To listen to Nnamdi Asomugha tell it, it sounds like the Eagles were his only choice. Is Nnamdi laying out a story that will simply further endear him to the Philly faithful, or is Philadelphia a lot more enticing destination than it looks from the inside? The Eagles have never been afraid to make a splash with a free agent name, but they mostly used fat contracts to lure their targets. That’s what all the budgeting was for, to throw piles of cash at guys like Asante Samuel, but this time around it looks like the Eagles are getting bargains. Five years and sixty million for Asomugha? Weren’t people throwing out 16, 17, 18 million as an annual value for him? Even a guy without so much clout like Jason Babin gave the Eagles a sweetheart deal on his way back to town at breakneck speed.
The players coming in all seem to have speech writer. Andy Reid is a respected coach. It’s a first-class organization. Commitment to winning, opportunity to win Super Bowls. This is certainly what the Eagles want people to think, it is the image they project, but as someone who lives in Philadelphia and absorbs these seasons a little more comprehensively than an outsider, I have to ask, are we talking about the same team here? The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, and while they’ve certainly given themselves plenty of chances I don’t see how they could really put themselves in the same category as Pittsburgh, or Green Bay, or possibly even Dallas. If you want to make the playoffs every year I could see coming to Philly, but if you want to win a Super Bowl, this hasn’t been the place. And, while the Eagles may do things “the right way,” in a lot of areas, they’ll also cut a player at the drop of a hat, are stingy renegotiators, and are anything but generous to veteran players.
None of that stopped the Eagles from “winning the off-season” as they say in a truly Redskins-esque flurry. The scuffling defense, which if you remember is now headed by a career offensive coach, has been bolstered with Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin, Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Upgrades across the board, and maybe the Eagles have finally found the right group of players. We won’t know that for months, but this past week went above and beyond any kind push the Eagles have ever made before. This makes a Terrell Owens signing look quaint. Why all of a sudden?
Seems like it could be a combination of the following:
- Simple Coincidence
- Competition From the Phillies
- Andy Reid and the Front Office actually are respected around the league.
- Michael Vick has more clout with his peers than any QB in the NFL.
Breaking them down, reason number one is we’re just all victims of over-analysis. The right guys were available, the Eagles had the money. Period. Reason two I think is one that some people probably overrate and other undervalue. I don’t think the Eagles brought in Asomugha simply to overshadow a Phillies move later in the evening. But, the Eagles have a tenuous grip on the city. I think the passion level is about a wash at this point, but the exclusivity of football (16 games, fantasy domination, etc) still make it the most popular. You don’t want to take that for granted, though. And, not only are the Phillies winning, but they are doing it with aggression. They get their man. You can’t ignore that.
The last two reasons I think are probably the most valid. Who has more pull with these free agents? Reid or Vick? I suppose we are too close to Andy Reid to see how respected he is across football. He’s built an incredible number of strong relationships. Look at Howard Mudd. Here’s a guy acknowledged as the best in the business. He retires. Do we think Andy Reid was the first guy who talked to him? Of course not, but he’s the guy who gets him to come back. And, that appears to be a recurring theme with Reid in terms of players and coaches. He’s evidently very persuasive.
And, in terms of Vick, I think he’s persuasive without even trying. Vick at his former peak was a superstar, but I think players might respect his unique skill set even more than the fans do. They perhaps better realize what separates him from other athletes? They just natural identify with him? After his comeback last season I think other players want to be a part of what Vick is doing. I think he has that kind of draw. He was already an icon for a generation of younger players, and now I think he has pull across the board. I think a Mike Vick, “Come to Philly,” call is about as valuable a thing as there is in football right now.