As the lockout continues on and on, the Eagles have one benefit. They’ve had plenty of time to develop a plan for when a new CBA is instated, and the free agency period finally opens.
The draft has come and gone and the Eagles have made strides to make themselves a better team. However, with all the reports about how the Eagles want to win now, they still have weaknesses they need to fill in free agency.
There are also reports about the team being aggressive when free agency opens, and I fully believe they will be.
Let’s took a look at some of the steps the Eagles will need to take when the lockout is lifted.
1. Trade Kevin Kolb
This is a deal I expect to get done pretty quickly after the free agency period opens. It’s pretty safe to say Kolb would have been gone before the draft (or during) if the Eagles had the option to do so.
One of the reasons the Kolb trade needs to happen quickly is because it will have an impact on the rest of the free agency period for the Birds. There has been speculation about what the Eagles will get in return for Kolb.
In the beginning, it seemed that Kolb would be traded for picks. Now, it seems the Eagles may look to get a player that can help them this season. If they end up getting a player, it will likely change up some of their other free agent targets.
Also, teams who covet Kolb’s services will want to bring him in as soon as they can. Arizona seems like the most likely option, and they’ll want to make sure they can land Kolb. If not, they’ll need time to find another guy.
2. Bring in a Corner
There’s currently no bigger need for this team than bringing in a talented corner. This need may or may not be addressed in the Kolb trade, but there are a lot of other options out there.
We’ve heard plenty of different rumors about who the Eagles will be interested in pursuing. Nnamdi Asomugha is the most talented and has been associated with the Eagles. However, he’ll clearly cost the most. Ike Taylor has also been a name brought up recently.
Regardless of who ends up being brought in, it’s almost a guarantee that they will have to bring in a free agent here. There are a number of options available, but I expect the Eagles to bring in the guy they want very early on and sign him.
3. Find a Veteran Quarterback
With the Eagles likely trading Kevin Kolb, it means they’ll immediately have a hole at the backup quarterback position. Mike Kafka will be the only other quarterback on the roster, and he’s not ready to take over the reins as a starter.
Michael Vick’s style of play makes him very susceptible to injury, so the Eagles will really need to value their backup.
Some options will be available for them, so they’ll have to decide who they think fits their system the best. They won’t likely be looking to spend a lot of money with the contract Vick is likely to get as well as the money they need to spend at other positions in free agency.
Regardless, the Eagles need to bring in someone they feel comfortable with coming in if need be.
4. Resign Stewart Bradley
Bradley is one of the Eagles current players scheduled to be a free agent. After shining early in his career, injuries have put a damper on the expectations for him.
When healthy, Bradley has shown that he can play well. However, he’s been in and out of the lineup, so it’s hard to tell exactly how he projects as a starting linebacker in this league.
Currently, the Eagles have a lot of young linebackers. Some of them may be ready to play, but I think a lot of them need more time to develop.
Jamar Chaney seems to be the likely starter in the middle, so it looks like Bradley would likely bounce outside. However, this may very well be a better fit for him.
Bradley should be able to be signed at a decent price due to his inability to stay healthy during his rookie contract, and I think it would be a good idea for the Eagles to bring him back.
5. Sign Michael Vick to an Extension
The Eagles put the franchise tag on Michael Vick to ensure that he would return with the team in 2011. However, they fully intend to sign him to a long-term deal to make him the quarterback of the future.
With the CBA expiring when it did, the two sides didn’t have time to reach a deal before the lockout took affect.
When the lockout is lifted, it will be a matter of time before the Eagles and Vick work out a long-term deal.
The franchise tag means that Vick already is going to be scheduled to have a large salary in 2011. However, signing Vick to a long-term deal make take down his 2011 number a bit, freeing up more money to sign other free agents.
6. Bulk up the Defense
When the Eagles take care of the items above, they’re still going to need to look to improve their defense. With a high profile corner signed, they’ll need to focus on improving their front seven.
This could include a number of different things. Maybe they’ll bring in free agent Albert Haynesworth to fill into the rotation in the middle of the defensive line.
On the other hand, they may look for a defensive end to come in and produce while Brandon Graham is recovering.
They could also look into bringing in a linebacker that could make an impact immediately and help mold some of the younger linebackers on the team.
No matter what ends up happening, the Eagles need to add some players from free agency to help their defense.
7. Take Care of DeSean Jackson
The Eagles don’t necessarily have to throw Jackson any money, but the guy has gone way beyond the money his rookie contract has given him.
He’s going to be on the last year of his rookie deal, but no one is getting underpaid more than Jackson.
We’ve seen this guy step up and make plays when the Eagles needed it, and he has been very quiet about the current deal he’s signed under.
I give him a lot of credit for the way he’s treated the situation, but I think he’s getting to the point where he’s finally going to want to be compensated for his actions.
The Eagles know that they’re underpaying Jackson, so if they have any money to work with, they should take care of him.