Second Wave Starts with Wallace
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The second wave of free agency.
Arguably that's where the Eagles put the finishing touches on what turned out to be a Super Bowl-winning roster last season by agreeing to terms with Chris Long and Patrick Robinson on cost-effective contracts.
Hindsight says Long developed into one of the better situational pass rushers in football during Philadelphia's run to the Bold North and Robinson was quite simply the best slot cornerback in the game. Other important pieces came even later, particularly running back LeGarrette Blount and safety Corey Graham.
Ironically, Long and Robinson teamed up in the NFC Championship Game to steal the heart from the favored Vikings. Minnesota had marched down the field with startling efficiency to take an early 7-0 advantage and had the ball again, ready to put a foot on the Eagles' collective throat.
That's when Long raced around Vikings right tackle Rashod Hill, impacting Case Keenum's throw, which wobbled out to Patrick Robinson, who then followed a convoy into the end zone.
Lincoln Financial Field was literally rocking from the noise ignited by the pick-six which reverberated all the way across the Delaware River and into South Jersey.
It was quite literally the exact moment the clock struck midnight for the Cinderella that was Keenum's 2017-18 season.
Personnel decision-making has been a strength in Philadelphia since Joe Douglas arrived as the personnel chief and it seems to be manifesting itself again in the lead up to the 2018 campaign.
The Eagles' first foray into the second wave of free agency this time netted them speedy receiver Mike Wallace, a three-time 1,000-yard receiver whose production dwarfs that of the player he is replacing, Torrey Smith.
As the new deep threat in Doug Pederson's offense, Wallace is faster and catches the ball a little more consistently than Smith and Howie Roseman got him for half the price.
In fact, if you really want to go back even further, Roseman and Douglas got a young cornerback on his rookie deal, Daryl Worley, for Smith, a player Philadelphia no longer wanted and then used the extra money saved in that transaction to get a receiver they did want.
And the Eagles still have a few extra dollars in their pocket from the moves.
“When you’re young, you have a different agenda,” Wallace said when asked by 973espn.com what he learned during his previous forays in free agency. “I didn’t try to come to this game to leave empty-handed. I had to secure the bag [money], and I did that. Now it’s time to try to secure a ring.”
There are issues with Wallace, starting with the fact he will be 32 in August and he hasn't really lived up to expectations in any of his three stops (Miami, Minnesota and Pittsburgh) since leaving Pittsburgh as perhaps the best deep threat in the NFL not named DeSean Jackson.
In all three of those cities, however, Wallace was expected to be either a WR1 or at worst a really good WR2. With the Eagles, he's going to be asked to stretch the field and keep the traffic underneath to a minimum so Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor can go to work.
Wallace, though, claims he's no one-trick pony.
“I plan on doing whatever the coaches need me to do,” said Wallace. “I plan on making plays, if it’s a short pass, a long pass, I’m with it all, and it doesn’t matter to me. That (deep threat label) is a stereotype. I caught a lot of deep passes, but I’ve caught a lot of short passes, too."
Playing with a quarterback like Carson Wentz is also sure to help Wallace's production. Asked if Wentz's presence played a role in Wallace coming to Philadelphia at a bargain rate, the personable Wallace smiled.
"Ninety-nine percent," he joked. "The other 1 percent was the rest of the team."
On paper signing Wallace looks like the perfect plan and just another example of how sharp Douglas' football acumen has been.
“This is my 10th year. I thought this was my best opportunity to make a run," Wallace said. "You can’t play this game forever. You don’t want to come out feeling empty. I want to get a (Super Bowl) ring in it. Like I said, this team is good. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get back, but at the same time, I heard great things about this group of guys that’s ready to work. I’m just going to fall in line.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen