Posted: March 3rd, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 156 Comments »
Free agency starts next week. The Eagles have the money to be big players. They clearly have holes on the roster so logic would tell you they could go spend some money on big free agents to shore up the roster.
But is that the smart thing to do?
The Eagles signed several big name free agents in 2011 and got very mixed results. Last year the team went a different route and focused on mid-level guys. The results were much better. One of the big differences in the groups was character. The Eagles got team guys last March. Connor Barwin, team leader. Cary Williams, team leader. Bradley Fletcher, good locker room guy. Even a player like Isaac Sopoaga who flopped was a good locker room presence.
I’m real curious to see how Howie Roseman handles free agency this time around. Last year the Eagles were making a big transition on defense and they needed volume. They were smart to go after several mid-level guys rather than a couple of stars. The circumstances are different this year. The needs are more specific. Targeting high dollar players makes more sense.
But you do have the Chip Kelly factor. He wants the right kind of players. Kelly needs guys that will buy in to his program. Not all free agents are open-minded. Many come with a major sense of entitlement, which is greatly helped by the huge contract the team just handed them. The scouting department will put together detailed reports on the free agents, but just as important as their play on the field will be what kind of guys they are.
I have no idea if Jairus Byrd is a good guy or flaming jerk. Kelly was the offensive coordinator at Oregon during Byrd’s final 2 seasons there. They won’t be close, but Kelly will have some idea what kind of guy Byrd is. That will affect the Eagles interest. Safeties like Mike Mitchell, Chris Clemons, Malcolm Jenkins and Thomas DeCoud could be total mysteries to Kelly. The Eagles will have some info on them, but there will be some guessing involved.
OLBs like Brian Orakpo and Jason Worilds will probably be mysteries as well. You can bet the Eagles will do lots of research on them.
Howie Roseman is aggressive. That’s just the kind of person he is. But he’s not reckless. He’s shown that he can sit back and be conservative in the draft and free agency. He prefers making big moves, but you can’t force them. And after the success of the last 2 drafts and last year’s free agency, I’m sure Roseman is trying to learn from what he did right in those cases.
The Eagles have signed some elite free agents over the years and gotten great results. The Andy Reid era wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without Jon Runyan at RT. The Eagles made him the highest paid OL in league history back in 2000. That was money well spent. The Eagles don’t go to the Super Bowl without Jevon Kearse. The Eagles got good production from Asante Samuel. You can hit home runs in free agency. You just have to understand that the misses can be very painful. Stacy Andrews is not a beloved name in Eagles history.
My guess is that the Eagles will be aggressive, in a controlled fashion. They will target a couple of high dollar players and will go after them. The Eagles won’t be afraid to walk away, though. I don’t think there is anyone on the market that you just hand a blank check to. I can’t stress enough that I think Kelly wanting the right kind of guys will impact the moves. The players brought in last year were all grinders and they fit the culture. The Eagles were a real “team” and that felt like a tangible part of their success.
I can’t wait to see how Roseman and Kelly handle free agency this year. With every move they make, we learn a little bit more about the new way of doing business. Next week should be pretty interesting.
Posted: March 2nd, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 131 Comments »
Big news out of Buffalo today. There are reports that the Bills will not use the franchise tag on Jairus Byrd, their star Safety. The Bills hope to still get a deal done with him, but I get the feeling that’s not real likely. For whatever reason, it just feels like Byrd wants to play for someone else. Obviously money is a huge issue, but reportedly the Bills have already made him offers that would make Byrd the highest paid Safety in the league. If he has rejected those offers, money may not be the only factor.
Will the Eagles be interested in Byrd? You bet.
Will the Eagles sign him? That’s tougher to figure.
Byrd is a very good Safety and that is a position where the Eagles need help in a big way, but I don’t think Byrd is a player you hand a blank check. As Howie Roseman says, you must have a walkaway figure. Lots of teams will have interest in Byrd. I don’t think the Eagles will get into a bidding war for his services. I could see them making a big offer, but I doubt this will be a Jon Runyan/Jevon Kearse/Asante Samuel type of thing. Those guys were given record setting mega-deals.
I didn’t expect the Bills to let Byrd hit the market so I have yet to thoroughly study his 2013 tape. I have watched a bit and there is plenty to like, but Byrd isn’t a great player. He does have some issues. I’ll watch several games and then do a full write-up on him. At the very least, Byrd’s presence on the market could help the Eagles. It might create competition for his services and the Eagles could end up landing someone else. We assume Byrd will be their primary target, but it is possible the team will have some other player in mind.
Byrd isn’t the only free agent of interest who might hit the market.
I don’t really understand this. Why on Earth would you let Orakpo go? He and Ryan Kerrigan make a terrific set of bookend pass rushers. And Orakpo doesn’t seem to be itching to leave. Here’s some comments from the Washington Post article.
Washington Redskins officials were in final deliberations this weekend over what was described as a difficult decision about whether to devote the financial resources necessary to retain outside linebacker Brian Orakpo.
According to several people familiar with the situation, the Redskins like Orakpo as a player and ideally would prefer to keep him. But there have been differing views within the organization, according to those sources, about the wisdom of either using the franchise player tag or pursing an expensive long-term contract with Orakpo when that money and salary cap space instead could be used to address other needs.
“I think there’s a lot of back and forth on it,” said one person with knowledge of the team’s deliberations. “I don’t think it’s clear cut.”
Will the Eagles have interest in Orakpo if he does hit the market? They could. He is a good 3-4 OLB. He’s not great, but is the kind of talented, high character guy that I could see Chip Kelly liking quite a bit.
We’ll find out on Monday if Orakpo gets tagged or not. That will be interesting to follow.
Posted: March 2nd, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 96 Comments »
Last night’s post about the DeSean Jackson trade rumor turned into a lengthy discussion. I’m putting this post up so you can continue it if you so desire. The longer a discussion gets, the more complicated it is to follow.
A few follow-up points.
* The argument for trading DeSean doesn’t pass judgment on him from a morals standpoint. No one is saying he’s a bad guy. The theory is that the Eagles may be tired of the drama that he brings with him. Drama doesn’t make you a bad guy. But it doesn’t mean that you’re a good long term fit somewhere.
* If the rumor is true, this is more than just Chip Kelly. Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman and some of the assistants may not be DeSean’s biggest fans. “MAY” is the key word there. I don’t know this to be a fact. It is speculation. Clearly if the Eagles keep DeSean around, the organization is okay with him.
* Some of you wonder about trading DeSean because he’s such a special talent. Would it be wise to do that? This is where the discussion gets complicated. Jackson is arguably the fastest player in the league. He can be a major playmaker. At the same time, the guy has 32 TD catches in 6 years. Jackson’s speed is special. His potential is special. His production isn’t. Calvin Johnson has played one more year than DeSean and he’s got 66 TD catches. That’s special production. Pierre Garcon has been in the league the same time as DeSean and he’s got 25 TD catches.
All that said, there is no doubt that just by stepping on the field, DeSean impacts a game. His speed scares defenses.
The question then becomes how you quantify that into a measurable. The Eagles played without DeSean for a while in 2012 and did okay. The Eagles scored 33, 23, 13 and 20 points without him, but with Nick Foles at QB. DeSean is a weapon, but the offense can be productive without him. It is less scary for sure, but still can be productive.
DeSean is not so special that you can’t trade him. He’s just not. But I sure wouldn’t do it lightly. He is a unique talent and you don’t let go of those players unless the circumstances are right.
* I’ll put up a non-DeSean post later today.
Posted: March 1st, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 198 Comments »
The Eagles re-signed Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper this week. That led to a lot of positive vibes. Except in the case of Jimmy Bama. He decided to look behind the moves and try to connect some dots.
Bama then came up with this theory: the Eagles could be preparing to trade DeSean Jackson.
Say what? Didn’t DeSean just have the best year of his career? What is Mr Bama thinking?
Before you rip Jimmy’s theory, at least hear him out. There is logic to his thinking. The Eagles have allocated more money to the WR position than all but one team in the league. That is interesting for a team that led the league in rushing and wants to focus on running the ball. DeSean is due major money this season, and in the future.
The news that the Eagles offered Jeremy Maclin a 5-year deal caught many of us off guard. We don’t know the exact money they offered, but it had to be somewhere in the $5M a year range. Would you pay him, Cooper and DeSean good money long term?
One of the other factors in consideration is that Jimmy wonders if the Eagles are getting tired of dealing with DeSean. Jimmy gave the example that DeSean and WR coach Bob Bicknell battled during games. Jason Avant played the peacemaker, but he’s likely to be cut. Who will step in between Bicknell and DeSean this season?
There is also the question of DeSean’s focus on football. He is a bit of a Hollywood guy. Is that okay with Chip Kelly? DeSean wants to be a rapper or to run a rap label or some variation of the two. That’s fine with some coaches. Kelly might not have any issue with it, but we don’t know. He is looking for more of a full commitment than many coaches. There is the 10 hours of sleep request. There is the whole sports science angle. Does that mesh well with DeSean and his outside interests?
Some people will bring up the contract comments by DeSean at the end of the season. I’m not sure what to make of that. I think he gets over-criticized since he didn’t bring up the issue, but rather just answered a question. That said, we don’t know if he’s brought up the contract behind closed doors. I think DeSean is okay with his salary, but he would like some of the money to be guaranteed. The Eagles prefer the flexibility the current situation gives them.
If the Eagles have gotten a bit tired of DeSean, this is the perfect time to deal him. He still has elite speed. He put up big numbers last year and stayed completely healthy. DeSean played all 16 games for the first time since his rookie year.
What kind of compensation could the Eagles get for him? Tough question. The draft is loaded at WR so that could impact his value. DeSean’s big contract could also affect his value and the amount of teams that would have interest. Still, you never know when a team would be willing to pony up for an elite speedster. I’d love to say the Eagles could count on a 1st rounder, but you can’t do that. NFL trades are funny. Sometimes you get fair compensation, other times you settle for less.
So what is my take on all of this? My initial reaction was that Jimmy connected some dots, but I didn’t fully buy the conclusion. The more I think about the offer to Maclin though, the more it does make me wonder. Jimmy and Howard Eskin had an interesting exchange on Twitter.
Are the Eagles tired of DeSean? Could they want to move on? I hadn’t gotten that vibe this offseason, but the recent events have made me realize that this is at least a possibility. Time will tell if Jimmy Bama broke the Da Vinci Code or if he just came up with a wild theory.
* * * * *
One thing to keep in mind…if the Eagles do trade DeSean, they would likely take a WR early in the draft. That could be the 1st, 2nd or 3rd round. This is a really deep class so there should be quality targets in each round.
* * * * *
We talked about Dion Jordan yesterday. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves on this. I still have my doubts on whether Jordan does get seriously shopped. The guy is talented enough to play in any scheme. His career is off to a disappointing start, but I’m not sure the Dolphins are truly ready to pull the plug at this point.
Speculate away and have fun with the rumor, but don’t start thinking of this as a likely scenario. Remains a longshot in my mind.
Posted: February 28th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 124 Comments »
The Eagles continued their spending spree on Friday as Jeremy Maclin signed a 1-year deal to remain with the team. This has been a great week for the Eagles. They were able to extend Jason Peters and Jason Kelce, while re-signing Riley Cooper and Maclin. All 4 are key players and should be a big part of an elite offense in 2014.
Maclin told the media that he talked to the Eagles about signing a 5-year deal, but the two sides could not come to an agreement on money. That is an interesting nugget. If the Eagles talked to him about a long deal, the money had to at least be decent. Would the Eagles really commit big money to Maclin, Cooper and DeSean on long term deals? That would have been a lot of resources going to WR.
As it is, the Eagles have a lot of money invested there for 2014. Chip Kelly used a lot of 3-WR sets in 2013 and could be hoping to do even more of that this year. The other possibility is that Kelly could be looking to substitute his WRs more often. The offense played at a quick tempo last year, but you got the feeling they could be even faster. The lack of WR depth meant that Cooper and DeSean had to play a ton of snaps. If Kelly can rotate the players and keep them a bit fresher, that might help the offense.
There were times when the offense bogged down in the 2nd half. You wonder if the WRs wore down at all during games and if that had any effect. This is just me shooting out some random ideas, not really offering definitive theories.
It will be interesting to see how Kelly uses his WRs this season. Who will line up where? Which guys will play the most snaps? Who will have the most catches? And so on. We’ll learn a lot and get some ideas on how these guys fit into the future.
Mac says he will continue talking to the team to see if they can work something out. He wants to stay here. What offensive player wouldn’t want to stay? Kelly is an offensive guru. The O-line is good. Shady is arguably the best RB in the league. Nick Foles is a young QB that could become a huge star. If I’m a pass catcher, the Eagles are where I want to be. There will be lots of chances for big plays.
I do think Mac can thrive in this offense. He has good speed and is a solid deep receiver. Mac has RAC skills and can be effective on WR screens. The big test for him will be physicality. Jimmy Bama gave him the nickname of “Self-Tacklin’ Jeremy Maclin” for a reason. The guy went down way too easily in 2012. Chip Kelly won’t tolerate that. I think playing for Kelly will bring out the best in Mac. We saw other players step their game up last year and Mac is a high character guy. I think the new vibe on the team will push him in the right direction.
The physicality also ties in to blocking. Mac must be aggressive and physical. DeSean was an effective blocker last year and is 25 pounds lighter than Mac. The Eagles are now a running team and also use a lot of bubble screens. It is crucial for WRs to block. Mac has to produce in this category if he does want to stay long term.
All this week’s moves have me fired up for 2014 and the offseason.
* * * * *
The hot rumor of the day involves Dolphins DE/LB Dion Jordan.
Jason La Canfora reported that Miami is shopping Jordan.
A year after trading up to get Dion Jordan with the third overall pick in the draft, the Dolphins have begun shopping him to other clubs, league sources said. Miami has talked to other teams already to gauge Jordan’s trade value.
Jordan did not click with the coaches last season, he had to play through a very difficult shoulder injury, and was not seen as a strong fit in their scheme (he’s an edge rusher that best fits a 3-4 defense).
The man who drafted Jordan (former GM Jeff Ireland) is gone, so it might be time for Jordan to move on as well. With Koa Misi and Olivier Vernon occupying defensive end spots with Miami in its 4-3 scheme, finding playing time for Jordan might be tough barring injury.
Jordan’s return time from a shoulder injury limited his progress, and with rookie compensation so low, it is easy to trade even first-round picks (the 49ers and Chiefs swapped recent first-round picks last year, for instance, and the Browns traded Trent Richardson to the Colts).
Jordan should be an Eagles target, assuming that his shoulder is okay and that Kelly likes him. Kelly said a bunch of positive things about Jordan last year, but you don’t know how much of that was PR fluff and how much was legit praise for his former star player.
Originally I thought pick 22 and Brandon Graham would be a fair price to pay for Jordan, but if Miami is shopping him, the Eagles might be able to get a better deal. I’d be ecstatic if they could give Graham and a 2nd rounder for Jordan. In a fantasy world, the Eagles would then use pick 22 on a good DB and would give the defense a major boost.
The Dolphins denied the report that they were shopping their players around.
I had my doubts about this situation, but can you really be surprised by anything happening with the Dolphins these days?