As we near the time when things start happening, and I mean, really start happening, let's get up to date on where the Eagles stand now, what they are planning to do next, and how all of these fantastic stars are going to line up and the Eagles will put together an off-season to remember ...
- Reports out there suggesting that Michael Vick is due a roster bonus on March 5, the first day of league year, is incorrect. Vick is due a bonus worth a reported $1.5 million on the fifth day of the league year, which is March 9. Just to be accurate ...
- Everyone has returned from the Scouting Combine, so we should see some action on the restricted free agent class in the next couple of days, obviously. The Eagles have 10 players who are scheduled to be restricted free agents. They probably would like to look into signing one or two of them to longer-term contracts, but we shall see if those reported talks with fullback Leonard Weaver, for example, gained any traction. Very interesting tmies, indeed.
- The team's off-season conditioning program begins on March 15, or thereabouts, and the NovaCare Complex is already buzzing with players working out on their own. I've seen probably a dozen players in, with more coming every day.
- Can you remember an off-season in which there were more more balls in the air than the one the Eagles have now? Usually, the Eagles return 19 or 20 of their 22 starters and move on. Now, well, who knows? A team that won 11 games last year has a real chance to take major strides in the months ahead. The Eagles certainly have to fill some needs -- the defense, I suspect, will get a lot of attention here -- and make some tough decisions and, geez, I have a tremendous amount of anticipation looking ahead.
- We're going live with a chat in Bloghead starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday with Chris McPherson and Bo Wulf, and then we'll pick it up at 9 a.m. on Friday and keep it going through the day to keep the fans tuned in. Whatever we hear, you'll hear. Deal? I wonder about free agency. Will teams rush out and sign the eight to 10 good players right away, or will they wait a couple of days and allow the market to settle? And who determines the market in a year without a salary cap?
- Kind of on the same theme, but if you are interested in signing a running back in free agency, would you do it immediately or would you wait and let the dollars simmer a bit? What sense does it make to rush out and sign, for example, Darren Sproles, when there are so many other quality backs on the streets as well as a promising draft class available on April 22?
- Let's clear the air on some of the things that running back Brian Westbrook said in a radio interview after the Eagles announced that he would be released in this off-season.
First, Westbrook said he had not been contacted by Jeffrey Lurie or Joe Banner after the announcement. Here is how it went down: Andy Reid called Westbrook to tell him of the Eagles' intentions. General Manager Howie Roseman called Westbrook shortly thereafter, and Lurie phoned Westbrook and spoke to him the day after the announcement.
So, there was no lack of respect shown Westbrook, no lack of love. The Eagles have always treated Westbrook very, very well, from Lurie on down. There is nothing but respect and admiration for Westbrook from the coaching staff, management, and the athletic training staff that took care of him so well, from everyone. No question Westbrook was hurt by the announcement, and it showed in his comments.
Westbrook also wondered if the front office made winning a ""priority"" and, again, I have to speak out here. Winning is the priority, without question. Sometimes, the decisions made by the front office and the coaching staff are not popular in the locker room, whether those decisions are business-related or playing-time related. Every player wants everything he can get, because the NFL is not a long-term relationship for those laying it on the line every week on the field.
Westbrook gave eight great seasons to Philadelphia -- the team and the city and the fans -- and we are all the better for having had the privilege of watching him perform. He was, and will always be, a first-class player and person and an Eagle forever.