Posted: March 1st, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 198 Comments »
The Eagles re-signed Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper this week. That led to a lot of positive vibes. Except in the case of Jimmy Bama. He decided to look behind the moves and try to connect some dots.
Bama then came up with this theory: the Eagles could be preparing to trade DeSean Jackson.
Say what? Didn’t DeSean just have the best year of his career? What is Mr Bama thinking?
Before you rip Jimmy’s theory, at least hear him out. There is logic to his thinking. The Eagles have allocated more money to the WR position than all but one team in the league. That is interesting for a team that led the league in rushing and wants to focus on running the ball. DeSean is due major money this season, and in the future.
The news that the Eagles offered Jeremy Maclin a 5-year deal caught many of us off guard. We don’t know the exact money they offered, but it had to be somewhere in the $5M a year range. Would you pay him, Cooper and DeSean good money long term?
One of the other factors in consideration is that Jimmy wonders if the Eagles are getting tired of dealing with DeSean. Jimmy gave the example that DeSean and WR coach Bob Bicknell battled during games. Jason Avant played the peacemaker, but he’s likely to be cut. Who will step in between Bicknell and DeSean this season?
There is also the question of DeSean’s focus on football. He is a bit of a Hollywood guy. Is that okay with Chip Kelly? DeSean wants to be a rapper or to run a rap label or some variation of the two. That’s fine with some coaches. Kelly might not have any issue with it, but we don’t know. He is looking for more of a full commitment than many coaches. There is the 10 hours of sleep request. There is the whole sports science angle. Does that mesh well with DeSean and his outside interests?
Some people will bring up the contract comments by DeSean at the end of the season. I’m not sure what to make of that. I think he gets over-criticized since he didn’t bring up the issue, but rather just answered a question. That said, we don’t know if he’s brought up the contract behind closed doors. I think DeSean is okay with his salary, but he would like some of the money to be guaranteed. The Eagles prefer the flexibility the current situation gives them.
If the Eagles have gotten a bit tired of DeSean, this is the perfect time to deal him. He still has elite speed. He put up big numbers last year and stayed completely healthy. DeSean played all 16 games for the first time since his rookie year.
What kind of compensation could the Eagles get for him? Tough question. The draft is loaded at WR so that could impact his value. DeSean’s big contract could also affect his value and the amount of teams that would have interest. Still, you never know when a team would be willing to pony up for an elite speedster. I’d love to say the Eagles could count on a 1st rounder, but you can’t do that. NFL trades are funny. Sometimes you get fair compensation, other times you settle for less.
So what is my take on all of this? My initial reaction was that Jimmy connected some dots, but I didn’t fully buy the conclusion. The more I think about the offer to Maclin though, the more it does make me wonder. Jimmy and Howard Eskin had an interesting exchange on Twitter.
Are the Eagles tired of DeSean? Could they want to move on? I hadn’t gotten that vibe this offseason, but the recent events have made me realize that this is at least a possibility. Time will tell if Jimmy Bama broke the Da Vinci Code or if he just came up with a wild theory.
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One thing to keep in mind…if the Eagles do trade DeSean, they would likely take a WR early in the draft. That could be the 1st, 2nd or 3rd round. This is a really deep class so there should be quality targets in each round.
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We talked about Dion Jordan yesterday. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves on this. I still have my doubts on whether Jordan does get seriously shopped. The guy is talented enough to play in any scheme. His career is off to a disappointing start, but I’m not sure the Dolphins are truly ready to pull the plug at this point.
Speculate away and have fun with the rumor, but don’t start thinking of this as a likely scenario. Remains a longshot in my mind.
Posted: February 28th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 124 Comments »
The Eagles continued their spending spree on Friday as Jeremy Maclin signed a 1-year deal to remain with the team. This has been a great week for the Eagles. They were able to extend Jason Peters and Jason Kelce, while re-signing Riley Cooper and Maclin. All 4 are key players and should be a big part of an elite offense in 2014.
Maclin told the media that he talked to the Eagles about signing a 5-year deal, but the two sides could not come to an agreement on money. That is an interesting nugget. If the Eagles talked to him about a long deal, the money had to at least be decent. Would the Eagles really commit big money to Maclin, Cooper and DeSean on long term deals? That would have been a lot of resources going to WR.
As it is, the Eagles have a lot of money invested there for 2014. Chip Kelly used a lot of 3-WR sets in 2013 and could be hoping to do even more of that this year. The other possibility is that Kelly could be looking to substitute his WRs more often. The offense played at a quick tempo last year, but you got the feeling they could be even faster. The lack of WR depth meant that Cooper and DeSean had to play a ton of snaps. If Kelly can rotate the players and keep them a bit fresher, that might help the offense.
There were times when the offense bogged down in the 2nd half. You wonder if the WRs wore down at all during games and if that had any effect. This is just me shooting out some random ideas, not really offering definitive theories.
It will be interesting to see how Kelly uses his WRs this season. Who will line up where? Which guys will play the most snaps? Who will have the most catches? And so on. We’ll learn a lot and get some ideas on how these guys fit into the future.
Mac says he will continue talking to the team to see if they can work something out. He wants to stay here. What offensive player wouldn’t want to stay? Kelly is an offensive guru. The O-line is good. Shady is arguably the best RB in the league. Nick Foles is a young QB that could become a huge star. If I’m a pass catcher, the Eagles are where I want to be. There will be lots of chances for big plays.
I do think Mac can thrive in this offense. He has good speed and is a solid deep receiver. Mac has RAC skills and can be effective on WR screens. The big test for him will be physicality. Jimmy Bama gave him the nickname of “Self-Tacklin’ Jeremy Maclin” for a reason. The guy went down way too easily in 2012. Chip Kelly won’t tolerate that. I think playing for Kelly will bring out the best in Mac. We saw other players step their game up last year and Mac is a high character guy. I think the new vibe on the team will push him in the right direction.
The physicality also ties in to blocking. Mac must be aggressive and physical. DeSean was an effective blocker last year and is 25 pounds lighter than Mac. The Eagles are now a running team and also use a lot of bubble screens. It is crucial for WRs to block. Mac has to produce in this category if he does want to stay long term.
All this week’s moves have me fired up for 2014 and the offseason.
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The hot rumor of the day involves Dolphins DE/LB Dion Jordan.
Jason La Canfora reported that Miami is shopping Jordan.
A year after trading up to get Dion Jordan with the third overall pick in the draft, the Dolphins have begun shopping him to other clubs, league sources said. Miami has talked to other teams already to gauge Jordan’s trade value.
Jordan did not click with the coaches last season, he had to play through a very difficult shoulder injury, and was not seen as a strong fit in their scheme (he’s an edge rusher that best fits a 3-4 defense).
The man who drafted Jordan (former GM Jeff Ireland) is gone, so it might be time for Jordan to move on as well. With Koa Misi and Olivier Vernon occupying defensive end spots with Miami in its 4-3 scheme, finding playing time for Jordan might be tough barring injury.
Jordan’s return time from a shoulder injury limited his progress, and with rookie compensation so low, it is easy to trade even first-round picks (the 49ers and Chiefs swapped recent first-round picks last year, for instance, and the Browns traded Trent Richardson to the Colts).
Jordan should be an Eagles target, assuming that his shoulder is okay and that Kelly likes him. Kelly said a bunch of positive things about Jordan last year, but you don’t know how much of that was PR fluff and how much was legit praise for his former star player.
Originally I thought pick 22 and Brandon Graham would be a fair price to pay for Jordan, but if Miami is shopping him, the Eagles might be able to get a better deal. I’d be ecstatic if they could give Graham and a 2nd rounder for Jordan. In a fantasy world, the Eagles would then use pick 22 on a good DB and would give the defense a major boost.
The Dolphins denied the report that they were shopping their players around.
I had my doubts about this situation, but can you really be surprised by anything happening with the Dolphins these days?
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.