Eagles president Joe Banner stressed today that the franchise and transition tags the Eagles have used on Michael Vick and David Akers are procedural matters, moves Banner feels were dictated by the NFL's unusual labor situation, as we count down the days to what most people assume will be a March 4 lockout.
Banner also gave a complex and interesting answer when asked about the future of Eagles coach Andy Reid, whose contract expires after the 2013 season. Banner extolled Reid's "quality of leadership" and said that Reid's strong reputation had attracted players and coaches to the Eagles. But he also said "the future will be determined when we get there," that "there's criticism that's fair," and "we're here to win a championship. That plays into it, too."
Banner said that because Vick and Akers both earned more than 30 percent more in 2010 than in 2009, by the end of the season the team was prohibited from extending either contract, making a tag a necessity to retain rights. He acknowledged that the players' association feels the tags are invalid, because the CBA is about to expire.
"We don't know either," he said, about the tags existing going forward. Banner said the Eagles are "protecting our rights," and that tagging was "the prudent thing to do."
In other words, the league will eventually agree on some sort of CBA, and when it does, team management assumes there will be some recognition of rights to players teams have tagged. If you don't tag, you can't be sure the league will protect your interests.
Banner emphasized that the Eagles want both plyers to be "part of the future."
Other subjects covered:
*Banner confirmed that Reid's decision to promote Juan Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator did not come out of the blue, that it had been discussed throughout the team's search. But Banner acknowledged that he "was a little surprised" when Reid told him of his decision. "He walked me through his rationale and it seemed to make sense," Banner said. Banner said he was "intrigued and excited" by Castillo.
*Banner said the Eagles have thought through a number of lockout/free agent scenarios. They anticipate having lots of room under whatever cap emerges and expect to move quickly whenever free agency begins, even if it is right before the season. "There's opportunities in all challenges," he said. "We'll have the same amount of time to prepare as every other team." A possible unprecedented number of free agents would no doubt present "some value opportunities," Banner said.
*Right now, teams cannot trade players. They won't be able to trade players until there is a CBA. There is an excellent chance there won't be a CBA until after the April draft. So trading Kevin Kolb could be very complicated. Would a team trying to win a Super Bowl this coming season trade a valuable backup for 2012 draft picks? Banner said it would be much harder to establish a player's value if you weren't going to benefit from the picks that season. Obviously, the Eagles could still trade Kolb for a player or players, whenever there is a CBA. "There aren't that many trades, player-for-player, but there are some," he said. "It's hard to get teams to offer players. They'd rather offer picks, usually."
*If there is a lockout, the Eagles will not immediately lay off office staff, Banner said. He said the team hopes to avoid layoffs. "There will be an extended period where everyone here will be paid," he said.