Roster Talk

Posted: March 11th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

As we get ready to officially start the new league year this week, it is always helpful to take a good look at the roster to see what is already in place.

By my count, there are 45 players I consider likely to make the roster at this point.

QB – 3 – Wentz, Foles, Sudfeld
RB – 4 – Ajayi, Clement, Smallwood, Pumphrey
WR – 4 – Jeffery, Agholor, Hollins, Gibson
TE – 2 – Ertz, Celek
OT – 3 – Peters, Johnson, Vaitai
OG – 4 – Brooks, Wisniewski, Warmack, Seumalo
OC – 1 – Kelce

DE – 5 – Graham, Barnett, Long, Bennett, Means
DT – 4 – Cox, Jernigan, Vaeao, Qualls
LB – 4 – Hicks, Kendricks, Gerry, Grugier-Hill
S – 3 – Jenkins, McLeod, Maragos
CB – 5 – Darby, Mills, Jones, Douglas, Worley

ST – 3 – Lovato, Johnston, Elliott

I left Vinny Curry off the list because I expect him to be cut or traded in the next few days. You might wonder about Smallwood and Pumphrey. Smallwood was basically banished to Siberia this past year, but remember that he’s young and cheap, two things the Eagles need. Smallwood knows the offense and does have the kind of versatile skill set the Eagles like. As for Pumphrey, I’m projecting him to take the Kenjon Barner role this year. This is a player the Eagles liked a lot so they’re going to give him every chance to make the team.

Here is a list of players on the roster that I think has a legitimate shot to make the final cut. I’m not saying these guys are likely to make it, but I see them as more than camp bodies.

WR – Marquess Wilson, Bryce Treggs, Greg Ward

TE – Billy Brown, Joshua Perkins

LB – Joe Walker

S – Tre Sullivan

CB – D.J. Killings, Randall Goforth

Walker was on the team last year and Treggs was in 2016, but those guys will have to play well to earn spots. Wilson fascinates me. He is 56-777-3 for his career, but has struggled with injuries. You cannot count on him because of his history, but he can play if he can stay healthy. Wilson is a big, talented receiver. The Eagles need to Sports Science the heck out of him.

What about free agents?

CB Patrick Robinson
TE Trey Burton
LB Nigel Bradham
DT Beau Allen
RB Darren Sproles
RB Kenjon Barner
LB Dannell Ellerbe

DB Corey Graham
RB LeGarrette Blount
LB Najee Goode
LB Bryan Braman

The top group is likely gone. Some of those guys are going to get pretty good deals. The Eagles would love them back, but just can’t afford to pay everyone. We’ll see if Howie Roseman can work some magic and find a way to keep one of those key players.

The bottom group could come back. They’re veterans and good role players. Blount may hope to get money from someone, but the market for veteran RBs won’t be good.

I think the Eagles will do some bargain shopping in free agency, but I don’t expect them to sign more than a few guys.

As for the draft, the Eagles have six picks as of now. Jimmy Bama has the specific details.

1st round
4th round
4th round
5th round
6th round
7th round

You can bet the Eagles will be aggressive in going after UDFAs, unless they add draft picks via trade in the coming weeks.

As you look at the big picture, the Eagles don’t have a lot of major holes on the roster. You might question whether Mack Hollins is ready to take over at WR. We’ll see if Cameron Johnston is going to be the P or if they go for someone else. I’m not sure who will play in the slot right now. Sidney Jones is the best fit, but he’s going to be raw and that might be tough on him.

Roseman has the luxury of letting things come to him. If he gets a great offer for Nick Foles, he can make a deal. If he can trade Ronald Darby for the right pick, that would make some sense. Roseman doesn’t have to force things. He did that in 2016 to work up to the second overall pick so the Eagles could get Carson Wentz. Roseman can now look for good deals. If he doesn’t like the offers out there, he can hold onto the players.

There is no question that Roseman is frustrated by the cap situation and not having a full set of picks, but those problems helped the Eagles to win a Super Bowl so I’m sure Roseman isn’t doing too much complaining.

We haven’t had a wild rumor in more than a day, but expect that to change on Monday.


Moves Keep Coming

Posted: March 10th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Another day, another deal.

There is no surprise that Smith is on the way out. He was due to make $5m this year and the Eagles just can’t afford that with big money already going to Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. It also helps that the team is very high on Mack Hollins. They want to get the young WR on the field to see how good he can be. The Eagles also have Shelton Gibson in the mix, a speedster who can take the top off of defenses.

The surprise is that the Eagles were able to find someone to trade for Smith. The Panthers are giving up a 23-year old starting CB for a player the Eagles were almost certainly going to let go. Interesting.

Let’s focus on Worley first. He is 6-1, 204 and has 33-inch arms. That is an excellent build for a press corner. The problem is that he’s not a great athlete. He tested okay at the Combine, but if you watch the tape, you can see he’s a bit stiff and he’s not explosive. I think he is more effective when he plays off. In a way, he might remind you of Jalen Mills. He’s better at sitting back 10 yards, reading the play and then going forward.

Worley is a good tackler. He has good ball skills. He doesn’t a great break on the ball. I don’t have a good feel for his instincts yet.

It is possible the Eagles could think of him as a Safety. My guess is CB, but that’s not certain. The Eagles brought him to the NovaCare Complex before the 2016 draft so this is a player they’ve had some interest in. He is a Philly kid so the visit didn’t count against the Eagles 30-visit limit, but I think they liked him regardless. The Eagles drafted Rasul Douglas in 2017 and he’s a very similar player in terms of size, speed and ball skills. And they both went to West Virginia.

The Eagles now have a deep set of CBs with Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, Mills, Douglas and Worley. The problem is that none of them is ideal in the slot. There was a recent rumor that Howie Roseman was going to move a CB for a draft pick. That makes even more sense as of today. We’ll see if the Eagles can get any offers for Darby. It blows my mind that the Eagles are so deep at CB. For years, that was a spot they struggled to keep stocked with any kind of talent.

Back to Smith.

This move will help the cap situation, but not until next week so the Eagles still have work to do.

As for the Panthers side of things, I can see where they wanted Smith. That offense struggled without a vertical threat. They missed Ted Ginn in a big way. Smith is a very similar player, a veteran with explosive speed and inconsistent hands. Smith is also a high character guy who can help the young WRs on that team develop.


Joe knows the cap. Trust him on this.

Howie wouldn’t be making these moves if he couldn’t make things work financially.



Exactly right.

This move could affect the Eagles. Denver and Arizona are in the market for QBs, possibly veterans. Taylor was a consideration for both. He’s gone now. And Buffalo needs a QB. That could change how things play out.

This is going to be interesting to watch with the veteran QBs available and such a talented draft class. Teams do have choices. But someone is going to get desperate and that could lead to some wild moves.

It feels great to have Carson Wentz and Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld. The Eagles can watch The Great QB Chase and not have to be part of it unless they choose to.


The Flip Side

Posted: March 8th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Eagles stole Michael Bennett from the Seahawks. The Rams stole Marcus Peters from the Chiefs. The Giants stole Alec Ogletree from the Rams.

It can certainly seem that way when you see a big name player dealt for a mid to late-round pick or two. Pro Bowl players should take more than Day 3 draft picks, right? If not, someone has to be getting a steal.

There is some truth in Ross’s words. Teams don’t just give away players for the heck of it. Let’s talk about the Seahawks and Bennett.

Seattle is going through a transition. They had a historically good defense from 2011-2016. That group did some amazing things, but now several of those players are in their 30’s and the team is having to let some of them go. Cliff Avril, coming off a neck injury, could be cut. Richard Sherman, coming off an Achilles injury, will be cut. Earl Thomas is available via trade. Bennett isn’t as valuable to a team going through a youth movement as a title contender.

The Seahawks are paying Russell Wilson big money. They were paying him on a rookie contract when they built the defense and started handing out big salaries to the defensive stars. The team wants to pay big money to DL Shelton Richardson, a player in his prime. If you pay him, the cap room has to come from somewhere.

One of the things that made Bennett expendable was the play of Dion Jordan, the former future Eagle who never made it to Philly. He played well late in 2017 and Seattle is willing to take a chance on him. He’s cheap and talented, so the decision makes sense.

There is also the issue that Bennett is a vocal guy with a strong personality.

Seattle was a dysfunctional team even when they were winning big. Pete Carroll ran that place like a circus and there was tension between star players, especially offense vs defense. I’m sure that situation didn’t bring out the best in Bennett.

The Eagles are a very different kind of team. There are strong, vocal leaders, but they all get along. That won’t last forever, but the team is in a really good place right now. You can bring in some big personalities and it won’t poison the locker room. Eagles players do a good job of policing themselves and Doug Pederson is a strong leader as well.

There are no guarantees that Bennett won’t become a problem, but the Eagles didn’t make this move blindly. They know his reputation. You can bet that Pederson, Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie had a talk about the risk/reward nature of this move. With the Eagles hoping to win another Super Bowl (sexiest words ever!), adding a good pass rusher is worth the risk. If the team plays with the lead as much in 2018 as they did last year, they will need all the pass rushers they can get.

One thing to keep in mind as you evaluate a trade down the road is that different circumstances can help a player out. Darren Sproles looked about done when the Saints dealt him. Playing for a new team brought out the best in him and he did turn out to be a steal for the Eagles. That wasn’t going to happen if he stayed in New Orleans. The change had a major impact on him.


The Rams have added CBs Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and Sam Shields this offseason. They will let Trumaine Johnson walk in free agency.

Feels funny to see teams gunning for the Eagles like this. It is also a reminder that the Eagles can’t stand still. The Vikings, Rams and other contenders will be aggressive in trying to catch the Eagles.


Didn’t See This Coming

Posted: March 7th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Didn’t See This Coming

The Eagles are over the cap. They have to cut some salaries and make careful moves. Don’t expect anything too crazy this offseason.

What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here?

The Eagles made a big move. They added a versatile, athletic DL who can get to the QB. There is a lot to be excited about with the acquisition. Bennett is a productive player, averaging 8 sacks per year since 2012. He has also averaged 9 TFLs per year in that time. Bennett is highly disruptive.

The downside…he’s 32 and isn’t cheap.

Obviously this move is only a single piece of the puzzle. At least one other DL has to go. Vinny Curry is the logical choice, with an $11M salary this year. Curry had a good year in 2017, but he’s just not as good as Bennett. The problem is that you can’t add Bennett and move Curry and save money at the same time.

Bennett has a salary of $1.65M this year, which is cheap. But he’s due a roster bonus of $5M. That pushes his cap figure up quite a bit. Obviously the Eagles know these numbers and they have a plan. You don’t go make a deal for Bennett and just say “We’ll figure out the money later.” That’s not how the NFL works. Howie Roseman and cap guru Jake Rosenberg have a plan.

There are going to be some contract changes with players on the roster and there could be some players let go. What this move tells you is that the Eagles weren’t going to just rest on the Super Bowl victory. Howie is trying to make the roster even better.

How does Bennett fit in? That’s an interesting question. You could put him at RDE, with Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan rounding out the starting line. I guess it is possible Derek Barnett could start at RDE. What’s certain is that Bennett will play a lot and will move around. One of the keys in getting him is that he is such a good interior pass rusher. Bennett is quick, powerful, has excellent body control and knows how to use his hands. He can fly off the edge or beat an C/G up the middle.

The Eagles looked at several DT/DE tweeners at the Senior Bowl. I thought that might be a position they would target. Veteran QBs who threw the ball quickly gave the Eagles fits last year. Bennett could play a lot of DT in those games and would give you someone who can get free up the middle. He is 6-4 and around 275 pounds. That’s big for a DE, small for a DT.

Jim Schwartz drafted a player named Jason Jones in Tennessee. Jones was 6-5, 275 and a DE/DT tweener. Schwartz only had him for a year (before going to be head coach in Detroit), but he clearly liked the idea of a long, athletic rusher up the middle. Bennett could be that guy for the Eagles.

Sadly, Beau Allen will probably be leaving in free agency. He deserves good money, but the Eagles are already paying Cox and Jernigan a lot so they need cheap backups. One way to help the DT situation is with a player like Bennett. He can play a lot of snaps inside and let Cox or Jernigan rest. In the playoffs, the Eagles only had 3 DTs in some games. They wanted their best guys on the field. They had Graham play some on the inside (you might recall one play in particular). Bennett just gives you another weapon. You can play all sorts of different line combinations.

Brandon Graham
Derek Barnett
Michael Bennett
Chris Long
Fletcher Cox
Tim Jernigan

The Eagles could add a DT in the draft. They also have young guys like Destiny Vaeao and Elijah Qualls who could take a big step forward this year. That’s a lot of firepower up front.

In terms of value, this is a steal.


Seattle is making major changes in their organization. They shook up the coaching staff, firing both coordinators. They are going to cut or trade Richard Sherman and there are reports that they are shopping Earl Thomas. Bennett is older and Seattle is ready to move on. This feels a bit like the Saints and Darren Sproles in the 2014 offseason. That worked out pretty well for the Eagles.

More moves are coming and some will be tough. I hate to see Curry go. He’s been an Eagle his whole career and he’s a local guy. That’s the kind of player you want to stay here. But football is a business and Bennett is just a better player.

So much for the quiet offseason…


Rumor Central Gets Going

Posted: March 6th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Rumor Central Gets Going

The next 10 days will be filled with all kinds of rumors. Let’s take a look at some nuggets that are out there right now.

This actually makes a lot of sense.

The Eagles have a talented secondary for the first time in a while. They are trying to figure how to get everyone on the field, which is a new problem for this team. Normally they are desperate to find adequate players. If the Eagles could trade a DB for a draft pick, that would help the situation out.

Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones aren’t going anywhere. That leaves Ronald Darby, if this is a CB. It is also possible the Eagles could look to move either Rodney McLeod or Malcolm Jenkins, but those moves wouldn’t make as much sense. McLeod is young and this is a deep Safety class in the draft. That hurts his value. Jenkins is a key team leader. I can’t see the Eagles dealing him for just a draft pick.

Darby does make sense. If you trade him, you can play Mills and Jones outside, with Rasul Douglas providing depth. The Eagles also have some young developmental corners they like in D.J. Killings and De’Vante Bausby.

Darby will be a free agent after 2018 and the Eagles might not be able to afford him with the other young talent they have on hand. If you could deal him for a 3rd round pick, that would help you on the depth chart and financially. Darby is a good player and teams should have interest in him.

His value is tricky because he’s heading into the final year of his deal. The Eagles traded for Tim Jernigan last offseason when he was in a similar situation. The price they paid was dropping from pick 74 to pick 99. You might have to trade Darby and a 4th to get a 3rd, or something like that. There should be a few teams around the league who need a CB.

Ironically, if the Eagles did trade Darby for a 3rd, they could take that pick and spend it on a CB. While the team has good players outside, they need someone to play the slot. Patrick Robinson is likely going to get $5M or more a year. The Eagles aren’t likely to have that kind of money unless they really get creative financially. There are some good slot corners in the draft. Rashaan Gaulden of Tennessee is a natural inside. M.J. Stewart from UNC could thrive in that role. Those are just a couple of names to keep in mind.

Howie Roseman loves to get creative when it comes to managing the roster and trading Darby for a pick would be a creative way to save money and improve the team’s draft capital.


Lots of buzz heating up around Foles. How much of this 100 percent true and how much is Howie using the media…I’m not sure. The Eagles are not running around trying to get rid of Foles, but they are floating the idea that he’s available if someone is willing to pay a high price. If a great offer comes in, they are willing to deal him. There won’t be a fire sale. The Eagles aren’t giving Foles away. There is a strong argument to keeping him and they know that.

The real key here is how the other 31 teams perceive Foles. Do they see him as a player who can be a strong starting QB in the right circumstances or someone who got hot in the playoffs, but can’t be counted on to be a full-time starter?

Can Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold or Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson or Baker Mayfield do this?


Jeff McLane actually reached out to Celek and got a direct answer.

“Yeah, I wanna play,” the Eagles tight end said Tuesday via text message.

Celek, the longest-tenured Eagle, finally won a Super Bowl in his 11th season last month. He said last year that he would wait until after the season to make a decision on his future. The 33-year-old Celek, who has one year left on his contract, also said that he expects to remain with the Eagles.

There is a strong argument to keeping Celek for one more year. The Eagles could then draft a TE or go with one of the developmental guys and Celek would be an ideal player to learn from. He is still a good player so this wouldn’t be some sympathy move. Celek is a good blocker and is an effective receiver. You just can’t feed him the ball the way you could in his prime.

Celek and Zach Ertz make a great 1-2 punch. Ertz is the dynamic receiver and Celek is the complete player.

This isn’t a case of choosing Celek over Trey Burton, who appears to be set to leave in free agency. Celek is due $4M this year and Burton might make as much as $6M to $7M per year. The Eagles just can’t afford Burton.

Can they afford Celek? They might have to get him to take a pay cut. Ideally, you’d love him at closer to $2M. We’ll have to wait and see if he’s willing to take a cut. This could be Celek’s final season. If so, he may want to make as much money as possible.