Got back from Iraq last Sunday, but it took me a week to catch up with school, hence the delayed posting. Thanks again to everyone who contributed to the trip. It was very productive and laid the groundwork for us to do some very impactful work in the future. Meanwhile, I missed the bulk of free agency, so let’s talk about that today.
First, though, the elephant in the room:
What the hell is going on with DeSean Jackson?
I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time this week trying to game this situation out, searching for some logical thread that will explain it adequately. I’m sad to say I haven’t come up with anything. Frankly, I can’t remember a situation as unexpected and bizarre as what’s going on right now. At first, I thought it was just a leak test. However, if that was the case the team would have issued a statement by now denying any efforts at trading D-Jax.
Sadly, it sounds like the team really is looking to remove Jackson from the roster. His contract is onerous, but the team has plenty of cap space. Cutting/trading him for little value seems like a strange way to deal with that. The team could, for example, renegotiate Jackson’s contract. However, it’s possible that Chip is also factoring in Jackson’s attitude. I have no inside knowledge of DeSean in the locker room, but it certainly doesn’t appear as though he’s that “bad” of a teammate. Unless there’s some unreported incident or serious cause for concern, this angle seems sketchy as well.
Perhaps we’ll get more information if/when Jackson is moved. However, if the rumors are true, then it’s pretty clear the team has botched the process to an incredible degree. That’s strange. This front office (Howie/Lurie) have made mistakes in the past, sometimes big ones. However, they’ve never been downright incompetent. If Jackson gets released and/or traded for a late draft pick, it will be the biggest indictment of the front office yet.
In other, better, news:
The Eagles did exactly what I hoped they’d do in free agency.
If you remember my brief primer, I suggested the team follow a very similar plan as last season. Namely, pick up a handful of mid-tier players on reasonable contracts, strengthening the middle of the depth chart. The team is still in “build” mode, and I’d prefer to maintain flexibility for another year before looking to land a premier player via free agency. The Eagles did just that, and it bodes well for the future.
Malcolm Jenkins is probably the “biggest” signing, and will help improve the team’s biggest weakness from last year, safety play. Jenkins isn’t a great player. However, when you’re replacing Nate Allen (hopefully), you don’t have to be great. If the Eagles, with Wolff and Jenkins (or whomever else), can get anything close to league-average play from the Safeties next year, the team will be in great shape. Moving from bad to mediocre can make a bigger impact than moving from mediocre to good.
Nolan Carroll is an interesting addition to the secondary also. Good size/speed, and at 27 years old, he could contribute for a few years. He’s not a guy you can pencil in as a starter, but the team sorely needed some competition/depth behind Williams and Fletcher.
Braman and Maragos are both bottom-of-the-roster, special teams guys. Not much to say here other than to note that Special Teams was very weak last year, despite a good year from Donnie Jones. In general, I’d like to see the team churn the bottom of the roster a bit more than it did during the latter Andy Reid years.
Darren Sproles was not a free agent signing, but he’s obvious a “major” addition, at least in the mind of the pundits. I put “major” in quotation marks because I’m not sold. I like Sproles, but he’s 31 and coming off a poor season by his standards. Basically, if you think he’s going to be the extra “weapon” we were all hoping for, you’re going to be disappointed. However, I do think he fills an important need.
The Eagles offense is extremely vulnerable by virtue of the fact that it’s built around a single, elite talent (Shady). Bryce Brown and Chris Polk are decent backups, but they’re completely different players. In a pinch, they can handle the carries. Unfortunately, they don’t provide much of a receiving threat. Sproles fits that need; he had 71 receptions last season. It means that if Shady gets injured, the offense won’t have to be completely reworked. None of the plays will be as effective because nobody is as good as McCoy, but the team won’t lose a significant dimension to the offense.
I don’t see Sproles taking the field much WITH Shady. I think the team will use him to ease McCoy’s workload a bit, hopefully keeping him healthy and perhaps prolonging his career a bit. If an injury does occur, Sproles will allow the Eagles to keep operating out of the same general philosophy.
It’s a very expensive insurance policy, for sure, but if the Eagles really do believe they can contend next year, it makes sense to sure up the biggest vulnerability on the team. Of course, that’s hard to reconcile with letting D-Jax go for nothing….