This offseason has been markedly different from last year for the Philadelphia Eagles. Putting the obvious lockout related subjects aside, there are still some monumental differences in how the team handled itself last year and how the organization has gone about business this year. The 2011 offseason saw the Eagles make huge moves in the free agent market, seemingly signing just about every big named free agent available, namely Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin and Vince Young, as well as trading for Dominique Rodgers-Cromatrie. That strategy obviously did not work out in the Eagles favor, as they started the season 4-8 before winning their last 4 games. Philadelphia had the talent to succeed last year, but in a significantly shortened offseason, it took longer than expected for the team to gel. Blowing 4th quarter leads and turning the ball over didn’t help a great deal, either.
This year, however, the Eagles have taken care of their own. The team re-signed wide receiver DeSean Jackson, defensive end Trent Cole and offensive lineman Todd Herremans…all before giving LeSean McCoy a 5 year $45 million contract extension that guaranteed him almost $21 million. These moves by Philly indicate that they very well may have learned from their mistakes. It also shows that they are confident in the players on their roster and feel they will put the organization in a position to win a championship in the near future. The biggest offseason acquisitions the team made this year were trading for linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who should make an immediate impact on a team that was desperate for a quality middle linebacker, and signing Demetress Bell, who was picked up out of necessity when Jason Peters went down with an injury. Those pickups are hardly the “fantasy football” approach that some members of the squad thought Philadelphia took last year. In addition, the departure of Asante Samuel may be a blessing for the Eagles. It will allow Cromartie to play outside opposite Asomugha, which is a position he is much more comfortable with than the nickel spot he was forced to play last year because of the presence of Samuel.
The Eagles also drafted well this year; better than they have for quite some time. Granted, any talk of “how well a team has drafted” is pure speculation until the players take the field, but Philadelphia addressed some glaring deficiencies by picking up quality players in the draft who should be able to come in and compete right away.
Philly’s renewed dedication to building from within could very well pay immediate dividends for the organization, as they have the talent to compete with anyone in the NFC East and possibly the NFL. The only questions are whether or not the team can continue to gel and build upon the 4 game winning streak that closed out last season and whether they did in fact pick up the correct pieces to fill the holes they had on defense last year.