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Random Thoughts, Things I Think ...

Posted Feb 13, 2014

As the NFL world goes in so many different directions ... All is quiet at One NovaCare Way as the Eagles gear up for the NFL Combine and then free agency. Some thoughts ...

We're inside of a month before free agency begins for the NFL (March 11, 4 p.m., circle the date and time) and it's quiet. Really quiet. We know that. The NFL news cycle doesn't stop, what with the turnover in Cleveland following the hoopla of draft prospect Michael Sam's decision to announce his sexuality.

The Eagles have their own focus, of course. Free agency is fast approaching. The draft preparation is well underway. The Eagles have a roster to upgrade. Some thoughts as the snow falls in Philadelphia ...

  • Any interest in cornerback Jabari Greer or safety Roman Harper, released on Wednesday by the Saints? Let's not just jump at "names," as many fans do. Greer is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury and Harper returned to the Saints lineup late in 2013 after suffering a knee injury. Can he run well enough to cover at a high level? New Orleans drafted Kenny Vaccaro to replace Harper last season. They are names the Eagles no doubt have looked into. We'll see if there is any interest. More "names" are going to hit the streets as teams work to get below the projected 2014 salary cap limit of $126 million.

  • The Eagles have a healthy salary-cap situation that will, of course, fluctuate. The numbers that are reported suggest the team is in the neighborhood of $21 million under the projected cap, but we don't know for sure how accurate those numbers are. And whether those millions go up or go down leading to March 11 is not really the story. The Eagles have plenty of money to do as they wish to do. They have flexibility to sign some young veterans to long-term contracts and also shop competitively in free agency and still have some room to improve the roster as they need. General manager Howie Roseman has good handle on this with his salary-cap team.

  • Maybe the one player who has the chance to take a really noticeable jump when practice begins again is quarterback Matt Barkley. Let's see how he looks completely healthy, with a full offseason under him and a complete knowledge in the system. The backup quarterback position is one that is hugely important, one that I'm watching closely. Who backs up Nick Foles? Barkley is going to get a lot of reps and can put himself in a good position here with a strong showing. Meanwhile, we see what free agency holds for Michael Vick.

  • Nothing new to report on any talks or plans or next steps for the Eagles. Roseman speaks at the NFL Combine next week, but otherwise, all is quiet as the Eagles continue working on what is going to be a very busy time starting in mid March.

  • Nobody talks about the offensive line, but I think it's important that the Eagles keep adding to that group. How do the coaches feel about young backups like Dennis Kelly and Matt Tobin? What is Allen Barbre's role in 2014? Are the Eagles as good as they want to be up front? Lane Johnson's development is so critical. He needs more strength and a really strong offseason to build on his fine rookie campaign. If Johnson can become a dominating right tackle, the edges of this line will be as good as any in the NFL.

  • What are players doing now? They're working out, of course, and trying as best they can to follow the team's training guidelines no matter where they reside. Players aren't required back at the NovaCare Complex until mid April when the offseason conditioning program begins, but it's an important time to build strength, push cardio and eat right. And the mental relaxation time is huge. Once April's program begins, there isn't much down time for players.

  • We'll talk about it much more as the season gets underway, but it's going to be interesting to see how the Eagles address their return game on special teams. Do they add a specialist? What can the team do to improve the explosiveness on kickoffs and punts? So many questions ...

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