I still have a few more days left of vacation, but the blogging hiatus is officially over.
With an eye on DeSean Jackson, the franchise tag period, the combine and free agency, let's take a look at what I missed.
WHO'S GETTING TAGGED?
The 15-day period to assign the franchise tag begins Monday, and the Eagles have a decision to make with Jackson.
If the team really believes in building through the draft and holding on to its young talent, I can't see how they'd justify letting Jackson walk as a free agent with nothing in return. The Eagles have drafted 58 players since 2006. Exactly two of them have made a Pro Bowl: Jackson and LeSean McCoy.
I've written at length about Jackson's strengths and his flaws. I'll devote a separate post to how the different scenarios could play out. But it's important to keep an eye on the wide receiver market. The Eagles could look to free agency to replace Jackson. Or they could use some of the other deals in negotiating a long-term deal with him.
Taking a look around the league, Vincent Jackson wants to remain a Charger, but the money has to be right, according to San Diego Union-Tribune beat writer Kevin Acee.
ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss says a fair deal for free agent Wes Welker could look something like four years, $34.5M, with $22M guaranteed. Welker is also a candidate for the franchise tag.
The Bills and Stevie Johnson are "far apart" in contract negotiations, according to the Associated Press. And I have not seen any reports about the Chiefs being close to signing Dwayne Bowe or the Saints moving swiftly to bring back Marques Colston.
The wide receiver market could look different 15 days from now when we find out which of these guys become unrestricted free agents.
KUECHLY, LOFTON AND THE LBs
I saw that NFL Network's Mike Mayock told reporters, including the Inquirer's Jonathan Tamari, that Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly could be a "slam dunk" for the Eagles with the 15th pick in the first round.
If you missed my Draft Diary posts with Kuechly, click here and here.
By the time the draft rolls around, the Eagles may already have their linebacker of the future. One name that's been mentioned as a potential free-agent target is Atlanta's Curtis Lofton. According to Len Pasquarelli of The Sports Xchange/Yahoo Sports, new Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan doesn't view Lofton as a three-down player. Pasquarelli reports that the Falcons want Lofton back, but Nolan has plans to remove him from Atlanta's third-down sub packages.
That note is important for a couple different reasons. For starters, if the Falcons don't view Lofton as a three-down player, they're unlikely to pay him like one.
But perhaps more importantly, other teams interested in Lofton have to decide if they feel differently. He's only 25 years old and finished fifth in the league with 147 tackles last season, according to NFL.com.
Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports reported that the Eagles are at least "curious" about what Randy Moss has left in the tank. Given the splash the Eagles made in free agency last offseason, and the ensuing disappointment, taking a flier on someone like Moss doesn't make much sense to me. Especially since he just turned 35, and no one knows if he has anything left.
The Plaxico Burress rumor probably makes a little more sense. Burress had eight touchdowns last season, including seven in the red zone. The Eagles' offense finished 14th in red-zone scoring percentage, scoring touchdowns 51.52 percent of the time.
If Jackson's back, though, and the Eagles continue to trend toward more two-tight end sets, I'm not sure Burress would see enough playing time here to make him happy. He played 78.8 percent of the Jets' offensive snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus. As a point of reference, Jason Avant played 66.4 percent of the Eagles' offensive snaps last season.
Oh, and one last thing. I don't know if Asante Samuel operates his own Twitter account, but here's what it said yesterday:
If they trade me where would you guys like to see me go????
As I've said before, considering that Samuel is 31, due a reported $8.4M next season and most effective in a specific system, don't expect the Eagles to get a lot of value for him if they decide to make a deal.
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