Wednesday, bloody Wednesday. Around the league the carnage was significant -- a bloodletting in Tampa Bay, a big-name wide receiver in New York, more players on the street in Houston and in St. Louis. Teams are preparing for, well, what? What in the world is Tampa Bay going to do with $60 million in salary-cap space?
Anyway, you don't care about the Bucs. You care about the Eagles. And Wednesday was far, far slower than I expected it to be. While the top brass huddled and crossed the t's and dotted the i's on the Scouting Combine notebook and then dug in to assess the recent releases around the league and to make plans to march forward on Friday at 12:01 a.m., something very significant struck me.
We're sitting here, literally hours away from the start of free agency, and both Brian Dawkins and Tra Thomas remain unsigned. I'm not sure how many people out there expected both players to be unsigned this close to beginning of free agency. And, truthfully, I don't exactly know how it looks for each player as far as playing in an Eagles uniform this season.
But what I do know -- or at least I think I think I know -- is that this is what Eagles President Joe Banner was talking about when he conducted a series of interviews after the 2008 season ended and spoke of the "challenging" off-season ahead and of the "difficult" decisions the Eagles would have to make. Many interpreted those remarks to mean that the Eagles would make a drastic change at either quarterback or head coach. That isn't going to happen.
But what could happen, and I stress the word could is that some veteran players we have known to come and love and respect and buy their jerseys may not be Eagles any longer.
Are you ready for that?
Are the Eagles ready for that?
Again, hey, this is all speculative. The Eagles could turn around in a couple of hours and announce that both Dawkins and Thomas have signed contracts and we could all live happily with that for another season or two or three. Then again ...
There are going to be significant changes here. The Eagles, as it now stands, have six veterans who are poised to enter free agency. Not all of them are returning to the team. Maybe none of them are returning to the team.
The Eagles, flush with cap room now and draft picks in April and confident in the roster they have assembled, can go in just about any direction. Predicting what they might do is very difficult now. A month ago, it seemed logical to conclude that both Thomas and Dawkins would return and that the Eagles would then turn to free agency and the draft to fill other needs.
Reality is intruding on last month's logic. Free agency starts soon, and both Thomas and Dawkins are question marks. Thomas, for his part, did his media tour the last couple of days and expressed an interest in returning to the Eagles. He also understood that it may not happen, and that he would be ready to explore possibilities elsewhere. Dawkins has been quiet since his interview at the Pro Bowl when he said he would like to remain in Philadelphia.
We're all in the dark. We're all waiting. The Eagles must tender their restricted free agents, Hank Basket and Nick Cole, along with exclusive-rights free agent Tank Daniels, on Thursday. These moves are often formalities, but these days, in this crazy NFL, you just never know.
The class of potential unrestricted free agents is one day away from embarking on a new beginning somewhere. It is, in this big picture, very possible that the Eagles could let Dawkins and Thomas sniff around free agency and see what the market bears, and then reserve the right to match or better any offer. What is happening behind the scenes -- and there is a lot, there always is, believe me -- is not information shared in this corner.
All I know is that free agency is suddenly staring the Eagles in the face, and the Eagles are staring right back. What happens next is your guess and my guess. I really don't know how this is all going to play out.
* NEWS, NOTES AND THIS AND THAT *
- Laveranues Coles was the big-name receiver released by the Jets after he had 70 catches and 7 touchdowns last season. Boy, stats with wide receivers mean nothing anymore in this age of inflate-a-grade. Anyway, I wonder what the difference truly is between Coles and T.J. Houshmandzedeh. Coles is 5-11 and 193 pounds and T.J. is 6-1 and 199 pounds. Both catch the ball very well. Both have good route-running skills. Who is the better, pardon the pun, catch in free agency? Add in Marvin Harrison and all of a sudden there is a glut of "name" wide receivers on the streets. And I'm not sure the Eagles would really be better with any of them, but I sure think it would be fun to find out if they are.
- All of a sudden, safeties are aplenty out there. Will Demps was cut in Houston, joining Gibril Wilson (Oakland) as a cut casualty. I never thought I would be writing about safeties one day before free agency starts. The Eagles, though, at the very least, are gonig to need somebody to replace Sean Considine, who should attract some decent interest in free agency.
- I have to say that it is exciting to be part of something that is so hush-hush heading into free agency every year. You hear all of these whispers each year about this player going there and so forth, but you rarely hear what the Eagles' plans are, and I like it that way.
- Sage Rosenfels was traded for a fourth-round draft pick? The Texans got a fourth-round pick for Rosenfels? Am I missing something? Since when is Rosenfels worth that? And are the Vikings turning to Rosenfels to satisfy their needs at quarterback? Good luck, Brad Childress.
- Don't you have to look at the players cut by Tampa Bay and *really *about players like Derrick Brooks and Warrick Dunn and Joey Galloway? And gang, there will be more on Thursday into Friday.
- I don't anticipate the Eagles making any roster cuts prior to free agency.
- No word from the NovaCare Complex about Marvin Harrison, cut on Tuesday by the Colts.