Now that’s more like it…as I suspected, none of the pre-free agency rumor bullshit had anything to do with what actually happened (at least as far as the Eagles are concerned).
For those living under a rock, the Eagles signed 5 players:
James Casey (TE, FB, WR, HB, etc…)
Patrick Chung (S)
Bradley Fletcher (CB)
Isaac Sopoaga (NT)
Jason Phillips (LB)
If you read my post yesterday, you can probably guess that I absolutely love what the team did on day one. Let me bring back what I said yesterday (in italics) and use it to frame today’s post:
In general though, my FA plan would be:
– Add depth (everywhere) with low-priced veterans on 1-2 year deals.
Not sure the team could have done better on this goal in one day. The Eagles need new blood, and given the defensive holes and ST weaknesses, they need a lot of bodies to compete for those spots.
Patrick Chung is a promising player who has struggled with injury. If healthy, he’s likely a starting safety for us. Not sure if it’s at FS or SS yet, but the fact that he can play a little of both helps. He’s also just 26 years old. Not much guaranteed money in his deal, so it’s very much a low-risk-moderate reward opportunity. If he can stay healthy, we may have just found a starter, if not, he’s gone after this year and we move on. BTW, he played at Oregon with Kelly.
Bradley Fletcher is, in my opinion, the best signing any team made yesterday. He’s young, has a lot of potential, plays a premium position, and didn’t take a ton of money. At 6’0″ 200 lbs, he also has rare size for a corner. He fell out of favor in St. Louis and has a history of injury (2 ACL tears). However, he has the ability to be a good starting CB, and the Eagles got him with very little risk. Also, according to Tommy Lawlor, he has the best cover skills of any CB in free agency.
James Casey is getting a lot of love in the press, but I’m not sure what to make of him. Versatile player who apparently is highly regarded by Chip, but until we know the type of offense Kelly will run it’s really impossible to get a good read on how much Casey will contribute. In any case, the Eagles gave him 3 yrs $14.5 million, so you’d think they plan to use him a fair amount (though I have no idea how that money is structured).
– Add a NT. Doesn’t have to be a great one (not many of those in the NFL), but a huge need if the team is moving to a 3-4. This wouldn’t preclude taking one in the draft, but even then you need a back-up and it would be nice to not be overly reliant on Dixon.
Ask and ye shall receive….Sopoaga. Not a guy to get excited about, but the fact is the Eagles needed a body at NT; they literally did not have a single one on the roster, which is problematic for a team thinking 3-4 (or some variation of it). Sopoaga did not play well last year, so fans shouldn’t expect much from him. At the very least, though, he’ll compete with Antonio Dixon for the starting job or be a quality backup to a NT not currently on the roster.
– MAYBE add one marquee guy, as long as he is relatively young (<26-27). Plenty of cap space, so if the team loves a guy like Smith or Long then take a shot. Key is to pick the one they really like and let the others go.
No marquee guy yesterday, but that’s fine. Marquee guys are where teams screw up. Still rumors out there that the Eagles like Jake Long, but no way to tell if they’re true (I’m skeptical). I think the team will kick the tires on a few OTs, but only bring one in if the money is reasonable (i.e. not paying starting LT money).
– Don’t tie up cap space beyond this year. This is a massive transition for the Eagles, and the fact is that Howie/Chip themselves don’t know how it’s going to shake out. They key is to bolster the roster while maintaining cap flexibility for the next couple years. With so many moving parts, it’s impossible to say who fits and who doesn’t, so throwing big money around is very risky.
Team gets an A+ on this aspect. None of the deals are big-money or will have any significant effect on the cap situation after this year. Signing a guy like Goldson would make news, but I don’t think it’s the right strategy for the team right now.
I expect a few more signings, hopefully get Ricky Jean-Francois wrapped up this morning (he’s visiting) to provide more DL depth/versatility. If the team comes away with a big name OT, great. If not, I’ll be quite happy with another handful of guys like the ones they signed yesterday.
The key to FA is to find low-risk/moderate-reward players. The draft is where you find your stars. Once the rest of the team is built out and the roster is strong, then overpaying for an impact FA makes sense. For now, though, be patient.
P.S. I didn’t talk about Jason Phillips because he’s likely just a depth LB and special-teamer, but if the guy let’s us plant Jamar “The Invisible Man” Chaney on the bench (or on the street), he becomes a personal favorite.