Eagles coach Chip Kelly: Free agency not a panacea

Chip Kelly expresses interest in Oregon pass rusher Dion Jordan at the NFL Combine. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Chip Kelly expresses interest in Oregon pass rusher Dion Jordan at the NFL Combine. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Posted: March 03, 2013

ATLANTIC CITY - A tuxedo-clad Chip Kelly attended the Maxwell Awards dinner on Friday night, one month before the new Eagles coach can finally begin to work with his players. Until then, it's more film study, administration, and preparation for the draft and free agency.

Kelly said he does not have an overriding philosophy on free agency, but he said it's not a panacea for a team's problems.

"If you can find someone who can improve your team and get better, but I don't think there's, 'We have to get X amount of players this year,' or, 'Don't get X amount of players,' " Kelly said. "It's a fluid situation all the time. You can look at what you have on the roster, and you can say we want to get this position, but then you look at free agency, there's no one at that position who's better than what you have."

That led to the natural question about the Eagles' 2011 spending spree, which included the signings of Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, and Steve Smith, among others.

"I wasn't around in 2011, and I haven't spent a whole lot of time on why that happened or how that happened," Kelly said. "Do I think free agency solves all problems? No I don't."

The status of Asomugha, the marquee acquisition in 2011, remains uncertain. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman categorized last week's meeting with Asomugha's agent, Ben Dogra, as "positive," although he offered no update on what will happen with the 31-year-old cornerback. Asomugha is due $15 million in 2013, with $4 million guaranteed. The Eagles are expected to try to restructure Asomugha's deal.

Kelly met with Asomugha before Asomugha's trip to Nigeria, but they were not permitted to discuss football due to the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. Kelly called him a "classy guy," but did not elaborate on Asomugha as a player.

"We've done film evaluation, and our staff and [general manager] Howie [Roseman] will sit down together and see where we'll move forward," Kelly said. "But as a person, I think he's outstanding."

On Monday, the Eagles released defensive tackles Mike Patterson and Jenkins. The moves seemed to indicate the Eagles are changing defensive schemes and trying to get younger, but Kelly warned against jumping to conclusions.

"You look at one maneuver from a personnel standpoint and can't say, 'Aha!' " Kelly said. "And right now, when you look at our roster, we're really not at that point to really make any decisions on what direction we want to go in."

Therein lies the biggest issue Kelly faces. He is trying to make decisions entirely based on film. It's not an ideal scenario, but until he works with the players, he will not know exactly what he has.

"It's the hand we're dealt, and we'll deal with it no matter how it comes out," Kelly said. "I know free agency starts on March 12, and we don't get a chance to see our guys until April 1, so we don't get to call a timeout and put everyone on hold until we can see."


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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