PHOENIX --- As owners, general managers and coaches filed into a conference room at the Arizona Biltmore hotel Monday for the first major sessions of the NFL Meetings, much of the buzz was about offensive tackle Jake Long's signing with the St. Louis Rams, which happened after midnight in the East, a little after 9 p.m. Sunday here in Phoenix.
Nobody seems to know the crucial guaranteed money figure yet, but Long reportedly got at least $34 million over four years, as much as $36 million if he hits incentives. The deal was important because his agent group also represents free agent offensive tackles Andre Smith and Sebastian Vollmer. They seemed to want to get Long signed to set the market for their other two clients. Another prominent OT, Eric Winston, also remains on the market, and might be helped in his pursuit of a landing spot by the signing of Long. Winston is repped by Drew Rosenahus, who was working his phone in the Biltmore lobby this morning.
Hard to say what all this means for the Eagles. Maybe nothing. They seem to be taking a very relaxed approach to free agency after signing eight players last week. There might be some value in signing a tackle, at a less-than-outrageous price, so they could move Todd Herremans inside, and wouldn't be tethered to the idea of drafting an OT fourth overall in April. How attractive this is might depend on how the new regime views 2011 first-round guard Danny Watkins. If there is a strong feeling that Watkins will rebound, moving Herremans inside is unneccesary.
But when team chairman Jeffrey Lurie basically absolved general manager Howie Roseman of blame for the 2010 and 2011 drafts -- the implication being that departed team president Joe Banner insisted on need-based picks those years, which is a very neat and tidy explanation -- that might have been an ominous moment for picks such as Watkins. It would seem that if he doesn't turn out to be a long-term starter, Roseman isn't going to be blamed by Lurie.