Personnel Mistakes Philadelphia Eagles Did NOT Make In 2014
By Bret Stuter
Dec 22, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd (31) looks to make a tackle on Miami Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas (33) at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Signing A Star
Despite recent lessons learned, some fans stressed the need to sign a star, particularly in the hard to fill safety spot. This is not to say that the Eagles did not address the safety position in the off-season, they did. But when the Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd announced his free agency, many linked the “pay me now” star of the Buffalo Bills with the Philadelphia Eagles. Whether the Eagles ever had serious interest in Byrd is a moot point, as the New Orleans Saints felt he was a true game changing star and signed him to a contract of $54M over six years, with $28M guaranteed. The Saints did not do so easily, as they slashed millions from their roster in cutting many veteran players who continued to be very productive into 2013. And as Saints players witnessed a new safety getting a huge payday, the players who have excelled on the team already sat up and took notice – particularly tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham, and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), have filed a grievance against the Saints to force New Orleans to recognize Graham as a wide receiver, which would result in a much higher franchise salary. While the hearing will not occur until mid June, the stage is already set.
The blue collar rule is clear – avoid pay disparity. Huge chunks of the Saints cap end up in the pockets of a player who, up until now, has not contributed to any success for the Saints. Should Byrd become injured (and he has a history of a rather nagging foot injury), those dollars are cast away. In the Birds locker-room, where quarterback phenom Nick Foles is making a very modest amount due to his rookie contract,
This is NOT to say that Byrd does not warrant a nice payout, nor am I suggesting he does not bring quite a lot of potential to an NFL team. But we know about signing stars. Players who have paid their dues elsewhere simply want to be paid. It’s their right. But blue collar is physical, and values production, not potential. Forces are now at work in New Orleans – determining who gets paid and who gets cut – as a result of the Byrd contract now; forces which will ripple in the Saints organization for years to come. If Byrd delivers, it’s a good deal. But if something goes awry, it could set the franchise back years. In the second year of the Philadelphia Eagles under head coach Chip Kelly, that’s a risk the organization can simply NOT make right now.