There is the Senior Bowl in late January, the Scouting Combine in late February and free agency in early March. It may seem like a lot of time to you, but for an NFL team ending up a season and tying up all of those loose ends before looking ahead, late January comes very, very quickly.
So the Eagles have to make the right move in the days ahead. And it is days, probably, not weeks, as they determine how to address the departure of General Manager Tom Heckert, who joined the Cleveland Browns on Monday. Heckert did a fine job here, and everyone wishes him the best of luck.
But now the Eagles have to make sure they feel right about what their personnel department looks like moving forward. There have been reports that the Eagles will make Howie Roseman, the team's Vice President of Player Personnel, the new General Manager. To date, those are only reports. Roseman is a bright young mind who oversaw last April's very successful NFL draft and he is a grinder and someone who works well with others. Roseman is very willing to think outside the box and he has an excellent relationship with head coach Andy Reid.
As you know, this is an extraordinary time for the Eagles and the NFL. Heading into what looks to be an uncapped season, the months ahead promise to be unchartered waters. What are the ramifications if there is no salary cap? How can the Eagles best use their seven draft picks in April, including six in the first four rounds?
The Eagles turned the roster over to some degree last off-season, allowing many long-time and respected and valued veterans to leave in free agency. Then the Eagles embarked on as aggressive an off-season as we have ever seen here and the result was a younger, very talented roster that lined up for the first day of training camp. *That *roster and the 53 men who ended the season at Cowboys Stadium was different, indeed.
The months ahead promise to be every bit as exciting. There are so, so many questions to answer here in terms of personnel. If there is no salary cap, the Eagles have virtually every key member of the team under contract or at least have the right to match any restricted free-agent deals signed with another team. It is an envious position to hold, and that's where the personnel department comes in, obviously, in a big way.
An NFL off-season races by more quickly than you can imagine. I'm sure Reid has thought long and hard about the prospect of Heckert moving on and he knew that eventually he might have to deal with the transition. Reid did it very nicely when Tom Modrak left following the 2001 season and Heckert came on board.
That's the first order of business for the front office with many decisions to make and not a lot of leisure time to do it.
**NEWS AND NOTES AND THIS AND THAT
- Who knows how they will pan out come post-draft mini-camp time, but the Eagles inked three players on Monday who are at the very least going to get a good, long look. Wide receivers Jordan Norwood and Dobson Collins impressed the team as members of the 2009 practice squad -- Norwood is very quick, with good hands, and Collins has nice size, seemed to run good routes and has strong hands -- and if you consider that veterans Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown were kind of on the outside looking in at the young receivers this season, maybe Norwood and Collins really do have shots at making this team in 2010. They know the system, which gives them a huge advantage to show their best stuff in the camps. Center A.Q. Shipley had a distinguished career at Penn State, was a seventh-round draft pick of the Steelers in 2009 and spent the entire year on Pittsburgh's practice squad. With Jamaal Jackson recovering from a knee injury and with Nick Cole's contract about to expire -- he would be a restricted free agent if there is not a new CBA -- Shipley will have a chance to emerge.
- Brian Westbrook is 544 rushing yards away from passing Wilbert Montgomery to become the all-time leader in franchise history.
- Thinking out loud about the Pro Bowl in a couple of weeks ... Will you watch the game?