Day one of free agency is in the books, and it was an interesting, if not groundbreaking day for Eagles fans. Let’s break down what we’ve learned so far.
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A rebirth of the old Eagles way? The team took the first day to negotiate extensions for two of its longest-tenured players, Todd Herremans and Trent Cole. It was a nice return to the days pre-2009 when the Eagles built mostly from within. It’s also an important precedent to set with the players. Basically since Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown were unceremoniously dumped, the front office and the players have had a relationship built on animosity and mistrust. Young players like DeSean Jackson have battled with the organization rather than sign mutually-beneficial long-term deals.
Jonathan Tamari has the money quote from Todd Herremans: “The Eagles have been known for a while as a team that doesn’t take care of their draft picks and pays everyone else’s as picks and players. I think they’re trying to change that stigma that they have.”
By showing that you can get more money by playing the good soldier and dealing with your contract issues behind the scenes, the Eagles made a big step toward repairing that relationship and establishing veteran role models for the less experienced players to look up to.
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Wide receivers are getting paid. Three of the best wide receivers on the market signed yesterday. Vincent Jackson went to Tampa Bay, getting 5 years, $55.55 million, with $26 million guaranteed. Marques Colston stayed with the Saints at the last minute, for 5 years, $40 million and $19 million guaranteed. Finally, Pierre Garçon stole 5 years, $42.5 million and $21.5 million guaranteed from the Redskins.
Seem of these numbers are artificially inflated in the final years, but DeSean Jackson and Drew Rosenhaus have to be looking at those guarantees and salivating.
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Free agency for the Eagles is 85% about linebacker. And nothing happened on that front yet. Curtis Lofton, Stephen Tulloch, and David Hawthorne are all still available, and until those dominos start falling we won’t be able to judge the Eagles front office one way or another.
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If I ever became an NFL general manager, I would have to remember one thing: don’t sign second-tier free agents on the first day. If you need to move fast on the biggest name out there, that’s fine. But don’t throw big money at guys who aren’t major difference-makers. That’s known as the Redskins’ strategy.
Photo from Getty.
The Eagles have spent the last three years stocking the ranks with lots of young, respectable team players. They’ve drafted captains and All-Americans, guys who can represent the team proudly. They’ve also jettisoned a number of me-first malcontents and with questionable work ethics, like…
After the 1969 baseball season, the St. Louis Cardinals traded their star centerfielder Curt Flood to the Philadelphia Phillies, setting off a chain of events that would change professional sports forever. At the time, there was no such thing as free agency. Baseball players were bound to their teams for life by a paragraph in the standard player contract known as the reserve clause. As a result, players could not receive fair market value for their services. More importantly, players had no control over where or for whom they played. When a player was traded, he had two choices: report to his new team or retire. Curt Flood chose door number three: he sued Major League Baseball for his professional freedom.