There has been a muffled rumor that the Eagles might dip into the restricted free agent market for a key player. If never before, the current rules of free agency in this uncapped year made for a smaller pool of unrestricted talent at overpriced and over-aged values.
Some teams, including the Eagles, have taken advantage of the current league status by relieving themselves of bloated contracts on under-performing veterans. This has still not compensated for the six-year unrestricted status requirement that initially diminished the free agency possibilities.
Fans across the league were foaming for ex-Panther sensation Julius Peppers who commanded, at 30-years-old, one of the most lucrative contracts in the history of the NFL.
No fan base desired Peppers more than Philadelphia.
But passing on the superstar may prove wiser than even the most patient fan could realize as the presumably reinstated salary cap of 2011 will be cumbersome for the Eagles already as they will attempt to retain all of their developing youngsters.
The truth is, Peppers is not a long term solution for this young team as nice as it would have been to have him.
In the 2010 draft, the Eagles will likely be looking long and hard at the defensive end position in the first round. At least one (Everson Griffen, Brandon Graham, or Carlos Dunlap) highly-touted defensive end prospect will be available at the Eagles 24th overall selection.
But which one? The right one?
Ray Edwards is a young veteran at 25-years-old that has come into his own at the left defensive end position (exactly what the Eagles want) and the Vikings have been speculated as having an unmanageable budget across their defensive front.
With only a first round tender, the Eagles could easily justify snatching up this emerging player in exchange for their 24th overall pick. They are looking long and hard at defensive end in the first round already.
There is essentially little difference between signing a restricted free agent like Edwards with a first round tender and drafting a top prospect. It just comes down to who they like better.
Still, Andy Reid has a strong relationship with Brad Childress of the Vikes and could finagle a trade package that landed Edwards and allowed the Eagles to retain 24th overall.
If so, one would assume they would address an alternate need with that pick such as linebacker or free safety.
The fans that have blasted this front office for complacency would be eating their words if Reid brings in Edwards and drafts a Sean Weatherspoon or Earl Thomas in the first round.
There is also an opportunity to acquire the restricted free agent from St. Louis, free safety OJ Atogwe, who was a low tender and would not require a sacrificial draft pick. Reid also has a strong working relationship with Rams head coach, Steve Spagnolo.
Atogwe would more than likely become the highest paid free safety in the league but with much better cause than the formerly in-demand safety Antrel Rolle who was signed by the Giants.
Regarding safety, the signing of Marlin Jackson is not fully prohibitive in accruing more talent in the defensive backfield (by free agency or by draft) although the Eagles may feel as though they have what they need already between Demps, Harris, Jackson, and a rookie prospect.
The 2010 regular season has not yet commenced and we will see more action from the Eagles front office before it arrives.
As a side note: I welcome back Hank Baskett!
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