I'll take a stab at some top-level thoughts. The timeline has not yet been established, but from what we hear the very real possibility exists that free agency could be here in a week and training camp not far behind that. What does it all mean for you, the fans? What does it mean for the team? Here we go, with yet another round of speculation as we speed forward to the real stuff -- a blitz that we have never before experienced.
WILL THE EAGLES SURPRISE US IN FREE AGENCY?
The answer is yes. I'm sure of it. I think the Eagles have big plans. Now, are they going to sign big names? I don't know. Are there a lot of big names in free agency? The goal here is to bring in big players, not big names. The Eagles, as it stands now, are going to have quite a bit of turnover on defense. They have four starters slated to be unrestricted free agents -- cornerback Dimitri Patterson, safety Quintin Mikell and linebackers Stewart Bradley and Ernie Sims. Who returns from that group? Not all of them, I can tell you that. But maybe one or two of them.
And whether you think that those players are good enough to return after a so-so defensive performance in 2010 is your opinion. The Eagles are looking to put together a slam-bang defense. They have a new coordinator (Juan Castillo) and new coaches around him. They're going to have new personnel. No question there is going to be an emphasis on defense in the weeks ahead. The offense is ahead of the defense, as I see it. Castillo has a lot of catching up to do after not having his players around these last four months.
So I think the Eagles are going to be active in free agency. I don't know the names and I don't know the targets, but the Eagles have cap room, they have needs and they have the big picture in mind. The defense needs an infusion of talent. There is no question about that. I think this roster has a lot of talent all around -- more on offense than on defense -- but I'm not sure how much the Eagles can expect their rookies to contribute.
I'm expecting anything and everything in free agency. My expectations aren't tuned in to a specific player. One player is not going to take this team over the top. The Eagles have some needs. I'm more interested in three or four good players rather than one big shot in free agency.
WHAT ARE THE EAGLES GOING TO DO WITH KEVIN KOLB?
The phones are going to open when the NFL says "go" and the Eagles are going to listen to offers. Kolb is a highly sought-after commodity -- a young quarterback who has won in this league. There aren't many of those players out there. But the Eagles aren't going to give Kolb away. Why should they? Kolb serves a valuable role here as Michael Vick's backup and the Eagles are a better team with Kolb here.
But if a team makes an offer that makes sense -- and Kolb would be an unrestricted free agent after the 2011 season if the reported rules of the new CBA are in place -- the Eagles have to listen. Kolb is an asset and is a terrific young quarterback. Teams want him. That much is clear.
If the Eagles do decide to trade Kolb, who becomes the backup here? I like Mike Kafka and I know the Eagles like him, but it makes sense to add a veteran here. There aren't a whole lot around, but the Eagles may very well be in the market to add one should they trade Kolb.
This issue will be decided quickly. Either the Eagles trade Kolb, or they don't. This is not a case where the Eagles hold on, hold on, hold on to the best offer. They listen, they consider and they make a decision.
HOW ABOUT THE CURRENT ROSTER?
Plenty of questions. Tons of them. And in a very short period of time, the Eagles are going to have to add dozens of players to the roster, they're going to have to sign their draft picks and their non-drafted players and they're going to have to build the best roster they can build.
I think the offense is going to be relatively similar to what we've grown accustomed to seeing. The pieces are in place there. The defense has a slew of young faces and some undefined positions.
The Eagles have a huge challenge, just like every other team. Each of the 32 franchises has had the chance to prepare for this moment. We'll see how well each team used the time during the work stoppage to make such a rapid-fire leap preparing for the 2011 season.
So, yeah, tune in all day, every day to PhiladelphiaEagles.com. Once the season starts, the action is going to be fast and furious and there are going to be moves made early in the morning and late in the night.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR THE FANS?
I know, and everybody here knows, that you have a lot of questions. You want to know when you are getting your season tickets. You want to know how you are paying for the season tickets if you accepted the deferred payment plan the Eagles offered. You want to know the schedule for training camp and the preseason, and everything that goes along with an NFL season.
The answers are coming. They are coming quickly. Some of the things you need to know won't be made available right away, so again I ask for your patience. There is going to be very open communication from the Eagles to you. Everyone here is sensitive to your needs and the extraordinary support you have shown for the organization through this entire process.
Bottom line, then: Once the gates are open for business, there is going to be a lot of focus on the football side of things. That doesn't mean the Eagles are ignoring the questions the fans have. In a very orderly process, and a very short time, you are going to have everything you need for the 2011 season ahead, and the tough times of the recent past are going to be in the rear-view mirror.