Eagles Notebook: Eagles cautious about safety free agents

Posted: February 21, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - So, are the Eagles going to address their aching need for a safety upgrade through free agency, which starts March 11?

General manager Howie Roseman wasn't going to say for sure, obviously, during a series of interactions with reporters yesterday at the NFL Scouting Combine, which encompassed nearly an hour of Howiespeak. Roseman did leave plenty of verbal clues for reporters to sort through.

The upshot seemed to be that the Birds will look to improve, but after the debacle of their 2011 free-agent bonanza, you'll see them pay top-of-the-market money only for a very, very special player. Would Buffalo safety Jarius Byrd or Cleveland's T.J. Ward rise to that standard? Possibly, but given the overall tone of Roseman's remarks, quite possibly not. (Roseman couldn't discuss specific players, because they aren't yet free agents, and might not be, via franchise tags, etc.)

"Unique situations call for unique action. If there is a unique player in free agency that is hard to find, other than at the top of the draft, and fits all the criteria that we've outlined . . . then you have to look at it," Roseman said. "We still view ourselves as aggressive and risk takers. Sometimes you have to take risks to get better. But at the same time, we have a process here. We feel like that if we continue to do the right things and build our team and get better, we have a chance to be a good team for a long time."

On the one hand, Roseman talked about wanting to go into the draft as if the Eagles were an expansion team, looking for the best player in every draft spot, regardless of position. It would be particularly hard to do that if you hadn't done anything at safety in free agency. On the other hand, he spoke of sometimes needing to just patch a need and realize that nobody has great players at every position.

"You can't force things. You can't make something that's not there. I think we've all seen the lessons learned from that. If you do that, you're going to make a huge mistake," Roseman said. "Sometimes the option is just to get through the moment and to do some stopgap things. I'm not necessarily saying that's what we have to do at a particular position, but if you look at the teams that have won the championships over the last couple of years, they're not perfect at 22 spots.

"I think there's a big difference having a weakness at a particular position as opposed to being solid and getting through."

Roseman said you have to be careful to not give "A" money to a "B" player. Asked whether he sees any "A" money-worthy players scheduled to become available, Roseman said he does, with the usual caveats about franchise tags and so on.

"Is it 'A' money, or is it 'A-plus-plus' money? And how is that going to fit into the structure of your football team? When you talk about chemistry and you talk about rewarding your own players, when you bring someone in from another team, and you're paying them 'A-plus' money, how are your other players going to feel?" Roseman asked.

New Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht had a falling out with Howie Roseman several years ago, when Licht worked in the Eagles' personnel department, leading to Licht's departure, and bitter feelings. But Licht said yesterday that he and the Eagles' GM are good friends again, something Roseman underscored with a hug as they crossed paths amid a throng of reporters . . . Roseman said that quarterback Michael Vick has said the same things to the Eagles he said to reporters a few weeks back, that he wants the chance to go somewhere and start . . . Asked whether openly gay linebacker prospect Michael Sam would be welcome in the Eagles' locker room, Roseman said: "We're going to evaluate every player in how they play and how they fit our scheme. I think we have a really good locker room, a good group of diverse players . . . It's the ultimate melting pot."

On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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