Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Big Picture

***

We are now on Day 3 of the offseason.  The Eagles haven't made a signing yet.  Things are pretty quiet.  This has us all frustrated.  Not getting Julius Peppers was a huge blow.  As mad as you might be, Howie Roseman, Joe Banner, and Andy Reid are equally upset.  Peppers is a player they coveted and thought they had a great shot to land.  Chicago was more desperate for him because they have no 1st or 2nd round pick this year and also had to deal with the Gaines Adams tragedy.  This wasn't a matter of the Eagles not wanting him or being cheap.

Where do we go from here?

The goal is still the same...to improve the team.  Peppers was the big kahuna, but there are other moves to be made.


SELECTIVE SHOPPERS

The Eagles loved Peppers, but didn't make a play for Aaron Kampman or Kyle Vanden Bosch.  Those were the top 3 unrestricted DEs.  Why go for one, but not the others?  What gives?  The Eagles saw Peppers as an elite talent and the kind of player you absolutely pursue.  They had little to no interest in the other players.

The Eagles have always been very choosy about who they go after.  They don't believe in change for the sake of change.  The Eagles find players they like, target them, and then pursue those players.  I personally like Kampman.  They don't.  They see a 30-year old DE coming off an ACL tear.  They see a descending player.  Vanden Bosch is an older player that hasn't been overly productive in several years.  Look at the numbers for the last 2 years:

Juqua Parker --- 32 games ... 63 solo tackles, 13 sacks, 3 FFs, INT
Vanden Bosch - 26 games ... 46 solo tackles, 7.5 sacks, 5 FFs
Kampman ------ 25 games ... 77 solo tackles, 13 sacks, 1 FF

Each of the other guys has missed some games with injury.  That affects their numbers, but also brings durability up as a point to consider.  The bottom line is that neither of the other players is as much of a significant upgrade on Parker as you may think.  Juqua isn't an ideal starter, but the other two do have some issues.  The Eagles and I disagree about Kampman.  I do think he's good enough to make it worth making the move.  The torn ACL really is the x-factor with him. 

As for the teams who signed them...JAX had an NFL low 14 sacks last year.  They had to take a chance on a DE.  They could not afford to be choosy.  Kyle is going to a Detroit team that allowed a shocking 494 points.  They gave up 31 points a game.  That is just insane.  The Lions need all the help they can get.

I'm sure some of you will disagree with the Eagles for being so selective.  There are several different ways to approach free agency.  The Patriots are aggressive.  Belichick loves veteran players and is always open to adding various guys.  The Colts are the polar opposite and virtually never add anyone of significance.  The Steelers are like us.  They pick and choose carefully, but truly prefer to build through the draft.  All 4 teams have had a lot of success despite doing things in different ways.


ODD YEAR

Because of the CBA situation this is a weird offseason.  There are only a handful of real good UFAs to choose from.  Most of the talent is in the RFA class.  We have never dealt with this scenario before.  We don't know how things will play out.  The one thing I will tell you is that RFA moves are much more complicated than normal FA signings and will take more time.  You must be patient.

Howie Roseman is the new GM.  You can bet he wants to be aggressive and put his stamp on things.  Unfortunately his hands are a bit tied.  The Eagles are probably only going to go after a veteran S and veteran RB in the UFA market at this point. 

That doesn't mean those are the only moves we'll make.  Roseman and Reid will talk to the other 31 teams about players who might be available via trade, just as teams are talking to us about our QBs.  The NFL isn't normally a trading league, but that may open up this year because of the lack of UFAs targets for all teams.

I know some people have wondered if Roseman is at fault in any way for the Peppers situation.  No.  Joe Banner is the lead guy on all FA deals.  He is the contract guy and negotiator.  Roseman and the personnel guys put together lists of targets.  Banner and the agents are the ones who talk turkey.  We might have gotten lucky with Roseman becoming the GM this year.  He seems to be more of a creative, aggressive guy than Heckert.  This offseason will require someone who can - get ready for the cliche - think outside the box. 


POTENTIAL TARGETS

The thing to do is to look for players the Eagles might want to go after.  If we have to give up compensation you can be sure the Eagles will focus on two types of targets:  high end talent and ascending players. 

DE Ray Edwards is an RFA.  The Vikings put a 1st round tender on him.  This is a guy the Eagles could still want to go for.  He is an ideal LDE.  Edwards is 6'5, 270.  He just turned 25, so he's just hitting his prime.  He had 8.5 sacks this year and really played well in the postseason.  There are a couple of things to consider.  Do the Eagles like him enough to give up a 1st Rder and big contract to get him?  Will the Eagles use a poison-pill clause in the offer to force the Vikings to let him go?

The Raiders were reported to be open to dealing CB Namdi Asomugha.  If that is true, you know the Eagles will make some phone calls to Oakland.  That is the kind of player they would break the bank for.  The report said that his contract could be a problematic for the Raiders and that is why they might consider dealing him.  Of course, no one knows what Al Davis and that team is doing.

Back to DE for a minute.  The Lions have a DE named Jason Hunter who started 9 games last year and got 5 sacks.  He is 6'4, 271.  He played LDE for the Lions.  If we decide that we're going to target CB, FS, and/or OL in the 1st round of the draft, we could go and sign Hunter to an offer sheet.  He has a 2nd round tender.  There are some good DEs in the 1st round, but I don't know that there will be anyone of interest that falls to our 2nd round pick.  Hunter isn't proven, but he is an ascending player.  He'll turn 27 this summer.  He's gone from role player to starter.  He could be a good starter for 4 or 5 years.  I don't know that the Eagles have specific interest in him, but this is the kind of player that fits their M.O.

I'm just throwing some names out there.  I don't have time go through every possible move right now. Understand that the Eagles have detailed scouting reports on every player in the NFL.  They will have some players on their radar that we may overlook for one reason or another.
 


TRADES

The Eagles could look at some other types of players in the trade market.  You go find a player who has fallen out of favor with a team or maybe someone who doesn't fit a new scheme so well.  LB Derrick Johnson only started 3 games for the Chiefs last year.  The Eagles could see what KC is looking for in return.  We know the Eagles talked about him last year when they ended up dealing for Will Witherspoon.

WLB Rocky McIntosh may not be an ideal fit for the Redskins defense if they do make the complete conversion to the 3-4.  He is an RFA, but they might deal him for less than a 2nd if they see he isn't of much value in the new scheme. 

CB Richard Marshall only got a 2nd round tender from CAR.  He could be a player to look into.

You wonder if the Packers might be open to trading LB A.J. Hawk.

And so on.

We have a good amount of quality draft picks to use.

1
2
3
3
4
4

We also have potential trade material in the form of:

QB Michael Vick
DT Trevor Laws
LB Chris Gocong


Clearly none of those guys is going to land us anything great. 

The point is to find a team where these guys might offer value.  3-4 teams might like Gocong.  Laws would be a good fit as a 1-gap DT.  A 3-4 team could also look at him as a DE, where he played as a Senior in college.  Would KC give up Derrick Johnson for Laws and Gocong?  I'm sure some people will laugh at that notion, but think about this.  While Derrick would start for us he was just a nickel LB for the Chiefs in '09.  He only had 3 starts all year. 

I'm obviously leaving McNabb off the list.  We'll just have to see what happens with him.  Frankly, I'm tired of speculating.  All we can do is wait. 


BE PATIENT

I know it sucks.  We see Peppers in Chicago.  The Giants landed Rolle.  Dansby is off the market.  And so on and so on.  We're all ready for some action.  The Eagles will make some moves this offseason.  It is just going to take some time.  The goal is to make the right moves, not the most moves or the fastest moves.  You don't want to panic because Peppers is gone and throw money into a player that you don't really believe in.  Find some players you do like and go get them.

We have a good team and we're coming off a good season.  We need to get better and the front office knows that.  We didn't win the Super Bowl.  We didn't win the division or even a playoff game.  No one thinks we're good enough at this point.  That ties in to the Eagles thinking.  The goal is to get better, not just to make changes.  Let's find guys who genuinely make us better.

I know some fans wonder about the "talent gap" between us and the Cowboys.  We whipped them to end '08 and they whipped us to end '09.  So what did they do to get better?  Not what you think.

OUT:  DL Chris Canty, WR Terrell Owens, LB Kevin Burnett, CB Anthony Henry, NT Tank Johnson, CB PacMan Jones, DE/LB Greg Ellis, S Roy Williams

IN:  ILB Keith Brooking, QB Jon Kitna, DE Igor Olshansky, S Gerald Sensabaugh

You tell me, was there more talent heading out or coming in?  Dallas made the right moves, but that offseason sure doesn't look good on paper.

Hopefully we'll have some good rumors to talk about this week.  I don't know that anything major is going to happen any time soon, but I am eager to see the guys at least doing some shopping. 
___

32 comments:

Myron said...

Re: the talent gap between the Eagles and the Cowboys -

It was mostly addition by subtraction. Removing locker room cancers like Pacman Jones and Terrell Owens allowed all of the talent that was already in place to shine through. Getting rid of T.O.'s incessant demands for the ball allowed players like Miles Austin to emerge. Also, remember that Dallas was a 13-3 team just the year prior. There is no denying that the team was already talented. I don't think you can make a similar analogy with the Eagles - the players they did cut were the opposite of the players Dallas cut: high character vets who only made the team better and whose absence will probably make the team worse (Westbrook).

Re: Ray Edwards -

Trading a first rounder to the Vikings for Edwards would be a grievous mistake. He shined in the one game against the Cowboys primarily due to the attention paid to Jared Allen. Take away the relentless double teaming of Allen, and Edwards is a mediocre DE at best. I would much rather take a chnace on drafting a DE than trading for Edwards, to be honest.

Tommy Lawlor said...

Ray Edwards is not mediocre. He is a good, young player. He had a good year. Is he elite? No way. He could develop into a really good LDE. I could easily see him as a 10-sack guy.

Tommy Lawlor said...

As for the point about the Cowboys...that isn't meant to say that we should follow the exact same path. I simply wanted to point out the fact that the team we're chasing got better primarily by sticking with their young players and letting them develop. I want us to make moves. I'm not advocating that we stand pat.

Edward said...

Interesting stuff Tommy.

This offseason is already dragging on far longer than i've experienced before.

The talk is that RFA's won't be dealt until nearer the draft. We could well be stuck with another month of boredom and rumour juggling.

Right now i've just got my fingers crossed for at least a couple of our young players to really step up next year. We need them to.

Marlin Jackson seems like a guy who if healthy delays the need for a high pick at corner. If the right player is there i'd be happy for the Eagles to pick them but a player like Jackson would make it seem less of a priority.

Ben said...

Ray Edwards - good, gonna get better, but he's not worthy of a first. A 2nd and a 4th? I think that could be fair since he'd need a new contract too. He plays next to arguably the best "other 3" d-linemen in the NFL (allen williams and williams), but I like his style. He's a tough guy.

Nnamdi- I'll break my bank for the Eagles to get him too. My bank may struggle very, very much in comparison to theirs, but man... Lock down with Nnamdi on one side, and INT machine on the other? Wow. We that would make us so good at corner we wouldn't even need a FS!

Rocky McIntosh- I actually like him a lot. If they're moving to 3-4, how about Gocong for Rocky straight up? I know those deals are rare in the NFL (aside from BILLY MCMULLEN FOR HANK BASKETT), but it would make sense.

I still say we trade McNabb for a stud LDE, or a good FS and a 3rd. Something along those lines.

Cliff said...

Not to mention the fact that the Cowboys had by far the healthiest team in the NFL last season. How would things have been different for us had Shawn Andrews not crapped out or Disco Stew played all 16 games or Westbrook return to his pre-injury self?

There's not so much a talent gap between us and them, more like a luck gap.

Cliff said...

Tommy, could you explain the "poison pill?" I first recall the term being used when New England acquired Wes Welker, but haven't even been sure of its meaning.

Tommy Lawlor said...

The poison pill is a clause you put in a contract that sets up a ridiculous situation.

It got famous when the Vikings went after Steve Hutchinson from SEA. The Vikes put a clause in there that made the offer unmatchable.

We could put a clause in Edwards contract that pays him an extra $500K for every game played in the state of Minnesota. The Vikings couldn't match such an offer. Would Andy do that to old pal Brad Childress?

Ben said...

That poison pill idea is hilarious, but realistically I don't understand why teams don't utilize that all the time? It's genius.

Cliff said...

Haha. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

But I like it.

Cliff said...

CB Marlin Jackson is supposedly coming to visit with the Eagles. Can you give us some notes on him?

Would we be interested in Jackson as a nickel CB to replace Hanson or Hobbs?

Myron said...

Tommy: My point about the Cowboys was that their improvement can be tied directly to their removal of negative influences. They were a better team being held back by locker room cancers like TO and Pacman Jones. The Eagles problem is not the same. Thus the Eagles will not see improvement in the same way that the Cowboys did after an offseason lacking any major additions. The Cowboys got healthier by removing cancers, the Eagles have no real cancers to remove and thus cannot improve by simply cutting players or in any way remaining inert.

Also, regardless of what you say, I will be upset if they give up a valuable first round pick for an average DE like Edwards. I'd much rather take a chance on drafting Brandon Graham or Jerry Hughes or Everson Griffen than trading away a first rounder.

ZackISM said...

Guess there is April to look foward to. There is nothing left out there, and the Eagles are looking at back-ups like Marlin Jackson. We were kidding ourselves thinking they'd be real players in a uncapped year. F' Andy Reid, Joe Banner, Howie Roseman, Jeff Laurie and Donovan McNabb....

Good thing we can get ready early for our painful season ending losses next year. No hopes from me.

Alexander said...

Tommy-

Hunter is only listed at 243 lbs where I am looking, and was 232 at his Pro Day. Are you sure about his weight as you have it listed?

I think Edwards makes more sense than many may think. Pro Football Focus had him at 35 QB hits along with those 8.5 sacks, tops in the NFL, and he is unusually young at only 25 for the 2010 season. He was also high on the QB hits list in 2008

And let's say that the Eagles current plan is to trade up to land their favorite DE prospect in the draft....the "slot" money for CLE's #7 pick is north of 23mm guaranteed, which I think is right around what Edwards would sign for.

Not only that, a trade package required to get to that pick is likely substantially greater than the value of strictly the 24th pick, what they'd need to give up for Edwards.

So basically its the same dollars, and clearly lesser cost in picks/value surrendered, for an ascending proven player vs a prospect 3 years younger? Seems like a no-brainer to me to opt for Edwards

And even if Vikes match, you'll know before the draft (RFA ends April 17th) so you won't jeapordize the draft plans waiting to see if MIN will match

Pitmanite said...

I'm not upset about what the eagles did with the DE situation. I'd love if they got peppers, but it seemed to be out of their control. Would've liked Kampman, but not all that upset. I am upset that they didn't get Rolle. They should've been really aggressive in going after him. I'm not interested in giving Macho or Demps another crack at the safety position. Rolle is a young player who has good cover skills.

I'd give up our 1st for Ray Edwards. I don't think he's a world beater, but we wouldn't be brining him in here to be the premier DE on our team. We have that in Cole, so he could benefit greatly from being opposite Cole, and he's still a young growing player. If we were picking at #10 I'd say no, but at the bottom of the 1st round it's not often that you get superstars. We could get us a player who helps us a lot, but in Edwards we know we'd be getting a really productive player who could give you another 5 to 7 years in his prime. Wouldn't give up a 1st & 3rd for him though.

I'm just hoping the FO has a trick up their sleeve to come up with at least 1 veteran to help at either DE, LB, or FS.

bthackra said...

Tommy,

Regarding the QBs. I fear the Eagles are over playing their hand regarding trades. Teams that need QBs are filling those needs. SF and STL signed QBs this week. The number of teams that need QBs is dwindling. The longer the Eagles wait to move one, or two, of their QBs, the riskier it gets that the market just doesn't develop, or moves in another direction. Outside of MIN, who really would trade what Reid wants for McNabb?

Adam S. said...

Any team with a legitimate chance of the playoffs that has a QB that gets injured come training camp & preseason. They will be calling Philly first thing. Is it the ideal situation? No, but other teams dictate as much of it as the Eagles do, it takes two to tango.

Mr_Boomy said...

What do you guys think about Gibril Wilson?

Cliff said...

Gibril Wilson would be akin to last year's Sean Jones signing, in my opinion. It doesn't hurt us.

Why was Wilson cut by the Dolphins?

Mr_Boomy said...

Not enough production compare to his salary, maybe he didn't fit the system.

I thought he played pretty well for the Giants which was the same Defense we're running.

I don't know, probably it was the D-line that made everything looks good.

Netherman said...

Avant signs 5 year deal...I like that. He is one of my favorite players in the post Dawkins era.

Cliff said...

Good deal. How far have we come since the James Thrash & Todd Pinkston days? Yeesh.

Adam S. said...

Cliff I was just thinking that same thing this morning. What a relief this offseason has been not having to listen to everybody whine and complain about getting a "superstar" WR.


Tommy heard anything on the OJ Atogwe front? I'd also be curious to know what you think about Gibril Wilson. He clearly got overpaid when he left the Giants.

Netherman said...

No way we would make a poison pill deal for Edwards...they should not be allowed to begin with but Andy would never do that to Brad.

Let's just say hypothetically we had an opportunity to trade McNabb for Edwards straight up. Would you do that deal? Both are needing new contracts...that opens up more options in round one if we get one need out of the way. I would definitely think about that one.

Netherman said...

One more question: what round do you project a guy like DB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah.

Pitmanite said...

didn't realize the type of contract that rolle was given by giants, when i wrote earlier saying we should've went after him. i would've preferred them going after rhodes, whose cover skills would've been nice in our defense. he was well worth a 4th rd draft pick. it just sucks having to compete against teams acting out of desperation & giving guys dumb contracts.

i'm okay w/ us sitting back, since it's still early, but if the eagles don't get a FS i seriously don't want to have to sit here and listen to spuds tell us that macho or demps are looking like like the 2nd coming of dawkins.

jamie said...

Rhodes:

what kept us away from him? figured he'd be the perfect guy for us to trade for.

Cliff said...

The FO must've just not liked Rhodes because the Cardinals didn't give up much to acquire him. Considering we have two 4th round picks this year, I would think we'd be more willing to trade 1.

KCruel said...

Tyler Brayton is a name you might see in Eagles green. He's a more experienced LDE than Babin with a similar high motor. Won't wow the fan base, but is a better option than Clemons which they signed last year.

Netherman said...

Don't know how much you can read into fan comments, but it seemed like the bulk of the Jet fans thought Rhodes was a little soft and not committed to football. I would rather give Harris more time. What did we really expect from a mid round rookie falling into a "heady" position like FS for us?

Cliff said...

And I think Macho did pretty well, all things considered. I'm not so sure the FO wants to upgrade FS through the draft or free agency, anyway. They drafted Demps, then Macho, to take over - why would they give up on that so soon? Look how much time they've given Abiamiri or our new starting RT Winston Justice?

Netherman said...

@jamie...that was way over my head...I would normally say stats are overrated...I mean on that list Mike Huff is rated higher than Atogwe...really? Truth is, I have no clue how those were derived so they may be spot on or completely meaningless, but looking at the stats of one defensive player's performance outside of the context of the team's performance, the scheme, the offense leading or not, etc makes me scratch my head.