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Monday, March 13, 2006

Eagles Blowing Free Agency

As the Eagles’ front office apparently took the opening weekend of free agency office, the players many fans wanted to see in silver and green went to other teams that were open for business. Despite reports to the contrary, the Birds seem to be sticking with last year’s plan of going after B-list free agents.

Antwaan Randle-El? Gone. LeCharles Bentley? Gone. Mike Anderson? Gone. Joe Jurevicius? Well, you get the idea. He signed elsewhere, too.

The worst part may have been their attitude about it as displayed on their own website. In a post on Saturday by ultimate spin man Dave Spadaro, “What’s New? Right Now, No Free Agency Action,” the team offered this:

And on day one in free agency, it was quiet at the NovaCare Complex. No visitors scheduled. No media camped out waiting for some news. No nothing.
If you wanted to spend your Saturday hunched over a computer screen waiting for some good news to flash on the screen, well, you will wait through at least this first day. As of 4 p.m. on Saturday, there is nothing cooking.

We'll judge later if that is a good thing or a not-good thing. . . .

I can't tell you when or with whom or how the Eagles plan to take their first plunge into free agency. I can tell you that the teams that have the most success in free agency have several plans in place and prepare for contingencies. I can tell you that not every good player on the market will be signed on Saturday and Sunday.

I can tell you that the Eagles have a bunch of options and opportunities.

It’s bad enough the Eagles inexplicably do nothing at times when it seems apparent they need to be aggressive. But their habit for antagonizing fans with their smug, we-know-best attitude is distressing. When I hear them spin their inactivity, I feel like the little kid who wanted too much candy, and had to be told, “Now, sonny, you know that’s not good for you. It may taste good, but in the long run, you’ll be sick.”

Yes, today they will announce that they’ve signed defensive end Darren Howard to a six-year contract. Rumors are that tight end tight end Matt Schobel will also sign, but Les Bowen is reporting that “only remaining wideout of any note, New England's David Givens, apparently is not in the Eagles' plans.”

Howard may be very good. Schobel should be an upgrade. But, even if they throw in backup QB Jeff Garcia, this is simply not enough from a team crowing about their cap management.

Like their coach, the Eagles’ front office is proving that if their plan isn’t working, they cannot adjust. The new collective bargaining agreement left more teams than expected with the ability to sign free agents. Instead of dealing with that, the Eagles once again refuse to move off the numbers Joe Banner no doubt penciled into the budget as the appropriate value for each player they targeted.

Not to worry, Eagles fans. The Eagles will have unprecedented cap flexibility again next season.

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