THE EAGLES may not be done moving players this spring. And while that might excite you, it has absolutely petrified those in charge of area stores that carry team jerseys.
Petrified is the operative word here. Little inventory coming in, very little going out.
"I don't know what Chip Kelly is doing," Frank Sanders, the store manager of Lids Locker Room in the Cherry Hill Mall, was saying yesterday. "So, yeah, I'm a little nervous getting anything in here just yet."
Nearby, Sports Authority is in a state of suspended animation as well, said employee Tina Lopez, saddled with an inventory of shirts of players no longer with the team. As for the new guys, she said, there are a few DeMarco Murray shirts available in their Turnersville store, but the district manager has made it clear: No big buys until we're sure the guys who Chip brought in today are the same ones he will put on the field at summer's end.
Of specific concern is the fate of Sam Bradford, the quarterback traded for Foles. Inventory is traditionally weighted toward the quarterback's jersey, one reason you can still pick up a midnight-green Michael Vick No. 7 at Sports Authority. There is also an ample supply of Mark Sanchez shirts at Modell's in the Cherry Hill Mall, but don't expect a price break. Based on inventory, merchants seem more certain that he will be on the team next autumn than they are of Bradford.
Bradford was acquired for Foles before Murray was signed as a free agent. But from the time that trade was announced, there has been speculation he would be swapped again in a draft-day deal to acquire Oregon quarterback and Kelly protege Marcus Mariota. The Eagles coach has publicly scoffed at such a notion, but that has done little or nothing to ease the worries of store owners whose inventories are already overloaded with the jerseys of departed Birds.
Just a few stores down from Lids in the Mall, Modell's has two Murray jerseys displayed prominently in its window and a healthy supply in all sizes inside the store, selling for $100. But when I asked a worker on the floor whether they were getting Bradford shirts anytime soon, she eyed me suspiciously, asked why I wanted to know, and when I told her it was for a story, referred me to an 800 number. "I'm not allowed to comment on that," she said.
(Note to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie: If you're looking to shore up some of those leaks coming from your front office, I highly recommend hiring clerks from Modell's. They know nu-thing. They see nu-thing.)
Here's what else you won't see at Modell's or anywhere else, at least yet: jerseys of the other big offseason acquisitions, Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell. Here's what you will see: racks and racks of jerseys with the names Foles, McCoy and Maclin on the back, in all sizes, under signs advertising discounts of up to 70 percent.
Sports Authority also has a big discount on Ryan Howard Phillies jerseys. "He's off the team too now, right?" asked Lopez.
Um, not exactly.
But most certainly off our radar. Dick's also has discounted Michael Carter-Williams jerseys, discounted Jimmy Rollins T-shirts, and a glut of Flyers jerseys. Lopez points to the new Phillies uniform tops that have arrived at her store without names or numbers on the back - an attempt to increase their shelf life, she said.
The best price I saw yesterday for jerseys that originally retailed for $100 was at the team-owned Eagles Pro Shop at the Market Place at Garden State Park. There, you can get a Foles, Maclin or McCoy jersey for $20.
Not a bad deal for the jersey of the Eagles' all-time leading rusher.
"That's what I tell people who try to return their jerseys," Sanders said with a smile. "When he's done playing, you can wear it the way people wear Reggie White jerseys now. He'll still be the all-time leader."
Does it work?
"Not really," he said.
Over the last few weeks, people have even tried to return jerseys they received for Christmas - and never got to wear to a game. "I have to tell them, 'Sorry,' " Sanders said. "It's way past the last return date."
As for the ones he didn't sell? They've been shipped to a warehouse, he said, destined to appear real soon at a discount store near you. He expects the new names will eventually take their place - just not any time soon. The coach has said he won't mortgage the future to get Mariota, but that's little consolation to merchants.
For them it's about the here and now, and right here and right now, business is just plain bad.
Sanders, who hails from South Philadelphia, eyed an Eagles display that did not contain the shirt of a single current Eagle and shook his head.
"I grew up loving my Eagles," he said. "I look at all of this and I'm like, 'Aaarrgh.' "
On Twitter: @samdonnellon