Tuesday was a day off for the players, but the Eagles certainly were busy added some talent from the third wave of unrestricted free agency. The team has, obviously, worked all three tiers very successfully. In this phase, the key word the Eagles brought to the table is "competition."
In running back Ronnie Brown, offensive tackle Ryan Harris and safety Jarrad Page, the Eagles added three experienced players who will compete for roster spots, playing time and even a starting job here and there. Let's take a look at all three players and what they could mean for 2011.
First, Brown. I outlined earlier how he fits into the offense. Adding Brown is a terrific move. He has a combination of size and versatility. Brown is not a breakaway threat, but he is a slashing 230-pounder who is going to get tough yards in tight and in goal-to-go situations. Plus, he is an excellent pass blocker and can help as a receiver out of the backfield.
Then it was Harris, a veteran right tackle. He started in Denver and at one point was a highly-regarded young player. Injuries stunted Harris' growth in Denver, so now he is here to work in at a position that does not have a clear starter at the moment.
Winston Justice is on the Physically Unable to Perform list and there is no telling when he is getting back on the field. To this point in training camp, King Dunlap and Austin Howarrd have manned the position. Clearly, they have not seized the moment to the point where the Eagles felt the confidence to stand pat.
Here comes Harris. I'm not going to oversell him. Nobody is. He needs to come in and play and win a job. Harris has a one-year contract -- all three of Tuesday's additions have one-year deals -- and a lot to prove to get his contract back on the high-ceiling track it was on early in his time with Denver.
The final signing of the slow news day was Page, who has 40 starts in five NFL seasons spread across Kansas City (39 starts) and New England (one start). This is a move that brings in more league experience to a very young group. The Eagles have mostly had Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, both second-year men, working as the starters, with a lot of youth througout the group. Only veteran Marlin Jackson, who is coming back from three missed seasons because of injury, has much time in the league.
I find the consistency of the roster, as it stands now, as one of the most remarkable works of art I have ever seen. And I don't think I'm going beyond the realm of reason to call this a work of art. If you were new to this roster, you would think the Eagles are stocking up for a one-and-done push for a Super Bowl. That isn't what I see.
What I see is a roster that is bringing in experience to work with a lot of youth. In one scenario that could unfold, the Eagles might open in St. Louis with rookies Casey Matthews (middle linebacker), Jaiquawn Jarrett (strong safety), Danny Watkins (offensive guard), Chas Henry (punter) and Alex Henery (kicker) starting.
That's five rookies. It is a vision, but it means this: The Eagles were a very young team in a lot of areas entering training camp and they are still very young. But they have smartly sprinkled in some major talent and experience throughout the roster.
Remarkable. And time to look ahead to another day, when who knows what can happen?