Philadelphia Eagles News

Hot-Rumor Season Hits Full Stride

In one corner there is a report that insists the Eagles will be one of the most active teams in the free-agency period and during draft weekend, that they are going to jump out and get something done. Another says the Eagles are a leading candidate to trade for a disgruntled receiver, and that upgrading the position is a priority for the team.

And then there is General Manager Tom Heckert in a television interview saying that wide receiver is not a position high on the "need" list for the Eagles, that instead the focus could very well be on the offensive line and on the running back position.

What do you believe?

Whom do you believe?

The truth is that there isn't a truth. Well, there is a shred of truth when you listen to what Heckert has to say. He speaks in generalities, the correct way to approach this time of the season. There is too much going on right now, too much fluid activity, to really know what the Eagles are going to do. They have a plan, and they are doing their part behind the scenes, but in no way are the Eagles going to make their intentions known to the public and, more important, to the other 31 teams in the NFL.

With fewer than two weeks remaining until free agency begins, the Eagles have to get some things accomplished in quick order. They have a list of free agents to be, and you can be sure they are trying to work out deals with at least two or three of them right now. Which ones? Not a clue. A lot of what happens in the next 12 days will dictate the initial free-agent approach, not only from the standpoint of who the Eagles sign or don't sign, but also which players actually make it to free agency from other teams.

Certainly, the Eagles have a good sense of which players are going to receive tags in the coming days. They have an educated idea of which players are going to make it to free agency. And they absolutely have a list of which players they would like to go after when the bell rings at 12:01 a.m. on February 27.

The plan is in place, and it is going to refined every day between now and September. With the Combine this week and then free agency next, the slate is full. A lot of things happen very quickly. Scenarios change all the time. Teams have plans that include options B, C and D.

So what is my guess for free agency? I truly have no idea. Not even a sniff. I was as surprised as anyone when the Eagles made their play for Asante Samuel and then Chris Clemons in the first days of free agency last year. The Eagles have been extremely aggressive in free agency when they've seen a player they like. They are willing to pay the top, top dollar to get a player they think can make a difference.

Are there going to be players like that on the market on February 27? Probably a handful. And the Eagles could very well make a push, regardless of the position. This is a team that should be in the mode to add difference-making players, no matter what positions they play. A standout wide receiver? If he's out there, sure, the Eagles should make a push.

But I'm still going to say that the top need is the offensive line. How can it not be, with Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan scheduled to be free agents, and with Runyan on the mend after knee surgery? You do understand that the Eagles, if both players reach free agency, would have exactly no offensive tackles with substantial starting experience. That is a serious situation.

And I also think that adding help for the running game is a critical need, whether Correll Buckhalter returns as an unrestricted free agent or not. The Eagles simply must run the football better in 2009 than they did in 2008. They need to win situations. They need to score touchdowns. They need to play smash-mouth football in short-yardage situations.

But whether the Eagles address those positions in free agency, or whether they sign back Thomas and Runyan, or whether they use the draft to replenish the needs, I don't know.

That's the fun part of right now, so please take it as fun. All of these words mean nothing right now. The speculation, the reports, the interviews ... take it all with a grain of salt, because the Eagles are one of the best teams in the league at saying nothing.

Andy Reid and Co. aren't going to give away the plan. They'll let their actions speak volumes.

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