Lessons From the Early Going of NFL Free Agency

The first full day of NFL free agency is in the books, and it was an interesting, if not groundbreaking day for Eagles fans. Let’s break down what we’ve learned so far.

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A rebirth of the old Eagles way? The team took the first day to negotiate extensions for two of its longest-tenured players, Todd Herremans and Trent Cole. It was a nice return to the days pre-2009 when the Eagles built mostly from within. It’s also an important precedent to set with the players. Basically since Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown were unceremoniously dumped, the front office and the players have had a relationship built on animosity and mistrust.

Jonathan Tamari has the money quote from Todd Herremans: “The Eagles have been known for a while as a team that doesn’t take care of their draft picks and pays everyone else’s as picks and players. I think they’re trying to change that stigma that they have.”

By showing that you can get more money by playing the good soldier and dealing with your contract issues behind the scenes, the Eagles made a big step toward repairing that relationship and establishing veteran role models for the less experienced players to look up to.

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Wide receivers are getting paid. Three of the best wide receivers on the market signed quickly. Vincent Jackson went to Tampa Bay, getting five years, $55.55 million, with $26 million guaranteed. Marques Colston stayed with the Saints at the last minute, for five years, $40 million and $19 million guaranteed. Finally, Pierre Garçon stole five years, $42.5 million and $21.5 million guaranteed from the Redskins.

Then of course the Eagles swooped in dealt with Drew Rosenhaus and locked up DeSean Jackson in a comparable deal that keeps him here for five years at about $10 million annually.

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Free agency for the Eagles is 85 percent about linebacker. And nothing happened on that front yet. Curtis Lofton, Stephen Tulloch and David Hawthorne are all still available, and until those dominos start falling we won’t be able to judge the Eagles front office one way or another.

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If I ever became an NFL general manager, I would have to remember one thing: don’t sign second-tier free agents on the first day. If you need to move fast on the biggest name out there, that’s fine. But don’t throw big money at guys who aren’t major difference-makers. That’s known as the Redskins’ strategy.

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