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Don't Overlook Veteran Names Now On Street

It is a small list now, but it will grow longer, with more recognizable names and with players who are going to find jobs in the NFL for the 2009 season. And maybe one or two of the players, those veterans on the streets now as teams erase previous free-agent mistakes, or let go long-time employees who no longer factor into future plans, are going to contribute somewhere this year.

Paying attention?

The Eagles sure are. They are keeping track of each one of the veterans who comes free every day now. And they talk among themselves about each one of the players. Can Ahman Green, for example, bounce back from two injury-riddled seasons in Houston and become a force again as a West Coast offense running back? Will David Barrett or Leigh Bodden fit in somewhere as a reserve cornerback, lending their experience to a secondary somewhere? Is bruising tight end Dan Campbell still capable of helping as an in-line blocker?

Who else becomes a salary-cap casualty in the days ahead? This is the third component of the off-season, in addition to the unrestricted free agency period and the draft. There is also the post-draft time and the post-June 1 period, which has all but dissipated over the years.

These are the days that serve as an appetizer for all of us. Most of the players on the streets now will sign for veteran minimums at some point, likely after the plum free agents sign in the post-February 27 days of free agency. Some of them won't be more than an afterthought as teams put the finishing touches on their training-camp rosters. And still others have seen their final days in the NFL.

But if there is one player to sign now, one player who can help solidify a roster, it is worth the many hours of evaluation and study personnel departments put in for such an occasion.

The Eagles have never been a team to take the beaten-up, broken-down veteran route in the pre-free agency period. Then again, this is a new year and a new set of circumstances and maybe, just maybe, they will find someone in the weeks to come who is worth adding to the roster.

At the very least, all of these players hitting the waiver wire give us something to talk about other than the no-story of Donovan McNabb's unhappiness that talk radio and the national media drones are perpetuating. Hey, the Eagles are in the final stages of preparation for their off-season series of moves. Surely, there are behind-the-scenes discussions and scenarios being discussed every day.

This is all going to get busy very, very soon. The main course is on the way, starting February 27. Every day, though, we have an appetizer to consider and names to ponder.

It is not a formidable list now, but give it a few days, even a week. The names will grow more headline-worthy and the Internet buzz is going to grow. Can the Eagles, who have enough cap room to add some real help in free agent, start the shopping early?

We all wait and wonder together. Meanwhile, the market is starting to murmur and, really, the possibilities are so much fun to think about.

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