First off, welcome to the best NFL week that doesn’t have a very important football game at the end of it, a game in which the lights may or may not stay on. There will be so very many signings starting tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET, most of which will happen at about 4:01 thanks to the legal tampering/negotiation period over the past three days. Teams have surely reached agreements in principle with some of the hottest commodities on the open market, but since Roger Goodell thoroughly applied the duct tape late Friday night, your friends here in the media haven’t heard about them.
Sorry about that. Blame the Rodge, but now throughout the next week we’ll go about the business of documenting the gluttony and many wasted dollars, while getting little sleep. It’ll be great.
Anywho, on with the matter at hand. That headline is only a mild exaggeration, as on the eve of free agency it’s beginning to feel like the Eagles are indeed connected to every available player. I suppose that’s what happens when a team has $29 million in cap space, and a burning desire to
repeat the summer of 2011 properly rebuild for new head coach Chip Kelly.
Much of the Eagles’ cap room as been created the ol’ fashioned way: by telling large men to find employment elsewhere. That just happened too, with Cullen Jenkins — one of Philly’s most recent salary cap casualties — signing a three-year deal with the Giants. And there’s likely more room to come too, because once Nnamdi Asomugha is inevitably and finally severed, the Eagles will have about $40 million in cap room. A chunk of that surplus could be dedicated to a position that doesn’t really seem like a need, until you remember that Kelly needs Kelly-like guys.
The Eagles could pursue Danny Amendola, according to sources who said things to Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly. The soon-to-be former Ram is the best Wes Welker who isn’t Wes Welker among this year’s available free agents, as when healthy he’s a premier slot receiver who excels when given the ball on intermediate routes which provide him with the space to be creative after the catch. So then he’s the ideal slot receiver for a Kelly offense, and likely more suited to a quick-strike game than Jason Avant or Riley Cooper.
Cool, but as with any team expected to pursue Amendola, how much you’re willing to pay for the risk of his health is the most significant question that follows him. He’s had only one full, 16-game season in his four NFL years, and he missed five games this past season. Despite that missed time he still posted 666 receiving yards (he’s also the devil) on 101 targets, but there’s reason for further caution when we see that nearly a quarter of that season yardage came in a severe outlier of a game in Week 3, when Amendola had 160 yards on 15 catches.
This applies to any signing, but especially one that has this much risk: the price has to be right so that the team inheriting Amendola’s brittleness is protected, and the Eagles aren’t known for proper risk management. You’re still a waste of space, Asomugha.
Oh, and about those Eagles cornerbacks, or a lack thereof. Again, at this point it would be surprising if Asomugha isn’t cut due to the massive financial burden he’s brought to Philly now along with his poor play. He’s due a $15 million base salary in 2013, $4 million of which is guaranteed even if he’s not on the Eagles’ roster. Looking at that figure for this player brings minds to a non-functioning state quickly.
So cut him, and do it now. Because otherwise that’s dead, wasted money, and with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also set to leave as a free agent a year after Asante Samuel was traded, suddenly cornerback is a massive need, and those Amendola funds can be better spent elsewhere. Like, say, on Darrelle Revis.
That’s the suggestion floated by Jeff McLane (and so many others), who urged the Eagles’ brass to utilize their cap space and jump into the Revis trade slap fight.
Getting Revis will give coach Chip Kelly a legitimate playmaker and defensive coordinator Bill Davis one less piece he has to worry about as he goes about reconstructing the defense.
Revis can play in any scheme. He can play man-press. He can play zone. He can cover downfield. He can come up and tackle. Davis can assign Revis to an opponent’s best receiver and let him do his thing.
If there isn’t a receiver worth tailing, Revis can stay at his usual post on the left and clamp down that side of the field. But he isn’t married to one side like Samuel. He isn’t uncomfortable in the slot like Rodgers-Cromartie.
It’ll take more than money to get Revis, although it’ll require plenty of that (about $16 million annually once he’s signed to an extension). Multiple high picks will be involved, but as McLane also notes, the Eagles own the 35th overall pick in this year’s draft. During a draft where there’s little separation beyond the top 10, that pick is highly valuable, and can arguably be treated like a first rounder.
In the NFL, rebuilding isn’t intended to be a time-consuming process. A year ago the Colts were only a few months removed from hiring a new head coach, and then they were seemingly decimated after the release of Peyton Manning, and it didn’t feel like Andrew Luck’s talent alone could bring them to the playoffs. But there they were in January as a wild card team after winning 11 games.
So there’s hope, Philly, but the right investments need to be made both now, and in late April.