If and when free agency actually happens, there could be an abundance of talent available this year. The reason being is that last year, when it was declared that 2010 would be an uncapped season, the rules for free agent eligibility changed. Typically a rookie contract expires after 4 years for most players (except 1st rounders who usually have 5 or 6 year contracts). Last year the rules changed to where a player needed to have played 6 years to be eligible. This meant that all of the 4th and 5th year players who would have been eligible were suddenly not any longer. They instead became restricted free agents which severely limited their chances of moving to another team. Therefore those players, in addition to players that have completed their rookie contracts this year, should be eligible. Basically, this year could have double the amount of free agents available!
Note that the 6 year rule is still in place at this time. Once a new CBA comes into play, it is assumed it will revert back to the 4 year rule. That’s why you may have noticed that a few of the below impending free agents have been tendered an RFA contract. The thought is that these tenders will become moot once the new CBA is completed.
So, who’s available that might be of interest to the Eagles? Well, there could be several players the Eagles could or should target. But you have to keep in mind that even though these players are scheduled to be free agents at the moment (or are technically RFA’s), they could also just as easily be re-signed by their current team once a new CBA is in place. Most teams try to keep their young talent. With that said, here is my list of top targets I could see the Eagles pursuing:
CB Nnamdi Asomugha, Raiders: Lock-down corner to play opposite Samuel. He will be the premier free agent available at any position and it just so happens he would fill a dire need. The Eagles have been rumored to be interested.
CB Johnathan Joseph, Bengals: A solid young and physical corner who would make an excellent addition. Doesn’t have the reputation of Asomugha but would certainly be a quality starter for at least the next 4 years. Chances are he will be re-signed by the Bengals though.
CB Antonio Cromartie, Jets: Solid cornerback. May have a bigger reputation than his play has shown this past year with the Jets but he would still make for a good addition.
G Davin Joseph, Buccaneers: We need help at the right guard position. Nick Cole and Max Jean Gilles have proven they are only back-ups and not starter material. Joseph could be the best available and would tremendously help protect Michael Vick.
G Harvey Dahl, Falcons: The Falcons have 3 starters on their OL who will be eligible for free agency. It seems likely that one will get away and Dahl might be the one. He’s considered to be an “old school” type player with a nasty streak, something our OL desperately needs.
DE Mathias Kiwanuka, Giants: He missed most of the 2010 season after suffering a herniated disc in his neck. Injured you say? He’s as good as ours! But seriously though, he would be a low risk high reward signing. He started out the 2010 season with 4 sacks in 3 games before being injured. We are always trying to upgrade our DL and with Graham injured and Parker getting older, we could look to add another pass rusher this offseason. Plus, he should come relatively cheap.
RB/KR/PR Darren Sproles, Chargers: The Eagles tend to like smallish-quick players and Sproles certainly fits that mold at 5′ 6″ 190 lbs. Jerome Harrison will most likely look elsewhere for a starting job so the Eagles will be in the market for a backup RB. Add in the fact that Sproles is a good return specialist (PR/KR), he would be a good value. The problem could be that he might be looking for “starter money” or something close to it. But for the right price, I can certainly see the Eagles being interested.
QB Brett Favre, Sunnydale Village Retirement Home: Ok, this was for my amusement purposes but hopefully the guy actually stays retired this time!
Other notable real free agents the Eagles could show interest in would be CB Brent Grimes (Falcons), G Daryn Colledge (Packers), DE Ray Edwards (Vikings), and DE Jason Babin (Titans). Adding a backup veteran QB would also be a priority if we trade Kolb. Did you notice that I have not mentioned any linebackers, which is certainly a perpetual area of need for the Eagles? The reason being is, that I don’t see many potential free agents of interest AND that I think the Eagles would go after. Rocky McIntosh from the Redskins could be intriguing and would be a guy the Eagles may look at but I’m just not sure how much of an upgrade he’d really be.
As you can see, I’m focusing on the CB and G positions for the most part as I think they will be the main 2 positions we look to address in free agency. They are arguably our 2 biggest needs and as fate would have it, they should be the positions that will have the most available talent this year. RT is another position I think they’ll address but that will most likely come via the draft. Unless a player such as Tyson Clabo or Jared Gaither becomes available (they’ll most likely re-sign with their current team), there aren’t many offensive tackles that will be available that would be an upgrade over Winston Justice.
My hope is that they nab 2, maybe 3 of the players above. A combination of say Asomugha, Dahl, and Kiwanuka would be a great haul for us and is certainly feasible financially. That would allow for much more flexibility in the draft where we could take the best player available rather than reaching for a player in a position of need.