I posted two new articles over at the Fanhouse today:
Other Fanhouse posts you may enjoy:
INDIANAPOLIS -- As the NFL combine gets set to kick into high gear this week, the league offered a cautionary tale about free agency.
On Tuesday night, news broke that the Saints are going to cut safety Jairus Byrd, according to a report by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, three years after they signed him to a monster six-year deal. By cutting Byrd, the Saints will save cap space, but they'll also take on plenty of dead money just to move on.
Just three years ago, Byrd was the hottest safety on the market. He was the guy a lot of Eagles fans targeted. They wanted Byrd, not Malcolm Jenkins.
Well, this one worked out well for the Eagles. While Byrd's first season with New Orleans ended after four games with a knee injury, Jenkins has become one of the Eagles' best players.
Byrd has missed more games the last three years (15) than Jenkins has missed defensive snaps for the Eagles (eight). To Byrd's credit, he did play all 16 games in 2016.
But even when they're both on the field, Jenkins has been the much better player, being named to the Pro Bowl in 2015. He has eight interceptions over the last three years to Byrd's three and Jenkins has returned half of those interceptions for touchdowns. Byrd hasn't had a pick-six since 2011.
The Eagles rewarded Jenkins with a five-year extension before the start of the 2016 season.
This story should be on the minds of Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas this week in Indianapolis as free agency approaches. It's not always about the biggest splash; it's about finding the right fit for a team.
Even if the Eagles really wanted to splash this year, they might not have a lot of room to work with. They're strapped in terms of salary cap space, but they do have some options. This week will serve as an opportunity to meet with the representatives for several of their players already under contract like Connor Barwin, Jason Kelce, Ryan Mathews and Mychal Kendricks. Trades or cuts would free up plenty more space.
There won't be a break after the combine this year thanks to a congested schedule. Almost immediately after the Eagles return to Philly, the legal tampering window will begin on March 7 and free agency opens on March 9.
With this cautionary tale in mind, the Eagles have to avoid signing a Jairus Byrd and instead sign a Malcolm Jenkins. Easier said than done.
It's the least favorite day of the NHL season for most players.
Welcome to trade deadline day.
Because of salary cap restraints and an ongoing rebuild over the past couple seasons, the Flyers enter this year's deadline pretty much the way they entered last year's -- as sellers, not buyers.
General manager Ron Hextall stood pat a year ago on the team that was on the upswing at the end and headed to the postseason.
That can't be said this time around for coach Dave Hakstol's squad as the Flyers entered Tuesday's games six points behind Toronto in the wild card.
There isn't a single player available that would guarantee the Flyers a playoff berth and Hextall knows that.
Hextall said over the weekend in Pittsburgh, he would be inclined to sell. Tuesday's 4-0 massacre of Colorado has to be taken with a large dose of reality (see story). The Avs are the worst team in the league.
Florida and Washington will offer considerably more of a challenge this week.
"We haven't gotten results," Hextall said last Friday. "We need to get results. It's not about moral victories or playing good against Washington. That's fine and dandy but not good enough. We have to win games."
They haven't won enough to this point and remain a long shot to earn 93 or 94 points, which could get them in.
Which is why Hextall will likely try to sell Wednesday unless there is something out there long term that benefits the club. Most teams make deals on deadline day for this season, this playoff run.
Hextall won't dive into the fray for a major signing unless the benefit goes into next year and beyond because there are no guarantees his team will even qualify for the postseason right now.
The Flyers' current scoring woes run deep throughout the roster. No single-player acquisition is going to change those fortunes this season.
Hextall has three pending unrestricted free-agent defensemen -- Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz -- one or more of whom might be of draft pick value to the Flyers in a trade.
Hextall also has two goaltenders -- Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth -- whom are set to be UFAs. Either of them might be of value as a backup to some club, but that ship seems to have sailed with the L.A. Kings' rather inexpensive acquisition of Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay earlier this week.
A report by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun surfaced Tuesday night that the Flyers were trying to re-sign Neuvirth right now. Sources said no deal was reached Tuesday.
Colorado has spent a lot of time over the past month scouting the Flyers and other clubs in an attempt to move Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog.
Yet, if the Flyers were going to do anything there -- the asking price was rumored to be enormous -- they would have completed a deal Tuesday before the Flyers played the Avs to assure their acquisition wasn't injured during the game. Didn't happen.
One thing Hextall has at his disposal on Wednesday is a slew of young defensemen (see Future Flyers Report), at least two of which will be NHL-ready next fall, plus a deep pool of goaltenders, one of whom figures to be the club's next long-term franchise goalie, the way Hextall was during his playing days.
Since returning to the organization in the summer of 2013, Hextall has been very careful about protecting his assets. Both of L.A.'s Stanley Cups during this decade owe a chunk of its success to the organizational depth Hextall built and oversaw as the Kings' assistant GM to Dean Lombardi.
He won't move future parts without getting similar, significant parts in return. He hasn't forgotten that 11 players from the Kings' Cup roster of 2014 were players he oversaw in player development.
That model for success is what Hextall is trying to duplicate here in Philadelphia, amid an anxious fan base that would like to see the "process" accelerated at a faster pace.
Hextall believes time is on his side and, as he said last week, he won't promote any young prospect to the NHL level until he's certain they're ready.
With trade deadline day Wednesday, Hextall has his key people in town (scouting and personnel), including senior vice president Bob Clarke, who Hextall leans on for advice about the makeup of certain players. ... Michael Raffl's injury against Colorado was listed as lower body, but the fact is, he took a very hard hit to the upper body along the boards.