Joe Banner is a free agent.
That's how Jeffrey Lurie put it in this morning's story by the Inquirer's Jeff McLane, in which the Eagles owner announced that Banner was no longer the team's president.
Even though the signs have suggested a lesser role for Banner this offseason, the news still comes as a surprise, considering he has been with the organization since Lurie purchased the team in 1994.
And while the news about Banner's departure is huge, an equally intriguing angle is what this might mean for Andy Reid.
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about Reid's role within the organization. And back in March, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times reported that Reid was willing to walk away from the Eagles this offseason if he didn't receive more personnel control. Since that column was published, pretty much everything the Eagles have done has had Reid's stamp on it.
The Eagles took care of their own players, like Todd Herremans and Trent Cole. They decided to extend DeSean Jackson, despite reports of the front office being split on the value of the playmaking wide receiver. Reid was at the table for the LeSean McCoy extension, something which Drew Rosenhaus thought worthy enough to mention to reporters.
And now this: Banner's out.
After the season, Lurie held a press conference, announcing that the Eagles' 8-8 record was "unacceptable." Most took that to mean Reid would be in "win or else" mode in 2012. But nothing the organization has done this offseason points to Reid feeling that pressure. And consider this: What was Lurie's alternative at the time?
He was dealing with a frustrated fan base and a group of reporters ready to grill him for the first misstep. Lurie's not stupid. Was he really going to say that Reid was safe? That he envisioned his coach sticking around for years to come? Of course not. His goal was to convey a sense of urgency and disappointment. And he did that.
So instead, it's important to look at actions, more than Lurie's words.
Reid's future will be determined, at least in part, by how the team performs in 2012. If the Eagles make a deep playoff run, chances are he returns in 2013 (the final year on his current contract) and works something out with Lurie.
But the intriguing question here is: What happens if the Eagles disappoint? Reid could be fired (and if he is, he'll find a job somewhere else immediately). Or Lurie could decide to approach the situation differently. He could realize he has to make a change, but let's acknowledge that one season is not going to dramatically affect his opinion of Reid. Perhaps he'd look to move his coach into the front office in a different role? Removing Reid from the sidelines, but still allowing him to steer the Eagles' ship.
Given today's news and Reid's increased role in negotiations this offseason, that seems like a real possibility.
At any rate, we'll get some answers at 2:30 when the Eagles hold a press conference.
And if you're wondering who Don Smolenski is, here's a Daily News story on him by Les Bowen from last June.