PHILADELPHIA - The NFL announced the dates for the offseason programs of its 32 member teams on Thursday, including the Eagles.
It's back to business for the league despite the NFLPA's fight to keep the 2020 COVID-19 restrictions in place and again turn the offseason into a virtual workplace.
On the surface at least the Eagles’ veterans have decided to back the union's position to stay away from voluntary work, although those with bonuses tied to participating have been quietly told not to worry about the public position and feel free to work at the NovaCare Complex and other facilities around the league, a union source told SI.com's Eagle Maven.
The Eagles’ nine draft picks are expected to be in South Philadelphia for rookie minicamp, which will run from May 14-16. Heisman Trophy-winning first-round pick DeVonta Smith of Alabama headlines the rookie class that will also include a number of undrafted free agents.
Second-round pick Landon Dickerson, a teammate of Smith's with the Crimson Tide, will be in attendance but is still rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered in the SEC Championship Game.
The others Eagles' draftees are Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Milton Williams, Texas Tech cornerback Zech McPhearson, Memphis running back Kenny Gainwell, Southern Cal DT Marlon Tuipulotu, Coastal Carolina edge rusher Tarron Jackson, LSU safety turned linebacker JaCoby Stevens and Tulane edge player Patrick Johnson.
Philadelphia has yet to confirm its UDFA class, but it will be as least seven deep with Georgia/Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman and Florida receiver Trevon Grimes among the group that has agreed to terms.
Others UDAs expected are Texas A&M WR WR Jhamon Ausbon, Nebraska tight end Jack Stoll, Indiana center Harry Crider, Iowa State edge rusher Jaquan Bailey, and Buffalo offensive tackle Kayode Awosika.
The Eagles will also be permitted to have five tryout players at the rookie camp.
The 10 OTA sessions that the Eagles are allowed to have under the CBA will be from May 25-27, June 2-4, and June 14-17.
The three-day mandatory minicamp in which all players must attend or be subject to a fine is set for June 8-10.
Here are four things to look for at rookie minicamp:
Is Jamie Newman a legitimate QB3 option?
Most gave Newman a draftable grade but an opt-opt from his grad transfer to Georgia created too many questions and the talented former Wake Forest star will get his first opportunity to prove he should be the developmental option behind starter Jalen Hurts and veteran backup Joe Flacco.
Head coach Nick Sirianni, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo will want to see a good first impression from Newman, or the request to keep looking might be preferred.
The Eagles drafted two players who they plan to play at LB in Stevens and Johnson. The former played on the back-end at LSU and could be in the mix to be in the hybrid big nickel role while Johnson and veteran Genard Avery might be the indications of a move away from the significant use of the Wide 9 into a more movement-based, Mike Zimmer-like front.
Smith's Quickness Off the Line and Route-Running Abilities
Sirianni has mentioned he plans to use the talented Smith at all three WR positions and while there will be no press coverage allowed until training camp, it will be interesting to see the former Alabama star's ability to get off the line of scrimmage at the X position.
Is Zach McPhearson Ready to Go?
Right now the starting outside cornerback opposite Darius Slay would likely be Craig James, a really good special teams player but an untested option who's barely played at CB since being a waiver-wire pickup from Minnesota.
The Eagles failed to address the position until the fourth round of the draft and McPhearson, a Penn State transfer who will need to be brought up to speed quickly.
Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon figures to use more Cover-2 and Cover-3 looks and that should help the rookie.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.