Philadelphia Eagles News

Still Some Work On To-Do List

Some important work needs to be completed from this perspective on the team's To-Do List .

Most of the items are top-line things. The Eagles are coming off a terrific few weeks during which they addressed some of their needs by retaining players from the 2011 team that were questionable to return for 2012 -- offensive guard Evan Mathis, notably, who became an unrestricted free agent before signing a five-year contract with Philadelphia -- and they made the monster trade that netted starting middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who immediately becomes the quarterback of the defense.

It has been a very good offseason to date, and the Eagles have accomplished what they set out to do without as much as a single free-agent visit to the NovaCare Complex.

Now what? As the team's front-office leaders spend the next couple of days at the NFL's Owners' Meetings in Florida, let's discuss ...

IS FREE AGENCY DEAD FOR THE EAGLES?

Could be, but I tend to think the Eagles will dip into the market at some point to gain some depth throughout the roster. Are there starters still on the market, waiting to be signed? Could be, but the talent pool for that caliber of player is generally very shallow.

Instead, the Eagles can target some depth and even, in the case of the fullback position, bring in a player who will challenge for a starting job. Players, at this point in free agency, still have hope for a big contract. Every day that goes by without a player signing dims those prospects.

When you look at the roster, where are the needs? Fullback is a wide-open position, with Stanley Havili as the leading candidate now even though he spent his rookie season on the practice squad. The Eagles would do well to bring aboard depth for the offensive line, particularly a swing tackle. We've been talking about a wide receiver for months and the Eagles have shown nothing but confidence in what they have through and through.

Depth at running back is likely to be added at some point as the Eagles build with LeSean McCoy and Dion Lewis. Quarterback and who plays behind Michael Vick is an interesting topic to discuss.

On defense, the Eagles could certainly use some depth at tackle behind Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson and Antonio Dixon. The Eagles have nine linebackers on the roster, but how many of them are etched-in-stone pieces for Juan Castillo's defense?

The Eagles have plenty at cornerback, but what about safety? Are they satisfied with the youth and promise they have there, on the heels of such inconsistency last season?

The kick return game is also likely to be addressed at some point as the team looks to become more dynamic there.

WHAT ABOUT ASANTE SAMUEL AND HIS FUTURE?

A report in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer suggested that the Eagles *will *do everything possible to trade their Pro Bowl cornerback prior to April's draft. Haven't we heard that for months? Why does everyone think it is such a certainty that Samuel will be traded?

He is a tremendous playmaker at a premium position in the NFL. In this pass-happy league, teams can't have enough good cornerbacks. The Eagles have a few, and they also have some young players they think can step up and develop, and there is not an absolute need to trade Samuel.

The team has room within the salary cap, so Samuel's cap number of nearly $10 million is not limiting the team's ability to do business. The Eagles are going to face teams that play with three and four wide receivers during the season, and they need all the depth they can play this year.

Certainly, the Samuel situation bears watching, as it has throughout the offseason. He remains an Eagle and the plan is to move forward with Samuel an important part of the defense.

AND THE NEXT CONTRACT EXTENSION GOES TO ...

The instant DeSean Jackson signed his long-term contract, reports indicated that McCoy was next and that a deal could be forthcoming. Now there are reports that it could be "tough" signing McCoy.

There is the utmost confidence here that the front office will do what it has to do, what it plans to do with McCoy and with others on the roster. The Eagles seem to have crafted a smart plan here and are proceeding well in free agency. Whatever is happening with McCoy is happening with good, honest intentions and positive conversations.

It could be that McCoy gets his deal relatively soon. Or it could be that another, someone like cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is signed through the end of 2012, has his contract addressed.

The Eagles aren't in the business of letting good players who can help this team right now and in the future get away. They love keeping their own and have conducted business this way for many seasons. That isn't going to change.

DRAFT PREPARATIONS AND CHATTER INCREASES

The focus has to shift toward the April 26 draft as the team invites prospects to the NovaCare Complex for visits. All of this is done in extreme confidentiality. The Eagles have the 15th pick in the first round and they have three of the first 51 picks in the opening two rounds.

The Eagles still have time to add some pieces here and there so that they can go into the draft without any glaring needs. They are pretty much there now. The Eagles could line up tomorrow and beat any team. But, yes, the Eagles need more to maximize this roster. The draft is the backbone of the team's foundation and the Eagles need to deliver a great draft in a month's time.

That's where we are at, folks. With the Owners Meetings happening, there is a bit of a lull in the action. How long that lasts, I don't know. The Eagles aren't finished, not by a long shot. They're going to make some moves between now and the draft, no matter how insignificant those moves might seem. The headlines might not be as significant, but the moves will go a long way toward the constitution of the 2012 roster.

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