Indy Update on the Eagles

Posted: March 1st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 168 Comments »

Howie spoke. Doug spoke. And there was some minor news and rumors as well. Pretty good for the opening day at The Combine.

First, nothing major with the Eagles. Nobody was signed, cut or traded. Don’t get excited yet. That’s a week from now. Howie and Doug spoke to the media, as most coaches and executives do in Indy.

Neither guy said anything all that remarkable, but both did have the same focus. Building around Carson Wentz. Les Bowen summed it up well.

Carson Wentz wasn’t lurking behind the podium as Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson spoke Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

His red hair wasn’t lighting up the nearby NFL Network set. Wentz couldn’t be found in the darkened area behind that, sitting in the empty bleachers from which fans will watch prospects bench-press, in one quadrant of a cavernous Indiana Convention Center exhibit hall.

But Wentz was there, just the same.

The development of the Eagles’ second-year quarterback took up a significant part of both the Roseman and Pederson media sessions, and even when Wentz wasn’t the primary topic, he was the subtext.

Les is no Tom McCallister, but he’s pretty good. And his point is dead on the money. The Eagles might disagree about their exact plans, but there is no question that the organization is focused on building around Wentz.

They want to give him the right coaches, the right blockers and go find him some weapons.

Pederson was asked about RB Jamal Charles, who the Chiefs released. They spent time in KC together and it sounds like Pederson is curious, if not interested.

“I’ve got history with him in Kansas City for three years, and I think he’s a tremendous running back. It’s something that we’ll evaluate now. We’ll grade him, just like we do every free agent . . . see where he can fit into our offense.”

There are a couple of problems. Charles played in 8 games over the last 2 years combined. That’s a major issue for someone at a position that takes a beating. Charles is also on the wrong side of 30 and RBs rarely age gracefully. I would be all for adding Charles if the Eagles needed a number two back, but they already have Darren Sproles. They have Wendell Smallwood behind him. The Eagles need someone they can feed the ball to. They need someone who is talented, but also reliable. Charles is talented, but durability has been an issue the last couple of years.

Howie Roseman specifically talked about the depth of the RB position. That would lead you to think the Eagles might prefer to try and draft a RB first. If that doesn’t work out, then go find a veteran to be part of a group in 2017. I would certainly have no option with the Eagles using Charles as a backup plan. If they don’t land the right guy in the draft, go talk to him.

I could be way undervaluing Charles, who has had an amazing career. I just know that the aging RBs I’ve seen over the years rarely have bounce-back seasons when things start to go wrong. There are always anomalies, but as a rule of thumb you want to be careful about adding older RBs.

Roseman talked a lot about keeping a long term focus. He became a key part of the front office in about 2009. Since then, the Eagles have always been trying to “win now”. This is the first time they have had a young, franchise QB to build around. It sounds like Roseman is going to be disciplined this offseason and lean on Joe Douglas a lot. At the same time, Roseman said the Eagles won’t hesitate to be aggressive if the situation is right.

There were lots of questions about Jason Kelce and Connor Barwin. Roseman (and Pederson) said only good things. Roseman isn’t going to tell the other 31 teams the Eagles are shopping those guys or plan to cut them. There is no advantage to that. Keep the players. Say the right things publicly. See if you can work a deal. You only cut them when you have to.

Roseman was asked about Bennie Logan. Howie wouldn’t go into details about any contract talks, but said very positive things about the free agent DT and certainly left me feeling the team would like him back. The money still has to make sense so we have to wait and see how things shake out.

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Star DTs Dontari Poe and Brandon Williams reportedly will not be tagged. That helps to crowd the DT market and could help the Eagles to keep Logan.

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Here is an update on potential Eagles target Kenny Stills. He might want to stay in Miami and not go to the highest bidder. Just speculation, but there are some interesting quotes in the piece that make it sound like Stills wants more than just the biggest deal.

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Back to the Eagles for a second. Jeff McLane got a good scoop on Carson Wentz.

Carson Wentz experienced soreness in his right elbow last season that the Eagles believed was related to his throwing mechanics, sources close to the situation said.

The soreness wasn’t significant enough that Wentz had to be listed on the team’s injury report, and the Eagles also believed that it was partly because the rookie quarterback was throwing more than he ever had in his career. But his elbow pain was significant enough that the Eagles stressed that he took additional time off after the season ended.

“Take time off. Get away. Get healthy. Get fresh. Get rejuvenated,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday when asked for his parting message to Wentz on Jan. 2. “And that’s what he’s done.”

 Wentz finished the season with 607 pass attempts, the second-highest total ever for an NFL rookie behind Andrew Luck’s 627 in 2012.

That’s not a huge deal, but it is certainly worth noting. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Wentz posted better numbers early in the year. How much of that was due to the elbow?

You also have to remember that the Eagles had all sorts of OL injuries for a while. The WRs struggled in that time period. There were RB injuries. The defense suddenly became inconsistent. The Eagles relied a lot on Wentz at the time when his arm was sore. Not ideal.

Wentz should be better prepared for the upcoming season. He now understands what it takes to start 16 games and throw a bunch of passes.

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Free Agency Update

Posted: February 27th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 258 Comments »

Here we go.

Brown drove up the price of signing a WR, but the good news is that it sounds like the Eagles will have some good options to choose from. I have not heard a word about the team having interest in Pryor. It does sound like the Eagles have some interest in Jeffery. We’ll just have to see about that price tag.

Next up is a report on Dolphins WR Kenny Stills from the Miami Herald.

That’s because, multiple NFL sources agree, Stills is more likely to leave via free agency than stay in Miami.

The Stills camp is already aware of the receiver’s potential value in free agency. And the market is said to already be in the $12-million-a-year range, per sources.

There is even a team on everyone’s lips as a likely landing spot for Stills — The Philadelphia Eagles.

Kenny Stills to Philadelphia has been an open secret for weeks before agents and teams are officially allowed to talk about potential deals starting March 7. It is so well known in league circles that NJ.com reported weeks ago the Eagles would be targeting Stills if he made it to free agency.

And that report is correct, sources confirm.

So that leaves the Dolphins in an unenviable position because they are aware that a bidder exists and the likely price for their player is quite high. And so far the Dolphins have not been ready to climb to the price plateau the Eagles — in dire need of a speedy, deep-threat receiver — seem poised to reach.

The Dolphins, per sources, have had internal discussions about all their free agents and placed monetary values on those players relative to their cap structure. And paying Kenny Stills $12 million per season is nowhere close to the model the Dolphins feel comfortable about.

It is not known how high the Dolphins are willing to go to keep Stills. Stills and his representatives are likely to know in the coming week after they meet with the team. But the Dolphins so far do not intend to be the high bidder.

Stills is a talented, young WR worth signing. At $12M a year? I’m not so sure. That seems out of line for him, but you have to see how the contract is structured and you also have to know prices are going up, not down. I don’t think Stills is worth that much and I have my doubts that he’ll get that much, but March shopping does funny things to NFL executives who are desperate to add talent.

Before we get too fired up about this being a bad deal, let’s remember it could be an agent pushing this story to try and create a higher market for Stills. Or this could be the Dolphins floating a high number to scare off other teams and to drive Stills back to them at a cheaper rate. Lots of games are played at this time of the year. Teams and agents all have agendas.

Stills makes a lot of sense for the Eagles (young, fast and he can actually catch the ball), but this is not a guy you hand a blank check to.

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KC is also working hard to re-sign Eric Berry. And they still have Dontari Poe to talk to. You have to wonder if Jeremy Maclin gets cut with all the money that is being spent out there. Even if that happens, there is no guarantee the Eagles would have interest. Still, it would be nice to have him as an option on the market.

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Short getting tagged means that a DT comes off the market. The Eagles want as many DTs as possible on the market. That would, in theory, make it easier to keep Bennie Logan. The fewer the DT options, the more the price goes up on those guys who are available.

PFT posted their list of Top 100 free agents. They had Logan down at 45. I’ve seen several lists like that and they all have Logan down in that area. If that is the perception of him around the league, the Eagles just might be able to afford him.

Stay tuned.

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Important Week Ahead

Posted: February 26th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 130 Comments »

The NFL’s Scouting Combine starts on Tuesday. This is a big deal for a variety of reasons.

I wrote a piece for PE.com on why the Combine is so important.

If you want an actual preview of the Combine, Fran Duffy has been putting out great content. I’ll post a few thoughts of my own in the next few days. The actual workouts won’t start until Friday. Here is the schedule.

Indy will be crazy this week. You will have all 32 coaches, every GM/team executive and every agent in the book all together in one spot. There will be all kinds of talks, in regard to contracts, free agency and trades. The Eagles have a lot of talking to do.

They need to see if they can trade Mychal Kendricks, Jason Kelce and/or Connor Barwin.

They need to talk to Bennie Logan’s agent.

They should feel out the agents for the top WRs and CBs so they can start to make realistic plans for free agency.

There will also be a coin flip so we can find out if the Eagles will pick 14th or 15th. My free advice is to choose tails.

We already found out one bit of news this week.

So the Eagles now have:

1
2
3
4
4
5
6
7

That’s not exactly the haul of picks the Browns have, but it is a lot better than last year.

It will be great if the Eagles can add picks through trades, or at least use those players to move up in the draft. This is a deep, talented draft class. This would a good year to have as many picks as possible.

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Bennie Logan

Posted: February 25th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 91 Comments »

Bennie Logan is the Eagles top free agent (apologies to Bryan Braman). We still don’t know if the team will be able to bring Logan back. With Fletcher Cox making so much money at one DT position, there is only so high the Eagles can go with Logan’s salary.

My guess is that the team does want him back. When he was healthy, the defense played very well at the beginning of the year. Logan played his best football early in the season and then suffered a groin injury in the first Skins game. He was still solid when he came back, but I’m not sure he got back to fully being 100 percent.

In a normal offseason, teams would be lining up for a shot to get someone like Logan. This year there could be a lot of good free agent targets.

Brandon Williams – BAL
Kawaan Short – CAR
Dontari Poe – KC
Johnathan Hankins – NYG
Sylvester Williams – DEN
Nick Fairley – NO

Logan would probably be 4th on that list, but that could change depending on what teams are looking for.

You can see Logan has a good combination of strength, quickness and athleticism. He can shoot up the field and be disruptive. He can 2-gap and eat up blockers. Logan has a role in every defense. That will help his value.

He also is the kind of high character guy you want representing your team. This is the kind of guy you want to reward with a big deal. If the price is right, I think the Eagles will make a strong push to keep him. If the market for him turns out to be better than expected. the Eagles might find themselves looking for a replacement in free agency or the draft.

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If Logan does walk, Hankins would be a player of interest for me. He had 7 sacks back in 2014 and we know that Jim Schwartz loves DL who can get to the QB. Hankins isn’t a great player, but he is talented.

Always fun to watch guys make plays against Dallas.

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CB Update

Posted: February 23rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 135 Comments »

The Eagles need CB help. Nolan Carroll is a free agent and won’t be re-signed. Leodis McKelvin got cut recently. That leaves Jalen Mills, Aaron Grymes and CJ Smith to create a no-fly zone in south Philly.

The Eagles will add a CB in free agency. We just don’t know if they will throw megabucks at a top corner or if they will focus big money on WR and add a solid veteran at a reasonable price to help the secondary. We did get some news today on a couple of potential targets.

Verner spent the last 3 years with the Bucs, but he began his career with the Titans. He never played for Jim Schwartz (already in Detroit), but he did play in the same system and for the man who succeeded Schwartz, Chuck Cecil.

Adding Verner would be a band-aid. You can think of him as a better version of Nolan Carroll. The Eagles will add one or maybe two CBs in the draft. You don’t want to count on them to start so it would help to have a dependable veteran on the roster. Verner could be that guy. He is 28 years old. He has started 70 career starts and has only missed 2 games in his career. Verner’s price would also be right.

He does have 15 career INTs and his familiarity with the scheme should help him to fit in.

Some highlights for your viewing pleasure.

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If the Eagles decide to spend big, one guy they could target is AJ Bouye of the Texans. Because the team already has pricey corners in Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson, it sounds like Houston will let Bouye hit free agency.

Here is a good piece on him by MMQB.

In fact, if it weren’t for injuries to Jackson and Joseph in October, Bouye might never have gotten an extended look as a starter in Houston. But once that door opened, Bouye didn’t let it shut. He became the No. 1 corner and one of the best players on the NFL’s best defense, in on 296 of 298 snaps from Week 12 to Week 16 and every one of the Texans’ defensive snaps in the playoffs.

“All that [I went through] instilled something in me, it gave me a chip on my shoulder,” Bouye says. “When you’re a first-rounder, you have way more room to make mistakes, people make excuses for you, saying you’re growing or you’re learning. But as an undrafted guy, you have to be perfect.”

I have watched tape on him and Bouye is terrific. If the Eagles want to invest big money, he would be an excellent choice.

https://twitter.com/WeAreDBNation1/status/790996171044958208

I get the feeling the big money will go to WR, but Bouye would be very tempting.

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