During my daily check in on my buddy Brian Solomon’s great Eagles blog
McNabb or Kolb (or Vick), I was alerted to another article written by Judy Battista of the NY Times, who had recent chatted with Jeffrey Lurie and Joe Banner, with Brian identifying the money except:
The structuring, it turns out, began not long after N.F.L. owners decided in the spring of 2008 to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement. The Eagles examined the rules that would be put in place and realized the 2011 free-agency period, if it happened at all, would present an extraordinary buyer’s market.
Because players who would usually have been unrestricted free agents in 2010 were tied up instead, two free-agent classes would be rolled into one, at the same time as teams would again have to work within a salary cap after having none in 2010 — meaning some teams would not be buyers because they were close to the cap number.
So began the meticulous preparation for what finally came to fruition in the last two weeks. In contracts they made late in 2008 and 2009 — including those for Asante Samuel and Jason Peters — the Eagles purposely made the 2011 cap numbers the lowest of the contracts, which is unusual because most contracts have their lowest cap numbers early in the deal.
“You’ll have twice as many players available as usual, and we’re either locked out or there is a reduced cap,” Banner said. “You don’t have to be a brilliant person to figure out there’s going to be huge opportunity. You can’t have increased supply and reduced dollars and not have it. We didn’t know the names, but we did it to take advantage of what was clearly going to be a very team-friendly marketplace. There was a strategic element to this. There was luck as well. Frankly, it turned out better than we hoped.”
Brian then suggested to look at eaglescap.com in case you were skeptical:
I suppose, if you’re unwilling to trust Banner, you could be skeptical that the Eagles really planned so far in advance. But the Samuel and Peters contracts are intriguing evidence. Check out Eagles Cap if you don’t believe the team structured their contracts this way from the beginning.
Well, I did. And it appears the planning is very evident indeed. Here’s a list of 12 Eagles that have gotten new deals as recently as 2008, with their 2011 cap numbers highlighted:
(Cont after the jump)…
Also of note, to me at least, was this quote from Joe Banner:
“ ‘All in’ to me implies a short window, and that’s the only thing I object to,” Banner said in a recent interview. “Because we are going to do everything we can to win the Super Bowl, that’s accurate. But all in implies right now, bust if it doesn’t happen. We have structured this so it will be sustainable, and that’s a big difference between what we’ve done and what we’ve seen others do.”
Yes, the Eagles killed this offseason.