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The State of the Off-Season

By John McClain

The first wave of free agency has passed. The draft is a month away. The off season is generally defined and covered according to those dates, but the moves or lack thereof tell plenty.

The news generally surrounds the departures of Tra Thomas and Brian Dawkins. Both have been anchors for the past dozen years and will be missed. The Eagles have also either dealt away or ignored contributors Correll Buckhalter, Sean Considine, Greg Lewis, and Lito Sheppard. The always maddening LJ Smith will probably sign with Detroit or Atlanta soon and free agent tackle Jon Runyan remains in limbo while recovering from a major knee injury suffered in the NFC championship game.

Regardless of your opinion towards any of these players they need to be replaced. Some will be replaced or attempted to through the draft, but the second wave of free agency can make or break the Eagles roster.

The Eagles have been relatively quiet. Stacy Andrews was scooped up right away and should be a nice player for years. It is hard to get excited about an offensive tackle especially when you have to replace two.

Sean Jones should start and hopefully will be an asset, but it is hard to get excited about a safety when the best in the history of the franchise has just left town.

The signing of Rashad Baker seems inconsequential and may be. He could also be the guy who fills the Considine role. If Baker can contribute it will be a real nice story. A local kid, undrafted out of Tennessee he bounced around the league for a few years but cam on nicely down the stretch last season picking off three passes. He could be a special teams standout if all breaks well. Plus he already helped the Eagles make the playoffs this past year with a game sealing interception vs. Tampa Bay in week 17 that allowed the Birds to secure the final playoff seed.

Once again, after knocking on the door to a Super Bowl Andy Reid, Joe Banner and company have taken a passive approach, so far at least.

The Eagles are now busy waiting for fullback Leonard Weaver to decide if he wants to accept their offer. Weaver is a nice player, but the Eagles never use the fullback. Linebacker Angelo Crowell is also rumored to be a target and/or in negotiations. Crowell is a nice player, but not really a position of need.

Looking at the current roster you figure they need another offensive tackle, a running back, a tight end, a wide receiver (as usual) and some depth on the defensive line and secondary could help. One would assume a tight end, running back, and defensive help would come out of the draft.

As what the perceive themselves to be and fans hope they are, a Super Bowl contender, the Eagles need a stud offensive tackle and another seasoned weapon to help Donovan out.

They have as usual, stockpiled what seems like thirty five draft picks, most seemingly in the fifth round so maybe they have something up their sleeve. Anquan Boldin and offensive tackle Jason Peters maybe available via trade. Peters would be ideal. At 27 he could pair up with Stacy Andrews to give the Eagles something similar to what Runyan and Thomas gave them for the next several years. Boldin would be nice too.

Orlando Pace could be productive for a couple years, but doesn’t make sense considering they could have just retained Thomas. Torry Holt is now available and still has a few good years left in him but could be heading to the Titans. Plus he would probably be too expensive in terms of what The Eagles are willing to pay. Reggie Williams is basically a rich mans Hank Baskett, but with Baskett coming back won’t be a good fit.

Marvin Harrison still sits waiting. It seems like every year the Birds could use a receiver. It also seems likely he would accept a short term team friendly deal, much like the one Terrell Owens just got in Buffalo. The opportunity to extend his career a year or two in his home town and being reunited with former Syracuse teammate Donovan McNabb should be a natural selling point.

Trading a couple picks to Buffalo for Jason Peters and signing Marvin Harrison to a sensible deal would really put a nice cap on the off season heading into the draft. It will fill a couple holes and sustain the hope that the Eagles can contend. The NFC is wide open once again; the Birds are sitting on a ton of cap space and picks, and can put some key pieces in place between now and the draft.

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