Eagles Notes: Free Agency, Draft Buzz, the Read Option

A few different Eagles-related topics to get to on this Sunday…

FREE AGENCY STRATEGY

Greg A. Bedard of The Boston Globe writes a terrific Sunday NFL notes column every week. Today’s piece focuses on the start of free agency (March 12). Bedard notes that top players are still seeing big salary increases, but with the cap remaining flat, that will have a significant impact on the league’s middle class.

“More veterans are going to be on the street,” one NFC executive told Bedard. “There isn’t much cap space out there. That means that the supply of free agents is going to seriously outweigh the demand.”

The key is still to build through the draft, but the Birds currently have several (potential) holes to fill: two starting cornerback positions, two starting safety spots, nose tackle, SAM linebacker, offensive line depth and more.

The Eagles currently have about $32.4 million in cap space, per OverTheCap.com, and that number could increase as they continue to make decisions on veterans like Nnamdi Asomugha.

In other words, they are in position to target young, top-tier guys at key positions like cornerback (some CB names to know here). And they can potentially add depth/competition at multiple spots as well.

This isn’t going to be a repeat of the summer of 2011 when the Eagles were looking for the final pieces to put them over the top, but this free-agency period offers a different opportunity to add young players who are either in their primes or approaching their primes.

MORE DION JORDAN BUZZ

We posted an in-depth profile on Oregon OLB/DE Dion Jordan last week. Dan Pompei of the National Football Post was impressed with Jordan at the Combine:

The most impressive body of the combine probably belonged to Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan. At 6-6, 248 pounds, he checked into the Bod Pod with a body fat measurement of 3.8 percent—third lowest of any player at any position. What’s more, Jordan’s arms measured 33 7/8ths inches, and his hands were 10 inches.

One other name to know: Ziggy Ansah. The DE/OLB from BYU ran a 4.56 40 at the Combine, and Pompei notes that unlike most of the other prospects, Ansah did not train at all for the run. He kept attending class and never got got help from an outside trainer.

At 6-5, 271, the Ghana native only really played one year of college football. But NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said he’s willing to “bet on the kid.” And in his most recent mock draft on NFL.com, Daniel Jeremiah had Ansah going No. 5 to the Lions.

THE READ OPTION

Several coaches and GMs at the Combine were asked about the read-option and its staying power. Tom Coughlin admitted that he’s going to have defensive coordinator Perry Fewell take a close look at how to defend it this offseason.

And Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley talked about the key to defending it.

“For us, it started off with having really good coverage corners, guys who can play press and obviously at the defensive end
spot, guys who can run,” Bradley said. “That’s so important in our philosophy – you need a defense built around speed. The corners that press, it allows you to bring an extra player into the box to account for all the different option aspects and that’s critical.”

Asked if the read-option has staying power, Bradley added, “It’s probably similar to the Wildcat in some ways. It made a lot of defensive coordinators nervous and how much you were going to see of it. I know in the off-season, we were going to put in extended periods of time into looking at what we need to do to slow that down a little bit.”

Is it here to stay?

“One of the things, in Seattle, they did a good job of, Russell was very sharp as far as executing – he would run out of bounds, he would slide, he would do things to keep him out of harm’s way. That’s the big thing with quarterbacks. – if they’re going to keep the ball and run on the perimeter, they’re really opening themselves up to some hits and injuries. Franchise quarterbacks are so difficult to find, you really need to protect them. Most teams will have a conscience about that.”

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