For the first time since the draft, the Eagles are now able to finish their off-season plans to improve their team. GM Howie Roseman has been very vocal about his plan to be aggressive when the lockout ended, and emphasized the feeling that the time to win is now.
But how do the Eagles finally get over the top and host the Lombardi trophey?
Rumors have run wild this off-season on what the Eagles might do. With the lockout over, lets sort through the rumors and figure out what the Eagles should do before training camp begins.
1. Address the Kevin Kolb situation
The face of the lockout may finally get the chance to be the face of a new team. Whether or not trading Kolb is a good idea was discussed in depth here, but more then likely Kolb will be moved. Teams like the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks most likely called the NovaCare Complex as soon as the lockout ended, looking to workout a deal for the career back up. If the Eagles are going to move Kolb, they need to do it before they get into camp. Once camp hits, weird injuries happen. The last thing Reid needs is his most valuable asset on the injured reserve. While the Eagles could roll the dice and hope a better offer comes due to an injury on another team, it is to much of a risk. Unless they are offered a top of the line cornerback (Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie?), the Eagles need to move Kolb for the highest pick they can get. GM’s around the league are going to be doing deals at a rapid pace now, and won’t have the luxury to play the waiting game as their competition makes moves. Take the first round pick for Kolb, and start scoreboard watching.
2. Address the backup quarterback situation
With Kolb most likely out of the picture, the Eagles will be in the market for a veteran back up. Names such as Vince Young will be thrown around, and while he is talented, putting a project behind Michal Vick may be to risky. Vick’s dangerous playing style has been written about at depth, and for good reason. The Eagles need someone who could step in, know the system, and hold ship. Who will be available that fits that description? Mac Bulger is out there. But another name that might make sense for the Eagles would be Jim Sorgi, who spent last season backing up Eli Manning with the New York Giants. Why Sorgi? The career backup spent most of his career backing up Eli’s brother, Peyton, in Indianapolis. Sorgi learned the complicated, quarterback driven offensive line schemes of Howard Mudd- the Eagles new offensive line coach. Sorgi could be a big help to Vick in terms of teaching him the ins and outs of the system. Of course, Sorgi on the field may not be very much help. Other then Sorgi, look for names like Young, Trent Edwards, Kyle Boller and maybe even Brett Favre to surface.
3. Bring in a cornerback
Perhaps the only other name talked about more in regard to the Eagles then Kevin Kolb was Nnamdi Asomugha, and he’s not even a member of the team. Making a move for Asomugha would certainly fit the bill as aggressive. Rumor has it the Eagles perfered Asomugha to Asante Samuel a few years back, but Asomugha is 30 now- the magical cut off line for Eagles free agents. Other then the age, Asomugha’s big contract request could turn the Eagles off. Asomugha is expected to ask for around 18 million dollars a year, and it is unlike the Eagles to invest a lot of money in one position. It is rumored the Eagles have close to $20 million in cap space, so don’t expect them to make a move for Asomugha. The former Oakland Raider also is used to playing a press style of coverage, something the Eagles did not play last year, and are not expected to play this year.
Where does that leave the Eagles? With Samuel on the other side, another top flight corner is not needed. The Eagles need to look for a solid tackler with height. Ike Taylor of Pittsburgh fits that description. Johnathon Joseph of Cincinnati should both be available, but by all reports had a down year last year. Both are a few tiers below Asomugha, but will also come a lot cheaper. If the Eagles are unable to land a corner through a Kolb deal, look for them to go for a cheaper cornerback on the open market.
4. Sign Quintin Mikell, David Akers, Stewart Bradley
The writing is on the wall for Mikell. I spoke to him a few months back at Powertrain Fitness in New Jersey, and he talked like a man who knew his fate. The fact is, the chances of the Eagles resigning Mikell are slim to none, but that doesn’t make it the right call. The Eagles are extremely young at saftey, with Nate Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Kurt Coleman all expected to play a major role next season. While each is talented and has potential, the Eagles are a win now team. They cannot afford to be beat for long plays all season long due to rookie-style mistakes. Mikell may not be a big playmaker, but he is solid and a good locker room guy.
Although Stewart Bradley is injury prone, he is still a young talented linebacker- and their are not many of those on the free agent market. Bradley also represents veteran leadership on a young defense at a position the Eagles traditionally have not been strong at. Bradley will be needed to make the calls on the field in Juan Castillo’s new defense.
The reasoning for bringing back David Akers is simple- this is a win now team. Can the team trust a rookie kicker to come through when they need him to? The Eagles will be in tight games, where every point will matter. And as Andy Reid put it: we can all count.
5. Acquire Albert Haynesworth
One player that stood out on the Eagles line last season was Antonio Dixon, a 322 pound defensive tackle that was able to collapse the pocket on opposing quarterbacks. Andy Reid will sing it till the cows come home- the game is won on the offensive and defensive line, and in todays game, the line has to be big. Dixon showed Eagles fans that.
When the Eagles brought over Jim Washburn, one thought came to fans mind, and it was a good one: Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth is the biggest, baddest defensive tackle in the NFL when he is at the top of his game- and just bad when he is not. His off the field antics are well documented, and last season in Washington is not something Haynesworth should be proud of. But given the circus that Washington was last season, and the fact that Mike Shanahan even got into it with the consummate professional Donovan McNabb, should count for something. It is rumored that the Redskins will do whatever it takes to keep Haynesworth off of the Eagles, but at the end of the day they will not pay him another big paycheck to disrupt the team. If Haynesworth can come in and play for his old defensive line coach Washburn, the Eagles will have one of the best defensive players in the league. Their are very few game changers in the league on defense- Haynesworth is one of them.
6. Look for bargain prices on Babin, Bush
Whenever the possibility of signing a free agent is discussed, it needs to come with this disclaimer: unless the price is right. Any player can be a good signing for the right price. Andre Iguodala for 6 years, 80 million? Bad signing. Iguodala at 5 years, 40 million? Good signing.
Would the addition of Jason Babin and Reggie Bush improve the Eagles? Yes. But it is very clear that in both cases, money will be the deciding factor. Babin has made no secret that he would like to come back to the Eagles- for the right price. He even joked to the media that Andy Reid can make up for the mistake of letting him go last year with a “nice contract.” Babin had an outstanding year last year, but investing a lot of money in a one year wonder is not usually the Eagles style, and nor should it be. If signing Babin costs enough that it turns into the Eagles big off-season signing, then it will be a mistake.
Reggie Bush would be very dangerous in the Eagles offensive system, but will want a lot of touches wherever he goes. If he wants to take a bargain deal to come here, return punts, spilt out wide and scare opposing defenses, then the Eagles should jump. But giving him big money, then splitting touches with LeSean McCoy is not what this already dynamic offense needs.
7. Bring in Plaxico
The decision to bring in Plaxico is a tough one. There are many unknowns at this point. Has he matured? How will he be in the locker room? Can he still play? All are very valid questions, and all could very well be no. Burress could come in with a bad attitude, tick off DeSean Jackson by taking away touches, and create a bad dynamic in an otherwise tight locker room.
Burress will look for money as he has lost a lot due to his time in jail. He might not come as cheap as the Eagles want him to, but this team is in desperate need of height at the wide receiver position. Burress may have lost a step, but he didn’t loose an inch. His 6’5 frame would instantly be a red zone threat. Vick has shown he can put touch on the ball, and Vick lofting it up to Burress would be a major problem for opposing defenses. Riley Cooper was drafted to be that player, and very well could be. But letting Riley sit for a year and learn behind Burress is not a bad thing. Add Burress in with the Eagles other offensive weapons, and you have an offense thats close to unstoppable.
If Burress is not what the Eagles want, they can cut him at any time. The team has enough weapons to survive without him. But being deep at a position does not mean it cannot be improved. Ask Reuben Amaro Jr. about adding talent to a deep position. If Burress can be even 70% of what he was in New York, the Eagles will have something they have been trying to find for a long time- a tall wide receiver that can play. Burress wants to be here. He is motivated to redo his image. Bring him in, and continue to reap the benefits of bringing in Michal Vick two years ago.
8. Get to work
The lockout is finally over. The Eagles did little in terms of offseason work outs, and the players that gathered in New Jersey did little more then an organized catch. If the Eagles make the right off season moved, they will be one of the favorites going into the season and rightfully so. It is time for Vick to hit the film room with his coaches, learn the offensive line schemes, and take this team to the next level.