At the risk of pleading guilty to injecting pure off-season filler, I'm passing off this report that Tom Gamble has returned to the Eagles front office.
Fans who wanted a more traditional "football mind" around Howie Roseman got their wish on Wednesday.
Tom Gamble, who has 25 years of scouting experience in the NFL, has been hired by the Eagles as Vice President of Player Personnel. Gamble spent the last two season as the San Francisco 49ers Director of Player Personnel.
"He’s not only a talented evaluator, but also a good man and the type of person you want as a part of your team," Roseman said of the hire. "Tom and I have had a great relationship over the years and I know he’s excited to come home. He had a great run in San Francisco and they have been very successful over the last few years. He will jump right in with our group and get working on free agency and the draft.”
This is not Gamble's first stint in Philadelphia. He was originally hired by the Eagles in 1988. He remained in Philadelphia through 1994, serving as a college scouting administrator, area scout, contract negotiator, and later as the director of pro scouting.
Gamble is a Haddonfield, NJ native, which might explain what appears to be a lateral move for him.
The 49-year-old has helped build 11 playoff teams – five with Indianapolis, four with Philadelphia and two with San Francisco.
Gamble is returning to the Eagles at a time when his counsel will be sought as much for existing player evaluations as it is for future talent acquisition.
For example, new head coach Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman will have to make several more financial/performance-driven decisions on veteran players.
Here's who could be next on the chopping or "restructured contract" block:
CB Nnamdi Asomugha – The cornerback is due a base salary of $15 million this upcoming season. He would count $4 million against the cap if cut. A renegotiated contract could be in order … if Kelly decides he's worth keeping in the first place. Gamble's opinion could count a lot.
DT Cullen Jenkins – This is strictly a money decision. Coming off a down year, Jenkins is due a $4.5 million base salary. The positive is that he can play in a 3-4 or 4-3 or hybrid defense. Gamble's assessment of Jenkins could sway the decision to keep him or release him.
OT Jason Peters – This decision is strictly based on health. Peters, 31, is coming off an Achilles injury that sidelined him for the entire 2012 season. And remember, Peters didn't tear the Achilles just once. He tore it twice. At $10.4 million, he's being paid as an All-Pro left tackle. If he's unable to play at anywhere near that level he may not be worth such a steep price. You know Gamble is looking deep into the personal side of Peters' recovery and physical rehab right now.
LB DeMeco Ryans – The former Texans linebacker had a strong first season in Philadelphia. But he didn't exactly thrive in the 3-4 when he was in Houston and is average at best in coverage. A $6.6 million base salary could be too much if Kelly determines he's only a two-down linebacker. Gamble will be asked for an opinion in this matter.
It is also being reported that Tom Gamble had a lot to say about the value of QB Mike Vick's restructured contract. As many expected, Vick took a steep pay cut to stay in Philadelphia.
According to multiple reports, Michael Vick's new deal with the Eagles is worth $7 million this season, roughly $9 million less than he was set to earn from his original deal.
The $7 million Vick will earn this season is broken down into two parts. Vick will receive $3.5 million in the form of a signing bonus, and another $3.5 million by making the roster. Assuming Vick goes into training camp with the Eagles, it's hard to imagine his being cut, but in theory the Eagles could release Vick and save the $3.5 million if they don't like what they see in Lehigh.
Various incentives in the contract could increase its value, but if Vick reaches any of them, the team will more than likely be okay with paying them. For example, Vick can earn up to $10 million if the Eagles win the Super Bowl.
Vick can also earn more money the more he plays. Vick can earn an extra $1.2 million on top of his $7 million if he plays 80% of the snaps next season. That number goes down the less he plays, with Vick earning $900,000 at 70%, $700,000 for 60 percent and $500,000 for 50 percent.
While the new contract and vocal support from head coach Chip Kelly definitely seem to indicate the Eagles are committing to Vick, the financial commitment is much less than they had to pay Vick before the new deal. By keeping Vick past February 6th, the Eagles committed to paying Vick $3 million. If they cut Vick in training camp, the Eagles will have only paid Vick roughly $3.5 million. That is only a $500,000 increase- not the new big money some fans thought they have guaranteed him.
Tom Gamble had some major input into the decision to allow Vick to hang around Philly a little longer. Gamble thinks Vick is worth a $3.5 million chance, and a long look by Kelly.
Don't pay attention to what the contract says, how much it is worth, or what the Eagles may say it means. At the end of the day, the only thing Vick and the Eagles agreed upon in the new deal is a chance—a chance for Vick to win back the job he wants, and a chance for Kelly to evaluate Vick in person before deciding. It is a chance that both Kelly and Vick think they can make the best of.
It is not known what kind of interest Vick would have had in the open market, but evaluating some of the other quarterbacks starting in the NFL, it's hard to imagine he would not have had at least a few suitors— with at least several offering him a starting job.
If Kelly truly is making this a QB competition, and has not told Vick behind closed doors the job is his, then the decision by Vick to sign here truly is a bet by Vick on himself. Vick knows his best chance to turn around his career is in Philadelphia with Kelly as his coach, and he is confident enough in his ability that he will be able to make it happen here.
Tom Gamble the "football mind" signed off on that premise, too— or else he'd still be in San Francisco.