Thus far, the Eagles have been rumored to be amongst the potential suitors for Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson. First and foremost I don’t believe the Eagles will pursue Johnson aggressively. However, cost aside, I do believe that Johnson is one of the best free agents hitting the market. Additionally, the Minnesota Vikings have several things going for them in the pursuit of Johnson, including head coach Mike Zimmer. However, if Johnson decides that the Eagles, head coach Chip Kelly, and defensive coordinator Billy Davis are the best solicitors, all the rumors are a moot point and the Philadelphia Eagles would land a significant upgrade to their defensive front seven.
While the Eagles do have room under the salary cap, I do not expect general manager Howie Roseman to be overly aggressive towards the higher end free agents. Sometimes players are willing to sign for slightly less for a contending team. Unfortunately some players land a contract and never commit the same discipline nor the dedication necessary to survive in the NFL. An under the radar name that is being circulated currently is that of Green Bay Packers linebacker Mike Neal. Much like Michael Johnson, Neal has the ability to play a similar role to current Eagles defensive end/outside linebacker Trent Cole. Mike Neal will be 27 years old when the 2014 regular season begins and is nearly five years younger than Trent Cole. The key attribute shared by both Neal and Michael Johnson is that both players were on playoff teams during the 2013 season. Perhaps the most important detail regarding Neal is that he will not command top dollar in the free agent market.
Competitiveness is seemingly one of the strongest traits amongst NFL players, which makes Philadelphia as a football team an enticing destination. It’s also important for fans to remember that for every Peyton Manning signing by the Denver Broncos there is three Albert Haynesworth signings by teams like the Oakland Raiders or Washington Redskins. Quite often, championship caliber teams do not make headlines in the early stages of free agency. While the pursuit is enjoyable, it’s often important to remember that the juice isn’t always worth the squeeze, especially for the high profile guys that will garner all the attention with sports media.