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Questions To Answer For Eagles

Yeah, OK, I had some fun with the 2012 schedule because, honestly, why not? What is the purpose of sitting there and saying which games the Eagles are going to win and which games you think they are going to lose.

I go in thinking the Eagles are going to win them all. Silly me for having an optimistic approach.

Anyway, we have a lot to talk about, what with the draft a week out and with free agency still out there (sort of) and with the offseason conditioning program in full flight. Let's start the conversation with some questions ...

How Does The Schedule Shape Up For The Eagles?

I've read just about all of the analysis from those with opinions about how the Eagles have to play four teams coming off of those teams' bye weeks, about how they have to play the Cowboys the week after Dallas plays on Thanksgiving and about how the Eagles have such a difficult early schedule.

Who cares? Just go out and play the games as they are lined up. The schedule never looks the same in September and October as it looks now. Yeah, it's strange that the Eagles will be in Cleveland for the third preseason game and then back in Cleveland a few weeks later to open the season, but so what?

If the Eagles take care of their own business, they are going to be fine. The schedule offers a lot of prime-time and national television exposure. It is an attractive schedule, especially a very challenging (as it looks now) home slate.

The rest of the conversation? Just go win and everything will be great.

Are The Eagles Finished In Free Agency?

My guess is that the Eagles are not finished in free agency. There are just too many good players remaining on the market, and the Eagles could jump back in during the coming week or even after the draft.

I'm looking at a couple of positions here in free agency: Safety and running back. If the Eagles want to satisfy their desire for depth and to challenge for a starting job at safety, they still have Yeremiah Bell on the market. Another handful of veterans are out there, and more could be on the way as teams shed salary.

At running back, as I detailed last week, the Eagles are in a great position to add another player to go along with LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis and Graig Cooper. Are they looking for someone in the draft? If so, they will have plenty of opportunities to address the position. If not, they can pick from a handful of established veterans who remain unrestricted free agents.

As I see it, free agency is going to extend well beyond the draft. There may be a rash of signings around the league next week as players understand that after the draft they will have little to no leverage remaining. The Eagles have options. It's going to be really interesting to see how they use those options.

The way I look at it is this way: If the Eagles want to add a safety, would they use another draft pick on the position? Maybe it would be best to sign a veteran. Same thing at running back. Do the Eagles need another young back, or would they be best served to bring in a veteran just in case something happened to McCoy?

The Eagles could stay put at both positions. They have talent there.

Which Draft Rumors Are We Supposed To Believe?

All of them! None of them! The latest rumor is that the Eagles are going to try to move up into the top 10 and select defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who is generally regarded as the best interior defensive lineman in the draft. It makes sense, of course. Who wouldn't want the best defensive tackle in the draft?

But history tells me that when I hear what the Eagles "want to do" a week prior to the draft, it usually means they are thinking in the exact opposite direction. Is there a more unpredictable team in the league on draft weekend?

I'm going into this with a completely open mind. I expect the Eagles to make some moves. I expect them to trade up, trade down and maybe in some rounds even stay where they are. I do not base all of my hopes for the draft on the top pick alone. The Eagles have nine selections and they need to maximize the weapons they have.

I guess I don't believe any of the rumors until they come true. Last week we heard about how the Eagles wanted to move up to No. 4, Cleveland's spot. Now, the rumors say, Cox is the target in round 1. On and on it goes.

I love this time of the year.

What Does The Future Hold For CB Asante Samuel?

I've said all along that it's 50/50 on his return in 2012. I'm standing by that statement. Samuel showed up for the first day of the team's offseason conditioning program and said all the right things. He's doing all of the right things. He wants to be here, if the situation is a good one.

There are complications. The Eagles also have Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and while all of that talent is a good thing, it's also a challenge to fit the right pieces into the right places.

The short answer is that I don't know what the future holds for Samuel. He could very well remain an Eagle. He could be traded. I don't know what head coach Andy Reid and General Manager Howie Roseman want to do at the position.

Samuel is one of the best cornerbacks in the league and has been for several seasons. This is a unique situation, complicated by the fact that his salary-cap number is more than $10 million.

Who Are The Stars Of The Offseason Conditioning Program?

It is way too early to tell, but when you see DeSean Jackson bouncing around and DeMeco Ryans fitting in so well with his teammates, the level of encouragement is high.

Attendance has been great and the players are working hard. Other than that, what can you say? The NFL has so many restrictions and rules for the program and limitations throughout the offseason that it is very difficult to get a read at this point on any player.

Everyone looks to be in terrific shape. The mood is very upbeat. The players are here. It's all good, as it is with just about every team in the league right now.

The draft is here in a week. The Eagles have a lot of work to do, a lot of draft tuneup and roster tinkering to do before April 26 arrives and the finishing touches are put on the 80-man roster that, with an exception here and there, the Eagles will take to Lehigh University and training camp in late July.

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