Good morning. There are four NFL teams still alive, and they play this weekend in the conference championship games. The offseason has started for the Eagles, who are preparing for next week’s Senior Bowl. (More on that below.)

This is a Friday edition of the Early Birds newsletter. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @ZBerm. Thank you for reading.

— Zach Berman

The key offseason dates

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson had something to laugh about during a pregame conversation on the field with executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson had something to laugh about during a pregame conversation on the field with executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman.

Jan. 21-26: Senior Bowl week

This is the top college all-star game, and the practices during the week are valuable for evaluation. That’s when coaches, scouts, and executives from around the league convene in Mobile, Ala., for an event that kicks off the NFL offseason.

Feb 19-March 5: Franchise tagging period

During this time, teams can use the franchise or transition tags to keep a player from becoming an unrestricted free agent. The Eagles don’t have a player who will likely be tagged unless Nick Foles is set to hit the market and the Eagles wanted to keep him off. Considering the salary cap implications, though, that would be difficult.

Feb. 26-March 4: NFL scouting combine

This is a big event on the offseason calendar, serving as the NFL’s version of the winter meetings. The league descends in Indianapolis to evaluate the draft prospects, with on-field timing and testing allowing teams to compare players on the same playing field. They also get to meet with players. But there’s otherwise considerable value in offseason planning, considering the league year is two weeks away from beginning and there are enough dinner tables, bars, coffee shops, and hotel lobbies for executives and agents to congregate.

March 11-March 13: Legal tampering period

From noon on March 11 to 3:59 p.m. on March 13, teams can begin negotiating contracts with the agents of free agents. Of course, no contract is official until it’s official. Just look at Frank Gore’s time with the Eagles.

March 13: Start of league year

Happy New Year. At 4 p.m., the 2019 league year begins. Free agents can sign contracts with new teams and trades can become official. This is a Wednesday. Most of the big deals will be made by the weekend.

March 24-27: Annual league meeting

The head coaches, top executives, and owners hold meetings in Phoenix. This is when league matters are discussed and rule changes are implemented. Doug Pederson will have an hour-long interview with reporters at this event and Jeffrey Lurie also takes questions for the first time since the season ended, so it’s a big week for Eagles news.

April 15: Offseason program begins

The 2019 Eagles will assemble for the first time on April 15, when the Eagles can begin meetings and a formal strength and conditioning program. They won’t be able to get on the field together until May.

April 25-27: NFL draft

The biggest event of the offseason is the draft, and this year’s event in Nashville is critical for the Eagles' roster building. They have the No. 25 overall pick and two second-round picks this season.

Work crews continue to build the stages for the upcoming NFL Draft on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City, Philadelphia. Here, the main stage built at the base of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's famous steps, across the parkway from Eakins Oval.
ED HILLE / Staff Photographer
Work crews continue to build the stages for the upcoming NFL Draft on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City, Philadelphia. Here, the main stage built at the base of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's famous steps, across the parkway from Eakins Oval.

What you need to know about the Eagles

From the mailbag...

Interesting question, because this is a huge offseason priority. The Eagles need to upgrade at running back. I believe they know that, too. I don’t see them making a big play for Le’Veon Bell, though. I don’t think the Eagles will invest that type of cap space in the position right now, and I also don’t think they want to mess with their compensatory pick formula given the amount of players I expect to leave. Then again, he’s an elite player. More than likely, I think the Eagles are aggressive in the draft. I can see them taking a running back with one of their two second-round picks.