Many are predicting that Philadelphia Eagles GM Howie Roseman will be ready to go shopping in the Free Agent Market, once the NFL Lockout finally ends
Post lockout, it appears that Philadelphiawill be the center of the NFL World.
By now we all know the bargaining chips that Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has to yield at his disposal; namely well sought after veteran quarterback Kevin Kolb and oodles of cap space after dramatic salary cutting moves dating back to releasing veterans such as Kevin Curtis, Will Witherspoon and of course trading Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins last April. What we’re now learning is that Roseman and the Eagles may very well be the most motivated and prepared organization to make groundbreaking moves reshaping their roster once the NFL lockout is lifted and transactions allowed to be made.
After 13 years of near misses and disheartening finishes to seasons such as last year’s home loss in the NFC Wild Card round against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers, the Eagles appear poised to push all of those proverbial chips into the middle of the table in an attempt to close the 27-yard gap that lay between themselves and the team that hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in February. According to a Yahoo Sports article by Mike Silver published on June 16th,Philadelphia appears to have names such as Albert Haynesworth, Plaxico Burress, and Reggie Bush all in their crosshairs. Not to mention persistent whispers among league circles that the Eagles in fact still a front runner for former Raiders lockdown corner Nnamdi Asomugha.
The case can easily be made that the Eagles are the logical landing spot for each of the aforementioned veterans. Haynesworth of course is coming off of a disappointing season with the Redskins that saw the 29 year old nose tackle finish the year serving a four game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. Haynesworth recorded just 16 tackles in eight games in his second season inWashingtonand first under head coach Mike Shanahan who dramatically altered Haynesworth’s role in his newly installed 3-4 defense. Haynesworth saw his greatest career success as a member of the Tennessee Titans where he recorded 199 tackles and 24 sacks in 90 games. Many attribute his success to the work of stellar defensive line coach Jim Washburn who just so happens to be the newly minted line coach with the Eagles. Sources say that Washburn has been pining for the front office to pursue Haynesworth since shortly after he was hired in January.
Then there’s the curious case of Plaxico Burress. The soon to be 34-year old wideout was of course released from a Rome, New York prison on June 6th wearing a retro Phillies’ hat after serving two years on a gun charge. On the surface Burress would not necessarily be an ideal fit for the Eagles who currently tout young and talented speedster DeSean Jackson, first round pick Jeremy Maclin and steady possession receiver Jason Avant in their emerging receiving corps. Yet the one component missing from the Eagles offense in recent years has been a game changing redzone target. Burress certainly would fit if that mold, if he in fact can still play at a high level nearly three years removed from his last on field appearance. Yahoo! quotes an Eagles source saying that Reid “Loves” the idea of adding Burress.
The Eagles certainly have the offensive pieces in place to contend for a championship. In 2010 the Birds finished the season second in total offense (390 yards per game), fifth in rushing (145 yards per game) and ninth in passing offense (244 yards per game). With resurgent quarterback Michael Vick under center and flanked by playmaking wideouts Jackson, Maclin and Avant along with running back LeSean McCoy and emerging tight end Brent Celek, along with first round draft choice Danny Watkins anchoring the offensive line, the birds certainly have the pieces in place to be an offensive juggernaut for years to come.
Yet it was the defensive failures that cost first year defensive coordinator Sean McDermott his job following the 2010 campaign. Philly’s 12th ranked defense that allowed an average of 327 yards and 24 points per game led Reid and company to move Juan Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator. Giving the eager and work ethic driven Castillo cornerstone additions such as Haynesworth and Asomugha would go a long way towards rebuilding Philadelphia’s beleaguered defense and put the team in a prime position to compete once again for the franchise’s first Lombardi trophy.
With a quick glance around the NFC landscape it’s easy to, with the right moves, pencil the Eagles at or near the top of the list of championship caliber contenders. Unlike some franchises, the Eagles have the resources and cap room to be significant players in the free agent game, regardless of the salary cap situation.
In talking to some sources around the National Football League, Taking It to the House definitely found some agreeing voices that the Eagles should be players in an anticipated quick free agent market. A local Philadelphia league source said, “(The Eagles) should be the most aggressive team once the lockout ends”. While USA Today Senior NFL Writer Jarrett Bell told our site, “I am not sure if they will be the most aggressive team. But given their resources, you would expect them to be one more active teams”.
If the front office is as motivated as Roseman let on in the Yahoo! piece, then the Eagles and their fans may very well be sitting at the center of the football universe come July, August, September, Oct.. Or whenever the lockout is settled and the NFL open for business.
Matt Lombardo is a reporter for 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ. Matt can be reached on Twitter @MattLombardoWC