According to Les Bowen of Philly.com, there's a chance rookie starting free safety Nate Allen could be signed today before all rookies and a few selected veterans are scheduled to show up at Lehigh University to kick of the Eagles' 2010 Training Camp.
As a second-round pick, Allen doesn't have much wiggle-room in negotiations. He'll get about a 30 percent raise over the guy taken in the same slot last season (Alphonso Smith, CB, Denver Broncos), and perhaps some playing-time incentives.
Other than that, there really isn't anything to negotiate and it's a bit perplexing as to why more second-round picks haven't signed.
The Eagles' first-round pick, Brandon Graham, is not expected to sign anytime soon. It's likely Graham misses at least the first week of camp, even though he said early in the process that he would definitely not hold out.
Most rookies say that, but very few of them follow through. But, as luck would have it for the Birds, the Dallas Cowboys drafted the one kid who actually followed through and will have all of Training Camp to focus on making the Eagles look foolish.
But, I digress—slightly.
If Graham was smart, he would have a chat with the Eagles' first-round pick in 2009, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Maclin missed the first week of Training Camp and it translated into about two weeks of his rookie season being an absolute wash.
And if we don't count his monster game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (it is the Yucks, after all), he seems to have lost about a month.
If you were to ask Maclin about his decision today, he'd likely tell you he should have been in camp on time if for no other reason than to help his season get off to a better overall start.
At least for Maclin the competition at receiver was fairly thin and some early injuries helped him see the field more than he usually would have. For Graham, he's facing some stiff competition and falling behind early could kill his chances not only to start, but to see the field on anything other than obvious passing downs.
He's going to be competing with a guy like Darryl Tapp, whom the Eagles think very highly of, as well as Alex Hall, Victor Abiamiri, and the wily veteran Juqua "don't call me Thomas" Parker.
In other words, It's going to be pretty easy for him to fall into the middle of the pack early on in this process if he's unable to grasp the defense quickly enough—a feat difficult to do with all his time put in, much less after missing 14 practices or so.
Allen, whether he signs on time or not, looks to be the starting free safety by default. After Marlin Jackson went down for the season and Macho Harris had been moved to corner, that had essentially been decided.
If he can get in on time and start working with Sean McDermott and the defense immediately, it should mean good things for the kid and a big step in the right direction for a somewhat patchy secondary. If Bowen's source winds up with egg on his mysterious face, however, it could mean a long season for Allen and the entire defense.
Especially since it looks like they won't be able to count on Graham for at least the first two weeks to a month of the season.