- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said the team learned its lesson in free agency after their mishap a couple years ago. And that was a big reason for their approach in 2014 – and perhaps why they did not pursue safety Jairus Byrd.
Lurie also learned over the last few seasons their now-departed quarterback, Michael Vick, could be counted on as a leader.
“He’s underrated in terms of his influence with both young people and teammates,” Lurie said of Vick, now with the Jets.
Lurie spoke with Eagles beat reporters at the NFL owners’ meetings Tuesday, touching on several topics -- but not touching the biggest one right now. When asked after his six-plus minute interview about DeSean Jackson, Lurie said he had “nothing to say.”
But he did have something to say on:
Not signing Byrd. He reminded reporters that Eagles coach Chip Kelly coached him at Oregon. “Nobody knows the Saints safety better than our coach. Very big confidence in that. And if he thought we should allocate our resources to have that player be our safety for the next several years at that level, then that’s what we would have done. You have to be very astute in how you want to allocate your resources to win big. We learned a lesson a few years ago. Sure, we were the team that signed Nnamdi [Asomugha] and some other guys. It just doesn’t work that way. You have to be disciplined. In this case it was great because our coach knew some of the top free agent safeties and they played for him and we could operate on a level based on his projection of reality.”
Vick’s legacy in Philadelphia. “The fact that he owned up to his mistakes and did something about it, not only served his time, but when he came out he was on a mission to prove it wasn’t just words that he wanted to do good things and reverse a lot of the bad things he did. He took action to do that. “He had some great moments on the field, some frustrating moments. Would get hurt at times. But at all times he was a good teammate for Nick [Foles]. Nick will tell you Michael was always supportive. When they were competing he was supportive. When Michael beat him out he was still supportive and when Nick played at a Pro Bowl level Mike was incredibly supportive.”
To illustrate Vick’s leadership more, Lurie pointed to the Riley Cooper situation last summer. “The people that stepped forward and were the most valuable in the locker room and who were the most influential were Michael and Jason Avant. A lot of respect for those two in terms of what they brought.”
As was stated earlier, Lurie did not want to address the Jackson situation. But he perhaps indirectly opened a window into what’s going on or what Kelly wants from his players. “It’s a very focused plan based on what the character needs to be and what the performance level needs to be. It’s a very focused target system where you know the kind of people you want to surround our current players with and who to go after and what the function of this offense is because it’s different than it was with Andy [Reid], the defense is completely different...It worked out well the first year with Chip and the personnel department and Howie [Roseman] figuring out what would be best.”
Free agency and their ideal philosophy. “The ideal system is to maximize your salary cap with the terrific players you have on your roster. You hope to be one of the teams that drafts so well that you’re spending one of the least in free agency. We’ve always been aggressive. That’s just our nature. We’ll always maximize our cap and what we spend. We would prefer to spend it on our terrific young players. That’s the best way to win.”