Thursday. Finally. Something has to give today, after weeks of waiting and wondering and asking enough questions to bore the tears out of every regular here. Today, yes, the Eagles will begin to reveal their intentions: Tender offers are due, and this is the absolute deadline and we will get at least a teeny, tiny sense of what the team is thinking as the plan unfolds in the off-season.
Will all of the 10 players scheduled to be restricted free agents at 12:01 a.m. receive offers? Probably not. The Eagles have some players in that mix who are major question marks, and they have some players who, should they not receive tenders today, could very well be available to sign after the draft. Some of the names are key -- fullback Leonard Weaver, wide receiver Jason Avant, guard/center Nick Cole, cornerback/kick returner Ellis Hobbs and linebacker Omar Gaither, although he is coming off an injury and that always renders questions.
Then there is another group of players led by someone like Chris Gocong, once a third-round draft pick who started for most of three seasons before losing his job. Now, what do the Eagles think of him? He is an excellent special teams player. He plays hard. He comes off the edge. Maybe he is the kind of person you keep around for another look, because he is a good football player. Maybe he is the kind of player who teams are interested in using as a 3-4 rush linebacker, in which case the Eagles might think about retaining Gocong and trying to fish around for a trade.
And maybe Gocong continues to improve and wins back his starting job at the SAM linebacker spot, because even though he is still a work in progress in coverage, he plays the run extremely well and is an asset to the team.
Soon, we'll start to get some answers.
Throughout the day, the Eagles will finalize their tender offers and announce them and we will analyze what it means. Then the fun starts. Free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. Then what?
All indications are that the Eagles will be silent. Then again, there really are no indications. The Eagles are incredibly quiet at these times. Sometimes that makes me think the team will be largely quiet until the draft approaches. Sometimes, that makes me think there is something brewing and I don't know about it and I won't know about it until it happens.
And that is what is so exciting. And frustrating.
I do think the Eagles are exploring every option in free agency, and there seem to be a few. Defensive end Julius Peppers is the cream of the crop in free agency, but how outrageous will the market be for his services? Are the Eagles interested in adding him to a defense that needs a more consistent, dynamic threat to complement Trent Cole in the pass-rushing game? Would the price tag make any kind of sense?
Beyond this first burst of free-agency activity, the Eagles, I'm sure, have a slew of scenarios they are considering. This football team needs to improve in the off-season. There are holes here -- is the offensive line OK? Who plays free safety? Tell me about the linebackers, please. Where is the backup running back? Can the team improve its defensive line? Is Cornelius Ingram ready to stay healthy and be the solid No. 2 tight end? -- and the Eagles have free agency, the draft, and the trade route to make things better before May, and then they have the chance via waivers and trades and the development from within to get better after that.
I'm waiting for the buzz. I'm on the edge of my seat. Any minute now, I just know it, the Eagles are going to get the ball rolling as the roster takes shape for the 2010 football season ...