Our usual tack, when the Eagles' season ends, is to start looking at potential free agents the team might sign, what positions should be targeted in the draft, who might or might not be brought back from the current roster, and so forth.
All of that is pretty much impossible to do in a meaningful way right now because of what everyone assumes is a pending lockout. To clarify, the fact that there might be a lockout doesn't prevent looking at the future, but the fact that teams like the Eagles seem already "locked down" -- doing nothing with contracts, for example, until they get some clarity from the league -- really complicates looking ahead.
Are the Eagles going to try to sign Nnamdi Asomugha? Not anytime soon, they aren't. Nobody is.
It's been tempting, as this mess drifts closer and closer, to avoid getting too caught up in it, figuring that with all the money involved and the amazing success the league is having on TV, people of good faith on both sides will somehow come together and get this done. That still seems likely before September, if you ask me. But everything until then could be a total trainwreck. An excellent, detailed primer on all this emerged today from the oracle of reasoned, grounded NFL discourse (imagine sarcasm font here), Pro Football Talk.
I couldn't have been more amazed if my dog had started spouting Latin, but just about every one of the 10 points in here is well thought-out. I would urge you to read it all.
Among the things mentioned that I hadn't really thought through yet is that even though the draft will be held on schedule in April, there almost certainly won't be free agent signings by then. Usually teams address some needs in free agency, crossing those positions off their list for the draft. This year, the whole thing is going to be backwards. With the additional layer of absurdity in that if there are no OTAs or minicamps, the drafted rookies are going to be far less ready to play than usual. So you draft with no idea of whether you'll be able to sign a free agent at a targeted spot, or probably, whether you'll be bringing back your own free agents.
Assuming that somehow there is a 2011 season, I see three things the Eagles absolutely have to do, none of them anything you probably hadn't already figured out for yourself. They have to substantially strengthen the corner spot opposite Asante Samuel. That's priority one, for me. Then they need to fix the right side of the o-line. Some people assume this just means better right guard play. I dunno. Winston Justice is a fine fellow and an excellent Daily News columnist, but he is guarding Michael Vick's blindside, and he is not a dominator. Winston is conscientious, quick and smooth, but he isn't a mauler and he gets fooled, taking the wrong guy on blitzes here and there. Here and there is all it is going to take to throw Vick off his game, or even get him seriously hurt.
The third thing the Eagles need is a d-line stud. For years now, they've been thinking in terms of a complement to Trent Cole. That's not what they need. To me, as hard as he plays, Cole has pretty much proved that he is not an All-Pro, superstar DE. On a championship-worthy defense, HE is a complement, to a real rainmaker. Right now Trent is Clyde Simmons without Reggie White. And by the way, especially if Brandon Grahm comes back strong, there is no rule that this added guy has to be a DE. A dominant defensive tackle would do just fine. If we're talking about a rookie, DT is an easier position to learn in the Eagles' defensive than d-end, in a shortened offseason.
Just a few random thoughts. Now back to shoveling.