With renewed optimism that a labor settlement will be in place soon, the long awaited free agency period will not be far behind. There is no question that the Philadelphia Eagles will be making moves once the league year begins. The real questions are: What will the Eagles do…and…What should they do?
Those are always two questions fans often get tangled up in a debate. Some people talk only about what they think the Eagles will actually do while others go nuts and talk about what they should, need, or want them to do. In reality, the Eagles usually do things that fall somewhere in between and much of the time are rarely ever predicted by the masses (mostly because who wants to predict “boring” free agent signings?).
There has been a lot of speculation and rumors about who we might be interested in as well. Players such as Plaxico Burress, Albert Haynesworth, Nnamdi Asomugha, Jonathin Joseph, and Jason Babin have all been connected to, or speculated on, as being potential targets. Obviously, we will not sign everyone.
With that said, who are some players the Eagles will, may, or should sign in free agency? We have to apply some logic here as far as what players have a realistic chance of being available and what positions the Eagles will likely address. They are truly a team that will sign a player at a position that is not seen as a need just because they feel that they’re getting a “good football player”. This makes predictions difficult.
So here it goes, my “shot in the dark”:
Kevin Kolb will be traded to Arizona for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a conditional third-round draft pick. If Kolb doesn’t meet certain criteria, the draft pick turns into a fourth-rounder. This will be the Eagles’ ultimate solution to their cornerback deficiency.
Would I rather trade Kolb for a first round pick and sign Nnamdi Asomugha? Yes, I would. So me predicting the trade for DRC is more of what I think they will do, not what I want them to do. However, it is a good move none-the-less.
Andy Reid stated recently in an online chat with Jeff McLane that Brandon Graham will “probably not” be ready for the start of the season. Even though that was pretty much a given, it reinforces the idea that we will probably sign a defensive end.
Jason Babin is the popular notion in this regard but he is going to want good money after coming off of a pro bowl year. Don’t look for the Eagles to make a big signing at defensive end. They’ll likely try to find a low cost player with decent potential, aka low risk high reward.
So who would fit that bill at the DE position? Two players come to mind: Vernon Gholston and Mathias Kiwanuka. Gholston is already available whereas Kiwanuka is currently restricted but could become available once a new CBA is reached. If Kiwanuka doesn’t re-sign with New York, I think the Eagles will definitely be interested.
Coming off of a neck injury, Kiwanuka will likely come cheap on a one-year deal with incentives. He was off to a hot start last season before getting injured (four sacks in three games). The Giants want him back but if the Eagles can offer him a slightly better deal, he may take the ride down the turnpike.
I’ve discussed Gholston previously, you can view it here. The key thing with him is whether or not Jim Washburn can re-mold him. He would certainly fit the low risk, high reward description.
With the Eagles still having Darryl Tapp, Juqua Parker, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Ricky Sapp, and Philip Hunt on the roster, I don’t think they’ll see the need to spend a lot of money at this position. They’ll figure that a few of these guys will adequately fill in until Graham recovers. Furthermore, my next move will have a better overall impact on the defensive line anyway.
If we choose to believe an Eagles source as quoted by Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports, Jim Washburn has serious interest in acquiring DT Albert Haynesworth. If that’s truly the case, I think the Eagles will make a push for him. Whether it’s via a trade with Washington or if they wait to see if he gets released, they will be interested.
Besides the questions about his character, some people bring up Haynesworth’s big contract as a reason the Eagles wouldn’t trade for him. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. You can view his contract details right here, courtesy of Inside the Cap.
Haynesworth is due to be paid $5.4 million in 2011, which is the only portion left of his $41 million guarantee in his contract. He is due $6.7 million in 2012 but that is not guaranteed money. Contrary to popular belief, he is very affordable. And if he stays with the Eagles over two years his contract would of course be redone.
Haynesworth could ultimately be the move that has the most impact on the improvement of our defense as he is a dominant player when motivated. I believe that Washburn does in fact want him and the Eagles will do their best to oblige. Plus, Eagles fans should love this Cowboy head-stompin guy (I know it was “wrong” but at least it was a Cowboy).
In that same article by Silver, there was mention of interest in running back Reggie Bush. I can’t foresee the Eagles pursuing a trade for him but if the Saints release him, expect them to gauge his interest in joining the team. He’s exactly the type of player Reid covets, explosive and versatile. But I don’t think he’ll want to come to Philly because he’ll want a larger role somewhere else.
If not Bush, the Eagles could go sniffing around some other running backs to be LeSean McCoy’s back up and a change of pace back.
Some names of interest at the RB position could be Darren Sproles, Kevin Smith, and believe it or not…Ricky Williams. Would Reid sign the player everyone in Eagle Nation wanted him to draft in 1999? Possibly. This could be an ideal situation for Williams if he’s interested in playing for a contender.
Some of you may be wondering why I think they’ll be looking for a running back. Well, I’m assuming Jerome Harrison is going to leave. I don’t think the Eagles will go into the season with rookie Dion Lewis and journeyman Eldra Buckley as the back-ups to McCoy.
I think Lewis will be the third RB and Buckley is out the door. We’ll likely look for an experienced running back who still brings something to the table but is willing to play second fiddle.
The Eagles will also look for an experienced back-up quarterback. Despite what they say, Mike Kafka is not ready to be the number one option behind the oft-injured Michael Vick. Marc Bulger, whom Kurt Warner believes may just want to remain a back-up, would be the most attractive option. If not him, Bruce Gradkowski could be of interest.
That would be about it for the free agent moves worth noting. There will always be a few middle-of-the-road to low end-type signings. They could bring in another linebacker, safety, wide receiver, or offensive lineman but I wouldn’t expect it to be anyone worth getting excited for. And we still have UDFAs to mull over as well.
Just for the record, I don’t think we’ll sign Plaxico Burress. As I’ve stated previously, I would welcome him if there wouldn’t be any negative consequences to the team but I just don’t think he’ll end up here in Philly. Plus, if the Eagles brought in Haynesworth they would be wise not to add another questionable character such as Burress to the roster.
A quick recap of the main acquisitions:
CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
DE Mathias Kiwanuka or Vernon Gholston
DT Albert Haynesworth
RB Darren Sproles, Kevin Smith, Ricky Williams, or Reggie Bush (one of these guys)
QB Marc Bulger or Bruce Gradkowski
The Eagles have a lot of cap-space so they are able to spend big money this offseason if they choose. But I believe they will use most of it to re-sign some of their own players such as Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson. If they traded for DRC they would also renegotiate his contract and will spend a decent amount there. Haynesworth won’t be expensive but won’t be that cheap either.
I don’t foresee the Eagles going out and having a Washington Redskin-like free agency where they spend top dollar on all the big names. I can only see them going after Asomugha if they can’t acquire a cornerback in the Kolb trade. They usually make one, maybe two “big” moves and a bunch of little ones.
If my free agency plan was a dinner, DRC and Haynesworth would be the main entry while the defensive end and running back would be the side dishes. The quarterback would be like the salad before dinner. Oh wait, am I forgetting something?
What about dessert?