The Eagles spent the past week creating salary-cap space, and they didn’t do it to collect interest. Free agency begins this week, with the legal tampering period starting on Monday and the league year opening at 4 p.m. Wednesday, when signings and trades can be consummated. The Eagles have opened more than $20 million in salary-cap space, and can easily open more in the coming days by adjusting long-term deals and letting players with non-guaranteed contracts leave.

“We always want to be aggressive,” Eagles executive vice president Howie Roseman said. “We think that’s a recipe for success, to take risks, take smart risks. But by the same token, the league has gotten so smart about retaining their own players and signing them early and utilizing their cap room, I think [opportunistic] is the right word, no matter where that comes, whether it’s the free-agent market or the trade market or the waiver wire.”

The biggest name on the market is Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell, who sat out last season in a contract dispute over the Steelers’ use of the franchise tag on him. There’s no question that the Eagles could use a player such as Bell – running back is one of the Eagles’ biggest needs, and Bell is one of the NFL’s elite rushers – but if Bell was not satisfied to play on the $14.5 million franchise tag last season, it’s unlikely the Eagles would give him a deal that satisfies him.

» READ MORE: Bryce Harper wants Le’Veon Bell to join the Eagles

However, the market does not always bear what a player is seeking, and if the price is right, the Eagles cannot be ruled out. This statement could be applied for most players who fit the Eagles during the next week – the Eagles have the payroll flexibility to be creative, and Roseman is known to be aggressive. Two years ago, the Eagles were not initially considered front-runners for Alshon Jeffery, and he’s now entering his third season as their No. 1 wide receiver.

Bell or not, the Eagles will look to add a running back this week. Jay Ajayi is a free agent coming off a torn ACL, and he will likely return only if it’s a decidedly team-friendly deal. Darren Sproles is also a free agent and there’s no official word whether he’ll play in 2019. A combination of Corey Clement, Josh Adams, and Wendell Smallwood isn’t the answer. The Eagles could wait for the draft, but there’s no guarantee they’ll find the starting running back that weekend. So this next week should be fruitful in their search.

Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman is a player to watch for the Eagles, although Coleman is also expected to receive significant interest. The 25-year-old shared a backfield with Devonta Freeman during the past four years, but he proved to be a productive all-purpose running back. He has a career average of 4.4 yards per carry, including 800 rushing yards on 4.8 yards per carry last season. Coleman also has averaged 30 receptions during the past three seasons.

New Orleans’ Mark Ingram is entering his ninth season, but he’s shown no signs of slowing down while averaging 4.9 yards per carry during the past three seasons. Ingram has also thrived in a shared backfield with Alvin Kamara, and Eagles coach Doug Pederson likes to use multiple running backs.

The Eagles could also look at Jacksonville’s T.J. Yeldon, a former second-round pick who has never played up to his draft billing; or Kansas City’s Spencer Ware, who has starting experience and a background with Pederson.

There’s also the chance to explore the trade market. If the Eagles go in that direction, pay attention to Cleveland’s Duke Johnson, a skilled pass catcher out of the backfield who might be caught in a numbers crunch with the Browns.

Elsewhere on offense, the Eagles are expected to seek improvements at wide receiver, where they could use a deep threat on the perimeter. They first have internal decisions to make. Nelson Agholor’s $9.387 million salary in 2019 is not guaranteed, so the Eagles can try to extend Agholor’s contract to lower that salary-cap charge or cut him to open the cap space. Also, veteran Golden Tate is set to be one of the top free-agent receivers after arriving via trade in November. Mike Wallace and Jordan Matthews are also free agents.

One receiver who would make sense for the Eagles is the Los Angeles Chargers’ Tyrell Williams – a 6-foot-4, 205-pound, 27-year-old deep threat with a career average of 16.3 yards per catch. Williams would fit as an outside option opposite Jeffery. However, without many top receivers available, Williams is expected to be heavily pursued.

The Eagles could also look to John Brown, a speed receiver who revived his career in Baltimore last season with 42 catches for 715 yards (17 yards per catch). Kansas City’s Chris Conley has never emerged as a consistent receiver since the Chiefs selected him in the third round in 2015, but he has a good size-speed combination and has a background with Pederson. If the Eagles consider trades, Cincinnati’s John Ross could be on the move two years after the Bengals selected him with the No. 9 overall pick. Ross hasn’t been productive in the NFL, but the 4.22-second 40-yard dash is still attached to his name. And the Eagles will look for established receivers who might benefit from a change of scenery.

The Eagles will also take a look at the veteran backup quarterback market to compete with Nate Sudfeld for the chance to replace Nick Foles, who is expected to sign with the Jaguars this week. Cleveland’s Tyrod Taylor, New Orleans’ Teddy Bridgewater, and Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick are the top options, and more could be set free in the coming days.

Defensive line, safety, and linebacker are other positions to watch for the Eagles in the free agency.

The Eagles’ level of activity will also depend on what they do about their own free agents. Cornerback Ronald Darby and linebacker Jordan Hicks could both generate heavy interest elsewhere. The Eagles have 16 pending unrestricted free agents and one restricted free agent.

Eagles free agents

QB Nick Foles

CB Ronald Darby

LB Jordan Hicks

RB Jay Ajayi

DT Tim Jernigan

WR Golden Tate

WR Mike Wallace

DT Haloti Ngata

OL Chance Warmack

S Chris Maragos

S Corey Graham

RB Darren Sproles

TE Richard Rodgers

LB LaRoy Reynolds

WR Jordan Matthews

LB D.J. Alexander

QB Nate Sudfeld (restricted)

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