Eagles Wake-Up Call: Buzz Picks Up On Goldson

The slow trickle of news that marked the early portion of the three-day “legal tampering period” has turned into more of a steady stream. By Monday night — Free Agency Eve — it was flowing real nice, including where the Eagles are concerned.

Adam Schefter got things rolling with some news regarding fan favorite Dashon Goldson.

(Schefter even threw in a Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie nugget in for good measure.)

Reuben Frank reports that the Eagles are showing interest in both Goldson and fellow safety LaRon Landry.

The bottom line when it comes to many of these free agents — and Goldson in particular —  is this: A lot of it comes down to the money. The Eagles are in need of a serious upgrade at safety and would be foolish not to see value in Goldson, who is coming off back-t0-back Pro Bowl years in San Francisco. New VP of Personnel Tom Gamble (formerly with the Niners) has seen his impact up close. But the financials have to make sense, as Howie Roseman explained to Birds 24/7 recently.

“If they are of value, they can still play at a high level, we’re going to look at them, we’re going to grade them, and we’re going to see if that matches what our salary structure is and if that’s what we’re looking for,” said the Eagles’ general manager.

There will be a level of discipline heading into this free agency period given the circumstances. Roseman noted that in 2011, when the team splurged ineffectively on big-name free agents, the team was coming off a playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Packers. They wanted to push all their chips in.  This time around, they are coming off a 4-12 campaign and have a new head coach at the helm. It is a different time. The Eagles are less pressed, and they hope a bit wiser when it comes to the process. Just because they have north of $30 million in cap space does not mean they will pluck a ton of big names off the board.

“We’re always going to try to be smart and be aggressive,” said Roseman. “By the same token, [you have to] learn from [2011] and how important it is to build a team and to build the right environment.”

Will Goldson fit the bill? He checks a lot of the boxes, but it will have to be at the right price.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Sheil arms you with a list of 25 free agents the Eagles could pursue.

 Michael Vick cancels three upcoming appearances amid threats of violence.

The Eagles are reportedly showing interest in defensive lineman Desmond Bryant.

The team took care of two of their own, signing Jon Dorenbos and Colt Anderson to deals.

The Eagles’ brass, including Jeffrey Lurie, went to Morgantown to work out QB Geno Smith.

It is to be determined if the Eagles are interested in LB James Harrison. But we learned that Harrison, per his agent, is interested in the Eagles. 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Dan Granziano did free agency primers for each of the NFC East teams. Here are his thoughts on the Eagles going in:

Strategy: The Eagles’ management figures that whoever remains in place from two summers ago knows all about how badly the last big experiment with free agency went, so don’t expect to see a frenzy like the one it created on the market in 2011. But the Eagles have many needs — cornerback, safety, linebacker, nose tackle, a right guard or tackle, maybe a big wide receiver. They will be active because they must. As for strategy, though, I’d expect them to target younger free agents who can help them build the roster long term, not just help them contend in 2013. The moves the team has made since firing longtime coach Andy Reid and hiring Kelly indicate that Kelly plans to be in Philadelphia for a long time and is thinking about what can make his team competitive for years to come, not just right away.

Peter King had a couple free agency nuggets in his MMQB column that could be of interest to Eagles fans.

Three under-the-radar guys generating more interest than you’ve heard: Steelers corner Keenan Lewis, Jets defensive end/tackle Mike DeVito, Chargers guard Louis Vasquez.

Tennessee, with an estimated $19 million available to spend, is targeting Buffalo guard and all-purpose lineman Andy Levitre. One source told me Tennessee would go out hard for Levitre in the opening hours of the market, which echoes what beat man Jim Wyatt wrote in the Tennessean last week.

COMING UP

Free agency starts at 4 p.m. We’ll bring you the latest throughout the day.

Twitter Mailbag: On Winston, Cook And Milliner

 Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @Mike Lederer: Could you see the Eagles going after multiple high priced offensive players such as Eric Winston & Jared Cook in free agency?

In case you missed it, Les Bowen reported Thursday that the Eagles have inquired about Winston, who was just released by Andy Reid and the Chiefs. The 29-year-old right tackle played in 15 games last season and yielded three sacks, six quarterback hits and 25 quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus. He graded out just a little bit better than Todd Herremans.

The 6-7, 302-pounder was scheduled to make $5 million this season in Kansas City. Maybe Reid is poised to take a tackle first overall and found Winston, who is coming off a difficult year, expendable. But if he was that good would he be available? I don’t know that Winston is any sure solution at tackle, so it would have to be for the right price.

Cook I can definitely see the Eagles having interest in.  It’s easy to picture the 25-year-old tight end as a cog in Chip Kelly‘s spread attack. The problem is, a lot of teams will be targeting the 6-5, 250-pounder. He is the right age and has the right skill set to draw heavy interest and therefor big money. I believe that the Eagles will be players so long as the bidding does not get out of control.

From @bmcg822: Who are the top 3 FA’s you think the Eagles will target? My guess: Cook,a safety, and a CB.

I think I am with you. As I wrote Wednesday, the Eagles pretty much have to walk away from this offseason with at least one  new starting safety in tow. There is always a chance that you don’t get your man (or men) in the draft, so free agency is the only way to ensure that you address the need.

There is plenty of buzz about Dashon Goldson and I think he would be an ideal addition to the secondary, but it’s entirely possible that his asking price gets out of hand. Then you start looking at guys like Louis Delmas, William Moore, Kenny Phillips and Glover Quin (assuming they don’t re-up with their current teams).

And they’ll have to address corner, seeing as both of their starters from last season may very well be gone.  Sean Smith of Miami (25 years old, 6-3, 218 pounds) has been mentioned as a possible target, and I believe that makes sense.

From @birdsalltheway: what is the likelihood that we will select Dee Milliner 4th overall? I think it’s solid. What are the eagles saying?

My best guess right now, I could see the Eagles going either Milliner or offensive line with the No. 4 overall pick. If the grades are close between, say, Milliner and tackle Eric Fisher, then the Eagles’ free agency work would presumably factor into the equation. If they land a tackle on the open market, you would think they would feel better about going in another direction.

Predicting the draft is difficult before the start of free agency, but there seems to be little to dislike about the Alabama corner.

Dashon Goldson ‘Open To Pretty Much Anywhere’

Dashon Goldson stated his desire to return to San Francisco in a recent interview with Sirius XM, but allowed that there “hasn’t been much talk” of a new deal with the Niners as of yet. Free agency is just six days away.

“Hopefully something picks up and if they [don't], I will be interested in what other teams would have to say,” Goldson said, adding that he would be open to playing “pretty much anywhere.”

Several stars would have to align for him to end up in Philadelphia.

One factor is money. Goldson is reportedly seeking a contract worth $8 million a year. The Eagles have the cap room to make it happen (they have more than $33 million worth of space even before you factor Nnamdi Asomugha‘s numbers into the equation), it’s a matter of whether it is viewed as the most sound investment. There are a lot of pieces that need to be filled in, and a long-term plan that needs to be mapped out. Does it make sense to commit that kind of money to the 28-year-old Pro Bowler, or can you get better value elsewhere?

Whether it is Goldson or otherwise, it’s a safe bet that the Eagles will attack their safety need in free agency. Howie Roseman on Wednesday said there are more safeties with draftable grades in the upcoming NFL Draft than there have been in recent years. The problem is, there’s no way of guaranteeing that you will walk away with one.

“Where are they going to come off?” said Roseman. “You think that there is a strength and then there is a run and you look at your board and you go, ‘OK, I thought that was a strong position but I guess not.'”

Given that they can’t really afford to walk away empty-handed this offseason, chances are they will secure a safety in free agency so they don’t have to reach come April.

A look at the free-agent safeties can be found here.

Eagles Watching Tag Game Closely

There have been some moves (and non-moves) around the league in recent days that could have an impact on the Eagles’ offseason plans.

Teams have until Monday to use the franchise tag. So far, five clubs have opted to do so:

Bengals — DE Michael Johnson
Bears – DT Henry Melton
Broncos – OT Ryan Clady
Bills – S Jairus Byrd
Colts – P Pat McAfee

With the Bengals’ tag going to Johnson,  right tackle Andre Smith remains unprotected.  The 6-4, 332-pounder was the fourth-highest rated tackle in the game last season, according to Pro Football Focus. He was selected sixth overall back in 2009 out of Alabama. Jeff Stoutland did not join the Tide until 2011 so their paths would not have crossed, but surely the O-line coach could call his former boss, Nick Saban, to get the lowdown.

Smith is reportedly seeking a contract that will pay him $9 million a year. Then again, so am I.

Similarly, the Bills’ decision to tag Byrd means 6-2, 306-pound guard Andy Levitre will become a free agent assuming he doesn’t strike a deal with Buffalo prior to March 12. A 2009 second-round pick out of Oregon State, Levitre was PFF’s ninth-rated guard in 2012, yielding one sack.

Both Smith and Levitre are 26.

Age could be a factor in Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman‘s thinking when it comes to free agency this year. They are looking big picture, and may not want to allocate resources to players who are entering the twilight of their careers.

Also of note:

— Atlanta released John Abraham, Dunta Robinson and Michael Turner. These moves should help the Falcons in their effort to re-sign some of their own free agents to-be, including safety William Moore and cornerback Brent Grimes.

— The Cardinals released 28-year-old cornerback William Gay, formerly of the Steelers, as well as linebacker Stewart Bradley.

— The Titans are expected to use the tag on tight end Jared Cook.

— The Niners reportedly will not tag safety Dashon Goldson. The 28-year-old has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons, coming up with nine picks and 20 passes defensed in that time. Billy Davis mentioned the Niners’ physicality when talking about the kind of defense he would like to bring to Philadelphia. Former San Francisco personnel man Tom Gamble now works for the Eagles.

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