Posted: February 28th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 60 Comments »
Chuck Dickens famously wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Go watch the press conferences by Jason Kelce and Riley Cooper and you’ll come away feeling that Dickens could have been writing about those PCs.
Kelce was one happy dude. He was excited to have the new deal and to talk about the future. You get fired up listening to Kelce talk about how optimistic he is for the Eagles future.
Cooper’s PC had a different tone. It wasn’t nearly as upbeat or celebratory. Maybe he was in a defensive mode since he knew he was going to get hit with a bunch of questions about last summer. Or maybe Cooper just isn’t Mr. Personality. Whatever the case, don’t watch that PC and expect to come away fired up. Cooper did get hit with several questions about The Incident. Anyone who thinks that wouldn’t have been a major factor in him going to a new team is being hugely naive. That will now drift into being a forgotten story here in Philly.
Kelce had a lot of interesting things to say. He mentioned he’s trying to bulk up and get stronger. I get questions about where he ranks among NFL Centers. Kelce must get stronger before he can be mentioned in the Top 5 guys. He is one of the most athletic C’s, but he still gets pushed around too much. That will change as he gets older. He’ll put on a few more pounds and he will get stronger. In a couple of years, I expect Kelce to be among the best in the league.
He also talked about the need and desire to get better. Chip Kelly pushes this idea on his players. Never settle. Push yourself to be better, to do more, to never be satisfied. If you believe what Kelce says, a lot of players have bought into that mantra. If so, that’s great news. Complacency is one of the biggest enemies of success. Coaches can yell at players, but that only works for a while. At some point, you need players who truly want to get better and will be self-motivated to go the extra mile.
I’m really excited to see what Chip Kelly does with this team in 2014. A good coach should show improvement each year. If Kelly and the players can get better, the 2014 season is going to be a lot of fun.
Posted: February 27th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 72 Comments »
Jason Peters? The Eagles gave him big money on Wednesday. Riley Cooper? The Eagles ponied up and gave him good money on Thursday. Jason Kelce? The Eagles threw pretty big money at him. Seems to be a good time to be an Eagles player in need of a new contract.
The Eagles offered me an extension, but we’re still negotiating. The amount is going to be 2 cases of PBR. The holdup is bottles vs cans. My agent and I feel that I’m worth the bottles.
I really do like the fact the Eagles are spending money on their own players. The best teams develop and keep their own players. The key to making that system work is drafting the right guys and then developing them into the kind of players you want to keep. Think about what the Eagles did today. They gave big money to a 5th round pick from 2010 and a 6th round pick from 2011. That’s pretty darn impressive.
Reuben Frank has some of the contract details.
The contracts the Eagles gave to offensive tackle Jason Peters on Wednesday and center Jason Kelce and wide receiver Riley Cooper on Thursday include a total of $13 million in guaranteed components for Kelce, $19.55 million guaranteed for Peters and $10 million guaranteed for Cooper.
Kelce’s deal makes him the NFL’s third-highest-paid center, behind only Ryan Kalil of the Panthers ($8.186 million average per year) and Nick Mangold of the Jets ($7.725 million average).
The three deals are worth a combined $109,698,000. More than a tenth of a billion dollars.
The combined cap hits come out to $12,714,358 in 2014, $17.55 million in 2015, $19.8 million in 2016, $22.45 million in 2017, $24 million in 2018, $6.5 million in 2018 and $7 million in 2019.
Of the $42.55 million in guaranteed money the Eagles committed to in these three deals, more than half is this year.
The guaranteed money comes out to $24.148 million this year, $13.8 million in 2015 and $4.602 million in 2016. There are no guaranteed components in any of the deals beyond 2016.
All of which gives the Eagles plenty of flexibility beyond 2015, despite the huge amounts of money in these deals. If they wanted, they could get out from under any of the deals in just two years. There would be cap hits but little guaranteed money to worry about.
Go check out the link to see the year-by-year details for the deals.
The Eagles didn’t overpay for Cooper or Kelce. They gave fair market value. That’s important. While you want to keep your own players, you can’t just throw money at them. I was listening to a radio station discussing the Carolina Panthers today. Apparently former GM Marty Hurney did a poor job of negotiating with his own players. He overpaid players because he had a personal relationship with them. Carolina has some cap issues and has even discussed releasing WR Steve Smith.
Howie Roseman learned from Joe Banner and that certainly doesn’t involve overpaying. You keep business and personal feelings separated. Banner was too obsessed with getting maximum value. Roseman has done a better job so far of balancing value and being reasonable.
Roseman will need good negotiating skills to get the Jeremy Maclin deal done. Today’s reports say that Maclin is looking for a one-year deal and the Eagles are hoping for multiple years. Mac wants to prove he’s back this year and then get a mega-deal next offseason. The Eagles would love to get him at a reasonable rate for a couple of years. Both sides want to work something out, but they need to find a deal that works for both sides.
Tim McManus wrote an interesting piece on value.
Roseman has called the receiver situation complicated, noting that the team wants to hold onto their own but “you can only put a limited amount of resources at a particular position before it starts taking out from other places.” He talked of establishing walkaway numbers with both Cooper and Maclin to ensure that they did not have to shortchange other positions on the roster. They established a number that they felt comfortable paying Cooper, were able to negotiate their way into that comfort zone, and pulled the trigger. Time will tell if it was money well spent.
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Not all news is so good.
Avant will get picked up by another team. He can still be a solid slot receiver for a team that is focused on having a possession receiver to work the middle of the field. I hope Riley Cooper gives him a huge hug and heartfelt “thank you”. Without Avant, I don’t know that Cooper would have stayed with the Eagles, let alone had a breakout year and gotten a new deal.
I’ll miss Jason, but it is time for change. That’s just life in the NFL.
Posted: February 27th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 34 Comments »
Yesterday the focus was on offense, but a lot of the offseason focus is on fixing the defense. We mostly talk about the immediate future, but there is also a need to think long term.
In my latest BGN piece I wrote about the need to build a LB corps. You need 4 good starters, but you also need depth. LBs are the heart and soul of the 3-4. Invest in LBs every year to build up a group that is deep and talented. A good 3-4 defense that has sustained success will have a lot of good LBs. They will come and go due to injuries, age and contract issues. You can’t just find a couple and stop there. It is an ongoing process. There will be some bad signings and bad picks, but don’t stop investing in the LB corps. After all, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.
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Why don’t you write about Jordan Matthews? I don’t know him as well as I should. I didn’t see much Vandy this year and simply haven’t had a chance to focus on him. He was solid at the Senior Bowl, but didn’t jump out at me as a compelling player. The biggest knock on Matthews is that he has too many drops. Watch a game and he’ll put the ball on the ground a couple of times. I’m trying to figure out what to make of that. Matthews did have a great career and then had a terrific performance at the Combine. He is a quality WR prospect.
Should the Eagles have interest in Safety Thomas DeCoud if the Falcons do cut him? The short answer is…maybe. I need to do some research on the guy. I liked him coming out of Cal. He played well in 2012 for the Falcons. So why is he being cut? You always wonder what teams are thinking when they let go of a functional (or better) starter.
Did the Eagles overrate the guys they re-signed/are about to re-sign? Fair question. I don’t think so. Peters is a unique talent. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. Kelce is arguably the most athletic C in the league. He still needs to improve his overall game, but he is a very good fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. I don’t think that’s up for debate. Riley Cooper had a breakout season. The only way you could be critical of re-signing him would be if the Eagles overpay. We haven’t heard any details, but I’m confident the team wouldn’t aggressively make a move if the value wasn’t right. Jeremy Maclin is probably going to get a 1-year deal so that contract won’t be an issue.
With Mac, Coop and DJax together, who will play in the slot most of the time? Tough question. First, understand that Kelly will move all 3 around. Both DJax and Coop played some in the slot this year. Kelly spreads the field a lot so the slot receiver isn’t playing as much in traffic as in other offenses. There is still room to work with. Coop could be the slot guy if the team wants size. Mac would make sense because of his quickness and overall athleticism. My guess would be Mac, but that is just a guess.
If the Boys cut DeMarcus Ware, should the Eagles have interest? Really tough question. He’s going to turn 32 in July. He missed 3 games this year and struggled with injuries for most of the season. You have to understand you wouldn’t be getting the Ware who terrorized the Eagles for so many years. You’d be getting an older, beaten down version. I lean toward no, but if the price was reasonable there is part of me that wonders if Kelly’s sports science stuff could help him.
Posted: February 26th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 78 Comments »
The Eagles decided not to wait until free agency began to make a splash. Today they extended the contract of LT Jason Peters, adding 5 years and a reported $51.3M. Les Bowen lists the guaranteed money as $19.55M, most of which will come in the next 2 years. Les also wrote about the complexity of the deal.
One obstacle Vincent Taylor faced when Jason Peters’ agent sat down to talk to Eagles general manager Howie Roseman about a contract extension was the lack of comparable deals.
“That was one of the biggest hurdles, getting over,” Taylor said Wednesday, after the Eagles announced a five-year extension with their six-time Pro Bowl left tackle, which will pay $51.3 million if Peters is still an Eagle in 2018 (and the pact isn’t renegotiated.) Peters, 32, will be 36 in 2018. About $19.55 million is guaranteed, most of that money in the next two seasons. “Howie will tell you. Had nothing to work off of. Talked to the NFLPA today, they said that’s the highest guarantee for any o-lineman at 32 years old or above. We just had to look at it almost like the pink elephant — what is it worth to you? It may not be worth much to the next person, but what is it worth to you? And they felt like, hey, that’s what he’s worth to us, and we settled.”
This situation worked well for both sides. The Eagles really wanted to keep Peters. And Jason really wanted to stay. I wasn’t sure how the Eagles would feel about Peters. He did make the Pro Bowl this year, but didn’t play at the same level he did in 2011. Would they view him as a declining player or someone that did well despite coming off a significant achilles injury. Obviously they went with the latter option.
This is a really interesting move because it gives the Eagles stability at the OT position for the near future. Peters might not play all 5 years, but could be here for at least the next 3. Lane Johnson is the RT for the next few years. Allen Barbre is the short term answer as the backup OT. The Eagles do need a young player to develop for the future, but they don’t have to go get that player this year. Bowen did ask Howie Roseman what the team would do if the highest rated player on the board at 22 is an OT. Roseman didn’t flinch and said the Eagles would take the OT. As the Eagles found out in 2012, you do need good backup OTs. Ideally the team would find a mid-round OT who could also play OG if needed.
The Peters deal is not the only news of the day.
Mosher also reports the Eagles are making progress with Jeremy Maclin.
Maclin, the fifth-year receiver, is set to become a free agent on March 8 but the league source said both sides are “talking and making progress.” Still, the deal isn’t done and Maclin could still elect to test free agency before making his decision.
Jeff McLane says the Eagles are working on an extension with Jason Kelce as well as the Cooper and Peters deals.
The Eagles are taking care of in-house business and are close to completing contracts with wide receiver Riley Cooper and center Jason Kelce, according to NFL sources.
The Kelce multiyear extension could be announced as early as Thursday morning, followed by an afternoon news conference. Cooper, who is slated to become a free agent on March 11, is also expected to receive a multiyear deal that may be announced this week.
My take on all of this…great news.
Peters is still a very good LT. He’s also a key leader for the team. Jason Kelce is one of the best young Centers in the league and is another important leader. Keeping them is also crucial because Chip Kelly needs a top OL for his offense to work.
As to the WRs, keeping both Mac and Coop is ideal. This gives the Eagles 3 starting caliber talents. If someone gets hurt, the other 2 can keep the offense rolling at a high level. Mac and DeSean Jackson have the speed to stretch the defense. Cooper isn’t as fast, but proved to be a good downfield receiver this year. He used his size and did a great job of tracking deep balls.
Kelly’s offense doesn’t use the slot receiver in a standard way. I don’t think a trio of DJax, Mac and Coop would have functioned all that well in Andy Reid’s offense. Kelly uses his receivers differently so the slot guy doesn’t play in traffic and just work the middle of the field. Kelly had Coop and DJax play outside and inside last year.
Maclin isn’t a sure thing to re-sign, but it certainly sounds hopeful. He’s likely settling for a short term deal so this isn’t going to solve the position long term. The Eagles could still add a WR in the draft. I’d prefer a speedy guy with return skills. The Eagles still have some big guys in Arrelious Benn and Brad Smith to challenge for roster spots.
I didn’t expect a Wednesday in late February to be so cool. Rather than throwing money at free agents from other teams, I’m glad the Eagles are taking this route. Keep your best players together as long as you can (and as long as they play at high level).
Posted: February 26th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 105 Comments »
The Eagles could use an OLB or two. On Monday they had a chance to see some pretty good ones.
Khalil Mack (6-3, 251) put on a show and looked like a high pick. I don’t think the Eagles would have a chance to move up for him without paying a ridiculously high price and as good as Mack is, I don’t think he’s that level of “Must Have Him” player. He ran 4.65 and had a 40-inch vertical jump. That’s the kind of speed and explosion you want at OLB, especially in the 3-4. Mack was good, but a bit sloppy in the drills. Does he go before Jadeveon Clowney? Never thought I’d seriously ask that question.
Anthony Barr had a very good workout. He measured in at 6-5, 255, which is bigger than I expected. I’m sure Chip Kelly is in love with that frame. Barr almost matched Mack in the 40, running a 4.66. He only posted 34.5 in the VJ. Barr had an outstanding 3-cone time of 6.82. That is great agility for a tall, longer player. That agility shows up on tape as you see him bend and dip by OL when he’s pass rushing. Barr could be a Top 5 pick or he could slide to pick 15. I don’t think he gets anywhere close to 22. The Eagles could move up for him, depending upon how far he falls. If Barr makes it outside the Top 10, the price might become reasonable. The question is whether he’s worth giving up a 2nd round pick (possibly more) to get.
At this point, I think both Mack and Barr will be long gone.
One of my personal favorites, Jeremiah Attaochu, wasn’t able to perform. Hopefully he’s back to 100 percent for his Pro Day. The Eagles did get to study him closely at the Senior Bowl so there isn’t as much mystery with him.
Marcus Smith weighed in at 251, which is 7 pounds lighter than the Senior Bowl. Some guys do this so they will be faster. He ran 4.68, which is a good time. He had a 35-inch VJ, which is good. The one area where Smith struggled was the 3-cone. He came in at 7.48. That needs to be down closer to 7.00-7.15. I didn’t get to see his on-field workouts yet, but I’m still a fan of his.
Chris Smith from Arkansas is shorter than what Kelly wants at just 6-1, but he has 34-inch arms and that helps to make up for the lack of height. Chris had a similar workout to Marcus. He ran 4.71 and had a VJ of 37 inches. His 3-cone time was 7.55, which isn’t good for an edge rusher.
Dee Ford chose not to work out. He did measure in at 6-2, 252, which is up 9 pounds from the Senior Bowl. I’m disappointed that he didn’t workout. Makes you wonder if that added weight was the right kind.
I was surprised with the numbers Adrian Hubbard put up. He measured in at 6-6, 257 and ran a 4.69. That’s faster than I would have guessed for him. He had a VJ of 38.5, showing way more explosion than I expected. He wasn’t explosive on tape. I definitely need to watch more of him.
Kyle Van Noy came in at 6-3, 243. He ran 4.71, which isn’t great for someone at that weight. His VJ was just 32.5 inches. His 3-cone was 7.22, which isn’t impressive for a guy his size. That’s a pedestrian showing. Not bad, but it didn’t help him at all. I like Van Noy, but not as a pass rusher. I value him as an ILB or as The Jack, Connor Barwin’s spot. Van Noy is a better football player than athlete. He could go as high as the 2nd round, but he’s not the answer to the Eagles need for a pass rusher. I would have no problem with the Eagles taking him and using him as an ILB and backup OLB.
James Gayle from Virginia Tech helped himself. Gayle (6-4, 259) ran 4.70. He did 26 reps on the bench. He had a VJ of 37 inches. His 3-cone time of 7.19 is good for his weight. Gayle is more physical than athletic when you watch the game tape. He’s another guy I’ll need to watch some more.
The Missouri guys didn’t fare so well. Both Kony Ealy (4.92) and Michael Sam (4.91) ran poorly in the 40. That’s going to kill Sam, who also didn’t lift or jump well. He measured in at 6-2, 261 and needed to show better athleticism than that. He’s now looking like a 5th or 6th round pick. Ealy is 6-4, 273. He can overcome the poor 40 due to that size. He also had a great 3-cone time, 6.83. Agility and quickness are more important for DL than pure speed. I don’t think the Eagles will be very interested in either guy. Neither looks like a 3-4 OLB.
Some small school kids did stand out.
Larry Webster from Bloomsburg measured in at 6-6, 252. He ran 4.58. That is a great size-speed combo. He had a VJ of 36.5 inches. His 3-cone time of 7.29 wasn’t impressive, but the overall workout got the attention of teams.
Howard Jones is a player I’d never heard of prior to Monday. He went to Shepherd College. Jones is only 6-2, 235, but he showed terrific athleticism. He ran 4.60 and had a VJ of 40.5 inches. His 3-cone time of 7.16 is solid, but was helped by only being 235 pounds. Hopefully we can find some game tape of him. Could be an interesting late round target.
I didn’t cover every OLB prospect, but these are the big names and most interesting guys.
I’ll write about the ILBs in another post. That’s not as big of a need area, but could be one of interest.