Lane Johnson Files Complaint Against NFL, NFLPA

Plus: Should the Eagles keep spending money in the offseason?
Lane Johnson. (Jeff Fusco)

Lane Johnson. (Jeff Fusco)

With the Eagles entering the offseason after a 7-9 year, let’s look at the best stories from around the web from the past week.

Offensive tackle Lane Johnson has officially filed a complaint against the NFL and the NFL Players Association in federal court over his suspension this season, writes ESPN.com’s Tim McManus.

In a statement, Johnson’s attorney, Steve Zashin, said that the complaint asserts that the arbitration following Johnson’s appeal of the 10-game suspension was a “sham proceeding.”

“Although the 2015 Policy on Performance Enhancing Substances (“2015 Policy”) required a minimum of three arbitrators-there were only two,” said Zashin. “In addition, the 2015 Policy required that any arbitrator assigned to hear appeals was not otherwise affiliated with the NFL and NFLPA. That requirement was not followed.

“The 2015 Policy entitles a player to information upon which he can contest discipline. Lane was denied even the most basic information, including information about his treatment under the 2015 Policy.

“Although the NFL required that Lane strictly comply with the 2015 Policy, the NFL and the NFLPA were not required to comply with the written terms of the 2015 Policy. In that regard, the NFL and the NFLPA deviated in numerous substantive areas from the protections set forth in the 2015 Policy to the extreme detriment of NFL players.

“This case is harsh example of an employer and union who have chosen to withhold and manipulate the terms and conditions of employment in violation of the law. Such conduct is also in direct contravention of the 2015 Policy’s express requirements of ‘transparency’ and ‘fairness.'”

Defensive end Brandon Graham was selected to the AP All-Pro Second Team.

Offensive tackle Jason Peters was the team’s MVP this season, from Cameron DaSilva of FoxSports.com.

Philadelphia Eagles: Jason Peters

Jason Peters remained healthy all season, and it showed how impactful that was in his play. He was one of the best left tackles in the league this year, earning a Pro Bowl bid for stringing together a terrific campaign. Without him, Carson Wentz would have been hit a lot more than he was.

Quarterback Carson Wentz was the ninth best rookie from this year’s class, according to Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com.

Rank 9 Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles

Wentz had a roller-coaster season, but overall, he showed tremendous promise. This was supposed to be a redshirt year for the No. 2 overall pick; instead, he started all 16 games for the Eagles. He played really well at the end of the season, thanks in large part to the return of right tackle Lane Johnson.

According to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, the Eagles are the best team to go from the bottom of their division to the top of it by next season.

1) Philadelphia Eagles (NFC East)

I don’t think the Cowboys will win 13 games again in 2017. Dallas was 3-3 within the NFC East, with the Eagles playing them to overtime in Week 8 (and winning the meaningless regular-season finale). Going back to 2011, only four teams have gone from worst to first — and all four came from the NFC East. So why buck the trend? The Eagles have a good, young quarterback in Carson Wentz, who bounced back nicely from a mid-season valley, and a promising coach in Andy Reid-disciple Doug Pederson, while Fletcher Cox, Jordan Hicks and Brandon Graham anchor a strong defense. The top-notch front office, headed by Howie Roseman, has eight draft picks coming up, including one in the top 20. Give them more speed at running back and receiver and look out.

The Eagles should lay low in free agency this year, opines Andrew Brandt of the MMQB.

Eagles: The first team in NFL history with a payroll exceeding $200 million, there was not bang for the buck this year but the hope is that will reverse in future years with Carson Wentz being paid among the lower tier of starting quarterbacks in the next couple of years. Paying Sam Bradford $11 million for participating in the offseason (and carrying a $5.5 million 2017 salary cap charge) was not planned, but the cost can be seen as payment for a first-round choice shrewdly taken from the Vikings. The most contractually active team in the league should chill out next year, although their lack of playmakers is stark.

The Inquirer’s Zach Berman says there’s plenty of things for Howie Roseman to do in the offseason, especially addressing the wide receiver position.

Wide receiver

The Eagles stuck with youth at the position in 2016, and it did not work out. Jordan Matthews’ production declined in his third year (73 catches, 804 yards, four touchdowns) while he fought an ankle injury in the final month. The top two outside receivers – Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham – couldn’t even combine to reach those numbers.

Look for the Eagles to be active upgrading this position in both free agency and the draft. Chicago’s Alshon Jeffery is the top pending free agent, but the Bears could apply the franchise tag on him for the second consecutive year. The Eagles could also be priced out if he hits the market.

They could look for a reunion with DeSean Jackson, who had 56 catches for 1,005 yards and four touchdowns. Jackson turned 30, so the question is how productive he’ll be entering his 10th NFL season. Cleveland’s Terrelle Pryor (77 catches, 1,007 yards, four touchdowns); Los Angeles’ Kenny Britt (68 catches, 1,002 yards, five touchdowns); and Miami’s Kenny Stills (42 catches, 726 yards, nine touchdowns) will be among the other top names on the market.

Clemson’s Mike Williams is the top draft-eligible wide receiver, with Washington’s John Ross, Western Michigan’s Corey Davis, Southern California’s JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook also likely to draw interest in the top two rounds.

Doug Pederson will keep calling offensive plays next season, but as Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com notes, he’ll evaluate his play-calling.

“One thing I always appreciated with Coach Pederson was he valued my input, even as a rookie,” Wentz said. “He valued my opinion on things. I thought that was awesome, I thought that was awesome for me. And I thought he did a good job.”

While Wentz thought Pederson did a good job calling the plays during the 2016 season, fans weren’t so forgiving. At times, Pederson’s calls were brought into question.

But he was pretty consistent throughout the year, remaining very aggressive.

“Again, as I mentioned during the week, I’ll evaluate my play-calling,” Pederson said Sunday. “I’ve got to balance between managing the game offense, defense, special teams to actually calling the offense. I get a lot of help. It’s not like I’m doing this by myself. Frank has done a great job with me. He’s constantly in my ear. He’s constantly throwing ideas.

 

The Week 3 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers was one of 10 games that shaped this year’s playoffs, pens Reuben Fischer-Baum of FiveThirtyEight.

9. Philadelphia 34, Pittsburgh 3 (Week 3)

Remember Philadelphia? After a 3-0 start, capped by this shellacking of the highly rated Pittsburgh Steelers, the Eagles saw their playoff chances rise to over 70 percent. After a bye in Week 4, it was all downhill. Philadelphia went 2-9 over their next 11 games and were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 15.