Today’s question comes from Silvio on the Birds 24/7 Facebook page:
Two of our best young defenders (Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham) are better fits for a 4-3 scheme, and we are underusing them and risking losing them. Also, Trent Cole and probably Fletcher Cox are more suitable to a 4-3, while only Connor Barwin is a true 3-4 player. If the target is maximizing your talent, does it make any sense keeping this odd front?
Thanks for the question, Silvio. I actually think the job the coaching staff has done with the front seven in the past two years has been the biggest success story on defense. Read more »
Photo by: Jeff Fusco.
The deadline for teams to designate franchise or transition players is a week from today (March 2). By that time, the expectation is that the Chiefs will either lock up or place the franchise tag on Justin Houston, preventing the top pass rusher in this free-agent class from getting loose.
The three next-best edge rushers, per Rotoworld — Jerry Hughes (Buffalo), Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants) and Greg Hardy (Carolina) — will be coming out of 4-3 defenses if they come out at all. It’s not until you get to the middle of the list and Washington’s Brian Orakpo when you will find an active 3-4 linebacker that might actually be available. Read more »
Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj – USA Today
The dead period of the NFL calendar is almost over with the NFL Combine slated to begin on Wednesday. As free agency and the draft inch closer, here’s what the national media are saying about the Eagles.
Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com identifies Jeremy Maclin as the Eagles top priority this offseason:
Letting DeSean Jackson walk a year ago will probably haunt Chip Kelly for a while. So now Jeremy Maclin has him over a barrel a year after the Eagles were able to re-sign him on the cheap while coming off an ACL injury. With the quarterback position unstable — or at least unproven — this team needs to keep skill players who fit and Maclin is the obvious starting point. If I can find a trade partner for Trent Cole, I’m doing it, and I am releasing Riley Cooper before his salary becomes guaranteed next month.
Read more »
Photo courtesy of USA Today
Jason Worilds is a name to keep in mind as we inch closer to the start of free agency on March 10.
The Eagles were interested in the 26-year-old outside linebacker last offseason but the Steelers kept him off the market by placing the transition tag on him, a move that cost them just shy of $10 million. If they chose the same course of action this year, they would reportedly have to pay Worilds closer to $11 million.
“Jason had a good year for us last year,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He is still a young player. He is probably still an ascending player. I don’t think you’ve seen the best of him, either, as a Steeler or as a potential player for someone else’s team. He is definitely someone that we will consider keeping. We will see where the market goes.”
The Steelers are currently projected to be slightly over the salary cap for 2015, and that’s without Worilds on the books. Read more »
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today
Throughout the next two weeks, we’ll take a position-by-position look at where the Eagles stand going into the offseason. We have covered the quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, tight ends, offensive line and defensive line so far. Now it’s onto the outside linebackers.
STATE OF THE ROSTER
There are all kinds of question marks at this spot going into the offseason. The biggest one concerns Brandon Graham, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.
The second concerns Trent Cole, who is due a base salary of $10 million and carries a cap hit of $11.625 million for 2015.
That means two of the three outside linebackers who were in the rotation last year (Connor Barwin being the third) face uncertain futures. Marcus Smith II, meanwhile, couldn’t get on the field as a rookie and was shuffled back and forth between outside linebacker and inside linebacker. The coaches hope he’ll show progress in Year 2, but that’s certainly not something they can count on. Read more »
Crystal LoGiudice / USA Today
Here are some Eagles-related links for you to check out this weekend.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com released his first mock draft and has the Eagles selecting CB Jalen Collins of LSU at No. 20:
The Eagles know Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham are going to be issues within the division, and finding a cornerback with size and speed matters.
Read more »
Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco
Today’s question comes from reader Andy, via e-mail:
How do you feel about the current state and future of the LB corps? They have two free agents in Brandon Graham and friend of the commenters Casey Matthews. Can they keep Trent Cole at his present price? Will Marcus Smith II ever see the field? Is ‘Meco done-o? The only non-question it seems is Mychal Kyndricks. Is that too many questions for one Wake-Up Call?
If I’m being perfectly honest here, Andy, yes, that’s way too many questions. We’ve got a whole offseason to get through here and need to spread the wealth!
So let’s split it up the topics you mentioned. We wrote about DeMeco Ryans yesterday. And we’re currently rolling out offseason outlook pieces for each position. So today, let’s talk about the outside linebackers and the pass-rush. Read more »
Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco
Eagles players cleaned out their lockers Monday and had their exit interviews with coaches. In all likelihood, we won’t hear from Chip Kelly again until March.
Keeping that in mind, it’s time to set up the offseason. We’ll be represented at all the major events: the Senior Bowl in January, the combine in February and the owners meetings in March. Below are some notes on where things stand for the Eagles going into the next few months.
The following Eagles are unrestricted free agents: WR Jeremy Maclin, OLB Brandon Graham, S Nate Allen, CB Bradley Fletcher, QB Mark Sanchez, ILB Casey Matthews and WR Brad Smith.
The priority there is Maclin. By all accounts, he wants to be back, and the team wants him back. But there are no sure things. If Maclin were to hit the open market, he would have plenty of suitors. Read more »
The Eagles seem to have a willing dance partner in Trent Cole.
The 10-year veteran appears comfortable with the idea of moving on if that’s the way things break, but his preference is to finish his career in Philadelphia.
Is he willing to rework his deal so he can come back for another season?
“Yes,” he responded. “I want to do whatever I can to make things work. Hopefully it results in me being here.”
The 32-year old’s base salary jumps from $5 million to $10 million next season and he’s slated to make just shy of $35 million over the final three years of his deal. There’s basically no shot he ends up collecting all that coin. Cole and the Eagles will likely have to find some middle ground to keep the relationship going. Read more »
Chip Kelly was handed the Pro Bowl list last night so he could call the Eagles that had been selected. His reaction when he saw that Fletcher Cox was a sixth alternate?
“Wow,” said Kelly. “That was the one that kind of surprised me. I think he’s been our top player. He’s been really unblockable at times. I think he’s a very disruptive force. But sometimes you make the Pro Bowl I guess on reputation. You ask Jason Kelce, Jason will be the first to tell you that he played better last year than he played this year, which is obviously true — he missed four-and-a-half games. Evan Mathis is a second alternate and he missed eight games…so sometimes I think your reputation goes into it.” Read more »