Around the league, the prospects dropped like dominoes, one after the other. The big names came off the board as expected either as those with franchise-player designation or with new, shining contracts. What once looked like a promising group of unrestricted free agents dwindled, as expected, to not a lot of apparent immediate-impact players who will be available when free agency dawns on February 27 at 12:01 a.m.
As the 4 p.m. deadline came and went on Thursday for teams to use their franchise tag, the Eagles were silent. No surprise there. But you sure have to wonder just exactly what is going on as the pre-free agency frenzy and the Scouting Combine converge.
The Eagles are in Indianapolis now, conducting the all-important interview phase of their prospect evaluations. Led by head coach Andy Reid, the Eagles have 15 minutes with a select group of potential draft picks and during that time they ask the routine questions and also separate the rehearsed answers with pointed questions about philosophies, situations, specific X's and O's and even some hypothetical-situation scenarios. The Eagles, for example, heard all about the "character" questions regarding wide receiver DeSean Jackson at this time a year ago, so they spent time with him at the Combine and then invited him to the NovaCare Complex for a pre-draft visit to learn more about him and gain a level of comfort and confidence. That second-round draft pick was one of the best in the league last April.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking toward free agency and the Eagles have their work cut out for them. They know it. They have this thing planned out, and they have been down this road before, but it sure is an anxious time for every one of us who aren't privy to the plan.
The Eagles didn't use their franchise tag. They have a list of some very key players who are going to be free agents in a week, starters like safety Brian Dawkins and offensive tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan. Key reserves like cornerback Joselio Hanson, running back Correll Buckhalter and safety Sean Considine are up in a week. So is tight end L.J. Smith, a one-time starter who fell from the coaching staff's good graces in 2008.
I'd love to tell you that something is brewing, that something is about to happen. That may very well be the case, but it wasn't apparent late on Thursday. It was a quiet day at the NovaCare Complex. The Eagles are a multiple personalilty right now, as every NFL team is: Focused on the pre-free agency days, keeping track of what other teams are doing with their tags and player movement and honing in on the draft prospects for April.
A lot of things are happening, and nothing is happening. All at once. Welcome to the official start of the frenzy, the calm before the storm, the days now when our palms are sweating with anxiety and excitement.