ORLANDO, Fla. – The Eagles’ most high-profile officials will gather at the Ritz-Carlton here for this week’s NFL annual meetings, seven weeks past winning the Super Bowl and two weeks into the 2018 league calendar, when all teams have the same record and the Eagles are assembling a roster to defend their title.
The league meetings annually come between free agency and the draft and often serve as a bridge from one to the next. Owner Jeffrey Lurie, top executive Howie Roseman, and coach Doug Pederson will be here, along with other team officials.
The last time the NFL held its event at this resort was March 2014. The Eagles were amid the DeSean Jackson drama that marked that offseason when they released him. The organization is in a far different place this time around, and the tenor of the questions fielded by team officials will be different from what they were four years earlier.
What to expect from the Eagles
Lurie, Roseman, and Pederson are all expected to meet with reporters. It will be Lurie’s first interview since the Super Bowl and the first time Roseman and Pederson will discuss this month’s roster changes.
It’s become evident that, barring an injury elsewhere that creates an unexpected need at quarterback, Nick Foles will return as Carson Wentz’s backup. There should be more clarity about the offseason plan, including how Carson Wentz is progressing in his recovery from his knee injury and what to expect when the offseason program begins next month.
There’s also the question of the Eagles’ reshaped offense, with Mike Wallace in at wide receiver, and Torrey Smith and Marcus Johnson out. The Eagles still must replace running back LeGarrette Blount and tight ends Brent Celek and Trey Burton. You can never rule out a roster move while so many from the NFL are in Orlando, or shortly thereafter – the Eagles signed cornerback Patrick Robinson and defensive end Chris Long at the league meetings last year and traded for DE Tim Jernigan upon their return.
On defense, the Eagles re-signed Nigel Bradham and added Corey Nelson at linebacker, but the question remains whether Mychal Kendricks is long for Philadelphia. They focused on experience at defensive line by adding Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. But they let go of Vinny Curry. Robinson is gone via free agency, and Daryl Worley is in, via trade. Roseman can address these changes for the first time.
Then there’s also the shadow of Bennett’s indictment on Friday by a Harris County, Texas, grand jury on a felony charge of injury of the elderly stemming from an incident at Super Bowl LI. The Eagles said in a statement that they’ll have no comment because it’s an ongoing legal matter, and that will likely be their tune this week, too. At this point, it’s become part of the discussion about acquiring Bennett.
Big-picture questions about the team and the franchise often come up at the meetings. Given the state of the Eagles as the defending champions, their roster-building decisions and organizational philosophies will be of interest in Philadelphia and elsewhere.
What to expect from the NFL
The league meetings are where rule changes are voted upon and enacted. The big question this week will be defining what’s a catch, with the competition committee proposing simplified language. When you watch a game on television next season, there will likely be a better idea of whether a pass is complete.
The owners will also consider allowing personal fouls such as roughing the passer and hits on defenseless receivers to be subject to review. There’s a bylaw proposal that would allow teams to hire a head-coaching candidate during the postseason instead of waiting until the assistant coach’s team is eliminated. The Indianapolis Colts needed to wait until after the Super Bowl last month to hire New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. When McDaniels backed out, the Colts hired Eagles assistant Frank Reich.
The NFL’s social justice initiatives will also be a topic of conversation, as will the eventual sale of the Carolina Panthers, which comes after a report of payments made to employees over inappropriate workplace conduct by owner Jerry Richardson.
The 32 NFL coaches will meet with reporters during a Tuesday breakfast, so there will be team-specific issues addressed. The flurry of trades this offseason will be a popular conversation, and there will be interest in the quarterback-heavy draft next month.