10 observations from Day 1 of NFL free agency


10 observations from Day 1 of NFL free agency

Ten observations from the first few hours of free agency, which saw 26 players change teams and 26 billion tweets sent out.

1. The Malcolm Jenkins backlash really surprised me. My Twitter feed hated the signing, and things got so crazy Tuesday evening that one follower actually posted that Jenkins is no better than Patrick Chung. Come on now. Jenkins is 26, durable, smart, versatile, started for a Super Bowl team, good locker room guy, good value. One of his strengths at 6-foot is his ability to line up and cover a tight end, something the Eagles have struggled with over the years. Is he a superstar? No. But you’re not going to have a superstar at every position, and for the Eagles, it was all about upgrading at safety. Jenkins is an upgrade. A significant one. This is like the Connor Barwin signing. Everybody talked about how his level of play dropped off in Houston in 2012, but once the Eagles got him in their system, and we actually saw him play, he turned out to be a heck of an addition. I expect the same from Jenkins this year. I think we’ll look back at this as a solid move.

2. As for Jairus Byrd, extraordinary talent, but I’d be skittish giving a guy with chronic plantar fasciitis $28 million guaranteed, which the Saints did. When you sign a player to a long-term, multi-million-dollar deal with a huge guaranteed bonus, you’re making a long-term commitment to that player, so it’s not just where will he be in 2014 or 2015 but where will he be in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Byrd is very good, but he’s not the fastest guy out there, and he’s not the healthiest. I think the Saints overpaid.

3. DeMarcus Ware is an intriguing name, but I’d tread carefully when adding a 31-year-old guy who’s been banged up and whose production has declined from 19½ sacks in 2011 to 11½ in 2012 to a career-low six in 2013. The Eagles are all about being young, healthy and fast, and I’m not sure Ware is any of those things right now. From 2006 through Week 8 of 2012, Ware had 100½ sacks in 104 games. In his last 21 games, he has 8½ sacks (or one more than Brandon Graham). It would be fun seeing Ware sack Tony Romo a few times a year, but I just don’t like the way he’s trending. If all the medicals came back totally fine? I’d make an exception to the 30-year-old rule. When he’s right, he’s an All-Pro. And we all know how desperately the Eagles need a pass rusher. But I’d have to be really convinced he’s healthy to make an offer.

4. What about Darrelle Revis? Tough call. He’s about the same age as Nnamdi Asomugha was when the Eagles signed him from the Raiders, and he’ll be joining his third team in three years. So there are a couple red flags. But Revis is still a tremendous player, and if the numbers aren’t too outlandish, I’d be intrigued. The Eagles already have Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher? So what. Adding Revis to their secondary would instantly make the them better. He’s 29 and has been hurt -- notably with the ACL in 2012 -- but he played at a high level last year in Tampa. What about the Eagles’ philosophy of only going after young, healthy, ascending free agents? Like with Ware, I’d make an exception for Revis, if the numbers are workable. With Revis, I doubt the numbers would be workable.

5. It’s going to fall under the radar, thanks to everything else going on Tuesday, but re-upping Donnie Jones was huge. He’s a human field-position flipper. Think about 33 punts inside the 20 but only eight touchbacks. That’s insane. Important move.

6. It will be interesting to see if anybody signs Chung. I just can’t imagine a team watching his 2013 film and saying, “Hey, I want this guy.” If Chung doesn’t join another team, the Eagles will have to pay him the $1 million guaranteed portion of his $3.25 million 2014 base salary. If he does go somewhere else, the Eagles are only responsible if he signs for less than his guarantee. They would be on the hook for the difference.

7. If you made a list of the five worst safeties in Eagles history, Chung wouldn’t be the worst. That honor would go to Erik McMillan, a one-time Pro Bowler with the Jets who Rich Kotite signed to a $1.3 million contract with a $500,000 signing bonus to replace the popular and productive Wes Hopkins in 1993. McMillan lasted six games before getting jettisoned. He flat couldn’t play. But Chung would be second. Then who? Matt Stevens? Jarrad Page? Sean Jones? Jaiquawn Jarrett? A lot of candidates. Too many recent ones.

8. Would be great to see Michael Vick sign with the Jets and be reunited with Marty Mornhinweg, Vick’s offensive coordinator during his resurgent 2010 Pro Bowl season. I know Vick has gotten hurt the last three years, but I still think he has one last good run in him. Maybe I’m dreaming. Vick turns 34 this summer, and he’s 12-19 in his last 31 starts. I’d just like to see him get one more chance to lead a team, and maybe things will turn out differently.

9. Interesting how few offensive skill guys have signed so far. Seems like there’s a real premium on defense this year, and that’s a direct result of the way the Seahawks won the Super Bowl and how that team was built. It’s also a reminder of just how strong the draft is with receivers. Why sign a free-agent receiver when you can get an equivalent guy a lot cheaper in the draft?

10. Most overpaid guy on Day 1? The Raiders signed offensive lineman Rodger Saffold to a five-year deal worth $8.5 million per year. Saffold has never made a Pro Bowl team and hasn’t started more than 10 games since 2010. Just wow.

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.

Doug Pederson not afraid to get aggressive with play-calling

Doug Pederson not afraid to get aggressive with play-calling

Talk to Doug Pederson and he comes across … what’s a nice way to put it … dry?

Very nice guy. Very friendly. Very down to earth. But not the most dynamic personality in public.

Which is why his personality on gameday has been so surprising.

Pederson is a risk-taker as a play-caller. Aggressive and fearless.

Whether it’s going for it on fourth down with the lead, going for two after a successful PAT or throwing deep in a situation that doesn’t necessarily call for it, Pederson has proven to be the proverbial riverboat gambler that Chip Kelly was expected to be but never became.

“My personality is probably a little more conservative by nature, I think,” Pederson said Monday. “You'd probably agree with that.”

Pederson got a laugh with that comment because his public persona is exactly the opposite of his gameday demeanor.

It only took one day before we all got a taste of Pederson’s fearlessness.

In the season opener against the Browns, with the Eagles clinging to a 15-10 lead and a rookie quarterback making his first NFL appearance and a 4th-and-4 at the Browns’ 40-yard line, he kept the offense on the field.

Carson Wentz responded by connecting with Zach Ertz on a five-yard gain to move the chains, and one play later, the Eagles took command on Wentz’s 35-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor.

Six weeks in, the Eagles are 5 for 5 on fourth down. Only the Falcons have converted more fourth downs in the NFL this year, and they’re 6 for 10.

In the win over the Bears, the Eagles were 3 for 3 on fourth down, their best fourth-down conversion day in nine years.

This is the first time in 14 years the Eagles have converted five or more fourth downs through six games.

According to Pro Football Reference, the Eagles are one of only seven teams in NFL history to attempt five or more fourth-down plays through six games and still be at 100 percent. The Lions are also 5 for 5 this year.

Pederson said analytics are a big part of his decision-making process, but he also trusts his instincts.

“I think it's both,” Pederson said. “But I trust our guys and I trust our offensive line and I think it sends a great message to the rest of the team, to the defense and special teams, that, ‘Hey, if we can convert this and stay on the field,’ it sends a good message.

“And on the other side of that, if you do convert, [it’s about] the message you send to the other team and the fact that you're going to stay aggressive.”

The Eagles are 29th-best in the NFL on third down at just 34 percent. But they’re one of only three teams that’s at 100 percent on fourth down.

“It's kind of a crazy deal when you're not great on third down, but you can be 5 for 5 on fourth down and convert them,” Pederson said. “It's a weird deal. But credit to the guys for the execution.

“I'm going to continue to look at it. I don't ever want to be in a position that I'm going to jeopardize the team at the time [by being too aggressive]. Looking at the five fourth-down decisions this year, I don’t think they put us in any harm at that time.”

Wentz is 3 for 3 for 21 yards on fourth down, with the four-yard completion to Ertz, a seven-yard first down to Jordan Matthews in the Bears game and a nine-yarder to Dorial Green-Beckham, also in the win in Chicago.

He also rushed six yards for a first down on a 4th-and-2 Sunday in the win over the Vikings. The Eagles’ other fourth-down conversion this year was Ryan Mathews’ one-yard TD on a 4th-and-goal against Chicago.

Pederson said as an assistant coach under Andy Reid, he always found himself asking himself whether he would be conservative or aggressive in crucial situations.

We’re all learning the answer now.

“Yeah, you definitely put yourself in those situations, as a coordinator and a position coach,” he said. “Putting yourself in those spots, it's a lot easier when you're not making the decision obviously to go, ‘Oh, yeah, I would have not gone for it there or not gone for it there.’

“Now, being in this position, it's my tail on the line if we don't convert.”