Eagles Wake-Up Call: What We Learned In Orlando
We spent the first part of this week at the owners’ meetings in Orlando, Fla. discussing various football-related topics with Chip Kelly, Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie, among others.
Now that we’re back in Philadelphia and have had some time to reflect on what went down, here are some takeaways.
* By all accounts, Kelly is calling the shots on the big offseason decisions. We know he has final say on the 53-man roster, and Kelly’s fingerprints are on every move the Eagles are making. For example, Lurie noted that if Kelly wanted to sign Jairus Byrd instead of Malcolm Jenkins, that’s what the team would have done.
“Nobody knows the safety who the Saints signed better than our coach,” Lurie said. “I have very big confidence in that. And if he thought that we should allocate our resources to have that player be our safety for the next several years at that level, then that’s what we would have done.”
Meanwhile, as we’ve discussed in this space previously, if the Eagles part ways with DeSean Jackson, that will be Kelly’s call as well. The idea of Roseman walking into Kelly’s office and convincing him it’s a good idea to dump the team’s leading receiver seems far-fetched.
And finally, there’s the draft. In an interesting revelation, Kelly said he started scouting college prospects during the NFL season.
“I have time on Saturday,” he said. “If we finish practice at noon on Saturday and our team meeting’s at 5, I’ll throw on college tape in the afternoon in-season and take a look at some guys. And our guys do an unbelievable job of preparing them. Here’s a list of outside linebackers or here’s a list of corners. Here’s a list of those guys. So I think all of our coaches are kind of always staying in tune with that.”
Roseman, Tom Gamble and their team obviously play an important role, but the sense here is that nothing gets done without Kelly’s full stamp of approval.
* Jackson is still on the trade block. Yes, I know you’re sick of the story, which seems to feature a new rumor or twist every day. But my impression after hearing from Kelly and company is that the team still wants to move the wide receiver. Kelly was asked a simple question: Do you want Jackson back? If the Eagles weren’t trying to trade Jackson, the head coach could have just said: “Yes.” But he didn’t.
Meanwhile, Roseman was more than willing to discuss every other player on the roster for 30-plus minutes, but questions about Jackson were off-limits.
Remember, there is no real rush here. The Eagles have the next six weeks to decide what to do. I know some of you disagree, but I’m paid to offer up my honest opinion. And I’d be surprised if Jackson were still on the roster on May 10, the last day of the draft.
* The idea that spending money on certain players can cause resentment with others is a real thing. Mostly, we’ve discussed this in terms of adding free agents. Pay new guys, and if they aren’t fits in the locker room, existing players are left to wonder why they’re not the ones cashing in.
But it looks like the theory applies even when you spend money on your own players. The Eagles decided to give Jason Kelce and Jason Peters healthy extensions. Evan Mathis, meanwhile, has started 47 of the last 48 games and played at a high level. Now his camp has approached the Eagles about restructuring his deal.
The problem? Mathis is in the third year of a five-year contract, and he’ll turn 33 next season. There is no real motivation for the Eagles to extend him.
But managing finances, making players feel like they’re valuable and keeping everyone happy can be tricky. If the Eagles have another successful season in 2014, they’ll have even more of these issues to deal with.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Is Kelly displaying hubris? Here’s what the national media are saying.
In-depth comments from Kelly about Jackson.
T-Mac has the latest on Mathis.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Rob Rang of CBSSports.com has the Eagles taking Auburn edge rusher Dee Ford at No. 22:
The Eagles took a significant step in improving upon their 30th ranked pass defense by landing former New Orleans Saints’ safety Malcolm Jenkins but more help is needed. Adding a versatile and explosive edge rusher like Ford, the Senior Bowl MVP, would help.
Andy Reid offered some thoughts on Jackson, via Paul Domowitch of the Daily News:
“I have nothing but good things to say about the kid,” Reid said. “I drafted him. I had a great relationship with him. When his father passed away [from pancreatic cancer in ’09], that was a hard thing for him to go through at a young age. They were best friends.
“I’ve experienced life things with him. He was great for me when I was there.”
Plenty non-DeSean stuff to get to from our conversation with Kelly.