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Spadaro: 4 things to keep in mind before free agency begins

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

An offseason that is racing past in an eyeblink is about to go to another gear: The roster-altering part of the 2023 season is nearly upon us, and with that, here is the annual recommendation, or set of them, that you can accept or reject at your leisure:

1. Be patient.

2. Have faith in what the Eagles are doing.

3. Be entertained by, but don't allow yourself to be guided by, the torrent of rumors you are about to hear and read.

4. Keep the future in mind, too.

Let's consider all four of them here, as the free-agency period draws upon us – teams have a 4 PM Tuesday deadline for naming franchise players (the Eagles aren't expected to use a franchise tag on a pending unrestricted free agent), the window for teams to negotiate with agents of prospective free agents opens next Monday, and on Wednesday, March 15 at 4 PM, the new NFL business year opens and free agency officially begins.

Are you ready? More importantly, what are the Eagles doing to get themselves in position to build a roster for the season ahead?

1. Be Patient

I know how difficult this can be because we live in a "NOW" world and we all want instant gratification. Last year's proceedings were a prime example of the importance of having some patience, as the Eagles opened free agency with a big swing and connection on Day 1, signing linebacker Haason Reddick to a three-year contract. That move changed the course of the Eagles' defense, as it turned out, and there was probably no greater impact free-agency signing anywhere in the NFL last offseason.

It was a big Day 1 for the Eagles and they were lauded for the move. But in a matter of days, media and, thus, fans, were scratching their heads. Why haven't the Eagles done anything of significance beyond Reddick? When is this team going to address its holes – the secondary, running back, etc. – that media members opined existed? When Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman and Head Coach Nick Sirianni addressed the media during the NFL Annual Meeting in late March, they were repeatedly asked about addressing the roster, as in, the Eagles just hadn't done enough to that point for this team to take a big leap forward in 2022.

"We're constantly building, so right now it's just a little portion of it," Sirianni said. "We're built through free agency a little bit, but we have a lot of draft picks that are about to come up and there always could be guys added to the roster later on, so it's building. I never really think you're ever a finished product, you're always building and trying to get better. I am excited about the pieces we've added so far."

A lot more were on the way, obviously. That's not to set an expectation for what Roseman could do throughout the season ahead, but it's just a reminder: The roster is never totally finished.

2. Have Faith in What the Eagles Are Doing

It's clearly established that the Eagles are a premier franchise that understands what it takes to build a contending team. That's the plan here, to contend for a Super Bowl in 2023. The goal is always to win a Lombardi Trophy. With that, this is a unique offseason (they all are, understood). There are a lot of moving pieces, including a bunch of players who have contributed so much to the team through the years and who were so instrumental in the Super Bowl LVII appearance.

Get ready for reality, people: They all aren't coming back.

The attachment that fans have to Eagles players is what makes the family relationship between the team/fan community so special. The emotional chords run deep. The Eagles, however, are faced with some tough decisions as they navigate the roster and the salary cap and the NFL Draft and all the things that play into building a team. Roseman, his personnel team, and the coaches are all in high-level conversations right now about how to address the roster, how to attack free agency, and how to handle every possible scenario they can imagine.

We're going to see a different Eagles roster in 2023, and maybe significantly so. There are a lot of unknowns here. The Eagles have been planning for this period of roster building for a long time, and they have a blueprint in mind. As last offseason showed, that blueprint has to be flexible.

Trust what the Eagles are doing here. This is a good roster already in place, but there are definite areas to address and the Eagles will use their assets wisely.

3. The Rumor Mill? Take It for What It Is

Crank up the headlines! Prepare the clickbait! It's fishing season, everybody, so get those rumors on the streets now! On the double ...

We know what's about to happen. You're going to be flooded with "Eagles are interested in ..." stories and that's all fine and fun with me! I enjoy the gossip as much as anybody. But I also understand that it's just that – gossip. How much truth is there to free-agency rumors and NFL Draft innuendo? Sometimes where there is smoke, there is fire, but the percentages say the stories don't stick to the wall all that often.

The advice, then: Enjoy it all, have some fun with it, but don't take the rumors to the bank. There are going to be a lot of them, but not a ton are going to turn out to be true.

4. Keep the Future in Mind

The Eagles have some offseason capital. They have some maneuverability in free agency now and for the remainder of the season. Roseman and the salary-cap gurus the Eagles have in place are the best in the business. The Eagles make things work. They have picks 10 and 30 in the first round of the NFL Draft, and they have six selections total. Who knows what Roseman will do with those valuable pieces?

In a conversation I had with Roseman at the NFL’s Scouting Combine, he made sure to remind me that there is an eye on what the Eagles have potentially coming down the pike in the 2024 NFL Draft with an extra second-round draft pick from New Orleans and a fourth-round pick from Minnesota and likely compensatory picks as a result of losing some veterans this year in free agency. Philadelphia could have a dozen draft picks to work with in 2024.

That doesn't mean the Eagles will sacrifice the 2023 season for the 2024 NFL Draft, but it's something to keep in mind as the Eagles maneuver in the months ahead. They want to sign some of their prime young talent to second contracts at some point – quarterback Jalen Hurts and wide receiver DeVonta Smith come to mind – and so that plays into the game plan as well.

The goal is sustained excellence, having a team that is in the Super Bowl mix every season. That is the mindset for the Eagles as the offseason settles into a few "calm" days before the "frenzy" of free agency begins.

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