Free Agency (Sort of, Almost) Starting

DeSean Jackson runs with the ball after making a catch in the first half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, in Philadelphia. (Julio Cortez/AP file)

There's a new wrinkle to NFL free agency this year. Starting at midnight Friday, teams are free to legally contact agents for pending free agents, even though the free agents can't be signed until Tuesday, after 4 p.m.

This codifies the practice that has been going on in violation of the rules for many years. It also might help a team trying to keep a player, if the team thinks the guy has overvalued himself. The team can let the guy field offers for three days, then still have a chance to match or better those offers, while still holding exclusive signing rights.

What does this mean for you, the fan? Lots of rumor and wild speculation. The Eagles said Friday they won't be announcing any pending agreements starting at midnight, but agents will be able to leak stuff. Would an agent leak, say, that Team A is close to signing a player, even if Team A isn't, just to get Team B to up its offer? Gosh, maybe!!

Of course, the guys that have already been released, like Chiefs tackle Eric Winston and Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson, can be signed by anyone at any time.

I've seen some free agency previews that show the Eagles signing six or eight players. That would be ridiculous, 2011 all over again. Think more in terms of a couple guys, maybe three, a safety or corner, and an offensive and a defensive lineman. That might be more realistic. And we're probably not talking about the guys at the top of the market (Dashon Goldson) who will spark bidding wars. This is a rebuilding team that should focus on long-term value.

All that said, the wild card here is Chip Kelly. The Eagles will do whatever the Chipper thinks they need to do in free agency, and if he somehow thinks it's a swell idea to sign a bunch of overpriced 30ish guys, they will turn their back on the lessons of 2011 and sign a bunch of overpriced 30ish guys. There is no reason to think Kelly wants to do that, though.