As of today, at 4 PM EST, free agency is officially one week away. After last year's splurge that netted Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins, questions remain as to just how aggressive the Eagles will be in their pursuit of available players this time around. The crop of free agents isn't quite as extensive and diverse as last season, but there will still be plenty of opportunities for the Eagles to upgrade their roster, both in the penciled-in starting lineup and beyond. And so we begin our Free Agency preview with the quarterback position, where the Eagles already have three players under contract for 2012.
On The Roster: 1. Michael Vick 2. Mike Kafka 3. Trent Edwards
2011 Eagle(s) Hitting The Market: Vince Young, who was signed to be Vick's primary backup last summer. Young started three games for the Eagles, notching one win (against the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants) and two losses. He threw for 866 yards, four touchdowns and nine interceptions with a quarterback rating of 60.8.
Adam Caplan's Top 10 FA QBs:
1. Drew Brees (Franchised)
2. Alex Smith
3. Matt Flynn
4. Kyle Orton
5. Donovan McNabb
6. Chad Henne
7. Brian Hoyer (RFA)
8. David Garrard
9. Jason Campbell
10. Rex Grossman
Where's The Fit?: One of the biggest talking points when it comes to how the Eagles can improve in 2012, from Andy Reid to Marty Mornhinweg to the starting quarterback himself, is simply keeping Michael Vick healthy. Vick missed three full games in 2011, two of which turned into losses, and also was unable to finish two early season games – both losses in which the Eagles led at the time of Vick's departure. But as important as Vick's health is, so too is identifying the best "Plan B."
In Mike Kafka, the Eagles have a quarterback entering his third year in the system (though this will be his first full off-season to work with the coaching staff). Kafka, 6-3, 225, did appear to have a good command of the offense in his spot duty early in the 2011 season. Though not blessed with a rocket arm, Kafka is deceptively mobile and has the full support of the coaching staff and his offensive teammates. But he still has much to prove and 2012 will likely be a barometer year for the 2010 fourth-round pick.
The Eagles added Trent Edwards to their stable of quarterbacks several weeks ago, providing the team with a capable veteran quarterback with extensive starting experience. A third-round pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2007, Edwards started 32 games for the Bills in just over three seasons with the team, posting a combined quarterback rating of 75.4. After spending training camp with the Oakland Raiders, Edwards did not play in 2011.
So is there room for more competition for the coveted No. 2 spot behind Vick? Surely, for the right price, another player could be added to the mix with Kafka and Edwards. There are several veteran quarterbacks with starting experience set to hit the market, some of whom have a familiarity with the Eagles offense. There is also a possibility that the team will let Kafka and Edwards fight it out for the backup spot while drafting a long-term developmental quarterback come April.
Intriguing Names: It's not worth worrying about the top four quarterbacks on Caplan's list, as they'll surely be looking for starting opportunities. But the very appropriately ranked No. 5 on the list is a player with whom Eagles fans are more than familiar – Donovan McNabb. A McNabb reunion in Philadelphia has been a juicy, if unfounded, rumor the last few months and while it's certainly unlikely, at least there would be an easy learning curve. Like Edwards, David Garrard sat out the 2011 season as he was recovering from a back injury. Garrard has the skillset to fit into the Eagles offense and could be worth a roll of the dice if he proves healthy. Displaced by Carson Palmer in Oakland, Jason Campbell anecdotally always seemed to play well against the Eagles as the Redskins starting quarterback, though he was often working without much help. Perhaps in the hands of the Eagles coaches, surrounded by a talented offense, he could thrive as a backup. Outside of Caplan's Top 10, veterans like Derek Anderson, Sage Rosenfels or, especially, Josh Johnson could prove interesting.