Philadelphia Eagles News

Eagles Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie

Opening remarks: "This is really the first time I've had a chance to talk to all of you since we have a new collective bargaining agreement. That's really number one…to be able to come up with a 10-year agreement in today's sports world is really both unprecedented and great for all of us, all the fans. None of us wants to go through this kind of stuff every three or four years and the fact that it's a 10-year agreement is really great. The other thing is the formula the NFL has that's really the envy of all sports leagues around the world. We were able to maintain, and for all of us I think that was the most important thing. And that was that with guaranteed equal spending by all clubs and you have a sports league that doesn't favor big markets over small markets, more avid fan bases over less avid fan bases, whatever it is, we're always going to have a situation where every team at the beginning of the season is going to spend the exact same amount of money and have an equal opportunity to win big. You know, the comparable sports leagues – I guess the one you'd have to compare it to the EPL, the other really globally phenomenal sports league, English Premier League, they don't anything like that and certainly no other league does. And to me when you cut through all the issues, that was really the most important to keep the formula going that's created this unprecedented popularity. And some other things that I think were undervalued and really, really important was we all felt an obligation to the veteran players that played this game before 1993, this really does I think help them tremendously, and they built the legacy of this sport, we're trying to grow it, but they built it. And also with the rookies in terms of reconfiguring the pay scale for rookies so that veteran players could benefit more. Those are just a few of the key elements, but I think they're going to improve the game tremendously and at the same time rejigger the economics that's fair for all of the players that have played before and are veteran players now. Onto the Eagles, this was, we knew, a very, very interesting and unique situation where you have a long lockout after an uncapped year going into a capped year with enormous opportunities if you can put together an aggressive blueprint and strike. And that's really kind of what we planned to do, I'm sure I'll get asked a lot of questions about it and I'd be happy to answer. But this was a very, very interesting sort of combination of factors of two full years of free agency piled into one because of the restrictions in the rules of an uncapped year where the fourth and fifth year players were very restricted and so were not unrestricted free agents. So you had two classes in a sense rolled into one, going from an uncapped year to a capped year with a lot of teams having to figure out how they're going to get under the cap for the new league year. And at the same time, the first two years of the new collective bargaining agreement as you know have less stringent minimum requirements for each team. So there would be some teams that might not bid as aggressively, or were not required by the CBA to do that. So we thought that it was a real buyers market opportunity and I think we were well prepared. Anyway, I'll open it up to any questions."

On how he describes the collection of talent that the team has assembled: "Yeah, those are obviously players that don't know us that well, and in (QB) Vince's (Young) case, new. We're about as far from a dream team as you can be, we're playing catch up. The only dream team I know is the Green Bay Packers. We dream to become as good as the Green Bay Packers and hold that trophy. And going into last year I would say the New Orleans Saints because those are the dream teams, they're the ones holding the Lombardi Trophy. We're consciously trying to play catch up in an aggressive way. I personally thought that, we won our division last year, and I thought we played the Packers very evenly in the playoff game and played them very well. But you have to understand the way I looked at it (and) I think most of us looked at it is Green Bay won in a year in which a lot of their best players were injured. So this is not an accurate assessment of Green Bay last year and they were holding the Lombardi Trophy. So when you add the (TE) Jermichael Finley's and (RB) Ryan Grant's and just a slew of great players all over, I think they're the team we're all trying to catch, I think they're the team you dream about trying to surpass and so does the rest of the NFL. So the other thing just to add to that is the personality of the players we brought in and the personality of our players and the coaching staff is -  we're a blue collar football team, it's a grind-it-out team. We go from practice to practice. You know, players like (WR) Jason Avant and (DT) Mike Patterson, I think they're the identity of the kind of team we have and we are. And I think that our style is focus on what's right in front of us, be humble and be aggressive but be humble, be confident but understand that we're trying to play catch up and that's all we're doing."

On whether he thinks he has assembled a Super Bowl team: "I think we'll compete. You know, I think we'll compete. There's no question we had a strong team last year and we should have a better team this year."

On whether there was more of a sense to spend money and sign big free agents to get over the hump: "Just to be accurate about it, all teams spend the same amount of money, virtually. There are no tight minimums this year, but we always spend to the cap. So it's not about that, it's about taking advantage of the market place. We thought there was a real potential for a buyers market place with the ingredients I spoke of before. It's a unique situation to have uncapped to capped, two years of free agency rolled into one offseason, rolled into one week or two and the lack of stringent minimums going forward for the first two years, we're never going to see that again, certainly in the next decade we're not going to see that. We thought we were positioned well. I have to give my guys a lot of credit, in particular (general manager) Howie (Roseman), (president) Joe (Banner), (head coach) Andy (Reid). I mean, we were very well positioned salary cap-wise to be able to take advantage of this very unique situation that occurred. We knew that if we could be disciplined and have sort of a strike area for each player that we focused on, each position and each player, and when the market place entered into a zone where we thought it was a strike zone for that player, we became extremely aggressive and tried to be creative. Every contract though was with an eye towards both maximizing the chance to win big this year and at the same time be extremely strong going forward. We don't believe in contracts that create dead money. We don't believe in sacrificing next year and the year after for contracts that wouldn't work best for us that way, we don't do that. We try to compile as many draft choices as we can. The last two years I think we've led the NFL in the number of draft choices. As you know, going forward we're loaded up for next year's draft, 11 or 12 choices already with two two's, two four's and going from there. And Howie's building on the 2013 draft at the moment. So we don't really feel that philosophically there's really any change, but this was a very, very unique market place that we wanted to be very agile and strike."

On why he thinks the perception in Philadelphia that the Eagles typically don't spend money on free agents: "You know, in life there's a lot of misperceptions. We are a team that always spends to the cap and we've done that ever since I bought the team. So yeah, I think when you sign some big time free agents there's an assumption that you're spending more but we're literally not. We're doing what we always do, we spend to the max because that's our blueprint. We spend to the max but we try to be as efficient as you can in doing it and pick the right players. And I'm sure we'll make some mistakes and have along the way here. But Howie and Andy and Joe are very, very well prepared and we have this constantly aggressive mentality."

On whether he is trying to work on a contract extension to get WR DeSean Jackson into camp as soon as possible: "Listen, we all really like DeSean. He's a positive player, a good person, and we have nothing but high hopes going forward with DeSean. I'm not going to talk publicly about any of the dealings with him, but it's all positive and we look forward to DeSean being here and working things out in a great way going forward."

On whether he has placed emphasis on the coaching staff to win: "We have only have one goal. We have won so many division titles and we have been in five championship games and have been to one championship game. The only goal is to win the Super Bowl. We've done it all and as it has been every year, it's a primary and our total focus is, 'What is it going to take?' Along the way it takes a lot of talent, great coaching, luck, lack of injuries, all that. We feel if you can provide all the ingredients and the tools, we have a great teaching coaching staff. Two of the most important moves we made this offseason were bringing in (defensive line coach) Jim Washburn and (offensive line coach) Howard Mudd. Two icons at their position. That's a big factor, too."

On why players want to come to Philadelphia and play football: "I can't really answer that because you have to ask them. I sense players, especially players that have been the league a while, they already have earned a lot of money. What's missing? It's to win a Super Bowl, and they want to join a team that has the chance to win the Super Bowl. Also, Head Coach Andy Reid has an amazing reputation nationally both with players and coaches around the league. He's really very much admired and it's not just because of success. It's how he handles people and players. I think that helps us very, very much in recruiting free agents. When you have a quarterback as dynamic as Michael Vick, that attracts a lot of talent. Who doesn't want to play with Michael? I think they knew were a strong team already, and to become stronger is exciting." 

On Michael Vick's contract situation and whether he is the long term solution at quarterback: "Yes, I do. Michael is healthy and in his prime, and I'm looking forward to having Michael for many, many years."

On whether they will try to get an extension signed with Vick before the deadline: "I don't want to really talk about that. I never talk about contracts with players, that's for other people. We're just all positive about Michael."

On whether he received inspiration from the Phillies to stock pile players during the NFL free agency period: "No, not at all. It's so different. Are we building a pitching staff? No. It's a completely different evolution. We have a salary cap. We are just trying to maximize players. I think they've done a great job with the pitching staff there and I admire it. We're keeping up with the Jerry Joneses (jokingly)."

On whether the first round playoff losses provided added motivation: "I'll tell you, we don't need any internal motivation.  We're obsessed.  Last year, honestly, I felt like the winner of our game with Green Bay was going to go to the Super Bowl, but I also felt, and I guess I'm a fan as well as an owner, I looked back to the Meadowlands, and the game in New York.  If it weren't for that amazing, unbelievable eight minutes, we were down 28-10 in a very important game, and we lost to the Vikings in a game that would have given us a bye.  We played a very, very good Green Bay team, and played them almost evenly, but I tend to look at where are the gaps.  We remember the Meadowlands, in such a phenomenal, that was one of the greatest football games as a fan I've ever watched, but until the last eight minutes we were down 28-10.  So, in the offseason, let's make sure we're not in a position to be down 28-10 in a very important football game.  The motivation is all internal.  As I said, we've won so much, we just want to win the Super Bowl and go from there.  We don't need any more motivation than that."

On whether the Eagles are being "hunted" by other teams: "I don't really know the answer to that, but I do know the Ryans will always, whether it's Rex or Rob, will always come up with a mechanism to try to create for their own team coming together and they do a great job.  I'm not somebody who talks about that kind of stuff.  I think when you have a good football team you should be a target.  Certainly Green Bay, New Orleans, Dallas, they're all targets, the New York Giants, Atlanta had the best record in the NFC last year, they're all big time targets.  If you can't take being the target and play on primetime than you're not ready to win.  It's not our style.  Anyone who knows me, and knows (Head Coach) Andy (Reid) and our players, it's sort of the opposite of our style to talk about it."

On his relationship with Head Coach Andy Reid: "Superb relationship.  I admire the hell out of him.  He's a great motivator but he's an even better person.  The players in today's NFL respond to honesty and integrity.  There's nobody who has the direct communication and honesty and integrity any more than Andy does.  Dynamic offensive mind.  He wants to win the Super Bowl so badly."

On the Eagles' salary cap room: "I don't have the calculation in my head, but we have the capability of making more moves.  Injuries happen, and we always try to allow some cap room between now and the point where you can't use it anymore because injuries happen in this league and you've got to be prepared."

On why the Eagles haven't taken the next step: "I don't have a great answer for that honestly.  You can only win it if you're in the playoffs, in the final four.  We've been there so many times.  It can be the performance of a couple players, it could be bad luck where certain key guys couldn't play that day because of injuries.  Certain players just thrive in the clutch.  Not everybody is Tom Brady with three Super Bowls.  He deserves it because he's an unbelievable clutch performer.  I just think you have to be in it to win it.  Just try to set yourself up as best as possible.  You've got to try to maximize talent, but at the same time maximize depth, and that doesn't go hand in hand because if you're maximizing frontline talent you're minimizing backline talent so you've got to try to do a mixture.  It's a long season.  A lot of it is just a question of playing well in the final game or two.  Green Bay, I have to say, I really admire that they won it all last year with all those injuries.  You guys watch (TE) Jermichael Finley.  Talk about a young superstar, there's one.  Aaron Rodgers is only going to get better.  As I look at the NFC, I laugh when people say "are you the favorites?"  or something like that.  Let's cut to reality.  You've got Atlanta coming off the best record in the NFC, terrific young quarterback in Matt Ryan, he's only going to get better.  They add (WR) Julio Jones and (RB) Jacquizz Rodgers to give them explosiveness, that's what they needed.  Coming from the outside they added (DE Ray) Edwards on the pass rush opposite (DE John) Abraham.  They're loaded.  New Orleans, great offseason, coming off a Super Bowl win the year before.  Spectacular quarterback in Drew Brees.  They add (RB Mark) Ingram, they add (DE) Cameron Jordan, they add everyone they've focused on, (RB Darren) Sproles.  Loaded from there.  Green Bay is going to get all these star players back with a quarterback that is off the charts in Aaron.  Then you've got a young, potential superstar quarterback emerging in the NFC, really could be as good as any of these guys, and that's (QB) Sam Bradford.  Not to mention the fact that going into last year everyone kind of on paper said Dallas was the best team.  You've got the Giants who, as I said, manhandled us in the Meadowlands in the most important game of the year.  Given all that, that's how I feel when I go to bed at night.  I see it as an extremely competitive NFC.   I'm sure there'll be some surprise teams I didn't even mention.  That's the dose of reality I have."

On whether he has a policy of not negotiating contract extensions if the player is not in camp: "That's been our philosophy consistently.  Yes."

On whether he reassured CB Asante Samuel: "Yeah, well at first I said to him until you start yapping at the offense, you're not all the way back.  Then you heard him the rest of the day there.  What a great guy, terrific cornerback.  I think in terms of playing with (CB) Nnamdi (Asomugha) and DRC and the rest, talk about being opportunistic, he's finally going to have a situation where they're going to have to throw the ball in his direction.  This is sort of a unique situation for Asante that way.  He's a great guy to have.  We'll see how it goes as we go forward, but it's great to have him back."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.