WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – By Tuesday night, many of the meetings rooms at The Breakers Palm Beach had been cleared and the NFL dignitaries – the owners, general managers, head coaches, and team executives – had their bags packed and aimed toward the airport on the way home. Three days of conversations and updates complete, the league's attention returns fully to the remainder of free agency and, of course, the NFL Draft four weeks from now.
From an Eagles' standpoint, there wasn't anything that happened in the five-star resort that changed the task ahead. A proposal the team – along with Indianapolis – made to the owners was passed, and now we will see that both teams in the postseason that reach overtime will be ensured one offensive possession. The sudden-death rule for overtime remains the same for the regular season – if the team that gains possession first in overtime during the regular season scores a touchdown, the game is over.
Otherwise, what did we learn from the NFL Annual Meeting? Mostly, we learned that the Eagles feel good about where they are as they build the roster. The Eagles landed their top target in linebacker Haason Reddick, one of the premier pass rushers in the league; a wide receiver in Zach Pascal who is going to add depth and toughness to that group; and a linebacker in Kyzir White that General Manager Howie Roseman thinks has a chance to make an impact.
"Real excited to get Kyzir White. Like, that's a really good opportunity for him, for us, an opportunity that we didn't really think would exist when free agency opened," Roseman said. "We're looking for those opportunities every day."
Philadelphia also retained roster stability, executing that game plan during the 2021 regular season by signing four key players – left tackle Jordan Mailata, tight end Dallas Goedert, defensive end Josh Sweat, and cornerback Avonte Maddox – to extensions and continuing the process by addressing the contracts of defensive back/special teams ace Andre Chachere, wide receiver Greg Ward, running back Boston Scott, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, and defensive end Derek Barnett. The news just prior to the start of free agency that center Jason Kelce was returning was a huge bit of good news.
So, things are where the Eagles want them to be. And they know they are still early, early in the team-building process.
"We're constantly building, so right now it's just a little portion of it," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said. "We're built through free agency a little bit, but we have a lot of draft picks that are about to come up and there always could be guys added to the roster later on, so it's building. I never really think you're ever a finished product, you're always building and trying to get better. I am excited about the pieces we've added so far."
Some takeaway notes as the venue returns to the NovaCare Complex and the Eagles continue to hone in on the NFL Draft and the tremendous weekend that awaits for a team that has 10 draft picks, nine in the first five rounds, and picks 15, 16, and 19 overall ...
• Sirianni spoke about the addition of Pascal to me and provided this scouting report of the former Colts receiver with whom he worked for three seasons there when Sirianni was the offensive coordinator: "He brings toughness. I think you can put on any tape and you're going to see a guy leaving it all out on the field – playing physical, playing tough, and you're going to see good body quickness at the top of his route, getting in and out of breaks, and good hands. He has all those receiver skills that you're going to want.
"But you're going to see toughness and you can't have enough tough guys. We have a tough team, there's no doubt about it, with the guys we have on our team right now. We have guys that are tough. We're gritty and grimy and I think that's kind of what our motto was all of last year. We're just adding another piece to that, a guy who fits in well to the building and to our City."
• I mentioned it here and then Sirianni talked about it again a day later, so let's hope this storyline and any speculation is over: The Eagles are all in with Jalen Hurts as the quarterback for 2022. Period. They want to build around him. They want to see him improve. He's the guy.
• Roseman and his staff have done a masterful job of putting the Eagles in a healthy situation relative to the $208.2 million salary cap for 2022 after a challenging situation last year. Here is Roseman explaining the picture and the concept of "dead money" on the cap – money that hits the salary cap from contracts of players who are no longer with the team: "Dead money is a factor, but dead money is all the (contract) proration you have on guys anyway and it's all the same amount of money. It's when you choose to do (absorb it as a cap hit). From our perspective, we felt like the way the cap is going to go going forward, it made sense to have the option to take it in future years and we know that it can come forward whenever we want."
• Here is Roseman on the new two-year deal for DE Derek Barnett, the team's first-round draft pick in 2017 and a starter since then who came back to the Eagles after testing the free-agent market: "I think what factored into it is that I think that the perception of Derek is probably not fair with the reality. He's a guy that, if we were looking at a different team, you'd go, '26-year-old, defensive end, coming off his not-best year.' We'd kind of look at that and go, 'Maybe that's an opportunity.'
"His playing temperament is ideal, fits Philly, understands the perception of him ... this is a guy who certainly contributes to a great defensive line. We've seen it with us. I think that going into free agency he probably thought a little differently about where he would be. For us, understanding that that's what he was thinking. It's a huge priority for us to have a 'wave' defensive line that's really good. We know we can count on him. Obviously, it's a position we want to continue to add to. We don't want to make a strength a weakness. Last year, it wasn't a position we wanted. Now you get this and you add Haason as a rusher, you have BG (Brandon Graham) back as a rusher, and we've still got the Draft."
• Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie on retaining DT Fletcher Cox: "Very valued member of the team. It was a contract that made a lot of sense for us. We knew exactly what other teams were interested in signing Fletcher for. We think he can do even better in terms of this year's play with the same defensive coordinator (Jonathan Gannon). It was not a hard decision. Every player has their own set of parameters where you might sign that player at a certain level of percentage of resources allocated. Then you hit one where, if it's too high, no. We'd rather use the resources some other way. With Howie, Nick, they recommended that we do that and that was what I supported."