Thursday, March 3, 2011

Eagles Begin Setting Up Team For New CBA

The NFL's collective bargaining agreement negotiations are almost as watched as Charlie Sheen, and carry the same baggage as asking your girlfriend (or booty call) to confirm "It's Complicated" on Facebook. We're a few hours from when the CBA expiration, and so far, the players and owners have little to show for it. So here comes the obligatory CBA update: The players and owners were in negotiations today, with Jeff Saturday emerging a little after 5pm. Saturday confirmed rumors that the sides had agreed to a 24-hour extension to bargain with. Many at the negotiations say that this will likely only buy time to agree on a longer extension, of perhaps weeks. At this pace, negotiations on both sides seem to be slowing, and it appears we may be in for a long and ponderous spring. The good thing is that none of this really affects fans until August training camp, though the longer it takes, the less work coaching staffs will be able to get done with their players.

Now, on to things that are making progress.

Michael Vick has signed the franchise tag that the Eagles took their time offering him. This, perhaps, could mean that the team is banking on the franchise tag existing in the new CBA, or it could just mean they don't want anyone poaching their Pro Bowl quarterback. Vick may have been happy to sign his agreement, but David Akers is being much less obliging about his tender offer. Taking into account the kicker's age, the Eagles' hesitancy towards a long-term deal is understandable; however, given Akers' record with the team and ability on the field, his refusal at such a nebulous situation is equally understandable. The Pro Bowl kicker has been with the Eagles for more than a decade, and is the only remaining player from the NFC Championship game loss to the Rams, and even the Super Bowl run that ended against the Patriots. Akers feels he deserves a better deal from the team, and he may be right. It would be unwise for the Eagles to allow Akers to test his worth on the open market, especially with many calling him the best kicker in the league. The Eagles can ill afford to lose talent and experience of Akers' caliber.

Meanwhile, six other players were tendered over the last two days. Yesterday, linebacker Stewart Bradley, guard Max Jean-Gilles, cornerback Dimitri Patterson, and running back Eldra Buckley were given tenders. Patterson's tender could allow another team to pick him up, which would make pursuing Nnamdi Asmougha even more feasible. While Patterson's tender was a no compensation, Bradley's second-round tender and Jean-Gilles' fourth-round tender could be used to improve the offensive or defensive lines. Though the Eagles are set with LeSean McCoy at running back, with Leonard Weaver currently rehabbing the torn ACL he suffered in the playoff loss to Green Bay, it may make sense to help lock Buckley up from other teams at the cost of a 10% raise, a likely reason why he got the exclusive rights tender.

Today, running back Jerome Harrison was given a second-round tender and punter Sav Rocca was given a no compensation tender. Harrison, like Bradley, has a high-pick tender likely to improve the team through the draft, while the no compensation for Rocca is likely to entice him to stay for the 10% increase.

It will be hard to judge the value of these moves until after CBA negotiations are over, until then I'll have fun making my own predictions.

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