Eagles Legal Tampering Primer

Howie Roseman 2014Howie Roseman and the Eagles front office have already been quite busy in recent weeks, but the team's free-agency plan is about to take shape beginning with legal tampering this weekend. (Image via Philly.com)

NFL legal tampering opens Saturday, which means the Eagles and every other team can legally begin negotiating with free agents in advance of Tuesday's market open, and it has the potential to be a very productive weekend for general manager Howie Roseman and company. 

Roseman and his staff have been frantically preparing for this moment in one of the more pivotal offseasons in recent years for the past several weeks taking care of their own by re-signing the likes of Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper to name a few while moving on from veteran Jason Avant

In the process, the Eagles have leveled out their cap room to approximately $26 million and now have the flexibility to target virtually whomever piques their interest in a market that is abundant at such positions of need as safety, outside linebacker and cornerback ahead of a draft that is also chalked full of high profile talent at those positions and others.

Undoubtedly at the top of the Eagles shopping list is (finally) finding a marquee safety to fill the void left by Brian Dawkins in 2009. Dont' be surprised to see either Jairus Byrd or TJ Ward's name floated over the weekend as being in talks with the Eagles in advance of Tuesday. Either would more than fit the bill of game-changing safety that immediately not only improve the secondary, but could be a launching pad for Billy Davis' defense. 

If the Eagles can bag either of the top safeties on the market in the initial hours or days of free-agency, it will shape the remainder of the offseason and draft plan, allowing the personnel department to not only check off a significant need but also turn attention to adding depth at positions like wide receiver, outside linebacker and perhaps even cornerback. 

This isn't to suggest that the Eagles will duplicate their failed "All-In" strategy from the summer of 2011 when big names such as Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Vince Young, Ronnie Brown and Dominqiue Rodgers-Cromartie (via trade) were all added in short order. A gamble that resulted not in a Super Bowl run, but rather tore the team's chemistry to shreds and represented the beginning of the end of the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia. 

No, this time around the Eagles may very well add big names in the early going of free agency, but this time around with a targeted and tactical approach with a keen eye towards the burgeoning culture being carefully crafted by Chip Kelly

Perhaps the position that will be most telling as to how the Eagles plan to approach it in the coming weeks and months will be outside linebacker

Keep an eye on Mike Neal who was unable to reach a long-term deal with the Packers prior to free agency opening and could be an ideal fit for the Eagles 3-4 edge rusher that was sorely missing in 2013. 

Only time will tell, but with the names that are available at linebacker and safety in free agency, it wouldn't be shocking to see the Eagles target defense in free agency and then focus most, if not all, of their attention on the offensive side of the ball in May's NFL draft. 

Roseman may not be the most active general manager in free agency overall, but with the cap flexibility at his disposal, it wouldn't be shocking to see him strike quickly on the organization's top targets. 

In what is perhaps the most critical off-season in five years, the plan is about to unfold this weekend as legal tampering begins. 

Matt Lombardo is the Editor-In-Chief of Eagledelphia and also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter.
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