NFL Free Agency is one of the most fun times of the NFL offseason. And it's almost here! The Eagles are coming off a 10-6 season where they played well, but certain roster holes were apparent. It's now up to Howie Roseman to fill those needs and add talent by signing players who are available out on the unrestricted free agent market.
This comprehensive 2014 NFL free agency primer has you covered with everything you need to know regarding this year's free agency period.
Time and Dates
March 8-11 - Three day window of negotiating, unofficial start of free agency: Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2013 Player Contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 11. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 11.
March 11 4 PM EST - Official start of free agency: The 2014 League Year and Free Agency period begin at 4:00 p.m., New York time. The first day of the 2014 League Year will end at 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 11. clubs will receive a Personnel Notice that will include all transactions submitted to the league office during the period between 4:00 p.m., New York time, and 11:59:59 p.m., New York time, on March 11.
How much cap space do the Eagles have?
Before you go out shopping, you need to know how much money you have to spend. In this case, the Eagles currently have $24,181,365 in cap space. That's good for the 11th most in the NFL. They clearly have money to spend.
Who are the Eagles' own free agents?
The Eagles have seven player who are scheduled to be free agents. Wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper were scheduled to be unrestricted free agents but they both re-signed with the Eagles. Cedric Thornton was scheduled to be an exclusive-rights restricted free agent. Thornton re-signed with the Eagles on a one-year minimum deal. Here are the seven pending free agents:
QB Michael Vick
S Nate Allen
S Kurt Coleman
S Colt Anderson
DE Clifton Geathers
P Donnie Jones
OLB Phillip Hunt (restricted free agent)
Who should the Eagles re-sign?
QB Michael Vick - Vick doesn't want to come back to Philadelphia as the back-up guy. He still wants to start. Vick will likely find a starting job somewhere in the league. But what if he can't? Perhaps Vick would be willing to re-sign with the Eagles as their second-string QB.
S Nate Allen - Allen was excluded from the flurry of in-house moves the Eagles made last week. A return can't be ruled out, but clearly they are letting him test the free agent market.
S Kurt Coleman - Backup safety and special teams guy.
S Colt Anderson - Backup safety and special teams guy.
DE Clifton Geathers - Backup 3-4 defensive end with great size. Geathers has said he wants to return to Philadelphia. A return on the veteran's minimum could make sense.
P Donnie Jones - Jones would probably have already been re-signed by now if both sides didn't have to wait until free agency starts. Get it done, Howie.
OLB Phillip Hunt - Hunt probably doesn't fit into the Eagles' future plans. The Eagles will likely let him walk.
Which Eagles players could be cut due to cap space (cap casualty)?
Jason Avant was already released from the Eagles this week. His release saved the Eagles about $3.25 in cap space. Other Eagles who could be cap causalities:
S Patrick Chung - The Eagles could save $2.25 million by cutting Chung. He didn't play very well last year and he also dealt with injury issues.
TE James Casey - The Eagles could save nearly $3 million here. I don't think Casey will be released, however. His role increased as the season went on and he played hard on special teams. Perhaps the Eagles will try to re-work his contract, but that remains to be seen.
OLB Trent Cole - Some have suggested the Eagles could cut Trent Cole, but he finished the year strong and it's hard to see the Eagles cut a leader just to save a small amount of money.
ILB DeMeco Ryans - Another veteran player who probably won't be cut, but it's worth noting the Eagles would save near $7 million in cutting Ryans. The problem with that is the team still likes him and there is no real backup plan in place if he's gone.
What are the Eagles' positions of need?
According to a BGN poll, the Eagles biggest positions of need are:
Safety - The Eagles will only have Patrick Chung, Earl Wolff, and Keelan Johnson on the roster at the start of free agency. It's possible Chung is eventually cut, but they will probably hold onto him in the meantime. The Eagles have about three or four safety spots to fill, including the two starting jobs.
Pass Rusher - An outside linebacker that can rush the passer is another big need. The Eagles' pass rush wasn't a strength last year.
Cornerback - It's hard to see the Eagles spending big in free agency if they like Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher as the starters on the outside for now. The Eagles could look to add depth here.
Wide Receiver - Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper have been re-signed, but Jason Avant is gone. The Eagles could use more depth here as well.
Nose Tackle - The Eagles are very high on Bennie Logan as a starter. There needs to be more depth behind Logan.
Offensive Line - The offensive line was a strength last year, but Evan Mathis, Jason Peters, and Todd Herremans are all on the wrong side of 30. It wouldn't hurt to add depth here either.
Which notable free agents are there at the Eagles' positions of need?
Jairus Byrd, T.J. Ward, Mike Mitchell, Chris Clemons, Malcolm Jenkins, Antoine Bethea, Donte Whitner, Rafael Bush (RFA), Louis Delmas, Stevie Brown
Everson Griffen, Mike Neal, O'Brien Schofield, Rob Jackson, Michael Johnson, Michael Bennett
Who do Eagles fans want in free agency?
Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward are among the most popular names. See a more complete list by clicking here.
How does the draft factor into free agency plans?
Last year, the Eagles did a good job of filling all of their needs in free agency prior to the draft so that they could focus on taking the best players available. I imagine that this year will be no different.
Don't you worry - Bleeding Green Nation will have full coverage of this year's free agency period. Stay tuned to the site for every rumor, report, update, signing, trade, etc.! The news will happen fast, so check back often. It should be a pretty fun off-season for the Eagles. Let's spend it together.