Free agency starts at 4pm. Will the Eagles be active? Will they be aggressive? Howie just emailed me their plans, but made me promise not to reveal the amazing plans he has for the greatest offseason in the history of mankind.
Okay, so that’s not exactly true. Would be nice, though, huh?
I’m excited for today for a couple of reasons. First, we get to start fixing the Eagles. God knows that is going to take more than a little work. Second, we get to start seeing what Chip Kelly wants to do, in regard to the season and in regard to what types of players he wants. Every move/non-move can be a clue as to what he’s thinking and what he’s hoping for.
Adam Caplan tweeted last night about the Eagles making a FA move involving a “joker”. This is a term that has changed over the years. Jim Johnson used it to refer to a DE/LB that he would move around on 3rd downs. Jevon Kearse was great in that role in 2004. Now joker is also used on offense. It generally applies to a TE type that can also play FB/H-back or WR. The player can line up in a variety of places on the field and perform a variety of roles.
I think the player that Caplan expects the Eagles to sign is James Casey, the TE/FB/H-back from the Houston Texans.
We all know that the Eagles biggest needs are on defense. I think Caplan is talking about this move because he feels it is likely to happen. On defense, the Eagles will be bidding for potential impact starters and you don’t know who will end up where. Casey is more of a niche player that only a few teams will have interest in.
Chip Kelly doesn’t use a traditional FB. He wants a player who can do that role and also do some TE/H-back stuff. Casey is perfect for this. He can be a lead blocker on 3rd/1 and line up in the slot on 3rd/10. That’s the kind of versatility Kelly loves. Casey is 6-3, 240 and that size plus his skill set makes him a valuable role player.
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The Eagles will add at least a pair of defensive starters, but we don’t know the timeline for that. Could be the Eagles bring someone in as early as tonight for a visit or that they give this thing a couple of days to let other teams throw big money around.
We’ve seen the Eagles be aggressive and passive in FA. They adjust their style of business to the market and own team needs. This year they have a lot of needs, but the lack of premium talent may cause them to sit tight for a day or two.
Be patient. The Eagles know they need defensive help. They’ll make moves. I just don’t know if they’ll start at 4:01pm.
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If the Eagles do sign James Casey, that doesn’t rule out another TE move. They could even still go after Jared Cook. Casey would be replacing the FB. Cook would be a WR/TE hybrid. Those are different roles.
Andy Reid didn’t do a lot with TEs in recent years. He fed the ball to Celek, but that was about it. Chip Kelly is going to be different. He’ll have a conventional in-line TE (Celek). He’ll have the H-back type (possibly Casey). Kelly could add a traditional backup to Celek (Ben Watson or Anthony Fasano). He could go for Cook as the athletic WR type. Or Kelly could use the draft to add a player. All kinds of options. Sounds like Kelly would like 4 TEs on the roster.
Cook would be a great addition, but there will be a serious bidding war for him. Daniel Jeremiah said on Twitter that Cook is the FA he’s hearing the most buzz about. You can’t think of him as a TE. You have to think of him as an offensive weapon.
Here is a video of all his targets/catches from the 2012 season.
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For PE.com I wrote a short FA preview. You know most of the names already, but the article is worth reading. I took a look back at the free agent class of 2000, arguably the best haul the Eagles ever made. Why did it work? Who were the players and how did they fit?
As always, the lesson is to find the right guys and not the biggest names.