When the summer of 2011 came around, the Eagles’ decision-makers felt they were close.
The team was coming off a 10-6 season in which it suffered a 21-16 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round. The previous year, the Eagles won 11 games. And in 2008, they made the NFC championship.
Major moves were made (Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, etc.) to fill in the gaps. And as we know, those moves didn’t work out. The Eagles went 12-20 the next two seasons, Andy Reid was fired, Chip Kelly was hired, and well, here we are.
Now, with free agency just six days away, the question has to be asked: How will the disastrous decisions from two summers ago affect the Eagles going forward?
“For us to not look back and see what happened at that time and why it happened… we’ve spent a lot of time doing that since Coach [Kelly] has gotten here – about where we were in our program. And it’s very different than where we’re at now,” general manager Howie Roseman said during an interview with Birds 24/7.
“I think it’s a different situation than coming off a 4-12 season. For us, we’re always going to try to be smart and be aggressive. But at the same token, to not learn from that and how important it is to build a team and to build the right environment… I think that’s key going forward.”
Don’t take Roseman’s words to mean that the Eagles are gun-shy and plan on sitting back and observing during the free-agency period.
They key is still to build through the draft, but with the draft comes unpredictability. The Eagles can project when certain prospects will be picked, but they have no way of knowing who’s going to be on the board when it’s their turn to pick. Reaching to fill certain needs can lead to mistakes (see: Jaiquawn Jarrett).
That’s where free agency comes in – for filling specific needs. With the Eagles, there are plenty of those – cornerback, safety and nose tackle, to name a few. The key will be to identify the young talent at those need spots and build the core of the roster.
“In free agency, you’re looking to fill a need,” said former Colts GM and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian during a conference call earlier this week. “In free agency, you’re absolutely looking at the finished product. Those players are not going to get any better than they are now at 26 or 27. They’re at their peak.”
The other factor, of course, is value. According to CBSSports.com, the Eagles have the fifth-most cap space in the league at $33.4 million. Keep in mind, that figure could very well see a bump if and when the team cuts ties with Nnamdi Asomugha.
Bottom line? The Eagles have defined needs, and they have money to spend.
As always, the key will be to choose wisely. But come Tuesday at 4 p.m., don’t expect things to be quiet at the Novacare Complex.