The700Level’s update on NFL free agency: overrated so far

The700Level’s update on NFL free agency: overrated so far

Free agency is set to open in the NFL at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, but already we’ve been inundated by reports that the Philadelphia Eagles are interested in this free agent and talking to that free agent. Thanks to the so-called “legal tampering” period the league instituted last year, teams were allowed to begin negotiating with impending free agents on Saturday, three days before they can sign on the dotted line.

There is little doubt the Eagles have shown interest in most, if not all of the players that popped up in reports over the weekend. Carolina Panthers safety Mike Mitchell, Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey and Cincinnati Bengals defensive end/outside linebacker Michael Johnson were among the more prominent names the club was said to have contacted already.

As league insiders have pointed out though, gauging the actual level of interest any team has in a player can be an entirely different story.

Philadelphia’s own Andrew Brandt provided some insight into where many of these reports materialize.

Greg Gabriel for the National Football Post spent 30 seasons working in NFL scouting departments, including the Eagles. He was a lot more shall we say direct about his opinion of many of the rumors circulating.

I believe the local writers breaking these stories have done well to choose their words carefully and not make anything out to be more than it is. Using Mitchell as an example though, who was first reported to be a potential target by Eliot Shorr-Parks for NJ.com, why wouldn’t the Eagles show some level of interest? The Birds need at least one, perhaps two starters at safety. They should be shopping around, comparing prices on literally all of the practical options.

It’s also important to note the fact that the Eagles have talked to Mitchell doesn’t mean they haven’t or won’t speak to numerous others. With all of the help that’s on the market at this position, it’s hard to believe Mitchell would be any team’s No. 1 target. Frankly, I’m not certain he’s even an upgrade over Nate Allen.

Likewise, it’s entirely possible the Eagles haven’t reached out to certain potential targets yet because they’re waiting for a market to develop. Think Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd based on Geoff Mosher's report for CSNPhilly.com. We know the Birds don’t want to pay him the $9 million per year he’s said to be seeking, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have interest. Letting him field offers and swooping in late with a competitive number could prove to be part of a strategy.

What’s been happening so far feels a lot more like a feeling-out process than an actual event. I have to think for every free agent who’s been known to have contact with Philadelphia, there’s 10 others the organization has inquired about or at least considered internally.

We’ll see what happens when the curtain rises on Tuesday. As of right now though, I’m selling a lot more of these stories than I’m buying.

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."

Tonight's lineup: Cody Asche starts in place of injured Roman Quinn

Tonight's lineup: Cody Asche starts in place of injured Roman Quinn

With Roman Quinn's season over with an oblique strain, Freddy Galvis moves up to second in the Phillies' lineup Wednesday night against the Braves.

Quinn's showing in the majors this month was a microcosm of his pro career to this point — he showed his speed with four steals and several infield hits, posted a .373 OBP in 69 plate appearances, but suffered another injury. Health has always been his roadblock.

With Quinn out, Cody Asche gets a start in left field against Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz, who he's homered off of. The presence of Quinn and Aaron Altherr has limited Asche's playing time — he's started only three games since coming back from Triple A on Sept. 10.

Asche bats seventh, a spot ahead of Aaron Altherr, who is 7 for 52 (.135) in his last 18 games and has four extra-base hits in his last 133 plate appearances.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Cody Asche, LF
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Adam Morgan, P

Matt Kemp, who sat last night, returns to the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Matt Kemp, LF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Dansby Swanson, SS
7. Mallex Smith, RF
8. Daniel Castro, 2B
9. Mike Foltynewicz, P