Five Questions: Eagles Free Agency Primer

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

Here are five questions to get you ready for free agency.

When can the Eagles sign players?




Starting today at noon, teams can (officially) talk to agents and negotiate deals for free agents. However, players can't sign until Tuesday at 4 p.m. In other words, there is a three-day "legal tampering" window. Of course, the worst-kept secret in the league is that agents and teams have already been talking now for weeks.

Last year, the Eagles struck fairly quickly, signing Isaac Sopoaga, Bradley Fletcher, Patrick Chung, James Casey and Jason Phillips on the first day of free agency. They let the market play out a bit with guys like Connor Barwin.

How much cap space do the Eagles have?

According to OverTheCap.com, they have about $23.5 million in cap space, 11th-most in the league. But as we mentioned yesterday, the Eagles can carry cap space over to next year when they'll likely want to renegotiate contracts with some of the members of the 2012 draft class.

Who are some guys they might target?

We've got you covered here. T-Mac provided some good buzz Friday night, noting that the Eagles are expected to have interest in outside linebackers Michael Johnson and Mike Neal. McManus also heard that the Eagles would have been a player for Jason Worilds if he hit the market.

That tells me that finding an edge rusher is a priority. Johnson (6-7, 270) would give the Eagles a pair of long outside linebackers (Connor Barwin). The team has "walk-away numbers" for all the free agent targets on their list. That means they have a ceiling on what they're willing to spend. Johnson figures to have a sizable market, but he's a player to keep an eye on.

Here are some other targets:

Defensive linemen
Outside linebackers
Safeties

Will the Eagles add a big-name safety?

I don't think I agree with the argument that Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward would be bad scheme fits. Byrd can play in a number of schemes and allows defensive coordinators to play with a single high safety. That's a luxury a lot of teams don't have. The guess here is that the Eagles are not willing to make him the highest-paid safety in the league (if in fact that's what he is seeking), so chances are he ends up elsewhere. But it will be more about the price tag not matching their evaluation than anything else.

I also don't see Ward as strictly a box safety. That's his strength, but from what I saw, he's more versatile than he gets credit for and has the ability to match up with tight ends or play deep. If Ward doesn't see the market some expect and teams see him as one-dimensional, the Eagles could pounce. But again, the price has to be right.

What about the offense?

Most of what we've written about has focused on the defense, and there's a reason for that. The Eagles re-signed Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper already. They also extended Jason Kelce and Jason Peters. The offense could play a game tomorrow with the current offensive personnel and be in good shape.

Having said that, don't rule out that side of the ball completely. The Eagles' actions will tell us a lot about what they think of Todd Herremans. It would not be a shock if they added a starting-caliber guard or at least someone who could compete for that spot. It'd be a plus if the guy had some versatility to play another position on the O-Line.

Backup quarterback is a possibility, although I think they might just roll the dice on Matt Barkley (I realize I'm in the minority here).

And don't rule out wide receiver completely. The team will likely keep five or six on the roster when they cut down to 53 next summer. Right now, they've got DeSean Jackson, Maclin and Cooper. Behind those three are Arrelious Benn, who's had injury issues, and Damaris Johnson, who made no impact last year.

The Eagles could certainly add some mid-tier guys for depth and competition.

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  • Will

    Saftey and OLB should both be addressed in FA. Hope the Eagles do well here been waiting to see how free agency goes keeping my fingers crossed…lol…

    • GEAGLE

      If they add quality at those two positions, then we ain’t messing around, and we can really BPA away in the draft, which would really help the talent level of our roster depth..

      • bentheimmigrant

        I’ll be surprised if they don’t. I think last year showed that they will do what they have to to avoid forcing picks. Johnson was the obvious exception, but I think that more shows that they were comfortable with the other two OTs if it had worked out that way.

        • GEAGLE

          While I don’t disagree. It doesn’t mean they will fill holes with top long term solutions..we threw money at Ricky Jean(20mil) to be part of our future, but when he turned us down, we didn’t just throw 20mil at the next best DL, we immediately turned to stop gap soap…so while we won’t go into drafts with holes that cause us to force picks, some of the holes won’t be filled with exciting, suitable solutions like MJ

          • anon

            What are you thoughts in BJ Raji? No pass rushing ability, GB is going to give him a cheap prove it deal and move him back inside — think we could match or take a fat boy in the draft?

          • oreofestar

            I hate B.J.Raji with a passion he is just a big name, no pass rush an overrated run stopper who will get overpaid because of the name

          • anon

            But the NT basically is never getting to the QB in a 2-gap scheme — he’s just there to be fat and eat blocks.

          • GEAGLE

            No no no…screw him, when I initially found out he was a FA, I looked into him. And I had no idea he had been playing so bad. Like he has fallen off drastically, we want guys who’s best football hasn’t even been played yet like an Alex Carrington, or the dude from the steelers

          • 76mustang

            I think Cox, Johnson, and Peters would love a BJ…ha!

            Eagles, on the other hand should pass…

          • travis papa

            He’s already resigned in gb

  • GEAGLE

    I bet ANYTHING Herremans is our ts tarting OG this year,..ANYTHING!!! People should read his recent interview..google it
    .

    • Will

      TJ Ward battled a shoulder injury last season just so you know might be another Chung….bad injury for a hard hitting Safety will most likely plague him…just an FYI….

      • GEAGLE

        Played at a pretty high level last year, wonder what he can do with a healthy shoulder…are u saying it’s a chronic condition, or something he needs to get taken care of this offseason?

        • Will

          Just something to consider….not sure about severity…just something to be aware of before spending big money….

          • GEAGLE

            If you are hearing about it now for the first time, could be counter intel. Not uncommon for teams to bad mouth their intended target..basically take everything you hear from now to 3:59pm Tuesday with grain of salt…but for all I know, maybe it is chronic

          • GEAGLE

            Thank you sir

    • oreofestar

      We are having the same starters on this O-LINE and I am very comfortable with Barkley as the backup

      • anon

        Really? If Foles goes down i’m turning the TV off.

        • oreofestar

          At one point he was considered a possible top 10 pick and I think with a full healthy offseaon under is belt he can be a good backup granted I never want to see him on hte field unless we are beating the Cowboys by 41 in the 4th

        • Will

          Still not convinced on Barkley doubt he ends up as our Back Up QB.

        • RIP illa

          Yup…Barkley is the new Casey Matthews for me!

          • Richard Colton

            I didn’t see anything from Barkley that makes me think he can step in and even manage a game. Then again, I thought the same thing about FOles.

          • RIP illa

            There’s nothing I like about him. That may not be the most rarational thing, but I can’t help it. I’d like to see a more athletic QB as our backup like Kelly had at Oregon. My hopes with Barkley is that he can become Kolb like…show something really good in a few games and then be traded for a 2nd or 3rd. Of course that would all be in time. Or until we can get another QB on the squad. It’s gonna be interesting come draft time, and especially if we don’t acquire a vet in FA. We probably will have to spend a pick on a QB (cuz we all know Kinne ain’t the answer) but who?

          • anon

            Foles did some things when he came in and played 2 years ago. He wont the TB game, that’s when i thought he was the truth. Barkely was responsble for 0 points in all those games, whatever hopefully that fuels his fire to improve.

  • GEAGLE

    AP must be PISSED lol poor guy tweets about Vick. Two days later his GM hands Cassell 10 million lol..kind of surprised they would keep him and that he wouldn’t want to go to bIll Obrien….sucks, I would have been happy to see Vick land in Viking country

  • Robert Neuman

    I feel we are going after OLB who will compete with T.Cole this year and replace him next. We are going resign Nate Allen, his numbers showed enough improvement to be comparable to the mid-tier Safety’s to compete. Also Jenkins from N.O would make sense. This would allow the Birds to go BPA in the draft and pick up various FA’s after the draft. I do not think we are spending big because next year they have to tie up $150 with resigning a bunch players, Foles, Cox, Kendricks, Boykin.

    • Michael

      I think Geagle mentioned it before somewhere, and I agree, that it’s hard to believe Nate Allen will have any desire to resign here. Four years of being the whipping boy (deservedly or not) probably warrants a fresh start somewhere else.

      • GEAGLE

        Just because Jenkins has his warts and isn’t a sexy name! fans need to get it out of their heads that he isn’t a drastic upgrade to Nate, because he is without a doubt a tier above..but a tier below the top guys….

        • oreofestar

          If everything goes very wrong and Ward and Byrd are not signed and we ge MJ and Jenkins then I could live with it, I would not be thrilled but I could live with it

          • cliff henny

            if the 2 MJs come with a Verner or V Davis, then we’re talking. it’s not like it’s Ward/Byrd and eagles pack in ’14 FA, there’s still plenty more money to be spent.

        • travis papa

          Read a saints blog sometime they hate Jenkins more than we hate Chung. They can’t wait to pack his stuff & carry him on to a plane

      • borntosuffer

        I have to think it has much, much more to do with how Allen feels about how he fits into the coaching staff’s vision and how comfortable he is with his teammates than how much he gets flogged by writers/bloggers. He may be feeling pretty good about his progress last year under the new regime. I’m guessing re-signing him will depend on what Howie and Chip want to do and that Nate would welcome coming back. Switching out Chung for Jenkins and keeping the rest would be a significant, if not earth shaking, improvement.

        • Maggie

          Agree on how unimportant any of our opinions are to anybody in a professional sports organization. The only opinions that would matter to Nate (aside from his momma’s) are Bill Davis’ and Chip Kelly’s.

    • anon

      If i’m Cox i’d consider moving on. He’s a pro bowl caliber pass rusher in a 4-3 but they basically cut his balls off making him 2 gap (see also Vinny 2-step curry). Lineman get paid way better in 43 than in 34.

    • cliff henny

      think if they sign a named OLB FA it’ll be at Cole’s expense. june 1st Cole clears 5m this yr and 8m next. say Johnson signs for what amounts as a 2yr 14m contract, Coles pays for him.
      .
      Eagles will rollover some money, it only makes sense to not be up against cap, 10m is a good figure. can go back and forth, but there will be a natural attrition of cuts in ’15, plus guys like chung, casey and reworked d-jax also provide relief in ’15. there’s little reason to worry that any FA moves in ’14 will effect resigning ’12s draft class

      • anon

        Agree all these two year deals will get rolled over or eliminated.

      • GEAGLE

        What’s the ramifications of cutting Cole now instead of June, to show him the courtesy of giving him the best chance to find a new Job? I don’t know if ii can envision Lurie making statements thanking him for his years of Classy service after we threw him out onto the streets in June when teams spent most of their money already….is there a major upside to waiting til June as opposed to cutting him before Tuesday?

        • NickS1

          It’s 4.8 in dead this year as opposed to 1.6 this year and 3.2 next year. It equates to 1.8 in savings this year. Might as well try and trade him for a 7th.

        • oreofestar

          If we cut him now we save 1.6mil this year but June 1st him and that number goes to 5mil

          • GEAGLE

            For an extra 3.5, we may have to do him dirty lol..that’s like a free Malcom Jenkins

          • cliff henny

            let’s just sign Ward for 8m, doubt they’ll double up on a position in FA.

          • GEAGLE

            You don’t gotta twist my arm

          • UKEagle99

            Whereas to convince me about Jenkins you need to twist mine off and beat me with the wet end.

          • GEAGLE

            Lol you should be rooting for us to double up at safety, it would mean we like two safeties a lot, and it would also mean we cut Chung…if we only sign one FA safety, Chung ain’t getting cut, we will want two veteran safeties and wolf and a rookie…so unless you are a big time Chung fan, or his mother, you might want to start rooting for Jenkins Ward lol

          • cliff henny

            true, Jenkins vs Chung is about 1m extra. i’m for any more that get’s Eagles further away from the possibility Chung or Coleman ever play safety again

          • UKEagle99

            Jenkins v Chung is a no brainer even for me, heck Ward and a scarecrow works for me! At least the scarecrow may trip an opponent over and not take out its own CB!

          • GEAGLE

            Haha I’d prob take scarecrow over Nate “the cowardly lion” Allen…if I was good with technology I would make a highlight tape of all the times a running back ran him over

          • travis papa

            That highlight reel would be 1 play long. Just because he got trucked once doesn’t mean it happens on every play

          • travis papa

            It’s possible things change with new scenery but I’m not jumping off my seat in applause if/when we sign him. He’s going to have to show us something to prove he’s any better than Allen even

          • Warhound

            As much as I would like to see Byrd become an eagle I’m kinda expecting Allen, Ward, Wolf and a Draft-Pick. Oh, yeah,they go with four safeties and five CBs, nine LBers and seven DL.

          • Tikkit

            Hahahhahaaa! My thoughts, your post!

          • UKEagle99

            or $3.5m towards someone that can PLAY & own centre field:)

        • cliff henny

          dead money is dead money, just how it’s split up, A-4.8m in ’14 or B-1.6m in ’14 and 3,2m in ’15. could take it all in ’14, 4.8m, and then have only 1.8m relief, but 11m in cap space in ’15. it’s all about where 3.2m is taken, ’14 or ’15.

          • GEAGLE

            Thank you sir

        • anon

          Cutting cole sort of flies in the face of everything howie just said about the last round of contracts (team guys, hard workers, taking care of our own, etc.).

        • Nfl All Day

          The cost of class is $4.8M.

  • Will

    Bottom line the Eagles have all the FA’s rated and ranked. With a set price they are willing to spend or a walk away number. Going to be very interesting who ends up wearing Eagle’s Green.

    • GEAGLE

      Yes sir…

      I know everyone is hype for the sexy names, but when your FO has plucked Mathis,Barbre,Donnie,Bradley out of free agency, I’m just as anxious to find out who the second tier guys we target? Which “flier” former busts we target? Which injury fliers we target?…do we sign a big name kicker that kicks Alex to the curb immediately, or a second tier guy to compete with Alex?

      Are we adding the interior pass rusher I think, or the fat run stuffing NT most fans covet?

      Are we only targeting Jenkins! or will we go after Jenkins and Ward?
      ….
      We also may have to replace some key ST players, how will they be replaced? Jammie Lattimore, Corey Graham no name types?

  • Nfl All Day

    http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/5054/james-ihedigbo
    The more I look at James Ihedigbo at strong safety the more I think we are all SLEEPING. Do youself a favor and read up on this dude. It seems all he does is make an impact and get get zero recognition. The Ravens drafted Matt Elam high and would like to move him back to his natural strong safety, making Ihedigbo expendable. Last yr.he tallied 101 tackles and 3 picks. He’s 6’1″, 215lbs, cut from granite, and looks like Dawks little bro in pictures. Check it out.
    If we sign Byrd, this guy might be the perfect complement.

    • anon

      Him and Stevie Brown are my bets. Take it to the bank it’s ANON certified!!!!!

      • GEAGLE

        Well played

      • Will

        Stevie Brown returning from a torn ACL…not keen on Safeties with injury history…

        • GEAGLE

          Howie seems to be :)

        • Joe Thomas

          Guy returning from an ACL injury, sounds like the Eagles kinda guy

          • anon

            Check the stats pre-injury he was legit. Plus he’s got a SB, want as many as those guys as possible.

          • Joe Thomas

            Exactly, sounds like their kinda guy. Young enough, productive, and coming off an injury, so the price tag will be a little cheaper, and we get to take him from a divisional opponet, i wouldnt be surprised if Howie already talked to his agent.

    • Will

      Ihedigbo is great in run support but struggles in pass coverage that’s the drawback with his game.

      • Nfl All Day

        The stories I’ve read descibe him as one of the guys who stepped in to fill the leadership void left by Reed and Lewis. If we had Byrd in Centerfield, single high, I presume we could mask a lot of Ihedigbo’s deficiencies in coverage. And he cant possibly cost much relative to the big names.

        • Will

          Yup I liked that pair a hard hitter in the Box with Byrd…

          • Nfl All Day

            Call Howie. Let’s get it crackin

          • Will

            At least they address this and get it right this year!

  • Jimmie

    What do you guys think of Devin Hester? I know he might be a little pricey for just a special teams player but our returner spot needs an upgrade. If we can get him for the right price I say make the move.

    • Will

      YES!

    • GEAGLE

      Rather have Sproles or McCluster..they can bring it on ST while also adding an extra weapon to offense

      • cliff henny

        rather drop back from #22 to #30, pick Beckham (trust me, SEC stopped kicking to guy he was so good), get extra early 3rd and take L Joyner or C SMith.

        • GEAGLE

          Don’t gotta twist my arm lol.. I’m just going to write that under all your posts

          • cliff henny

            so, so far today, I’ve cut Cole-signed Michael Johnson, Eagles at 22m in cap, cut chung signed Jenkins 21m in cap. signed Ward for 8m, cut casey, 16m in cap about. draft takesEagles down to 10m. but by drafting Beckham and Moncrief, can cut Smith and Benn, that clears 2.5m, back up to 12.5m. reworking d-jax down from 12m to 8m, giving eagles 6m to spend on CB and DL. June 1st Graham for 1.5m cleared if you want back-up Guard.
            .
            not sure why Lurie pays Howie 5m a yr, i’m doing all this for free!

          • NickS1

            Better off saving the D-Jax restructure for next offseason. Just my opinion.

          • cliff henny

            you’ve said that before, not doubting you, but curious why/thought process. i’d rip up contract, put him on 3yrs24m-8m/yr. that lowers hits, opens more cap space.

          • NickS1

            not sure if they can/will rip up contract. i’m just speaking from a restructuring standpoint. doing that now adds more to the cap in 2015. would rather just pay him, shut him up on that front, then revisit next year when a restructure benefits the cap, should they restructure, and not rip up and start over. plus, ripping up and starting over still accelerates dead money.

          • cliff henny

            think as long as existing dead is worked in, that’s not an issue. could work existing 10m in, give him some additional, stretch it out over 5yrs, while really only 3yr contract. we’ll see. I like jax, don’t want him gone, also don’t want him sulking.

          • NickS1

            Definitely in the same boat about wanting him to stay. There’s 6 in dead this year, so if we’re trying to knock an extra 3 off his current number, has to be a new 5yr deal, max of 10 in signing bonus, with 1mil salary for this year, giving him a cap hit of 9 this year.

          • cliff henny

            honestly, not sure how dead works when restructuring. dallas seems to think they can work around ware’s 8m.it shouldnt just disappear. we’ll see, but it cant see that hard to get corrected, Howie wrote it. he hasnt written bad 1 yet

          • NickS1

            You’re right, it doesn’t go away. So if redoing in this year as a new deal, it has to be worked into year one of the deal, and I’m pretty sure the way I stated above if lowering the cap number is the goal. Almost certain it was the same way it was with Vick’s. Whatever was left in dead money accelerated, I just don’t think it was much with his.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I’m more than down with that!

            Since I’m looking for work…If Howie hires you, could I get a writing spot for PE.com or maybe an analyst position?

          • cliff henny

            mind me asking what you did? i’m always looking for1099 guys. work when/how you want. mostly, you’d just be a feeder to me.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Warehousing & Logistics in the satellite world under the DTV umbrella (Warehouse Mgr & Regional Logistics Mgr). 7yrs in that department, but very versatile skill set. Prior to that I was Satellite Tech Field Supervisor & Install/Service Tech. Have experience in telecom as well installing systems for VZN, Comcast, SNET.

            But I do live in MD now. About 30 mins north of Baltimore in Harford Co.

      • Jimmie

        For the very little time that those players would be getting on offense I’d rather have Hester. He’s far superior in the return game, and we could still use him on offense for 2–3 plays

      • Kev_H

        I’d take my chances with a young guy to go with Smith. I have fond memories of vets Brian Mitchell and Hershel Walker successfully playing that role, but also have fond memories of Wilbert Montgomery and Brian Westbrook making returns exciting before they cracked the line up.

        • Kev_H

          It might be the distraught Phillies fan in me, but the Eagles should be in the business of bringing in the next Hester or Sproles. There is a reason these 30 something guys are on the market.

  • Will

    The Top 20 Safeties in FA

    1. Jairus Byrd
    2. T.J. Ward

    3. Donte Whitner
    4. Antoine Bethea
    5. Chris Clemons

    6. Louis Delmas
    7. Malcolm Jenkins
    8. Stevie Brown
    9. Michael Mitchell
    10. Nate Allen

    11. Major Wright

    12. Charles Woodson

    13. Steve Gregory
    14. Nick Collins
    15. Ryan Clark
    16. James Ihedigbo
    17. Bernard Pollard (Re-signed two-year, $6.3M deal with TEN)
    18. Usama Young
    19. Kendrick Lewis
    20. Mike Adams

    • Nfl All Day

      Im lovin that Pollard number, with Ihedigbo right above him. Let’s go 4yrs/16M/8M guaranteed. Anyone got Howie’s number? LinkedIn?

      • Will

        Gives you an idea of the price tags for these guys with Byrd and Ward in the 8-9 mil range per year.

  • Weapon Y

    I’m pulling for Matt Cassel as backup QB. The dude gashed us last year. Would never see him as a long-term starter, but that’s Foles’s job, not his. Wonder if the Musgrave connection would be a factor. Scratch that. Didn’t realize Cassel was re-signed.

    • NickS1

      Tebow could have gashed that soft ass zone Davis had us playing all game in Minnesota.

      • Weapon Y

        I’m one of the few people who would agree with you, but not be sarcastic.

    • anon

      He just got paid in minni.

  • Will