Eagles Wake-Up Call: O-Line Training Camp Preview

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Leading up to training camp on July 25, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We have already covered the defensive linequarterbacksoutside linebackersrunning backsinside linebackers, cornerbacks, wide receivers and safeties. Now it’s on to the offensive line.

The pressing question: How much will the Lane Johnson suspension hurt the Eagles?




Let's put it this way. In terms of devastation level, losing LeSean McCoy would be a 10. Losing Patrick Chung last year would have been a 1. I'll put the Johnson suspension at a 6.5.

Offensively, losing McCoy or Nick Foles would fall into the "season changer" category. Losing Jason Kelce would hurt a lot too, given that the Eagles don't really have an adequate replacement (at least not a proven one). Jason Peters or Evan Mathis missing time would mean definite downgrades. After that, there's Johnson and a few others.

Allen Barbre will likely step in at right tackle for the first four games. Judging him off an 86-snap sample size from 2013 is unfair, but it's all we have to go off of. And Barbre looked like a capable backup. He doesn't have the upside of Johnson, who some (OK, me) thought could take a serious leap forward this season. But Barbre isn't going to kill the Eagles either.

What might be more interesting is how Johnson plays when he finally returns. Remember, after the final preseason game, he's banned from the facility for a month. That means he can't sit in on film sessions, meetings, etc. For someone who only played offensive line for two years in college and one year in the NFL, that could be huge.

Roster battles

When the Eagles cut down to 53, five of the spots will be accounted for: Peters, Mathis, Kelce, Todd Herremans and Barbre (Johnson won't take up a roster space until he returns from suspension). But beyond that, spots are up for grabs.

At tackle, guys like Matt Tobin, Dennis Kelly and Michael Bamiro will battle it out. David Molk and Julian Vandervelde will compete for the backup center spot.

Others on the roster will have to really open some eyes in the summer to get a shot. And it's entirely possible that the Eagles add a body or two before Week 1.

One thing I think

I know many of you are going to rip me for bringing up DeSean Jackson again - especially in a post about the offensive line. But as you know by now, we here at Birds 24/7 try to tell it like it is. And that means we must revisit a conversation we've had previously about resource allocation.

The Eagles released Jackson and drafted Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. Would they have selected both guys if Jackson were still on the roster? Highly unlikely.

That's important because Howie Roseman made a point after the draft of saying that the run on offensive linemen in the third round was unexpected, and he was disappointed he didn't get a chance to grab a guy to bolster the unit up front. The Eagles will, in all likelihood, start the season with four of five starters on the plus side of 30. This is a spot they need to get younger at, but they were unable to do so this offseason.

Maybe that won't be an issue until 2015 or even beyond, but there's a chance the age on the O-Line could become a storyline as early as this season.

WHAT YOU MISSED

McManus has details on the Johnson suspension.

A snippet from my Eagles Almanac piece: Coaches and players walk us through one of the defense's most common calls, the Cover 3.

In our latest training camp preview, T-Mac takes a look at Malcolm Jenkins and the safeties.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com takes a look back at Nick Foles' college career:

Foles, then just 18 years old, had just finished his freshman year at Michigan State. He redshirted that football season -- he got into one game against Alabama-Birmingham and threw eight passes -- and with current Redskin Kirk Cousins and Oklahoma transfer Keith Nichol set to battle for the Spartans’ starting quarterback job, Foles just didn’t have a reason to stay in East Lansing.

He loved Michigan State, but he knew there was a very good chance his football career would never materialize if he stayed.

Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com takes a shot at projecting the Eagles' 53-man roster:

Maclin, Cooper, Matthews, and Huff are locks. Beyond that, there will be a bunch of receivers vying for what I believe will be two final spots. The most glaring omission here is Arrelious Benn, who actually played well in OTAs and minicamp. The biggest thing working against Benn is his durability issues. If you're a backup, first and foremost, you have to be able to play special teams. Secondly, the coaching staff needs to know that you will be ready to go if the team needs you to fill in on the regular offense/defense. You don't want to have to constantly deal with a player on the back end of your roster who can't stay healthy enough to play specials or fill in when needed. Therefore, with four locks already in place at the wide receiver position, I think that Benn will have to thoroughly out-play Smith and Maehl to win a job. If it's close, I believe both Smith and Maehl will win those last two spots.

And no, I'm not yet on the Ifeanyi Momah bandwagon, although he does look markedly improved from last year. Damaris Johnson has become something of an afterthought.

COMING UP

T-Mac will hit you with his weekly mailbag. And could the 90-man roster rating system return for a second year? We'll check in with our sources.

Josh Paunil contributed to this post.

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  • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

    I respectfully disagree, Sheil. I think there was a very good chance that had we kept #10 that we still would have drafted two more receivers. Kelly loves weapons, plain and simple.

    As for the loss of Johnson for four games, that’s a 5 for me. It hurts, but it’s not devastating and shouldn’t decide those first four games for us. If it does, we’re in way worse shape than many of us thought.

    • bill

      Yep. I think given the depth of the draft class, and Kelly’s desire to be able to run better route trees from each WR position, they were going to draft at least one big WR early. And I think Kelly really wanted Huff, given his toughness, versatility, and familiarity with Kelly’s system. So even with Jackson, they might’ve done the same thing, especially since, as Sheil noted, they predicted the OL would last longer. If we’re going to play counterfactual, we might as well play “if only Jackson were 2 inches taller, 20 pounds heavier, and had a salary of $5M, then the Eagles probably wouldn’t have had to draft 2 WRs this year…”

    • aub32

      I think there’s a chance Kelly would have drafted 2 WRs, but I highly doubt that we would have so as early as we did. Remember the Eagles wanted Brandin Cooks in the first. Do we target a WR, especially Cooks in the first or 2nd round. They only moved up for Matthews because all of their 1st tier WRs were one and were in risk of missing out on their 2nd. So releasing Jackson definitely forced their hand in the draft to a degree.

      • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

        Regardless of where they drafted the two WRs, I still believe they would have come out of the draft with two WRs, which was my point. Round doesn’t matter. And quite honestly, I think the result we have now would have likely been better than other outcomes involving Cooks (or some other WR) falling to us and us not getting the extra picks from CLE.

        • aub32

          I think you missed my point. Yes we would have gotten 2 WRs. However, we would not have been forced to select them so early. That means we could have used a 2nd or 3rd round pick to get an O lineman, since WR was a much deeper position than O line.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            I didn’t miss it, just wasn’t totally sure where you going when you started talking about Cooks, etc. Like, did you mean that had they taken a WR in the first they would have taken something else in the second and/or third? Because I’d agree. To further clarify my point, I said before the draft that I thought they’d take two before the 4th or 5th rd. And they likely could have gotten Huff in the 4th, IMO…. However, let’s not get ourselves too deep into this discussion over hypotheticals. Not worth either of our time.

          • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

            That means we could have used a 2nd or 3rd round pick to get an O lineman.

            I think the Eagles were really looking to getting impact guys in 1st/2nd (as is every team). They, and we, knew* going into the draft that (1) most starters were set on both OL and DL going into next year, and (2) there was a dearth of skilled WRs available at the top, and a few great/good defensive prospects.

            This probably meant that any OL drafted in rd2 would have been sitting all year (which I’m ok with, but not majority of fans), barring injury. However, getting a WR (or even DB) at that spot is a chance to immediately compete for starting time.

            I don’t think anyone here would have an issue, after 2 rounds, the Birds going OLB/WR (or WR/OLB). Just outside picks really played the Eagles’ hand for them by #86. Even with DJax, anyone after Matthews is still challenging for 5th/6th WR, active on gameday and probably STs. Pretty good, and appropriate, value given to Huff at that spot IMO, considering it doesn’t seem any ILB or S was on the Eagles’ board there.

          • aub32

            I get your point but disagree. Last year we drafted Ertz and Logan in the 2nd and 3rd rounds respectively. Neither player started off the year as a starter. Had we drafted a lineman early, the rookie could have taken over for Herremans by week 5 or so. Herremans then becomes a tradable asset, similar to Soap last year.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            I think it’s safe to say that the coaching staff thinks more highly of Herremans a year removed from surgery than we do.

          • aub32

            Maybe so, but do you really think he will be here past this year? In my scenario, we at least get something back for a guy I think is still a starter but past his prime.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            Honestly, I think he retires an Eagle, as I think Cole does.

            I think both restructure to retire here after making this home the last 10yrs. Tend to think Cole will be fine as a rotational guy at 33 and Herremans the first or second guy up at 32/33. I was going to reply to your above post about that when you said that those two and CW are gone next year, when I only think CW is gone next year.

          • aub32

            Cole has a huge cap number next year, especially for someone who isn’t a good scheme fit. Herremans is up there as well. I like both guys (huge Cole fan) I just don’t see how they come back on their current deals.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            Which is why I said they restructure to stay. Or scrap old and redo entirely, which I did not say.

          • aub32

            We will see. They would both have to take a huge pay cut. I don’t see it happening. We will find out in 2015.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            Yeah, Cole knows he’s not seeing that money, though. Herremans is the harder one to gauge, IMO. While Cole’s not a scheme fit in the base he’s perfect for nickel downs.

          • aub32

            Most definitely on your Cole point, but how much do you pay a sub package DE who is really a backup OLB? Could he make more money elsewhere as a low to mid range starting DE on a 4-3 team?

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            Given the resource allocation, I’d shred up the old deal and offer him a 2yr 7-10mil deal with 4ish guaranteed. Also have to factor in how much we’re in subpackages with him. That’s info I don’t have.

          • aub32

            Yeah, I know that’s tough to call. I just look around the league and see so many bad front 4s. Dallas, Oakland, Jax, etc. would kill to have Cole.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            I really can’t disagree with you, except maybe Oak since they run a 3-4 (basing that on the Woodley signing). He’d find work somewhere, can’t dismiss ATL and their woes on D. I think he’d get looks but I have the feeling that those dollars for two more years after the season, may have to tack on a 3rd non-guaranteed year, would keep him here since he wouldn’t have to uproot.

          • Kev_H

            The only way players in their situations wouldn’t is if someone else would pay them. Who is going to pay them?

          • aub32

            People pay pass rushers. Abraham got paid by the Cards last year. Osi got paid by the Falcons. Cole had 8 sacks last year playing out of position. Someone will see him as a starter.

          • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

            I disagree; the IZR is the staple of this offense.
            That’s asking a whole lot to replace one of the 3 Amigos, even mid-season, from a prospect. Herremans has 1000s of more snaps/reps than this kid can have, and even more importantly those snaps are with Mathis and Kelce.

          • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

            Ah. got it.
            I think that only applies for Interior OL; the Peters extension proved they expect him/LJ to hold it down awhile longer.
            2 things about that: (1) they clearly wanted a top WR prospect, I imagine Cooks or Matthews all along (Cooks draft pick may/probably leads to LB pick in rd 2 [they can’t wait until 3 for that position, ILB or OLB]).
            (2) after matthews at 42 (probably a little too early for OL there), the best inside guys came off the board early 3rd. They probably didn’t want to trade up again and lose other picks, and seeing Martin/Swanson/Jackson all come off (at G/C) played their hand.

          • aub32

            Agreed. I think had they not needed to draft Matthews due to the loss of DeSean, they could have stayed put in the 2nd a picked up a good OG/ Swing T prospect. Then if they really wanted Huff, picked him up in the 3rd and gotten a 2nd WR in the 5th.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            They didn’t need to draft Matthews because of Desean. They wanted a big body receiver. They could have stayed put and landed Latimer.

            EDIT: Or guys who are better blockers.

          • aub32

            They didn’t want Latimer. They want Beckham Jr., Cooks, Lee, or Matthews.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            Clearly, thus they traded up for Matthews. But the loss of Desean didn’t impact that.

          • aub32

            I disagree. They wanted one of those guys because they needed someone to help make up for DeSean’s production this year. I do not think WR is a 1st round target if DeSean is on this team.

          • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

            but NFL historical stats don’t support rookie WRs in 1st round (or any round) making much noise immediately. That’s been brought up even on this site.
            They’re counting on the running game to make up for his production, including Sproles, and the growth of Ertz. WR by committee, as alluded to by Kelly/Roseman “new direction” quotes.

          • aub32

            I have sited that same point. I do not think Matthews and Huff combined make up 2/3 of DeSean’s production in year one. However, with DeSean gone, they needed someone that was more NFL ready than if he were here.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            Again, disagree. Maclin’s no lock because of his health concerns and Kelly loves weapons. That combo is worth a 1st or 2nd round consideration, IMO. We can agrue all day but I’m just going to say agree to disagree.

          • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

            Curious as to how much of Chip’s plan to use Matthews inside influenced that choice as well. Even with DJax, he may still have been picked to start in the slot this year and grow. Mac is only on 1 year deal and post-rehab; essentially he’s fighting Cooper for the 2nd/4th spot.
            in ’15, likelihood that Djax and Mac (or both) are gone anyway.

          • aub32

            I would not have liked releasing Jackson in 15 but I would have been more ok with the decision. My biggest reason for not liking the move is that he was the only sure thing we had at WR. Mac was never a #1 guy, and he’s coming off an injury. Rookie WRs tend to struggle. Give the rookies a chance to get their feet wet while having a sure thing with DeSean. Then thank him for his services as we move toward cheaper and bigger players with NFL experience.

          • JofreyRice

            It’s really Chip’s biggest gamble so far. I think it was a mistake, but I think most people will admit Chip’s made a career out of proving people wrong.

          • aub32

            He has, and I think his success last year allows him to make such a move with relatively little backlash. I mean he released his best WR in his prime without getting so much as a 7th round pick for him. Normally that would have many pundits screaming hot seat and fans being up in arms.

          • JofreyRice

            I think it’s actually caused a lot of folks to raise the pedestal they put him on. Circle the wagons, pray he’s right, and shout down the critics.

          • Kev_H

            They needed a top receiver out of this draft going forward. Jackson (or anyone they have) isn’t a long term solution for anyone at this stage of his career. Imagine Nick Foles in his prime years 27-30.

          • aub32

            They didn’t even pick one of their top tier guys. It’s not like they traded up for Beckham or Evans. DeSean isn’t on the downside of his career. He will be good for the next few years. So keeping him would not have made it imperative to find “the guy” (really the next guy) this draft.

    • OldDuckMcDoc

      I’m not sure I completely see the logic in Sheil’s point (which almost certainly means I’m being dense).

      We didn’t gain or lose any draft picks by cutting him, so given that – rightly or wrongly – DeSean wasn’t part of the team’s long term plans the options were:

      1. Do what we did. Cut DeSean, draft two WRs early this year and then target an OL early next year.

      2. Keep DeSean until the end of the season then cut him. Draft one WR and one OL early this year, then draft a second WR early next year.

      Under option 2 you get an extra year to groom an OL – a position where we’re relatively old and lacking in depth – but you get a year less to groom one of the WRs and you have the potential headache of DeSean who’s on a contract he doesn’t love and probably knows the team doesn’t want him long term.

      Clearly finding yourself in a place where you’re losing Pro Bowl talent and getting nothing in return sucks, but I don’t see that it makes much difference to the OL situation in this case.

      EDIT – I’d agree with losing Johnson as a 5, but the loss of a second OLto injury could push that up to a 7 or 8.

      • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

        The tricky thing with the hypotheticals revolving around drafting what position early is that at no point have we mentioned the need to have drafted a pass rusher. So, it really becomes about preference and who falls where, which makes all these hypotheticals impossible to argue. What combo of OLB/OL/WR would you go with? For me, I thought we’d draft two WRs early (regardless of DJ) because Chip’s an offensive guy, while also adding a pass-rusher early. At no point did I really consider the OL because we have a lot of young guys that coaches are seemingly always raving about. I thought had we drafted OL it would have been in the 4th-7th, but we didn’t even do that. Just so tough to really discuss because there were trades made, etc, so it’s senseless to say releasing DJ forced our hand in drafting two WRs early. For all we know, Huff was always in the plan, and while maybe the first round didn’t shake out as expected, it’s very possible it was going to be OLB/WR or WR/OLB then make an early move for Huff. We’ll never know.
        Agreed that another injury/suspension on the OL pushes that 5 much higher, maybe off the scale. Call it 2012?

        • OldDuckMcDoc

          Yeah, I was trying to keep it simple with just two options and focussing purely on WR and OL but there’s a multitude of scenarios that could be played out.

          I just didn’t really understand Sheil’s point. Releasing any starter means you’ll have to look to replace them either via the draft or FA (even if you promote someone up the depth chart you still need to replace them) so it kinda seemed like a statement of the obvious. If you accept they took the decision to move on from DeSean, delaying it wouldn’t have bought you extra draft picks so it just brings us back to “should they have released him at all”, and I think we’ve all had our say on that one.

          • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

            I agree with you here, but I’ll take a stab at Sheil’s logic.

            Remember this article? http://www.phillymag.com/birds247/2014/05/12/five-leftover-quotes-chip-kelly/

            And a choice quote:

            We know by now that the Eagles targeted six players at No. 22, and none of them fell. The guess as to who the six were? Alabama LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks, LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr., Virginia Tech CBKyle Fuller and either UCLA OLB Anthony Barr or Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier.

            Essentially, Eagles were looking for a defensive playmaker in round 1 (mostly because few would be around by our round 2 pick). They’re gambling Smith is that guy, and we all hope he is.
            After that, there was “a receiver there were interested in every round” (Roseman). I think they really valued Matthews, and foresaw a run on skill guys in the 2nd round allowing more linemen to drop.

            However, I still don’t get the correlation Sheil produces. Going OLB-WR was defensible and predictable regardless of #10; by rd. 3, there were no valued OL, DL, LB, or DB guys left at 86. That stands alone and disconnected from anything related to Djax.

            edit/addendum: the following OL were all drafted between Matthews and Huff picks-
            Richburg, C; Kouandjio, OT; Mewhort, OT; Britt, OT; Moses, OT; Turner, OT; Martin, G/C; Swanson, C; Long, OG; Jackson, OG. That’s a lot, and probably most of the top guys on Philly board.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            Your last paragraph sums it up perfectly.

          • JofreyRice

            Sheil’s point, as I took it, was that releasing Jackson wasn’t purely necessary and created a more pressing need where there hadn’t been before. Addressing that need is part of the reason why they missed out on fresh OL talent.

          • Kev_H

            But WR was a need, the biggest need according to this blog, going into the off-season. So that wasn’t a created need. And from all reports, bringing back Jackson or Avant didn’t appear to be desirable options to those in charge. Maybe if negotiations with Maclin went south, they keep Jackson for another year. But they didn’t create a need. There was a need to be addressed.

            Maybe the timing of Jackson’s release threw people off, but I’m sure they were seeing if he could be traded. Tin foil hat crowd, (another) story about Jackson comes out on a minor website – Jackson is released, so there must be something scandalous. Reality based community, Kelly wants bigger WRs, Roseman agrees to accommodate. HR tries to make a deal with no luck. Gives it one last go at the owner’s meeting. Comes back, discusses his take on the situation with leadership, Jackson is released.

          • aub32

            WR was only a need after they released Jackson. We all knew after both Mac and Cooper signed that Kelly would want at least one more weapon, but it wasn’t a need. If Maclin is healthy, he Jackson and Cooper make up one of the better WR groups in the entire league. Now even with the rookies, the group is highly questionable. Meanwhile Jackson made Washington one of the top 5 WR groups in the league.

          • JofreyRice

            Pretty sure this blog ranked improving the pass rush and safety play as bigger needs, but noted that Kelly was likely to try and improve WR if he could grab a difference maker early, given his offensive pedigree.

            They got rid of a #1 receiver, the top receiving threat on the team, and the guy who had the most 20+ yard plays–and was in top 5 in that category in the league, by the way. How does it follow that getting rid of a guy like that doesn’t create a need? Were all his yards & touchdowns “extra”?

            I’m not convinced they have a pure vertical threat right now, even having drafted Matthews & Huff in the 2nd and 3rd. You don’t need a tinfoil hat to understand that the release & story were coordinated, you just need some experience with PR strategies of any large corporation. That’s A-B-C stuff. Come on now, you don’t think that story had some profile, after the Hernandez case?

            And the whole “they wanted bigger receivers” thing is fine, but you don’t throw out pro bowl caliber players because they’re not tall enough; also doesn’t explain the interest they had in 5’10” Brandin Cooks.

          • Kev_H

            Really? I think you are confusing going into the off season with going into the draft. But your overall comment is representative of what makes Sheil’ s point silly. Fans act like the Eagles didn’t have or stick to a plan. Like the coaching and personnel staff didn’t get together when they had two of their receivers who ever got playing time under contract and said- “let’s get Cooper and Maclin signed before they hit the market. The draft is deep and we should be able to get two guys we like there at least and we’ll be set”.

            Just because you thought Jackson was an Eagle and would be back until they released him, doesn’t mean that’s how it was. Releasing Jackson didn’t create the need. Hiring Kelly created a need for him to acquire the kind of receivers that fit his offense. It’s clear he never loved the guys he inherited, so there was no way in the world he was going to let this draft class go by without picking his type of WRs early. I’m not sure why some expected him to come in and be Reid.

          • JofreyRice

            Because you don’t just toss out Pro Bowl players because you didn’t pick them, generally. Did Reid go to KC and switch them to a 4-3 D, just because that’s what the Eagles ran? Nope.

            It’s a risky move on Kelly’s part to save a few bucks against the cap & trust his system to manufacture all the offense Desean brought.

          • Kev_H

            Total tinfoil hat. It was NJ.com writing about old news everyone knew about and it wasn’t even news when it happened years ago. NFL clubs aren’t particularly large businesses, but if they wanted to coordinate, they’d go with a bigger media platform. I also know when a midsized business with a small brain trust goes to professional meetings, like the league owner’s meeting, they are too busy to plot nonsense. They came home, took stock of the lack of trade opportunities and acted. Certainly fits the reasonable scenario of trying to deal (which we read about) before the meetings, and making a push at the meetings (we read about that too), come home, take stock, conclude there is no market and cut. The timeline fits that perfectly.

          • JofreyRice

            The timeline has them releasing Jackson 40 minutes after the story broke, after weeks of speculation they were going to part ways with him, with no clear explanation of “why”. The eagles are worth 1.8 billion dollars, I’m not getting into an argument about what size business they are, it would be moronic.

            Pretty sure Tim & Sheil ranked S and OLB “5”‘s as well with WR–that with the assumption that Desean was back; you can look it up if you feel like it. It stands to reason that when they let Desean go, that “5” must have turned into a “6”, which meant they HAD to address receiver twice, early. That meant one less pick to address the OL in rounds 1-3, which is what Sheil is writing above. You’re trying to disprove him with his previous thoughts on the matter.

          • Kev_H

            “The story broke”– that’s a joke. What story? What was new or news? In today’s 24/7 internet blog world, there are new blog postings all the time. Especially when trade efforts are leaked and bloggers start to speculate all over the place. I realize that people who are in the business of getting readers whipped up have made the connection, but it is ridiculous to think Roseman was monitoring NJ.com, got an alert, and said “ok, now!” let alone absolutely zero motivation to do it. Why didn’t they release him on March 10th, when news outlets posted current pictures of him with a group of active gang members and him throwing up a gang sign? Because there was no connection and the Eagles don’t care who he associates with or he never would have been there in the first place. Their coach just wants big WRs. He wasn’t coming back. That was determined in January. What is unreasonable or unbelievable about Lurie’s detailed statement on the matter? From Lurie:

            1. It became clear that he (Kelly) wanted to go at the WR position differently.

            2. Once that decision was made, it was a matter if we were going to be able to make any trade.

            3. When it became obvious there would be no trade offers, the fair thing to the player is to release him.

            They released him as soon as they returned from the owners meeting- the ideal place to explore trade opportunities.

            BTW. $1.8 billion isn’t a large corporation. Just because you and I are patrons and think about football all of the time. Just some random examples: regional convenience store Wawa has as much annual revenue as the entire NFL and Advance Autoparts is valued at over $9 billion. A big corporation would be like Nike (worth $68 billion) or Citigroup (worth $151 billion).

          • JofreyRice

            Like I said, completely moronic to go into a semantic argument about what constitutes a large organization. I’m not doing it. If you think the Eagles are mid-sized, that’s fine.

            And again, getting back to your notion of the Eagles as some Mom & Pop entity, no, Howie did not receive any alert. The sports media is essentially intertwined with all the aspects of the NFL–getting “source” quotes from players, agents, and the FO. I think the Eagles either directed that story, or were informed of it and told NJ.Com to sit on it until they tried to move him. Once it became clear they had no leverage by letting the story out and bungling the handling of it to the point where they couldn’t even get a 7th rounder in return for a guy coming off a probowl, they coordinated the story with the Jackson release.

          • Kev_H

            Here’s your refresher (sorry Sheil and Tim, since some definitive statements were way off base): http://www.phillymag.com/birds247/2014/01/29/offseason-outlook-eagles-wide-receivers//

            On January 29th, both guys had WR ranked at “5” or highest priority on a scale of 1-5 in their initial offseason outlook position review.

            Sheil “The Eagles have to make decisions on three of their own guys and figure out which pieces they want to add in the draft and free agency” He still was bringing up Kenny Chesney concert as a factor.

            Tim “One thing the Eagles need to figure out is, who is going to play the slot? If Maclin and Cooper both return, who would slide inside?”

          • xmbk

            He wasn’t worth 10.5 mill for a one year rental, so cutting him was necessary.

          • JofreyRice

            If this offense drops out of the top 10 because no one is making plays deep, and the defense is about what it was last year, I think folks are going to re-think that position.

          • xmbk

            Deal. Hard to believe after Oregon that Kelly now requires a high end deep threat, but if that happens I will have to rethink my position. My educated guess is that the storyline next offseason will be how much better off the Eagles are with the extra 10.5 mill.

          • Kev_H

            Take the names away. They had four vet WRs last year- Avant, Cooper, Maclin, Jackson. I look at those guys, their age, and Foles at 25 + a draft deep at WR and I think you have to pick two good ones for the next 5 years.

            With the veterans it comes down to which two you bring back. They were able to sign Cooper and Maclin to contracts they like, and release two players and contracts inherited from Reid.

            It’s not Jackson vs pick. It’s Jackson vs Maclin or Cooper. They were likely to pick WRs this year to groom with Foles and fit Kelly’s desires.

          • OldDuckMcDoc

            It’s not Jackson vs pick. It’s Jackson vs Maclin or Cooper..

            Nailed it.

            Or more completely, it’s Jackson at $1om vs Maclin or Cooper at about half that.

            The thing I keep coming back to is that when DeSean signed that contract everyone accepted that come this year it would either be reworked or he’d be playing elsewhere. Apparently we didn’t fancy reworking it (at least not at a level he’d have been happy with) so he’s elsewhere.

          • aub32

            I think we all thought he’d be elsewhere if he under performed. I don’t think there was a single Eagles fan that if you told them in 2012 that Jackson was going to put up 1300+ yards/ 80+ receptions/ 9 TDs in 2013 that they thought he would be wearing any color other than midnight green.

          • OldDuckMcDoc

            But we knew if he performed well he’d want a new deal this year because his contract essentially became a series of one year deals with little to nothing guaranteed. It was always vanishingly unlikely he’d be playing here in 2014 under the deal he signed in 2012. We could have made him play out his contract but forcing DeSean to play on a deal he doesn’t like didn’t work out before.

            We’re just retreading the same old ground here though. He’s gone, there’s not really anything new to say on it, so I’ll just leave it there.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            Don’t forget a new agent needing paid.

          • aub32

            It’s not that simple though. You can’t just dismiss the fact Jackson is a proven top 15 WR. He’s not 30. He’s in the prime of his career, and unlike Mac does not have a history of knee injuries. I agree we should be looking for young WR talent. However, that does not mean you get rid of a stud for unproven guys.

          • Kev_H

            I think it is you have an issue with the vets they brought back which is fair but unrelated to the draft or o line.

          • aub32

            I am fine with who they brought back. I wanted all 3 guys on the roster along with 1 or 2 rookie WRs. My problem was that they forced themselves to have to go WR early when they released DeSean. This meant they had to trade up for Matthews and missed any chance of drafting a decent young O lineman.

          • Kev_H

            I think in their minds they released Jackson in January. We normally expect a new coach to come in and change personnel. Block out all the media noise and there were indications from early on that Jackson (as a player, not person) wasn’t what Kelly is looking for. Right or wrong, Kelly didn’t think featuring Jackson would allow them to win a title.

            The day of the Super Bowl, they had a huge need at WR. They had only two, healthy, experienced WRs under contract. I’d be willing to bet the exact plan they carried out was in place that day. Address the need through free agency and the draft and move on from the guys under contract.

          • xmbk

            You can’t ignore economics when evaluating talent. Jackson was not worth the salary. It’s not a matter of being cheap – keeping him at 10.5 mill hurt the team, unless you rate him much higher than the Eagles and apparently the entire NFL did.

        • aub32

          That’s why I brought up Cooks earlier. Cooks and DeSean are very similar. With DeSean, there’d be no need to draft Matthews (reason being is that the Eagles likely would not have drafted Matthews if they were able to get Cooks) The Eagles still (reach) for Huff while being able to trade back and get Smith. Effectively, we miss out on baby Jesus and pick up an O lineman. We will have to see how Matthews turns out to know whether that was the correct choice.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            But to say we get Cooks in the first and Huff in the third leaves the second pick open, with less ammo to have made a trade up for a pass rusher who would have had to fall to tradeable range given the lack of assets, so it’s still entirely plausible that we go OL in the second and ignore pass rush. Which, despite the flack the FO gets for the Smith pick, I think there’d be way more flack had we gone Cooks, OL, Huff.

          • aub32

            Which is my point about DeSean. Had we had DeSean, then we would not have gone Cooks, who they wanted more than Matthews. So I think it’s reasonable to say we would not have drafted Matthews. We still pick up Smith and can now go O line in round 2, while making sure to pick up Kelly’s guy, Huff, in the 3rd.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            And this is where I go back to the point of Chip loving weapons and we had a draft loaded with them. Had we had DJ going into the draft (assuming we kept him), I think it’s still very likely that we wouldn’t have gone OL and would have gone for a 1st/2nd rd receiver who’s a bigger bodied guy. I’m not saying what you’re saying is wrong or invalid, there’s plenty of validity to it. We just see it differently.

          • aub32

            Agreed we see this differently. Do you think they would have still traded up in the 2nd to get Matthews if Jackson were still on the team? Or would they have sat put and just gone BPA. Not trying to continue the argument, I’m just interested in your thoughts.

          • Kev_H

            Oh I do. I don’t follow college much but I did see Matthews a bit and thought he was an ideal Kelly guy. I think one of my only draft comments here was “what about this guy?” When everyone was touting Beckham, Watson, Benjamin, Cooks, Evans…and I wasn’t seeing love for Matthews. He is everything Kelly values and I think Chip wanted him with the first pick.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            I’d say it’s likely. By all accounts they were wowed by this kid’s mental make up – the showing up to the Eagles meetings with notes and questions for them, asking for tapes on the Sr. Bowl corners, graduating in 3.5yrs in Econ, etc. Tack on that he’s the bigger bodied receiver that Kelly wants to have on his team, I want to say that it’s a definite yes, but I’ll leave it at “highly likely”. And I think had they not traded up and sat there, OL is more likely, but I wouldn’t rule out Latimer there either. And I truly believe that Kelly was going to find a way to get Huff one way or another. Seems to love the kid.

          • aub32

            People keep bringing up how Kelly wants bigger WRs, but I can’t help but point out that Kelly wanted Cooks over Matthews. He also wanted Lee and Beckham over Matthews. Both those guys aren’t that big. So I just don’t know how wowed they were over Matthews. He seems like he was their last acceptable option before they would have had to take guys they weren’t very fond of.

          • bill

            How do we *know* this? I’ve seen Sheil state it as a fact, but I’ve never seen anything definitive that proved the Eagles had any values on any specific players other than knowing that they had 5 or 6 that they wanted at 21, but none of them made it. Did Kelly have a presser I missed?

          • aub32

            I have read this in various places and heard Adam Caplan say it yesterday. I trust him, especially when it comes to the Eagles.
            ….
            Kelly or Roseman also said as much after drafting Matthews. They said that they traded back after not having any of the 6 guys targeted reach 22. Then they traded up for Matthews after Lee got picked as those two had similar grades and were the last two WRs that they graded highly

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            Lee’s not that small at 6’1″, but you’re right on Lee & Beckham. I think the counter is that they’re proven playmakers. I think they’re probably more the exception than the rule.

          • aub32

            That’s my point. No one drafted is more proven a playmaker than Jackson. That’s why I cannot buy into the whole not good for the system stuff. (Sorry to keep bringing up Jackson. Camp is starting so there will be other things to discuss very soon) I will get to see Jesus lite in person next weekend.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            I know you’re a #10 fan more than most so I understand, and know you were one of the people ardently defending him. I wasn’t not a fan, I just celebrate all TDs & big plays the same. He was good, no doubt. I can’t call him great, though…. As I said to you in a different post, I think we’re moving to a less vertically-based passing game, so I don’t view it as the loss that you do. And while no one drafted is a more proven playmaker, it’s unfair to raise that point because they haven’t played a down. If Jackson wasn’t in the long term plan, which he clearly wasn’t, I agree with the approach of severing ties now to build the WR corp for the future, sooner.

      • aub32

        We could have still drafted a second WR this year though. We just would have done it later in the draft. Then we still get a year to groom both rookie receivers and our 2nd or 3rd round O line pick. The receivers go through their growing pains. DJax is released next season. The O lineman replaces Herremans.

        • OldDuckMcDoc

          We could have still drafted a second WR this year though. We just would have done it later in the draft.

          But then you’re unable to take one of Watkins, Hart, Reynolds and Allen, so basically you sacrifice DL or secondary depth for OL depth.

          I get that releasing DJ created a need at WR but this was widely acknowledged and discussed at the time. It’s not like anyone didn’t realise he’d need to be replaced, so like I say it just comes back to whether or not you think they did the right thing in releasing DeSean and I don’t think there’s anything new to be said on that one at this stage.

          • aub32

            I would have been ok with not drafting Reynolds. He’s no lock to make the team anyway. I think the WR talent available in the 5th was much better than the S talent available in the 5th.

    • Amar, CB who bought in

      ‘We still would have drafted two more receivers’
      What makes you so sure ? We went the entire 2013 draft without drafting a WR.

      • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

        Well, I said “I think,” not “I know.” So, I’m not “so sure.” Just my opinion.

  • Bullwinkle

    Barbe will have all preseason to prepare to play the starting RT position. This should make the loss of Johnson a little less of a problem.

  • xmbk

    The Eagles made a conscious decision before the draft to take wideouts in a deep wr draft. Jackson would have been a one year rental, given his contract. So replace Huff with a lineman and we’d just be drafting a different need position next year – PLUS be down 10.5 mill on the cap hit. I just don’t think the Jackson hubbub looks at the big picture the way a franchise has to in order to be successful. There’s also every reason to believe that Kelly felt Jackson was holding back the team’s development. So even the argument that the team takes a one year hit by dropping him is questionable. But that’s ok, you’re allowed to be wrong once. ;)

    • Kev_H

      I agree. At this point I am baffled that people who follow and write about this team still view Jackson’s release as some seat of the pants, unplanned move that changed how the Eagles proceeded forward. From what I read, I’m not so sure Jackson makes it out of training camp if Maclin and Benn stayed healthy last year. Right or wrong it is clear Kelly doesn’t value little receivers.

  • TNA

    So now it’s technically a 54 man roster for the first 4 weeks. Any close camp battle with guys on the bubble can be extended into the first 4 weeks of practices. Thanks LJ!

    • Andy Six Score and Four

      55. Forget me Knott.

  • FluxCapacitor

    My concern with the Johnson suspension is more about when he comes back…and not from being away from the team for a month. No way we can be certain his rise at OT was not directly due to banned substances. Will he be able to keep the same level without them, if in fact that is what happened? Just another “wait and see” thing for this year.

    • Philip Soloninka

      With a name like FluxCapacitor, I imagine you already have some insight into how this season will turn out….

    • dnabrice

      Wouldn’t he have been caught at some point last year though?

  • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

    Evan Mathis to report to camp on time. Excellent news.

    • OldDuckMcDoc

      I refuse to get excited till he confirms it with a map pin.

  • Engwrite

    I like the analysis of plausible unintended consequences associated with DeSean’s release, or any such moves. Hadn’t thought of it. Keep it up Sheil.

    • Fly High

      Ok. so let’s talk unintended consequences. The Eagles have a lot of salary cap room, not because they saved a lot this year, but because they did not dip in to the cap room they have saved from the past. Keeping Jackson and everyone else, they become in a precarious position next year when it is time to extend the 2012 draft class. Howie (and I think smartly) would not put himself there. So if they keep DeSean, I think they don;’t sign either Cooper or Maclin, and someone else. Which means maybe they still draft two WR. Some folks would say “That’s easy, Cooper isn’t that good, let him go”, but that leaves Chip with two small outside WR, that is not where he wants to go. More likely they don’t resign Maclin. So with every choice we give something up.

      • aub32

        Doesn’t really work that way. We had plenty of cap room to have kept Jackson. We also could have restructured and given him a deal similar to what the Skins gave him in order to lower his cap number.

        Foles and Boykin are really the only guys that may end up getting big money deals next offseason. Boykin will make less than he’s worth because he’s a sub package guy, and the Eagles have leverage with him making so little next season. If Foles has another season like 2013, he’s getting paid. There’s no doubt there. Cox will not get a new deal next year. The team can just use the 5th year option and deal with an extension after the 2015 season. Kendricks will need one heck of a year to warrant decent dollars.

        We will also cut Cole, CW, Herremans, and others after this year. Add to that the 10M salary cap bump from the TV deals. We will have plenty of cap room regardless of cutting DeSean or not.

        • Engwrite

          I stand corrected, vis a vis near term cap needs.

      • Engwrite

        I believe, as you do, that the DeSean move was due to future cap needs; the team will require cap space to extend a bunch of good players and they can (or so they seem to believe) get good play at receiver for less money. And I believe Sheil’s musings, thought provoking as they are, are just that, interesting speculation.

        In reality we have no idea what the Eagles want. Big guys? So they trade for Sproles. A cheaper replacement for DeSean, a guy that catches passes, right? Not according to Kelly who has repeatedly stated Sproles is a RB and will run the ball. [Not sure I believe it]

        If Kelly wanted a big guy running the ball, one with speed, power and almost unlimited potential, he traded him to Buffalo.

        So yeah, it is interesting but, other than Kelly/Eagles management, no one knows what he is doing. We are left to have fun speculating.

    • Kev_H

      I don’t see the connection at all. In a draft lauded for being exceptional deep at WR, they pick two WRs. Just last September-October they looked woefully undermanned at the position and what they did have were all vets. To not come away with two promising receivers would have been negligent- regardless of which vets they brought back.

  • Andy

    So Sheil I think you should take the bull by the horns and spend those four weeks with Lane reviewing film every Monday. Maybe you could get Jon Runyan involved in the film room and doing some drills in your back yard. He isn’t doing anything productive these days, is he?

  • Broadcasting Wisdom

    I am sure with Chip’s use of technology that Lane will be getting all the info in film breakdowns from those first four games despite not being “on sight.” Didn’t you document how Ed Reynolds got an ipad with videos while he was at Stanford?

    Now, can he stay in elite physical condition without access to the facility for those 4 weeks is another matter.

    • aub32

      I’m thinking a drone with a projector attached to it. The drone can just fly into Lane’s living room, face a wall, and play all the game tape.

      • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

        No transfer of data to trace back to anyone, that’s smart.

        • aub32

          The drone would of course immediately self destruct after playing the tape.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            Hmm, I was thinking it would return to the NovaKremlin after transfer of said data for future use, however; destroying the evidence and getting another drone would be the safer route.

          • MagatBrackendale

            Cheaper to use (limited life) microfilm and carrier pigeons. Also drones could be tracked. Birds not so much.;~)

    • Kev_H

      He’s allowed to workout and every serious NFL player has a routine and trainer with specialised coaching. I don’t see that as being a big deal. It’s just an extra little financial hit to go with losing four game checks. He should actually have a fitness advantage for the season overall.

  • cliff h-MOAR white goons

    resource allocation…Foles 700k and proving last year wasnt a mirage trumps everything

    • OldDuckMcDoc

      Foles and Boykin both have lower base salaries in ’14 than Henery, Curtis Marsh and caseymatthews, which is glorious and unjust in equal measure.

  • Amar, CB who bought in

    Desean Jackson is a valid point. Many of us discussed it here when there were talks of drafting ODB or Cooks in the 1st round. Would we have gone that route if Desean was still in Eagles green.
    CK and Howie just took a huge risk with little reward…But hey, hats off to them if they can pull this off. If they can’t, Marcus Mariotta here we come.

    • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

      IF our WRs completely suck this year it’s not going to result in drafting Mariotta. It’s going to result in better receivers.

      • Amar, CB who bought in

        We have two rookies on the roster. I don’t think we cut them immediately. Plus Mariotta would be too good of an option to pass if he is available when we draft.

        • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

          As long as he doesn’t ish the bed this year we won’t have to worry abou thim falling to us… and if the receivers suck, Maclin can be gone for no loss and cooper can just be buried. Doubt we see enough Huff to make the call that he’s the issue, and since rookie receivers don’t often have great rookie seasons, it’d be too hard to blame them.

          • aub32

            Agreed on the rookies. How confident are you in the offense if Maclin goes down. We agree that we can only expect so much from the rookies. I like Cooper but not as a #1. If Foles can’t pull a Brady (make the talent around him better by his play) do you think Kelly looks elsewhere or just tries to get him better weapons while waiting for Matthews and Huff to develop? (Like what the Giants did with Eli)

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            Let’s be fair, Brady couldn’t even pull a Brady last year with 2 rookie wideouts in Dobson and Thompkins. Thus, Edelman (who’s more Welkerish than Amendola I think) had a 100 catch season while they killed it in the run game and they had a good D. That said, Brady wasn’t making his receivers better in year three, either, to my memory. His passing developed more each year as he got comfortable. He had a patient coach who seemed to care more about good decisions at the time as Brady grew.

            I think that’s comparable to our situation. As long as Foles isn’t making poor decisions, he’s fine and Kelly will roll with him. I truly believe that. Good decision-making and taking care of the ball will get you in good with any coach, look at Alex Smith (who now wants to be the highest paid game manager ever). Foles decision making has to be HIGHLY questionable for Kelly to decide to move on, IMO.

            Losing Maclin hurts the offense, no doubt, but doesn’t end the season. I expect this offense to be different than what we saw last year anyway, in that it’ll be more horizontally oriented than vertically oriented which should foster more of the tempo game due to higher efficiency. So, no, I don’t think Mac going down hurts us in the way that losing DJ in a vertically oriented passing game would have hurts us last year.