It's hard to pay a ton of attention to the Eagles and the little things about them with the NFL lockout dragging into the later part of June and that dreaded sense of a jeopardized 2011 season still present (go ahead and insert your typical work stoppage complaining and pleas for labor peace here)...but I thought I'd throw out a few random thoughts about the Birds and the biggest storylines that seem to have been attached to the club as of late:
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Plaxico and Albert and Reggie, oh my!
Some crazily interesting free agent/trade rumors have circulated in the City of Brotherly Love this offseason, with three high-profile names being linked to the Eagles in recent weeks: Plaxico Burress, Albert Haynesworth, and Reggie Bush. The latter two are still under contract with their respective teams, while Burress is out of jail after a two-year sentence for weapon possession and will be looking for a new home once the lockout ends. I'll start off by making a bold prediction: The Eagles will not acquire all three of these players. Maybe that wasn't so bold, but it's extremely hard to believe the team would be willing to bring in such a crop of disgruntled/criticized/big-name contributors for what would likely be varied roles and a salary lower than expected. Out of the trio of players, I believe the most beneficial potential acquisition (and most likely) is Haynesworth; the guy has proven to be downright lazy and irresponsible at times, but when he's motivated, nothing can stop him in the trenches, and his former mentor, assistant coach Jim Washburn, is now in Philly and reportedly "badly" wanting to reunite with his defensive pupil. Burress would be a decent red-zone target, but I think another team will pursue him with more interest, while Bush would be a dangerous addition to the offense, but just doesn't seem likely to wind up in a place where he'll be sitting behind others on the depth chart for most of the time.
Kevin Kolb and the Everlasting Hunt for a Trade
This storyline has gotten old, and that's a shame. At the end of the 2010 season, Kolb made his intentions clear: he either wanted to be named the Eagles' starting quarterback-a job he held with much respect before Michael Vick broke loose as the Comeback Player of the Year Award winner-or dealt somewhere else. After months of speculation and suggestive reports, the general consensus is that Kolb will definitely be shipped elsewhere following the work stoppage (in fact, it probably wouldn't be a stretch to say that some people have heard so much about his situation that they believe he's already been traded). The only questions are when and where. In a previous article I wrote for my own Eagles site, Bleed-Green.com, I hesitantly predicted Kolb will wind up with the Cardinals as just about every other analyst has guessed, and I still believe Arizona is the clear-cut front-runner to obtain Kolb. They didn't draft a quarterback and I know that if I was a general manager, I wouldn't feel too confident about my team's Super Bowl chances with the cluster of Max Hall, John Skelton, and Derek Anderson under center. What will the Birds get in return? Like all other sane Eagles fans, I'm expecting at least a first-round draft pick, but we'll just have to wait and see...(go ahead; curse the lockout once more).
Akeem Jordan, I'm afraid things aren't looking up for you. The poor chap lost his starting job after three weeks of 2010, wasn't offered a contract before the lockout, and has now solidified the likelihood he'll be on his way out of Philadelphia with his recent arrest. Jordan is one of a bunch of linebackers on the roster that are expected to be departing, and so there isn't a whole lot of certainty at the position. If I had to take a guess right now, I'd say the coaches will let Stewart Bradley and Jamar Chaney compete for the leading middle linebacker spot in OTAs (if, of course, there are OTAs), while Moise Fokou, rookie Casey Matthews, and second-year man Keenan Clayton will all get opportunities to crack the lineup. As for guys destined to leave the team, the explosive-yet-indecisive Ernie Sims is all but guaranteed to hit free agency without an offer from the Eagles' front office, while veteran backup Omar Gaither seems to have reached the end of the line with the infusion of younger talent like Matthews and Ohio State product Brian Rolle (who, by the way, is someone fans should really keep an eye on this coming season).
Other random notes
• Sinorice Moss and Rod Harper: Two receivers you probably forgot about, but should take note of when it comes time for Training Camp. The former is injury-prone and didn't do much with the Giants in the start of his career, while Harper has yet to make a significant impact in the NFL after stints in other leagues. However, both have a legitimate shot of coming away with the No. 5 WR spot for this season.
• DeSean Jackson has been doing a great job "remaking" his character this offseason. It's not like he was an off-field troublemaker to begin with, but the Pro-Bowl pass catcher has been involved in a lot of charitable events and seemingly been active in the community more than ever before.
• Remember Rashad Jeanty? The former Bengals linebacker was signed by the Eagles before the lockout was initiated, and I think he'll also be someone to keep an eye on once the offseason gets back to normal. I'm not saying he'll blow everyone away, but the guy has plenty of starting experience and just might wind up with a role larger than expected. Special teams is probably his most likely destination, but there's no telling what could happen in the months leading up to the season, especially with incoming players like Matthews at the LB spot not getting as much time to adjust to the NFL because of the lockout.