Eagles Free Agency: "Wake Up and Go To Sleep"

The Eagles front office had their hands perched just above their phones waiting to call free agents and start rebuilding their disappointing 2005 team. Then, suddenly, much like the old Three Stooges line that Moe so often delivered, the birds were told to "Wake up and go to sleep."

The Eagles thought their week would be ending with a deluge of discussions with agents regarding their free agent clients. The birds were poised to pursue a number of high profile free agents right out of the box, but have had to put all of those discussions on hold after the NFL invoked a 72 hour delay in free agency.

The delay will serve a couple of purposes. First, teams will have more time to meet the restrictions of a salary cap that they had hoped would be about 10 to 15 million dollars higher than it is. Some teams are going to be forced to make severe player cuts simply to get under the cap and afford any players that they choose in the draft this April, let alone any extra money to fill holes with free agents. Teams can also use the extra time to convince high priced players to restructure their contracts to help teams cut payroll. The Eagles, with the deduction of Terrell Owens contract will be about $20 million under the cap, weren't one of the teams scurrying around. In fact, the Eagles were set to take advantage of other teams tough financial times and do what they could to steal away top free agents.

The second part of the delay is that both the players union and the league have extra time to continue working on the Collective Bargaining Agreement. In fact, word is that the league has promised the union a new offer sometime over the weekend. Getting a deal done could avoid the "Bloody Thursday" scenario that had teams cutting players left and right to cut salary.

The Eagles are set to pursue Seattle's Steve Hutchinson and/or Rocky Bernard and Pittsburgh's Antwaan Randle El. They've reportedly also shifted their interest from Jets center Kevin Mawae, himself a victim of salary moves, to Saints free agent center LeCharles Bentley. Bentley could also conceivably move to either guard or tackle on a revamped Eagles offensive line.

The free agency period is now set to begin at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, March 6th. Teams will have until 6 p.m. Eastern on Sunday to get into compliance with the cap and the NFL is allowing teams to recall players who they cut on Thursday when it appeared free agency would begin on time.

Hood Ornament: Rod Hood received a mid-level tender offer from the Eagles - $1.552 million for one-year - which didn't come as a surprise to anybody. Hood is hoping to stay in Philly, looking for a long-term deal to replace the one tendered on Thursday.


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