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Posted Mar 2, 2016

The Sam Bradford Deal has resonated -- two years, terms much discussed among the media and fans -- and the Court Of Public Opinion seems to give it a thumbs-up verdict, if you care about these things. What we all know is that there is a lot more work to be done and topics to discuss as the countdown to free agency continues ...

The Sam Bradford Deal has resonated -- two years, terms much discussed among the media and fans -- and the Court Of Public Opinion seems to give it a thumbs-up verdict, if you care about these things. What we all know is that there is a lot more work to be done and topics to discuss as the countdown to free agency continues.

  • The Eagles and Bradford worked out a two-year contract that makes both sides happy, and while there is debate about the dollars being reported and the length of the deal, the fact is that both sides wanted this and both sides got it and that makes for a win-win proposition. Now let's look into the crystal ball and talk about how Bradford fits into the Doug Pederson offensive scheme, which will require intelligence, good mechanics, accuracy and a lot of help from the other 10 players on the field. Bradford can have success in the offense if the Eagles win at the line of scrimmage, if the running game is sound and productive and if the receiving corps wins its battles in coverage. Bradford can make the throws. His career suggests, too, that he will be smart with the football.
     
  • Speaking of the offensive line, how do the Eagles improve up front? They have a new scheme and perhaps more power football is in the offing and they're going to add competition to the current roster. What kind of talent pool there will be in free agency, I don't know. Offensive linemen are like gold in the NFL. Every team wants the same thing. The draft appears to provide some options as the early reports on prospects, for what those reports are worth, suggest that the offensive line has some good players to be drafted. This isn't going to be a "sexy" kind of personnel-acquisition period ahead, as I see it. Meat and potatoes. Help, if it's available for the offensive line. Maybe a defensive piece. Possibly a rotational-kind of wide receiver who can also help on special teams. Who knows? Everything is a guess at this point.
     
  • And by the way, just because Bradford has his deal doesn't mean the Eagles have to ignore the quarterback position in free agency or the draft. The objective is to cover every base at the game's most important position. Getting a deal done with Bradford, and the way the contract is reportedly constructed, was a really smart move by the Eagles.
     
  • What are the needs for this football team? Coaches always say the roster can improve at every position, and that's true, but the Eagles have a strong group of defensive linemen (although never, ever pass on a player who can be a top-level pass rusher), they are three-deep at tight end, the running backs are deep and talented and the linebacker room has some intriguing pieces. It's fair to say that offensive line, secondary and wide receiver are areas the Eagles have room to upgrade. But you don't want to force anything. The worst results in the past have come from draft picks made for positions of "need," rather than focusing on the "best player on the board."
     
  • Looking forward, as we all are, to seeing how running back DeMarco Murray is used in this scheme. He'll be used as he should be used: As a power running back who is very good in short-area situations and given the ball enough to get into some rhythm. He needs the offensive line to help, of course, but Murray -- and Ryan Mathews, for that matter -- will quickly understand that head coach Doug Pederson wants to establish the running game from the first practice and then through the season.
     
  • Marcus Smith, the team's 2014 first-round draft pick, is probably best suited as a defensive end/joker kind of player in this defense, as I see it. He needs to have success moving forward, not dropping back in coverage. It's going to be a tough transition for Smith, who made a bit of progress in his second season and now has to learn a new system.
     
  • Why can't the Eagles be as good as any team at defensive tackle with Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen, Taylor Hart and Brandon Bair? Allen has a lot more juice on his up-the-field moves than some out there believe.
     
  • I caught up with JaCorey Shepherd the other day and the second-year cornerback is salivating at the chance to get on the field after missing 2015 with a torn ACL suffered in Training Camp. "I can't wait. I'm here (NovaCare Complex) every day and I can't get enough of it, working hard, pushing myself," he said. "I've had a positive attitude through the whole rehab and I feel really confident that I'm going to get out there and play well. I stayed in the meetings last year and learned a lot. Coach Cory (Undlin, defensive backs coach) worked with me and made sure I was sharp mentally, so I'm looking to pick up where I left off." The Eagles were very high on Shepherd, a sixth-round draft pick last year, before the injury. He had a chance to earn some playing time as the inside nickel cornerback.
     
  • I've heard fans ask about wide receiver and the idea of "going out and getting a big-time player" for the group, and I just don't see it happening that way. Yes, the wide receivers must be more consistent and productive, some of that, from this perspective, is going to come from an improvement with the current group. And, yeah, the Eagles could add a veteran in free agency who can help both as a receiver and on special teams, and the draft is always an option, although the Eagles have already used picks in Rounds 1, 2 and 3 on the position. It will be interesting to see how that group looks by the time the roster is largely complete.

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