With training camp only a few days away, the headlines now are talking about the business side of football, rather than the football side of the game. Cornerback Lito Sheppard has changed agents, hiring the one we all love to love, Drew Rosenhaus. Running back Brian Westbrook has made a switch, too, which has made more than one fan wonder what is going through Westbrook's mind.
This is the time of the year when players deal with the distractions of contracts. Agents are hired to do the best they can for the players, and at this point in time, hey, that's the story.
From the team side, the business of business is a never-ending conversation. The Eagles' front office has constant discussions with agents about players, and the front office also has internal discussions about the direction of the roster, the implications to the salary cap and anything related to dollars and sense now and in the course of the next three to five seasons.
Nobody, then, is stressing over the latest developments surrounding Sheppard and Westbrook. Instead, the team has to take a positive approach. Dialogue is open. Communication is live. The Eagles, a team that has historically treated players very, very fairly -- the Eagles have had an NFL-best 90 starters in their second (or more) contracts with the team -- will do the right thing in the cases of both players. What that direction is, what the outcome may be, I don't know.
But I do know that the team values both Sheppard and Westbrook, and I do know that the front office respects the playes' positions in both cases. At the same time, the NFL is a business and there are two sides to every contract. I'm just as interested in what happens here as you. But what is important, in the short term, is that the both Sheppard and Westbrook report to training camp on time next week and continue their professional approaches to the team and the game.
In the background, out of the media's scope, the Eagles will handle the situations of both players, and of every player on this roster. The Eagles aren't going to discuss the goings-on of any conversations or any stories related to contracts through the media.
The point here, then, is to let you know that the Eagles are approaching the onset of training camp with extreme optimism. The team is healthy. The team is talented. The Eagles used a strong final month of the 2007 season to create some positive momentum for the off-season and with a flurry of moves and an aggressive approach, that off-season has propelled the Eagles to this point.
It's a good feeling right now. The Eagles are on the brink of training camp, and anything is possible. Some contract talks? Oh, it's part of the game. The Eagles have some business to finish -- they must sign draft picks Trevor Laws and DeSean Jackson, and I believe those contracts will get done before the players report to Lehigh University on Monday evening -- and then they have the ongoing responsibility of making sure the rest of the roster is intact.
This is nothing new, then, and it is nothing over which to panic. It is the nature of the NFL these days, and the best teams make the right moves in the all-important game off the field.