These are the days on the calendar when fans look into the future (free agency, mostly) and the media speculate and teams get their rosters and salary cap in order for the season ahead. It's a fun time to consider everything.
So let's take a spin around the mound of conversations going on regarding this football team, starting at, of course, the quarterback position ...
- Eagles fans are in a tizzy after ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the team wouldn't use its franchise tag on quarterback Sam Bradford and would, potentially, have some interest in former Eagles and current Rams quarterback Nick Foles. Whoa. Slow down here. Teams are permitted to use their franchise tag starting on Tuesday, February 16 and ending on March 1 at 4 PM. We'll see which way the Eagles go here. I don't have a feel for what happens with Bradford. The Foles part of the report is out of left field. I guess I would say I'd be shocked if Nick Foles, who is under contract with St. Louis, returns to Philadelphia.
- Who in the NFL is looking for an answer at quarterback? Let's take a look around the league. In the NFC East, the Eagles need to resolve the position. Dallas needs a backup to Tony Romo. The NFC North looks OK. Ditto the NFC South. In the NFC West, St. Louis has to find its starter. San Francisco? That's a big maybe. In the AFC East, the Jets don't have a long-term answer. Cleveland in the AFC North is looking. Houston in the AFC South, for sure. Denver is a question mark at quarterback, but the Broncos have some options with Brock Osweiler should Peyton Manning retire. So that's, what, four to six teams in need of resolving the quarterback position? Think about that and think about which quarterbacks might hit the free agency market -- Bradford, Robert Griffin III, Osweiler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, among others -- and then factor in the draft prospects and you wonder just how aggressive the market will be for quarterbacks. Who has the leverage -- the quarterbacks who would hit the market or the teams searching for quarterbacks?
- Najee Goode may not be a starting linebacker, but he's a solid football player, so bringing him back on a one-year contract is one of those under-the-radar moves that makes sense for the Eagles. He's an excellent special teams player and he can play at any of the three linebacker positions in the defense, although the WILL is probably his best spot. The linebackers are going to be more aggressive in this 4-3 front in the Jim Schwartz scheme. The key word is "attack." Look for the linebackers -- the entire front, really -- to play more "downhill" football, particularly in the run game. Mychal Kendricks, for one, should really benefit from this scheme. "I think it's going to help to kind of take the handcuffs off of him a little bit," Schwartz said in an interview on Wednesday. "This is a style that could play to his strengths."
- From NFL.com's Bucky Brooks rating the Eagles' 2015 draft class in review: "The Chip Kelly experiment is over, but the ex-coach's imprint will remain on the organization, thanks to his hand-picked selections in the 2015 NFL Draft. Nelson Agholor (23 catches for 283 yards and one score) didn't play up to expectations as a rookie, but the implementation of more West Coast offensive principles under new coach Doug Pederson should play to Agholor's strengths as a catch-and-run specialist. Eric Rowe was thrown into the fire in the Eagles' aggressive bump-and-run defensive system. Although he struggled a bit early, he settled in and showed promise near the end of the season. Jordan Hicks, whose season ended with a torn pectoral in November, appears to be a great find for the team. Not only is he a productive tackler with superb instincts and awareness; Hicks is a natural leader with a knack for making plays in the hole. Grade: C
"Combine focus: The uncertainty surrounding quarterback Sam Bradford's free-agent status makes it imperative for the Eagles, who own the 13th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, to investigate any quarterback with intriguing potential. Thus, they'll certainly spend time with North Dakota State's Carson Wentz, Cal's Jared Goff, Memphis' Paxton Lynch and Michigan State's Connor Cook to determine whether they have the goods to develop into franchise quarterbacks. The Eagles could also use a speed receiver to stretch the field. Baylor's Corey Coleman, Notre Dame's Will Fuller and Ohio State's Braxton Miller could draw interest. Boise State's Darian Thompson is a safety prospect to keep an eye on, based on his natural skills as a center fielder and communicator."
- Why is there such a rush from the media to get a deal done with the Eagles and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox? The Eagles have done a fine job in this offseason knocking out some contracts and securing some of their core players with long-term extensions. They want Cox to be here. Cox wants to be here. Both sides are feeling very strong about that. It's a good place to be, and as Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman said last week, there is no reason to get deals done in the media. Slow down. Big deals like this take time, care, patience and that seems to be where both sides are here.
- Finally, looking forward to seeing how the running backs benefit from the new style of offense here. DeMarco Murray will be a better player should head coach Doug Pederson get what he wants from a more power-oriented running scheme. Ryan Mathews will be a strong piece of the ground game. Darren Sproles has to be used more in the passing attack. The key, as well all know, is getting the right answer at quarterback and upgrading the offensive line. You see what is happening around the league, with already a handful of veteran linemen available to sign. The Eagles could find themselves in position to upgrade with some shorter-term fixes prior to the start of free agency on March 9, should they choose to go in that direction. There's a long, long way to go before this roster is settled.