Preparation for the 2018 season is fully underway as the personnel department puts the final grades on potential free agents, the coaches close the books on 2017 and the entire football operations staff readies for the NFL Scouting Combine which begins on February 27 in Indianpolis and ends on Monday, March 5.
This is what we know about the current situation with the Eagles …
1) They won't have a lot of wiggle room within the 2018 salary, which could reportedly rise from $167 million to $174-$178 million. Howie Roseman last year around this time labeled the Eagles' situation as "tighter than usual," and then the Eagles went out and were as creative as anyone could imagine with personnel acquisition. This year, they are in a much more confined squeeze, according to Spotrac.com, which projects the Eagles to be over the cap at this time. So, the Eagles are going to have some tough decisions on current salaries on the roster. Stay tuned.
2) As Super Bowl champions, the Eagles have the 32nd and final pick in the first round of the NFL draft on April 26. They traded away their second-round pick (in the Carson Wentz deal) and their third-round draft pick (in the Ronald Darby deal). They have two picks in the fourth round, their own (128 overall) and New England's (Eric Rowe trade, 127 overall) and another two selections in the fifth round – their own (160 overall) and a pick from Seattle (147 overall) acquired in the deal that sent offensive tackle Matt Tobin and a seventh-round draft pick to the Seahawks. The Eagles also have a sixth-round pick, No. 192 overall). That's a total of six draft picks.
3) There remains the matter of filling out the coaching staff with offensive coordinator Frank Reich off to Indianapolis as the head coach and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo in Minnesota as the Vikings' offensive coordinator. The coaching staff had last week off. They are back in the NovaCare Complex this week, so perhaps head coach Doug Pederson will decide.
4) The NFL schedule traditionally is announced in April and that is likely to be the case ahead, but the Eagles also have the game in London against Jacksonville that will be played in October (exact weekend to be determined).
5) This is rest-and-relax time for the players, who won't be required to report to the NovaCare Complex until mid-to-late April when the team's offseason conditioning program begins. A notable exception is quarterback Carson Wentz, who continues to rehab from his torn ACL and LCL suffered in the December 10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
And that, folks, is the update. We're all still in Stage 5 of the Seven Stages Of Celebrating An Eagles Super Bowl Win as the great vibes continue in and around the City of Philadelphia, but inside the NovaCare Complex the team has moved forward. You realize how challenging the time crunch is after a Super Bowl win, with free agency set to start on March 14 at 4 p.m.
Some other notes, which may mean absolutely nothing to you …
- The Phillies are off on Thursday, September 6 as the NFL season opens at Lincoln Financial Field. That should be an all-day celebration in the City as the team raises the Super Bowl Championship banner – or whatever the plan is – in the stadium. So, more plans to be made.
- Where will the Lombardi Trophy eventually be housed? It's a good question. The Eagles have kept the George S. Halas Trophy from the 2004 season at the NovaCare Complex, and now with another Halas Trophy and a Lombardi Trophy to showcase, an expanded trophy case will need to be constructed. My sense is that it will be at the NovaCare Complex, but that's just a guess.
- I know the questions are coming, so let me just say this: There will be a Draft Party this year since the NFL moved the draft to Dallas ("with the 32nd pick in the first round of the NFL draft, the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles select …"; take that, Drew Pearson, who trolled the fans in Philadelphia last April) so just be patient with the news. Details ahead …
- And finally, if you've been reading this column for many years or visiting the Ask Dave Spadaro section on the Discussion Boards since the early 2000s, I made mention so long ago that when the Eagles won a Super Bowl I would decorate my left biceps area with a tattoo. I look forward to tat shopping in the weeks ahead. I see a "Barbed Wire" kind of look with an SB LII text and an Eagles logo on my bicep somehow, somewhere. Can't wait!