A Big Catch

Posted: March 9th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 551 Comments »

The bad news is that #17 will be the key receiver for the Eagles this year.

The good news is that Alshon Jeffery will be wearing that and not Nelson Agholor.

You don’t have to be a football guru to notice a small difference in those videos. One guy can catch, one guy can’t.

Jeffery reportedly turned down a better offer from the Vikings to come to Philly to play for a 1-year, $14M deal. There is a good and bad side to that. The good news is that it shows Jeffery wanted to be here. He wanted to play for the Eagles and with Carson Wentz. The downside is that he is only here on a 1-year deal. Will he be worried about stats, as he tries to earn a mega-deal for the future? Will Jeffery have one eye on 2017 and one to the future?

There is no question that he is a major upgrade for the passing game. Wentz now has a workhorse receiver to get the ball to. Jeffery is one of those players who is so big and talented that even when he isn’t open, he is open. He can make tough, contested catches and that is something that has been missing from the Eagles for a while.

Howie Roseman didn’t stop with Jeffery.

So the Eagles added a pair of starting WRs, they signed a G with 48 career starts and they kept the starting LG from 2016 (who can also play LT or RT). The Eagles got better today.

They cut DE Connor Barwin. That move had to be made. Barwin struggled in 2016 and his release gave the team almost $8M in cap space. Barwin was an Eagle for 4 years, but it feels like he is one of those guys who will always be an Eagle because of how great he was in the community. Barwin embraced Philadelphia and did everything he could to help this city out. Kudos, sir and good luck elsewhere.

Barwin will go to a 3-4 team and get a chance to use his versatility. He isn’t a great pure pass rusher. He needs to be doing a variety of things to be at his best. He can be an effective player for a few more years, but definitely needs the right system to take advantage of his skill set.

Bennie Logan, the Eagles top free agent, was quiet today. No rumors. No visits. The whole DT group was quiet. Brandon Williams got a deal in the evening and that will set the market. Dontari Poe, Johnathan Hankins and Logan will follow. I don’t have a good feel for Logan’s future. The Eagles don’t want to lose a good DL, but the cost has to work.

No real updates on Jason Kelce and Mychal Kendricks. The Eagles are shopping them, but haven’t worked anything out yet. The first day of free agency can be tough for working out trades so this could go on for a bit. If the Eagles get desperate for cap room, they have to just cut the guys. They don’t want to do that since both players are talented and have some value. They just have to find a team that is willing to sacrifice a pick for them.

The Eagles won’t be doing much else unless they can free up more space. There are still some good CBs on the market. If they lose Logan, the Eagles might have to make a move at DT. They could add a WLB to replace Kendricks. Just don’t expect huge moves. They will go bargain hunting.

That’s what they did with Torrey Smith. He signed a 3-year deal, but it is really just for one year. The Eagles like him and his speed, but don’t want to commit to a player who has struggled in recent years. Smith will be playing with a good QB in a solid passing game for the first time in a few years. That should bring out the best in him. Obviously the key word there is “should”.

The Eagles didn’t commit long term money to the WR position so that can still be addressed early in the draft. The team doesn’t have to force anything. They can use pick 14 on just about anything aside from a QB, P or K. After that, all bets are off. The prevailing wisdom will have the Eagles going for a CB, but they can still take a WR if the right guy is on the board. The Eagles want to surround Wentz with talent.

One of the benefits to the moves made today is that the Eagles added good people. I did worry a bit about Terrelle Pryor and some baggage he might bring with him. I worried a little about Kenny Britt, who used to regularly get in trouble in NJ. Jeffery and Smith a very good guys who will help the Eagles, on and off the field.

There is plenty more work to be done, with trade talks and adding minor players to fill roster holes. For now, Howie Roseman and the Eagles front office are off to a good start. Wentz has legitimately talented receivers. The OL has more depth than in a long time. Lots of holes still to fix, but Howie and his staff certainly are off to a good start.

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Hints?

Posted: March 9th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 928 Comments »

One of the great lines from the great film Miller’s Crossing is when the police chiefs says “Geez Tom, I know I don’t know nothin. I’m just speculatin’ about a hypothesis is all.”

Me too.

Fran tweeted that yesterday. It is the only such link he put out. Does he know something we don’t?

Hmm.

On the flip side.

Peter isn’t great with free agency. He doesn’t break a lot of news on who is signing where so this is more of an educated guess than a definitive report.

I don’t expect the Eagles to sign Bouye, but I went from thinking it was an extreme long shot to thinking it is actually possible.

Jenkins was a good player and former 1st round pick. I’m still not sure why the Saints moved on from him. That was a bizarre mistake. I don’t think this is a good comparison at all. Bouye was arguably the best corner in the NFL last season. Big question with him is whether he can sustain that. He’s not getting by on highlights and hype. Bouye was legitimately great in 2016.

It is still very possible the Eagles are quiet today. Don’t get your heart set on big names. The key is to sign the right guys. That could mean making a hard push for Alshon Jefferey or A.J. Bouye. Or it could mean trying to land Kenny Britt and Kayvon Webster.

Stay tuned.

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A Goode Role Player

Posted: March 9th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 97 Comments »

Free agency doesn’t officially start until Thursday, but the Eagles made one move.

Per Adam Caplan, Good got $875K, with $50K guaranteed. That tells you that Goode has to earn a roster spot. No team wants to throw away money, but the Eagles would eat the guaranteed money if Goode had a terrible summer or if some rookie beat him out.

Goode has been a very good STer in the past. Last season he had a couple of amazingly dumb penalties that made me want to send him on a one-way trip to Mars. Luckily, the Eagles don’t let me fire frustrating players into space anymore (no has heard from Matt Schobel in a while have they?). Goode is the backup WLB. If the Eagles trade Mychal Kendricks (still waiting to see what happens there), Goode could get a chance to earn that job.

I have no problem with the Eagles bringing back Goode. He is a solid role player at a reasonable cost. I tend to like bringing back guys like that. There is no upside, but you know them and they know you. Stability helps on STs, just like offense and defense.

Re-singing Goode doesn’t mean the Eagles are done at LB. They could sign another cheap free agent or spend a mid to late round pick on someone. One player that I loved coming out of college is Sean Spence. He played for the Titans last year as a 3-4 ILB. I think he could handle the WLB spot in Jim Schwartz’s defense.

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What’s going on at WR?

Kenny Stills re-signed in Miami, for $8M per year. Pierre Garcon is heading to SF.

Remember this from the other day?

There is talk tonight that Britt will sign with the Eagles on Thursday and that would be just fine with me. I wasn’t so keen on Britt a couple of months back, but watched tape of him and read about him and he grew on me. He’s no longer the punk playing for the Titans that underachieved and got into trouble. He’s matured and just had his best season. I wrote a post about Britt and the other key WRs about 6 weeks ago.

The key with Britt is that the Eagles would not add just him and look at him as some kind of savior. He’s not that level of player.

We don’t know what is going on with free agent receiver Alshon Jefferey and Terrelle Pryor, my top rated guys. Would the Eagles add one of them and Britt? That would be a lot of money, but would seriously upgrade the position.

Howie Roseman has talked about wanting to go young on offense. He could look at adding Robert Woods from Buffalo if he wants to go that route. Torrey Smith isn’t young at 28, but would certainly be affordable and can be a vertical threat.

The perfect addition is still Brandin Cooks. He is young, experienced and explosive. What’s up with him?

Okay, that’s sort of encouraging.

Say what? I have never heard of John Hendrix and have no idea how good his sources are. He could be dead on the money, or way off on this. It seems crazy to me that a team would turn down pick 18 for a player they want to trade. Then again, the Saints do some odd things. Maybe this all just a negotiating tactic to try to get the Eagles to give up pick 14. I don’t think that is going to happen, but it certainly can’t hurt to ask.

Cooks is a good player, but he’s hardly worth a king’s ransom. The Eagles should continue to talk to the Saints to see what can be worked out, but you absolutely don’t hand them a blank check. If Cooks was truly an elite player, he wouldn’t be available. He’s good. And he’s a terrific fit. Roseman is a good negotiator so I expect him to keep working on this to see what he can do.

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Anything else going on?

So which is it? If I had to guess, I’d go with Wilson. He covers the Texans and is well-connected with agents and sources. Werder is in Texas, but is more of a Cowboys expert. Bouye’s agent could be using him to drive up the Texans offer.

I would love to sign Bouye. He is a terrific corner. The big issue is cost. We’ll find out on Thursday if the Eagles are casually interested or really plan to make a run at the star CB.

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Mostly Quiet on the Tampering Front

Posted: March 8th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 276 Comments »

Apologies to Erich Maria Remarque for stealing/butchering his great title, but it seemed appropriate on a day when there just wasn’t much going on. No player could get signed, but we expected more interesting rumors, whether involving the Eagles or not. Tampering day was fairly boring.

There was one big nugget regarding the Eagles.

Bouye is arguably the top CB available on the market. He had a great year in 2016. This isn’t a case of Byron Maxwell being the top CB available, but not being that good. Bouye was legitimately great this season. The problem is that it was a breakout season for him. You are taking a chance on his ability to play at that level for multiple years.

The other big issue is simply cost. Bouye will get $12 to $15M per year. Do the Eagles want to make that kind of investment in a CB? Forget cap space for a second, is any CB worth that in the Jim Schwartz defense? Maybe, maybe not.

We don’t know how seriously the Eagles are interested. We know they called Bouye’s agent, but that could simply be a formality. You call the guy up, feel out the situation and then move on if the price isn’t right. I think there is a decent amount of that going on right now.

Here is an interesting, if not exciting, nugget.

Brandon Lee Gowton posted some thoughts on Webster as a low risk target.

Webster would have the chance to come here and compete for a starting job. He hasn’t started since his rookie year, but has been a key STer for the Broncos. One of the reasons he hasn’t started is that they are so loaded at CB (Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, Bradley Roby). It isn’t like he’s sitting behind Dimitri Patterson, Nolan Carroll and Bradley Fletcher.

The Eagles are not going to add one CB and relax. They want to add multiple CBs involving free agency and/or the draft. They need to build that position up. Webster is a terrific STer and could be good depth at the very least.

*****

Can the Eagles afford to do anything?

The Eagles have several players to cut. That will clear up quite a bit of money. The team hasn’t cut anyone yet because they are hoping to trade a few of the players in question. Cutting those players now helps the guys out because they hit the market early, but this is a case where Howie Roseman is smart to hold onto them and see if he can get anything. If he can’t, the players will likely be released on Thursday or early Friday.

Why would a team trade for a player rather than letting the Eagles cut the guy? Control. When a player hits the market, he controls his future. If the team trades for him, they control his future. Sometimes giving up a late pick for a good veteran proves to be a bargain. Think about the Eagles and Darren Sproles. He has been huge for the team in the last 3 years. Great trade. The Eagles could have waited for him to hit the market, but Sproles might have preferred to play elsewhere. That late round pick turned out to be a great investment.

*****

We’ll get some more rumors and reports on Wednesday. Deals can’t be signed until Thursday afternoon. Until then, lots of talking. Lots of speculation. Even more waiting around, hoping something exciting finally happens.

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Who’s Playing Who?

Posted: March 7th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 349 Comments »

The Eagles are interested in Alshon Jeffrey. And Kenny Stills. And Brandin Cooks. And Terrelle Pryor. And Kenny Britt. It feels like the Eagles are being used by every agent in the business to pump up their clients. That certainly is a possibility.

It is also possible that the Eagles are leaking some of these reports to help their bargaining position. Let’s say the Eagles really covet Kenny Stills because of his age and speed. If Stills and his agent know that, they bargain from a position of strength. The Eagles could counter that by leaking that they are interested in another free agent or are trying to trade for Cooks.

Maybe the Eagles do covet Cooks and keep leaking names of free agent targets to make the Saints think they are willing to go another direction. Leverage means everything when negotiating at this time of the year. This is all a big game of chicken. Who blinks first?

You don’t want to be the team that didn’t land a key free agent. You don’t want to be the agent who failed to get a big deal for his client. You don’t want to be the team that is stuck with a player because you asked for too much in a trade. Any advantage you have in these negotiations can help, maybe a lot.

I have no idea if the Eagles are leaking rumors or if this is all agents and other teams. At the very least, the Eagles are benefiting from being associated with just about every available WR on the planet. Time will tell if any of this helps the team to really get the guy they want.

*****

Starting at noon on Tuesday, teams can legally “tamper” with free agents. They will have until 4pm on Thursday to negotiate as much as they want. No deals can be signed, but just about anything else goes. PFT has a good write-up on the situation.

*****

McManus usually has good sources so this feels legit. At first, I wasn’t so keen on Britt. The more I read about him and watched his tape, the more he grew on me. He has matured quite a bit, on and off the field. He just had a terrific season, despite poor QB play. I think Britt would be a good addition and he would have a reasonable price tag.

If you could get Britt and Terrelle Pryor or Britt and Kenny Stills, that would really upgrade the receiving corps and the passing game.

*****

There is another.

Smith will be on the market. The Eagles tried to trade for him at midseason, but couldn’t work things out. That was probably a good thing. Smith had a bad contract. The Eagles can now make a run at him with no compensation involved and get him for a cheaper cost.

If you focus on stats, Smith is a player in serious decline. He really struggled in SF. I think you have to be careful with that, though. Their QB play was a mess the last 2 years. No receiver is going to flourish when QBs are struggling. There is no guarantee that Smith will recapture the form he had in Baltimore, where he played well and showed the ability to be a good downfield threat. But if you don’t have to trade for him and the cost is right, it might be worth taking a chance on Smith. He has a good size/speed combination and has played at a high level in the past.

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