their clubs–would have been to expensive, as Caplan explained, “He’s shorter than 6 ft 2 in, and that’s going to be a problem. Worilds is one of the best outside linebackers in free agency.” The overall reason all of this money is being spent, evident when the Packers signed cornerback Sam Shields to the tune of 40years, $39 million, is because of new collective bargaining agreement rules and regulations. “Obviously, the salary cap goes up, and it’s going up again to around $132 million, so I think they have more money to spend,” sports agent Gary Glick
of Synergy Sports said.
So with all of the broken banks, prosperous agents, and fat wallets, has the free agent market become infeasible for the Eagles? What players can they target and go after without stealing money from the other 52 players? With our recent poll emphatically dismissing notions to trade receiver DeSean Jackson(whose market could depend on how successful the Panthers are at trading Steve Smith, as rumored), fans are in no way content to shed any money like this quickly. How then, will Howie Roseman add to the team?
As far as the secondary goes, Philadelphia has been linked to a plethora of “second-tier” safeties that are solid, but not inhalers of money. Namely, reports have circulated that the Eagles are in on Panthers’ safety Mike Mitchell, and have checked in on Colts safety Antoine Bethea. “Remember one thing, Chip Kelly likes size and length. Bethea is an older player, has an injury history–good player, but he’s been hurt–and he’s not real big.They’re going to look for guys with some size at safety,” Caplan said. The more likely of the two would be Mitchell, listed with above-average measurables at 6 ft 0 in and 213 lbs. Regarding cornerback, the Eagles have been idiosyncratically linked to Bronco great Champ Bailey, who was cut by the team recently(this is just a few years after Denver pluck away Eagles legend Brian Dawkins). Bailey doesn’t fit the mold of what the Eagles would be expected to sign: an aging player who has been on the decline in productivity in recent years: “He’s still very productive and very good, but he’s at an age where age is a concern, and the cost of his contract is a concern, so they released him,” clarified Glick. Other corners the Eagles have been reportedly linked to are the Ravens’ Corey Graham and the Dolphins Nolan Carroll, the latter of which makes the most sense for Philly . Expect the Ea
gles to sign at least one mid-level safety(if not two) and one corner, likely Carroll.
In the front seven, rush linebackers–and 4-3 defensive ends who can transition–are catching the Eagles’ eye. “The free agency for outside linebackers is very very weak,” Caplan admitted even before Jason Worilds and Brian Orakpo returned to their respective clubs. Two players that may be catching the Eagles’ eye are Mike Neal and Lamarr Houston, Neal being the cheaper option. The Eagles were said to be coveting Bengals’ DE Michael Johnson, but reports indicate he’s likely out of their price range now. They may decide to offload some of their current players as well:” I think Brandon Graham’s days could be numbered. They tried to move Vinny Curry last summer, but it didn’t work out. But Curry would be a guy, out of everyone, that they’d look to move,” Caplan stated.
Lastly, Philadelphia may choose to add a returner/new element to the offense. New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles is se to e released soon, and he could provide matchup nightmares on third down. Chiefs weapon Dexter McCluster is also available, and is similar to Sproles. An unlikely option is Bears all-time great Devin Hester, who is on the wrong side of thirty, according to Caplan, “It depends what he wants. He’s not the same player he once was. [The return game] is something they can address in the draft or free agency,” Caplan noted.
Overall, the Eagles are in a good position to add. After increasing their win total by six, the team’s next goal is to go deep into the playoffs and beyond. Hopefully, free agency gets them there.
Photos: Huffington Post, NFL.com, WTAQ.com