Eagles Wake-Up Call: What’s Next For Birds?

The first few hours of the free agency period were relatively quiet for the Eagles, but then the team added five players: tight end James Casey, nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, safety Patrick Chung and linebacker Jason Phillips.

None of the five has been a Pro Bowl player, and the names were unknown to many in the Philadelphia area before Tuesday night. But they did fill some needs: (potential) starting cornerback, nose tackle, competition at safety, another weapon on offense and special teams help.

So, where do the Birds go from here? Three areas to keep an eye on…

Offensive line – The Eagles were linked to Jake Long, but the four-time Pro Bowler will take a physical with the Rams Wednesday and could sign there, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network. Eric Winston doesn’t have a team yet either, although he reportedly visited with the Chargers over the weekend.

Even if the Eagles don’t end up with either player, the fact that they showed interest means they’ve strongly considered the possibility of moving Todd Herremans back inside to guard. That’s something to keep in mind in April – the possibility of drafting a tackle in the first or second round seems very real.

Defensive line – The name to watch is Ricky Jean-Francois. The Eagles have already added Sopoaga from the 49ers, and now Tom Gamble will try to land Jean-Francois, who’s visiting with the team on Wednesday. If he signs, suddenly the Eagles have the framework for a 3-4 with Fletcher Cox, Sopoaga and Jean-Francois. Don’t sleep on outside linebacker either. The Eagles could be in the market for someone with a versatile skill set there too. Connor Barwin and Victor Butler are still available.

Secondary – You don’t think the Eagles are done here, do you? They could definitely add another starting cornerback and safety. Derek Cox, Keenan Lewis and Antonie Cason are corners still on the market. The Eagles don’t appear to be in the mix for Sean Smith anymore.

At safety, they are reportedly not interested in LaRon Landry. Glover Quin and Louis Delmas are still out there though.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Can Chung be the Eagles’ answer at safety?

Here’s the back story on Fletcher, who projects as a starting cornerback.

A look at what Sopoaga and Phillips bring to the table.

How will Chip Kelly use Casey?

The free agency tracker looks at who’s been signed, who’s going elsewhere and available targets.

The Eagles are not going in on Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson or Smith.

The team finally released Nnamdi Asomugha.

How would Jake Long fit?

Quintin Mikell wouldn’t mind returning to Philadelphia.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano takes a look at the Eagles’ signings on defense:

The Eagles are a team with more than $40 million in cap room, so there’s no reason to think this is anything but the beginning of what they’ll do in free agency. None of it is eye-popping, but you’re starting to get a sense of what the new regime is looking for and what their priorities are. It’s entirely possible all of these guys will make an impact on the Eagles’ defense in 2013. Possible that only one of them will. But this Eagles defense is something that’s going to take a while to take shape. It’s only now beginning.

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com on Fletcher:

Chip Kelly’s first free-agent acquisitions as Philadelphia Eagles coach came in a five-pack of underrated veterans. That’s a good thing. The Eagles quietly signed five solid veterans including safety Patrick Chung, tight end James Casey, and cornerback Bradley Fletcher. That’s Bradley Fletcher, not Fletcher Bradley as the team sent out in its press release and on Twitter. The former St. Louis Rams cornerback was our No. 56 free agent available overall, but he must not have great name recognition.

His name was repeated as Fletcher Bradley by no fewer than five other news outlets. Fletcher Bradley is the perfect symbol of this new, non-Dream Team Eagles squad.

COMING UP

I’m sure it’ll be another quiet day for the Birds…

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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