In the course of six weeks, the Eagles have turned over their coaching staff, have used the franchise tag on quarterback Michael Vick and the transition tag on placekicker David Akers and have signed a handful of players to add depth and competition and who knows what else beyond that. It's been pretty busy.
The best is yet to come for the Eagles in the offseason, what with the draft and free agency and an entire roster to upgrade. Here are questions and answers from this perspective about what is going on with the Eagles as February winds down ...
What Impact Will Signing All Of These Players Have?
Is there any downside? The Eagles have added players like wide receiver Sinorce Moss, defensive end Phillip Hunt and linebacker Rashad Jeanty because they worked those players out and liked what they saw. They have professional experience and they come here to add competition in training camp and perhaps more. The Eagles didn't sign these players as "The Answers To All Things Needed," as some fans (on the Discussion Boards and in the Comments section) seem to think.
Fact is, a player like Moss has a chance to resurrect his career as a return man and as a receiver. He is healthy now. He has battled injuries his entire career, but he worked out for the Eagles and impressed them enough to earn a contract. Same with Jeanty. His body is fresh and he has tremendous motivation.
Is there any risk to signing players like this, and having them challenge for roster spots? Are there Pro Bowl players on the streets right now? I give the Eagles a lot of credit, actually. To add a player like Jeanty, who had 32 starts in four years with the Bengals, is a nice signing for the pre-free agency period.
Don't think that because the Eagles signed Moss, or Hunt or Jeanty that they won't address wide receiver, defensive end or linebacker in the coming months. That isn't the case. The Eagles are just being aggressive right now and challenging the roster any way they can.
Are There Any Injury Updates Needed?
Right offensive tackle Winston Justice is having surgery on Tuesday by Dr. James Andrews in Alabama to clean out his knee, the one that was injured late in the 2010 season. The surgery is not microfracture surgery. The official word is that Justice is having his knee cleaned out. Anything beyond that is speculation, including an erroneous report making its way around the Internet that Justice is having mircrofracture surgery. He is not. Once Dr. Andrews is inside the knee, of course, he may see something else, but right now there does not appear to be great concern with Justice and his knee.
Safety Nate Allen is making terrific strides coming back from his patellar tendon injury and defensive end Brandon Graham will soon be accelerating his rehab from his ACL surgery. Fullback Leonard Weaver continues to rehab after his knee surgery and defensive tackle Jeff Owens has a long recovery in front of him after his knee surgery.
Other than those two, as I understand it -- and things can change and this is not an official statement -- the Eagles expect everyone back in time for training camp. I reserve caution on players returning the next season after major surgery, so it wouldn't surprise me to see the Eagles really address spots on the roster that have injured players right now -- defensive line, secondary, etc.
What Is Next For The Personnel Department And Coaching Staff?
The Scouting Combine begins this week and general manager Howie Roseman and his staff along with Andy Reid and his staff will make the trip to Indianapolis to scout the draft possibilities. We've been through this many times. You are going to hear all kinds of juicy rumors and Eagles-related talk, but the team is generally very tight-lipped about their intentions.
The Combine is a chance to compare apples to apples in terms of measurables. The draft class is said to be deep along the defensive line and in certain spots on that side of the ball, at running back, and in places along the offensive line and at wide receiver. Roseman believes the draft is strong for seven rounds and beyond and that good players are found throughout.
He's right. Who would have ever expected Jamar Chaney to make an impact after the Eagles used a seventh-round draft pick in April on him? Now, I look forward to Chaney starting somewhere in 2011.
If There Was A Depth Chart, What Would It Look Like?
It would be similar to the one the Eagles had that ended 2010, with some players coming back from injury forcing the issue. Jamaal Jackson, I think, would be listed ahead of Mike McGlynn at center. Allen would be the starting free safety ahead of Kurt Coleman. I honestly don't know if Stewart Bradley would be the starter at middle linebacker or if the Eagles would consider moving him to the SAM spot, but since Jeanty is here, well, I'm taking that as an indication that Bradley would say inside and that Chaney would move to WILL, and that Jeanty and Moise Fokou would be the leading contenders at SAM. Of course, Bradley is slated to be an unrestricted free agent and his future is unclear.
This is all a guessing game and a fun one at that. As I see it, the Eagles return largely the same on offense, with that right side of the line a major area to watch. The defense could have a few new faces starting and several more peppered in as backups.
The official depth chart, by the way, isn't constructed until the week before the preseason opener.
Does A Potential Lockout Affect The Coaching Staff?
There have been some questions in recent days about whether the Eagles would lay off any of their coaching staff in the event of a lockout. There have been no indications from the Eagles that the team is thinking that way, and team president Joe Banner told assembled reporters last week that he didn't anticipate that happening and that a lockout would have to be in place for a long time before the Eagles would even consider that course of action.
Let's hope, of course, that the current mediation between the owners and the players union is productive and that there is no lockout at all. Free agency, in a normal year, is only two weeks away. The fans want to share in the fun.