It was an unprecedented opportunity that the Eagles had last year after the NFL's work stoppage and they took advantage by signing a slew of players. Some of those players -- cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, defensive end Jason Babin and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins -- are cornerstones for the present roster. Offensive guard Evan Mathis fits in that category as well, but he is being courted in the free-agent market and is a question mark to return to the Eagles.
Asomugha, Jenkins and Babin didn't sign rent-a-player, one-year deals. They came here to be part of the big picture for the long haul.
And so it is really no surprise that the next step in this process, in this current free-agency period, is for the Eagles to take care of their own. They have, of course you know, locked up wide receiver DeSean Jackson and defensive end Trent Cole and offensive tackle Todd Herremans, three more players who are part of the long-term plan.
Have they helped the team in 2012? Well, yeah. They've retained Jackson and put him in the right kind of mindset to have a monster season. He was due to be an unrestricted free agent, remember. Now he's here, he's happy and we know what he can produce in this offense. The young man is thrilled.
Cole deserved a new contract and got one. Had the Eagles not worked out a deal, how would Cole have felt about this season? He has seen all of these other defensive ends around the league who haven't accomplished what he has, who don't play to the level he plays, get big deals. He was in line for one and, while he didn't squawk about a new contract, he certainly felt deserving.
Herremans was in the same boat as Cole. He moved from guard to tackle and deserved to be paid like a guard.
Now he is.
The Eagles have a happy roster. That's an important part of building chemistry and developing something special. Oh, there are some players to keep an eye on -- specifically running back LeSean McCoy and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, both of whom I think will get deals before we reach a critical point in the preseason -- but the Eagles have done an excellent job taking care of their own.
They have done it so many times in the past with players like Donovan McNabb and Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook and Jeremiah Trotter and Tra Thomas, etc. and those Eagles teams won a lot of games, went deep into the playoffs and developed tremendous continuity.
That's the goal here. You know how you take the momentum of four straight wins to end a season and then extend it into the next year? You make the players on the roster feel good about themselves.
That part of the plan has been executed brilliantly. The Eagles, of course, have more work to do.
They have no free-agent visits scheduled. There are few whispers of anything coming down the pike in the next day or two or three. And nobody seems to be in panic mode. The Eagles have room under the $120.6 million salary cap and they have definitive needs.
"We know we have work to do. It's exciting. We have free agency and the draft to get it done," said general manager Howie Roseman. "We're working hard building the best roster we can have."
For the fans, yeah, it's a time to monitor all the signings, feel a little bit anxious and hope that the Eagles address the needs. They're going to do it, trust me. They will sign a free agent or two. Maybe three. Perhaps four.
But not now. They have assigned grades to players and they have determined a value for how far they will go financially to bring players here, but the early resources have gone toward the ones already on the roster.
There is no rush here. There are a lot of good players still available and will still be out there next week. Maybe the Eagles get something done between now and then, and perhaps they won't dive into free agency until next week.
We have to wait. Yes, there is a lot of work to do. The Eagles need to improve the roster. They have cap space and they have three picks among the first 51 in April's draft.
It's a marathon, not a sprint, and I'm sorry to keep saying the same thing. But it's true. Something good is going on here, once again. You will see it all come together in time. It's just that the time is not now.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- So much for the Dan Connor-to-the-Eagles reports. The linebacker signed a deal to play in Dallas. The Eagles reportedly showed interest, but they were only willing to go so far for Connor.
- Defensive end Juqua Parker signed in Cleveland, a one-year contract. He showed some energy late in the 2011 season and should be a good rotational end with the Browns. But with Phillip Hunt, Darryl Tapp and Brandon Graham backing up Cole and Babin, there was no room for Parker in 2012. Good luck to Parker.
- A sign of just how crazy this time of the year can be: Cornerback Dimitri Patterson signed a deal with the Browns that included $6 million guaranteed. Good for him, but wow!
- The addition of guard Mike Gibson gives the Eagles an experienced interior offensive linemen to provide competition in training camp. Let's see how he responds to Howard Mudd's coaching. Gibson, a former sixth-round draft pick here, played in Seattle last season.
- I'm keeping my eye on all of these young players, of course, and I just like seeing second-year man Curtis Marsh working out every day. He has the body to be a physical cornerback in press coverage. What will coach Todd Bowles do with Marsh?