Following their playoff loss to the Packers three years ago, the decision-makers in the Eagles’ organization felt they were close – close to getting back to the Super Bowl.
Andy Reid, Joe Banner and Howie Roseman decided to take advantage of the market and brought in what they believed to be missing pieces in an effort to gear up for a championship run.
We all know the results: 12 wins in two seasons without a postseason appearance.
Many of the names making the calls (other than Roseman) are now different, but the lessons are fresh in the minds of those within the organization. This offseason, the Eagles are once again coming off an NFC East title and a playoff appearance. But all indications suggest the path of action to get to the next level will be different this time around.
Asked if he's going to stay away from big-name free agents, Roseman said: "I think that it’s going to be dependent on the player. You don’t want to make any exclusions, but I think what worked last year was the ability, just like in the draft when you have more picks in the draft, is that the more chances you have to hit on guys, the better your percentages become.
"...If you only sign two guys in free agency and you put a lot of resources in them, and for one reason or another a guy doesn’t work out, you’re hamstrung. But if you go after a bunch of guys that you think may fit and a couple don’t work out as much as you want every one of them to work out, you feel like, you know what, as long as I have a good batting average on these guys, I’m improving the quality of our football team. And that helps. And you can use your money in different places. And then you’re also not in a position where if a couple of guys don’t work out, you’re hamstrung in future years and you can’t go back into the markets."
The last sentence is important. The Eagles feel like they have a good core in place. They'll have to make decisions on Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper this offseason. But after next year, members of the 2012 draft class will all be eligible to renegotiate their deals and sign long-term contracts.
That includes guys like Nick Foles, Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks and Brandon Boykin.
"The other part of it is where are we gonna be next year on the cap?" Roseman said. "Can we keep this team together? Every player we sign, if you sign a player for X amount of dollars, you also have to put that player into next year’s cap and anticipate that. And as we look at it, these drafts come around really quickly. So all of a sudden you get there and you go, ‘Wow this guy’s gonna be after his third year next year. We want to keep him here. We’ve gotta make sure we have money to keep him.' So we’re trying to build a team, and we’re trying to build a team that can compete for a long time. And that means year to year, we’ve gotta keep our core and then try to add on to it."
All of this doesn't mean the Eagles are going to sit free agency out. They have money to spend and are in clear need of upgrades in specific areas. But they also seem smart enough to know "close enough" can sometimes be deceiving. It's still building mode, and financial flexibility is key.
If opportunities arise to add key pieces for the right price, the Eagles will explore them. But clearly, they're going to be cautious in committing big dollars that could limit them down the road.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Our offseason outlook series takes a look at the Eagles' RB situation.
Jeffrey Lurie on the passing of former Eagles president Harry Gamble.
Three Eagles numbers that matter: On Foles' INT rate, DeMeco Ryans' playing time and an under-the-radar safety name to know.
T-Mac takes a look at how Zach Ertz's rookie season stacked up.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com caught up with Broncos backup tackle Winston Justice:
However, Justice and Mudd didn't get along. "Our personalities really clashed. During the time (we were together in Philly), we hated each other, but he really helped me out a lot. He made me a better player even though we didn't get along."
Justice said Todd Herremans called him to congratulate him for making the Super Bowl.
Brian Dawkins left an imprint on some of the current Broncos players, writes the Inquirer's Jeff McLane:
Even Champ Bailey. A future Hall of Famer in his own right, Bailey said Dawkins had an impact on his career even though he had already played 10 seasons before the intense safety arrived in 2009.
"Brian Dawkins - one thing about him: He worked hard every day," Bailey said. "I already knew how to practice hard, but when I see a guy older than me and he's practicing harder than me, it elevated my game a little bit more. . . . I didn't want him to outwork me. And he did it every day."
We'll take a look at the Eagles' offseason outlook at wide receiver.