Unlike last year, NFL free agency will take place before just about everything else exciting in the offseason, and the 2012 signing period is quickly drawing closer. Rumors are swirling, speculation is rampant, and everyone is gearing up for an explosion of moves, including the never-dull Eagles. With that said, here are some random musings about the Birds as the team nears its annual process of adding and subtracting pieces of the roster:
Plaxico Burress won't stop emphasizing his interest in the Eagles. If Andy Reid doesn't get him signed quickly, I'm convinced there could be an attack on the NovaCare Complex, led by Plax and his army of sweatpants-wearing warriors. Did I cross the line? Seriously, though, this one could get interesting. No doubt in my mind Burress wants to be in Philly, but do the Eagles want him?
DeSean Jackson is more than likely going to get hit with the franchise tag, and I'm not so sure he wouldn't mind it, what with a salary raise of about $9 million, but I'm torn on what the Eagles want to do with him. Howie Roseman and Co. are loving him more than Jack Dawson cherished Rose DeWitt in Titanic in their press conferences, but the deep WR class in free agency has to be tempting. Last week, I was sure he'd return, probably on a long-term deal. Now, I kind of expect a trade. No way to predict this sort of thing...
...but I'll do it anyway. If Jackson does fetch serious offers as a trade candidate, I'd say these teams will be in talks with the Eagles about a possible swap: San Francisco, New England, Jacksonville, Carolina, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and Oakland. I could see Washington jumping in as a surprise team, but my finalists in a speculative market for Jackson include the Niners, Patriots, Browns, and Raiders. Alex Smith would love to have a deep threat in San Fran; ditto for Tom Brady with the Pats. Meanwhile, Cleveland and Oakland are both in need of a WR, and we all know how much the latter values speed.
Cullen Jenkins is a leader and a team player. Good move on his part restructuring his deal a little while back, and good move on the Eagles' part for wanting to get something done.
Luke Kuechly is a fine linebacker prospect, and it wouldn't stun me to see the Eagles go with him at No. 15 in the draft come April...after signing a veteran in free agency. If Kuechly can carry over his skills to the pros, he should be able to slide in at more than one position, or vice versa with the vet. As for possible free agent targets, I'll go with the usual names as possibilities: Stephen Tulloch, Curtis Lofton, London Fletcher, and David Hawthorne. Out of those four, I'd probably shoot for Lofton, but fall back on Tulloch or Hawthorne for less money. Fletcher is an excellent, reliable MLB, but I'd probably only pursue him if a long-term option is also added (Kuechly?).
Robert Griffin III might generate more talk as a draft prospect than any free agent. Color me crazy, but I don't think it's far fetched to consider the Eagles a dark horse candidate to trade up and go after the QB. Michael Vick is the man for now and perhaps in 2013. Don't even argue that. But Reid admires athletic passers and Griffin is intriguing to say the least. It would take a lot to move up to the No. 2 spot in the draft where Griffin is expected to go, but the Eagles have draft ammunition and a chance to fill their biggest needs (backup RB, LB, and potentially WR) in free agency and the later rounds.