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Many Decisions To Be Made ...

Posted Feb 12, 2013

Swiftly and with great confidence, the Eagles handled the Michael Vick situation and can now move forward with more clarity in this offseason ...

What the Eagles did with quarterback Michael Vick was relieve themselves of a burdensome salary-cap situation, retain a talented player and ensure that there will be competition at the position, and at the same time they allowed themselves the flexibility to add a quarterback at another point in the offseason.

It was a win/win for the Eagles and for Vick, and both sides know there are no guarantees beyond the signing bonus, reportedly worth $3.5 million.

What's next, then? What else is on the agenda for the Eagles in what promises to be a very busy few months ahead? We take a look ...

DEVELOP THE X'S AND O'S

The shroud of secrecy remains as far as understanding exactly what the Eagles plan to run on offense and defense this season. Obviously, the signing of Vick and the praise from head coach Chip Kelly of Vick's "skill set" suggests that Kelly likes a quarterback who can move and present the threat of a run to the defense.

That said, there is little else we know about the scheme Kelly has planned for the offense. It's likely that the running game will be different than we've seen -- for example, how many counters did the Eagles run these last few seasons? -- and the philosophy is bound to change, but until we see it, we can't pretend to know what to expect.

Same with the defense. Coordinator Bill Davis is in the early stages of personnel evaluation and isn't close to being completely familiar with what he has. So despite the many efforts to make him to commit to a 4-3 or 3-4 front, Davis isn't there yet. And he won't be there for quite a while. And the reality is that the Eagles could very well do what other teams do, and that is to change their fronts frequently during the course of a game, depending upon the situation.

In the background, the coaches are meeting and exchanging ideas and building their schemes. Those schemes are based on flexibility. And we aren't going to see the results of the work now until the practices begin in earnest and then, even more genuine, when the games start in September.

ADDRESS SOME STICKY SALARY SITUATIONS

The Eagles are reportedly in wonderful shape with regards to the salary cap. According to those who calculate these things in the various media worlds we live in, the Eagles now have more than $20 million to spend within the projected salary cap. There are some other players who have contracts worth addressing, as the Eagles are expected to do.

First up is cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who has a contract that reportedly owes him $15.5 million in 2013. Asomugha has not been the All-Pro player the Eagles felt they were getting when they signed him to the free-agent deal prior to 2011. Why he has not performed up to the expectation is a matter of debate, of course, and perhaps the defensive coaching staff believes it can resurrect his career just as the offensive coaches believe they can get more from Vick than he has produced in the last two years.

Asomugha's contract, no matter how you slice it, is prohibitive. Fifteen point five mil is a large money roll to swallow for any player, much less one who struggled so much since he became an Eagle. Would the team keep Asomugha and ask him to make the contract more palatable? Would the Eagles consider keeping Asomugha, big contract and all? Or is the decision going to be to part ways and find another starter at cornerback?

Another contract to consider is that of defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins, who reportedly had a $4.5 million base salary and an additional $1 million bonus coming his way should his status remain as it is now. Jenkins is a valuable veteran and a leader in the locker room, and the Eagles have to determine his worth.

There are probably some other players whom the Eagles might look into, and the point is this: The team has a lot of maneuverability under the salary cap. It is a very favorable situation to have for a team digging out from a 4-12 2012 campaign.

WHICH POTENTIAL FREE AGENTS DO THE EAGLES KEEP?

The list of potential unrestricted free agents isn't very big, but it includes some players who had key roles last season. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is the headliner, along with defensive tackle Derek Landri, offensive guard Jake Scott, defensive end Darryl Tapp, linebacker Akeem Jordan, offensive tackle King Dunlap and long snapper Jon Dorenbos. Colt Anderson is a restricted free agent.

It's going to cost the Eagles some big dollars to keep Rodgers-Cromartie, who enjoyed a very fine season for Arizona in 2009 when Davis was the defensive coordinator of the Cardinals. He started the 2012 season off well, but his play dropped off significantly after the first month.

Who stays? Who goes? The Eagles have some decisions to make.

COMBINE, FREE AGENCY AND DRAFT AWAIT

Of course, the meat of the offseason is directly in front of us. The NFL Scouting Combine opens next week and on March 12 free agency begins and then, on April 25, it's the NFL draft. So now that Chip Kelly has his coaching staff in place, he is going to dig in on personnel and get the roster shaped up.

General manager Howie Roseman and his staff have been down this road before, of course, and have their timing down and their own sense of what Kelly wants for his team. The true test will be bringing to Philadelphia the kinds of players that Kelly wants to fit his systems on both sides of the ball.

March 12 is a month away. The plan for free agency, then, needs to become very clear to all here in a matter of a couple of weeks and then the Eagles have to strategize on their approach to the critical period of time to acquire some veteran players. At the same time, the draft beckons and the Eagles know they have a golden opportunity to add solid players throughout the draft.

The work is ongoing, then. A lot is going to come our way in a short period of time as we continue to monitor what the Eagles want to do to get back to the top of the NFC East.

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