Chasing Nick

Posted: March 13th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 241 Comments »

Monday turned out to be a busy day for the Eagles.

Wow. Lots of stuff going on there. I love the addition of Foles. He had an amazing 2013 season, but that proved to be an anomaly. Foles isn’t a guy you want as your full time starter. That said, he can be a terrific backup. I think Foles is a major upgrade on Chase Daniel. If Wentz has to miss a game (or god forbid multiple games), Foles is a QB I’m comfortable with. You don’t want him out there for 16 games, but he has proven he can be an effective starter in the NFL.

Daniel wants to start. He wanted out of Philly so he could go pursue a chance to play. I get that. I also think he’s a bit delusional. Jalen Mills has his finger wags. Daniel has his desire to start. We don’t know how his release is going to help the Eagles financially.

Let’s hope some other team signs Daniel to a solid deal. That will free up some more cap room for the Eagles.

There is no question the Eagles are tight against the cap and this is going to be a challenging offseason because of that. At the same time, the Eagles are outstanding when it comes to the cap and contracts so I trust them to work through this.

The key thing to remember is this…every weakness, hole or issue isn’t getting settled this offseason. And that’s okay. The Eagles are building something. That takes time. They have the franchise QB. The other stuff can be worked on.

Let’s go back to Foles for a second. Doug Pederson was his QB coach when Foles got drafted. Pederson worked him out prior to that draft and really liked him. Beyond that, everyone in the organization loved Foles during his time in Philly. He was a terrific teammate. The Eagles wanted to keep him, but Chip Kelly needed Foles to make the Sam Bradford trade work.

The Eagles come out of that with Wentz, Foles, a 1st round pick and Bradford as a distant memory. That worked pretty well.

Foles struggled with the Rams, but that is a dysfunctional offense. No QB seems to play well there. Foles needs a good OL to be effective. He didn’t have that in St. Louis, but will in Philly. I think he’ll also benefit from having good offensive coaches. The Rams staff was just not good.

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The Eagles had a visit lined up with CB Kayvon Webster, but he signed with the Rams on Monday night. He would have been an interesting veteran corner to add to the mix.

The Eagles will continue trying to find a veteran to help there. I wrote a bit about what’s left in FA for PE.com.

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We thought this might happen.

Good luck to him in KC. Wasn’t a great player, but was darn good and a terrific person from everything I’ve heard.

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The Eagles love speedy WRs. Torrey Smith is fast, but Ross is on a whole other level. The Eagles will seriously consider him at 14.

If he is still on the board at 14.

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Eagles Draft Talk

Posted: March 13th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 328 Comments »

The big bucks have been spent. There will be some more pro personnel moves, but the draft really takes center stage from here on out. With that in mind, let’s talk about the Eagles and the draft.

Let’s start with some visits and workout info. Pro Days have started and that means coaches and scouts are traveling the country to look at specific prospects. Knowing that a scout was at the Alabama Pro Day isn’t a big deal. Everyone goes there. If the Eagles have a scout at the Alabama State Pro Day, that’s more interesting. You really pay attention when a positional coach goes to a Pro Day. That shows special interest. Or if the Eagles have multiple personnel there. That shows interest.

Visits to Philly really mean something. Those are players of serious interest. Not all visits go well, though. Last year a player was taken off the draft board last year after his visit to the NovaCare. This is basically a job interview. Some are great, some aren’t.

There is only one visit we know of so far.

Marlon Humphrey is a 6-0, 197 CB from Bama. He ran 4.41 in Indy and is an aggressive, physical player. His highlights are fun.

Read the rest of this entry »


More on the OL Depth

Posted: March 12th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 100 Comments »

Last year Howie Roseman loaded up at QB. That is the most important position in football and he was tired of seeing the Eagles not having enough talent or quality depth at that position. Roseman spent big to re-sign Sam Bradford. He then spent big to add Chase Daniel in free agency. Roseman worked his way up from pick 13 to number 2 overall so the Eagles could add a true franchise QB in Carson Wentz.

Some people were critical of the moves. That was a lot of money and resources to pour into one spot, even QB. Roseman felt different. He looked around the league and saw that it was the haves and the have nots. You either have a QB or you don’t. That sounds obvious, but look at a team like the Jets that keeps trying to find a QB, but won’t aggressively solve the problem. They’re stuck with a bunch of question marks or wasted picks.

Roseman’s aggressive moves ended up paying off for the Eagles. He traded Bradford for 1st and 4th round picks when the Vikings were desperate due to injury. Daniel helped teach his new team coach Doug Pederson’s offense. Daniel also helped develop Wentz. It’s hard to quantify the value of that.

One thing that hurt Wentz last year was inconsistent OL play. The original starting line was fine, but things changed when Lane Johnson left for his suspension. His replacement, Big V, got hurt and missed time. LG Allen Barbre missed 4 starts. RG Brandon Brooks missed a couple of starts. The Eagles used 5 different players at RT. I’ve never heard of something like that.

The inconsistent line play hurt Wentz and the Eagles. With Wentz being such a valuable commodity, Roseman decided to spend a lot of resources on the OL. The Eagles flirted with trading Allen Barbre, but decided against that. They considered cutting Jason Kelce, but now have decided against that. They signed Chance Warmack and re-signed Wiz to improve the depth of the interior of the OL.

Part of the thinking has to do with money. The Eagles have loaded up on O-linemen, but the deals are reasonable. Look at some of the deals given out this year.

OG Kevin Zeitler – 5 years, $60M
RT Riley Reiff – 5 years, $58.75M
LT Matt Kalil – 5 years, $55M
OG Ron Leary – 4 years, $36M
LT Andrew Whitworth – 3 years, $34M
C J.C. Tretter – 3 years, $16.75M

That is crazy money. And not all of those guys are good players. Kalil has been a mess at times.

Brandon Brooks seems cheap at $7.2M this year. Barbre is making $1.95M. That’s peanuts. Kelce at $6.2M is reasonable in context. Warmack is slated to cost $1.51M, which is cheap. Wiz can make up to $3M per year.

The Eagles are prepared to keep their deep OL together. If the right offer comes along, Roseman has the flexibility to make a deal, just like he did last year with Bradford. I’m not saying that some team will give up anything serious for someone like Barbre or Kelce, but the right offer might pry them away. The Eagles won’t be cutting Kelce or Barbre. After looking at the draft class and the free agent market, they decided to keep their guys and build up the OL. The Eagles are in a position of strength in an area where many NFL teams struggle.

Roseman now has a good situation. He can go into the season with the deepest OL in the league or he can entertain trade offers. But he’s not going out and shopping his guys. Teams are going to have to come to him.

The Eagles have flexibility up front. Not many teams are that lucky. We’ll see how this plays out over the next few months.

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The Saints leaked a report that the Eagles offered Malcolm Jenkins, a 3rd and a 4th for WR Brandin Cooks. I cannot see the Eagles making this as a serious offer. I guess it is possible they threw various scenarios at the Saints to get an idea what the trade would really take, but even then it is hard to imagine the Eagles would mention Jenkins. The defense struggled last year when he went from S to the slot and Jaylen Watkins took his place. I don’t think that’s a guy you want to move, even for a really talented young receiver.

Plus, Jenkins is a team leader and a high character guy. The Eagles just had to cut Connor Barwin. I don’t know that they would want to get rid of Jenkins at the same time. Losing MJ would hurt them on and off the field.

This offseason, I’m not trusting anything we’re hearing out of New Orleans.

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Quick draft update.

Jones was a legitimate possibility for the Eagles at pick 14. This hurts, but the good news is that this is a deep group of CBs so there will be others to target. Still, you hate to lose such a talented prospect, and of course you feel terrible for the young man. His future looked incredibly bright until yesterday afternoon. Now there is a lot of mystery about when he’ll be drafted and how he’ll play.

A lot of people are saying the Eagles should draft Jones in the 2nd or 3rd round. Let him recover for a year or half a year. Then you might have a steal on your hands.

That sounds good, but recent “redshirt” picks have not worked out so well. SF took several guys like this and it really hurt that team. RB Marcus Lattimore is done with football. Tank Carradine has one career start and 4 sacks. The Eagles used a mid-round pick on Jack Ikegwuonu, who had torn his ACL. He never got back his pre-injury form. The Eagles used a 5th round pick on Cornelius Ingram, who had a torn ACL. He re-tore it in the NFL and lost his dynamic athleticism.

There are some cases where this works, but I don’t think the Eagles should take Jones unless they feel very strongly that he’ll make a good recovery. If the Eagles were coming of a 3 or 4-win season and had a long way to go, it might be worth the risk. I don’t think the Eagles are that far away from being a good team so they should focus on players who can contribute sooner rather than later.

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Focus Up Front

Posted: March 11th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 194 Comments »

We knew the Eagles would add a couple of veteran WRs. That had to happen.

We didn’t know the team would add to the OL in free agency.

If you believe Howie Roseman, the Eagles are not getting rid of any OL. They are building. Despite the additions of Wisniewski and Chance Warmack, the Eagles want to keep everyone so they can be very deep up front. Look at a potential depth chart.

LT  Jason Peters ….. Matt Tobin
LG  Allen Barbre ….. Isaac Seumalo
OC  Jason Kelce ….. Stefen Wisniewski
RG  Brandon Brooks ….. Chance Warmack
RT  Lane Johnson ….. Halapoulivaati Vaitai

That’s pretty impressive. And the Eagles still have talent beyond that. They are high on Dillon Gordon, the former LSU TE. He flashed serious potential last summer. Josh Andrews has been on the roster since 1960, give or take. The team signed Josh LeRibeus and Dallas Thomas as interior depth pieces. Both have starting experience and the Eagles really like LeRibeus (for what he is). You also have developmental guys Taylor Hart, Darrell Greene and Aaron Neary. That’s about as deep an OL as I can remember.

The Eagles can say they want to keep everyone, but you have to seriously wonder if they still want to deal Kelce. That would open a starting spot for Seumalo, who the coaches are really high on. It would also add some cap space and net the Eagles a pick, although nothing more than a late rounder. The Eagles have to preach the message that they intend to keep Kelce, if they want another team to deal for him. If not, another team will simply wait for the Eagles to cut Kelce.

It is possible the Eagles have decided they do want to keep Kelce so the OL can be really deep. There were a lot of injuries last year and that hurt the team.

No matter how you slice it, this is a good situation. The Eagles have built a good OL and a deep one. There is a good mixture of youth and experience. Carson Wentz went 5-1 with Lane Johnson as his RT. If you give him good protection, he can win games. And this year he’ll have an upgraded WR corps.

I was hoping the Eagles would add an interior OL in the draft because there are a few guys I really like, but by working on the OL like this, the team can now spend a lot of resources on the defense. They’ll still add a RB and possibly a WR, but expect to see a lot of defensive players added in late April.

*****

There is one bit of bad news. Nolan Carroll won’t be coming back.

Obviously I’m joking when I call that bad news. Nothing against Carroll personally, but he won’t be missed on the field. When he was healthy and playing with confidence, he could be an effective starter. Unfortunately he struggled quite a bit down the stretch last year. The Eagles had to let him go so they could try to upgrade the spot. Dallas has liked Carroll for a couple of years now. I’m not sure what the attraction is at this point, but I look forward to seeing Carroll try to cover Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.

Carroll does seem like a good guy. I would wish him well, but by going to Dallas, I can’t legally do that.

*****

Bennie Logan is finally getting some attention.

I didn’t want to see that.

The Eagles say they are interested in keeping Logan. Howie Roseman said he has stayed in touch with Logan’s agent. Unfortunately, right now it doesn’t sound like the Eagles are close to keeping Logan.

I can live with Logan signing elsewhere, but please don’t go to the Skins. If he does leave, the Eagles will have some options.

Hankins is a better pass rusher and is more disruptive than Logan. Adding him to the DL would be an interesting move. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with both young DTs.

*****

I’m not sure who is letting Daniel compete for a starting job. Then again, I didn’t see Mike Glennon gettins $14M a year. NFL teams do some crazy things when it comes to the QB position.

*****

Don’t expect the Eagles to make a bunch more moves. They will be smart shoppers from here on out. If the player fits at the right price, they’ll be interested. That’s it. They won’t go after big names. They could create cap room by restructuring deals, but that’s just not smart. The Eagles identified a few players they wanted and the organization went hard after those guys.

Now the Eagles have to be disciplined. Only make a move if it makes sense.

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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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