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Second RB Spot Important For Eagles Offense

Justin Fargas did all the right things and said all the right things when he met the media during his visit with the Eagles on Friday. Everyone wanted to know if/when he would sign here, and Fargas smiled and deferred to his agent (David Dunn) and made sure to compliment the Eagles organization top to bottom (although he didn't mention the web site. Rats!) right until the time he walked out of the NovaCare Complex into an uncertain future.

What happens now? Well, we wait. And while the Eagles continue to have dialogue with Duke and other agents, we wonder if the two sides will come to an agreement in the future.

The Eagles, by the looks of it, have their minds on adding a running back. They have LeSean McCoy, a second-year player who inspired high hopes with a productive rookie season. They have Eldra Buckley, who opened some eyes last year with good play on special teams and some tough running the few times he had the chance to carry. They have Martell Mallett, a young back who gained some seasoning last year in the Canadian League and who has a good body and enough skills to have earned a contract during a workout early in the off-season.

So the Eagles could use another good player to provide competition, to provide a complement to McCoy. Various reports have linked the Eagles with Fargas, with Mike Bell, with LaDainian Tomlinson. Only Fargas has visited.

There really is no need to move quickly into the market. Beyond those three quality veterans, there are players like Willie Parker and Ladell Betts, players who have had success at the NFL level. The draft class is rich with running backs, too.

And while there is no hurry, necessarily, the decision is an important one. The NFL is a two-running back league. McCoy, while durable as could be in his years at Pittsburgh, needs another back, and the Eagles would be wise to take precautions.

The expectations are very, very high for McCoy. And he has started his off-season the right way, jumping into the weight room and beginning his conditioning weeks ahead of the team's official voluntary conditioning program. If it is true that a player like McCoy will improve the most in his career from year one to year two, he is going to have a great season in 2010.

But no way should the Eagles take that for granted. They know strange things happen to the best-laid plans. McCoy is the featured back here and the coaches are excited about his growth, but the importance of having another quality -- no offense to Buckley or Mallett -- ball-carrying running back cannot be emphasized enough.

Will it be Fargas? He offers an intriguing possibility. So does Bell, a restricted free agent from New Orleans, and certainly the idea of Tomlinson playing here is exciting.

It could be that the Eagles use a high draft pick on a running back. It could be that ...

Truth is, I have no idea how it is going to turn out. I just know that it is an important move, not to be taken for granted.


 The report that the Eagles are "expected" to go after Minnesota restricted free agent Ray Edwards is an unusual one. I guess I just don't see it from my perspective. Edwards is a fine player, but he had 8 1/2 sacks playing next to the Williams monsters at defensive tackle and on the opposite end of Jared Allen. Juqua Parker had 8 last year at left defensive end. I know Edwards had the big game against Dallas in the playoffs, but he is worth a first-round pick as compensation? I doubt, getting right down to it, that the reporter who tossed out the rumor, really just threw it out there to see if it had legs. I could be wrong, but it doesn't make a lick of sense to me.  
  • Hank Baskett is back, and he will play well as an Eagle in his role within the offense as a reserve wide receiver -- who is such a good blocker in the running game -- and a special teams ace. I'm excited about the special teams, by the way. I think Bobby April is going to make this the best group in the league. Anyway, Baskett has to get No. 84 back from fellow receiver Jordan Norwood.
  • What else might happen in free agency? Good question. It could be that it is time to really think about the trade route around the league. One week into free agency and the buzz is gone. It was gone after one or two days, honestly. What you get now in free agency is what the Eagles are acquiring: Depth and competition on the roster.
  • The off-season conditioning program for young veterans begins on Monday at the NovaCare Complex. We'll let you know who is around.
  • If Marlin Jackson comes around physically, the Eagles could have some excellent depth in terms of having cover defensive backs. And I still am going to keep my eye on the secondary for the rest of the off-season. The Eagles have to challenge everyone to get this defense to where it needs to be.
  • I've had a lot of conversations over the years with fans on the Discussion Boards about the grass field at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles have done a great job keeping the field fresh the last couple of seasons sodding late in the year, but there are some fans who want the Eagles to go to an artificial surface. The league's report that torn ACL's happen 88 percent more on FieldTurf than on natural grass, as well as the report that sprained ankles happen more frequently on FieldTurf, should help convince doubters that natural grass is the way to go. The league wants to continue to study the data, but the Eagles are going to continue with grass as the playing surface at Lincoln Financial Field.
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