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Eagles Clearing Deck To Have Flexibility

This feature is a weekly piece on titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.

That cornerback Cary Williams was released on Tuesday was no real surprise. He started 32 games since the Eagles signed him as an unrestricted free agent in 2013 and he was energetic and emotional and, frankly, the best the team had out on the island.

They want to do better. That is the primary reason Williams is no longer here, and the fact that his release clears a reported $6.5 million off the salary-cap books helps understand the move even more.

With Williams released and with Bradley Fletcher scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on March 10, the Eagles are positioned to overhaul the defensive secondary (safety Nate Allen is also slated to be a UFA on Tuesday). Will they do so? Will they go after some of the big names, the big-dollar players who could make it to free agency? They certainly have the means to do so. It's just a matter of what head coach Chip Kelly wants as he shapes his roster for 2015 and beyond.

The Eagles reportedly have more than $30 million cap space and have the leeway to make more moves to create more space if they desire. They have the big bucks to be major players in free agency. We don't know what's in the mind of Kelly and vice president of player personnel Ed Marynowitz, but we know they have created a boatload of options.

The next steps? We'll see. Quite a bit could happen between now and the onset of free agency. It's time to be excited, very much so, after a long, long, long offseason.

That said, there are some things to discuss, so here's what is on the table ...

  • Linebacker Brad Jones was signed on Monday to a two-year contract and he's a veteran guy who played six seasons in Green Bay. He's got starting experience. He has played well on special teams. Jones is a no-risk signing and he's not guaranteed any particular role. He's going to have an opportunity to make the roster and earn playing time. Signing Jones doesn't mean the Eagles are finished addressing the inside linebacker position. They are hopeful that DeMeco Ryans returns after tearing his Achilles tendon, but they won't shy away from adding a player they think can upgrade next to Mychal Kendricks. Casey Matthews is due to be an unrestricted free agent next week. Najee Goode is healthy after tearing a pectoral muscle in the Week 1 win over Jacksonville last year. The position is considered fluid.

  • Jeremy Maclin will be an unrestricted free agent on March 10 at 4 p.m. and it's really hard to get a feel for what is going to happen. The tone has been described as "hopeful" with both sides interested in getting a deal done. But this is the NFL and the business side of the league is difficult to predict. I will stay with "hopeful" that Maclin returns. Don't really have a feel for anything beyond that.

  • Will the Eagles be players in free agency? Could be, but they aren't the only team with a lot of cap room. If Seattle cornerback Byron Maxwell reaches free agency, Jacksonville is reportedly ready to make a huge, huge offer. Same with the Jets and Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis, if he makes it to March 10 at 4 p.m. New England safety Devin McCourty will attract a lot of interest. I'm going with the idea that the Eagles will sign 1-2 players in the early stages of free agency, but that's just a guess. As the Insider, I can honestly tell you that I am on the outside of the team's plans in free agency.

  • Not sure if the plan is to draft an offensive lineman or two, because the Eagles are really high on Matt Tobin to take next step at guard, and Allen Barbre returns after breaking his ankle in last season's opener. Andrew Gardner battled and improved with the playing time he had last season. The team will carry in the neighborhood of 13 offensive linemen in Training Camp, so they're going to add pieces, but I don't have the feel that they will use a high draft pick or allocate big free-agent dollars to the group.

  • Trading up for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota? I still say it doesn't happen. It would be too difficult for the Eagles to move up into the top five - to make the jump from 20 - to get in position to draft Mariota. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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