When it comes to adding new pieces, NFL personnel people often fear the unknown.
The condition usually stems from past mistakes: wasting money on a player who didn’t fit, reaching on a draft pick who failed to pan out, etc.
The draft requires the most challenging projections. But free agency, in theory, should be easier. Coaches and GMs can watch as much tape as they want of the players going up against pro-level competition; they can talk to guys who have coached or played alongside the free agent; and they should be able to get a decent idea of how they’re spending their money.
But, as Howie Roseman often points out, it’s still an arranged marriage. Until the player and team are living under the same roof and get to know each other up close and personal, there is a degree of uncertainty.
That’s one of the reasons the organization has been sending out signals for weeks indicating it’s not going to make a big splash in free agency. In some ways, Roseman sounds a bit gun-shy after what happened in the summer of 2011.
“It’s almost like the draft where you don’t want to force something,” Roseman said last week. “As much as we want to do things to improve in any way we can, we also don’t want to force anything. So we look at it, just try to grade the players as they are, not do it because we need a particular position. We have some flexibility. …But we’re gonna go out and try to do things that make sense for our football team.”
The word commonly thrown around is fit. And that extends to the locker room. When the organization pays money to outsiders, it can create an uncomfortable dynamic with the homegrown talent. Players the Eagles drafted can be left wondering why they’re not the ones reaping the financial benefits.
But the bottom line is free agency lends an opportunity to fill holes. It’s an important part of the offseason, and done correctly (as we saw with the Broncos and Seahawks last year), it can pay off.
“Two free agents I think were huge, especially for the leadership of the defense, were DeMeco Ryans and Connor Barwin,” said center Jason Kelce. “I think they’ve been outstanding in terms of their approach to not just the game of defense, but the weight room, off the field… all that stuff has been outstanding for us. So there’s ways you can always address it, but in particular I think those free agent signings are huge.”
Technically, Ryans was acquired via trade, but you get the point. Adding outsiders can be beneficial and actually improve the locker-room dynamic, if the right guys are added.
There are likely to be some attractive names on the market next week, and the Eagles have money to spend. On-field talent is always the main factor, but the organization figures to pay a lot of attention to overall fit this time around.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Unexpectedly, Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward appear headed towards free agency.
Peter King suggests the Eagles go after a high-priced cornerback.
Kelly has been quiet this offseason, but his presence is being felt behind the scenes.
How Nick Foles factored into the recent re-signings.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz offers his thoughts on the available safeties:
The Eagles will have interest in both guys. I’m just not sure how aggressively they’ll go after the players. Ward is the better hitter/tackler, while Byrd is more of the ballhawk. One x-factor in all of this is that we don’t know what Bill Davis would ideally want in a Safety. Does he want physicality or ball skills? The moves the Eagles make this offseason (free agency and the draft) will give us a hint about what Davis and Kelly are looking for.
Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com mocks Alabama safety Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix to the Eagles at No. 22:
Chip Kelly wants to get faster and tougher on defense and adding an impact safety would help. Clinton-Dix is a rangy player with a good feel for coverage and filling run lanes.
Free agency, free agency, free agency. We’re a week away.