I wonder if the possibility of a lockout in 2011 is having a big impact on the way the Eagles are doing business this off-season. The Eagles have been running a good business for years, and I think the possibility of a work stoppage in 2011 could be more on their minds than some other teams. If this was the classic Simpsons episode, the Eagles would be Ned Flanders, stocked to the gills, waiting in his fallout shelter. The rest of the league, everyone else trying to get in. I don’t know all the ins and outs of the NFL’s labor situation. I do know that right now, still a year away from a possible stoppage, things aren’t looking promising. Both sides seem prepared to fight this out, even if it means not seeing the NFL we are accustomed to in 2011.
So, in this “odd year” for free agents as Andy Reid called it, maybe the Eagles aren’t willing to spend the money because they don’t know exactly what they are going to get. Would you be less inclined to give Julius Peppers, at 30, a huge deal if you thought you might not get his services in 2011? He’s likely only going to be productive for the first two or three years of the deal, how much does a lockout decrease his value? Do you look at him as one year older? Do you look at it as possibly only getting 1 or 2 years out of him? Would you know what you are getting from any player if they were returning from an extended lockout?
I don’t know, but I think it makes all free agents less attractive, and that’s just the first reason. There’s at the very least going to be a new collective bargaining agreement after this season. I don’t know what that is going to do to the salary structure of the league, but I don’t think the players are in line for a windfall. Look at Kevin Kolb. The Eagles obviously want Kolb, but maybe they are willing to let him ride out this last year of the contract because they don’t want to re-negotiate until they know what the new economic climate in the league is going to be. Coupled with the fact that it looks like they are going to keep Donovan, giving Kolb an extension now doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. And, neither does extending McNabb. Do you want 2012 to be the first year you get production from McNabb on that new deal?
I think the Eagles are trapped between playing for 2010 and looking at the future. If they are taking the possible lockout into consideration, it’s frustrating for the fans. Not only do they have to deal with a complacent policy this off-season, but also the prospect of not getting NFL football in 2011. That’s a tough combination to swallow, especially if you think the Eagles are in a position where a few moves could make them a serious contender for the next Super Bowl. This is always the Eagles way, though. They’ve made a habit of practicing “Cliff Lee” style personnel moves. Everything is done with an eye to the future. I can’t help but think that may be curbing their aggression this off-season.
So, just a thought. If I was an Eagles fan it wouldn’t make me feel any better about what has gone on, but as I was trying to decipher the Eagles’ apparent timid behavior, I thought the lockout might be playing a role. The Eagles can afford to play it this way. Teams like the Bears who are out spending money need to make a much stronger statement to their fans right now. The Eagles have built up a decade’s worth of 10-6 goodwill. Like I said, I’m no expert on the potential lockout, but the Eagles seem like a front office that operates with consideration of worst case scenarios.