When Howie Roseman was asked last week whether the team was still in position to be aggressive in free agency given the extensions he handed out to current players, the Eagles’ GM offered a short response.
“Yes,” he said.
But before the next question was asked, Roseman clarified.
"It will affect other things going forward, but yes."
It doesn't take a detective to figure out what those other things going forward are. In fact, they have names: Nick Foles, Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks and Brandon Boykin. You'll notice the common thread among those four players is that they were members of the Eagles' 2012 draft class.
Three other members of that class - Vinny Curry, Bryce Brown and Dennis Kelly - are on the roster still also.
Remember the Jason Kelce extension the team announced last week? Multiply that by two or three or four or more and you'll get a good idea of why Roseman is so keen on maintaining financial flexibility going into the 2015 offseason.
Asked if there's a number of carry-over space he's shooting for, Roseman said: "There’s a number that we’d like to have. But at the same time, if we found some players on the free agent market or a player on our team that we felt like the value was right to do a deal now, we would do it. But we’re certainly not gonna mortgage the future in 2014 and have to be in a situation where we’re cutting multiple players on our roster to get under [the cap]."
The reason the Eagles only handed out one extension to the 2011 class is because that draft was a disaster (Danny Watkins, Jaiquawn Jarrett, etc.).
"A lot has changed here since the 2011 season," Roseman said. "I don’t think that’s a secret. And so we’ve changed a lot of things here and I think that we’ve changed our philosophy starting with that offseason. ...We have a plan. And it’s not just for next season. It’s not just for 2015. It’s to try to set ourselves up to contend for awhile."
Foles is the big name. If he turns in a 2014 performance that's anywhere close to last year, his agent is going to be hitting Roseman up for an extension. Cox has played well, and he'd likely enjoy some more financial security too. Kendricks came on towards the end of 2013, and Boykin has emerged as one of the best play-making nickel corners in the game.
The Eagles' overall philosophy (like most good teams) is to build through the draft and hold on to young talent. Free agency is for filling holes and identifying value.
"I think we have a good sense of how we want to build it in the next few years, and that complete picture may not come right now at this moment," Roseman said. "But we have an idea of what we want to do this offseason, and obviously these signings are part of it.
"Our job is to get good players on the field. And so we want as many good players as we can. But it’s been piecing the puzzle together and making sure it can fit and that we’re not in a situation in the coming years where we have to cut players because we don’t have room."
This is "lying season" in the NFL. Coaches, GMs, agents and players are all looking out for their best interests. We'll find out four days from now whether Roseman plans on surprising everyone and making a splash. But if the Eagles follow their blueprint from a year ago, the 2012 draft class and the 2015 offseason will be a big reason why.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Our free agency preview continued with four outside linebackers who could fit the Eagles' needs.
Mailbag: On Vinny Curry as a trade chip, the possibility of Nate Allen returning and more.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Rumors about Michael Vick's future are all over the map. But there's at least one All-Pro running back who wouldn't mind teaming up with him:
@MikeVick would intently make the vikings a playoff team!
— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) March 6, 2014
NFL.com, meanwhile, has Vick on their list of 10 players who figure to get overpaid in free agency:
Vick wants to start. There are several openings in which he could get that chance (Jets, Vikings, Raiders, etc.). Bringing Vick in to compete for a starting job necessitates paying him more than your average tutor. I don't think Vick will break the bank, but to pay him for six games only to subsequently play big brother to your future quarterback is a mistake. Any multiyear, more-than-an-average-backup salary is too much for Vick, regardless of how much some franchise players stomp for his signing.
Don't forget, teams can start negotiating with free agents starting on Saturday afternoon.