Eagles Wake-Up Call: Most Indispensable Players

Ryan Mathews and Sam Bradford. (USA Today Sports)

Ryan Mathews and Sam Bradford. (USA Today Sports)

After the Fletcher Cox contract extension and Howie Roseman’s flurry of moves this offseason, talk surrounding the Eagles has understandably shifted to the future and how the Birds shape up longterm. But with all of Roseman’s major deals done and training camp (slowly) inching closer, let’s take a look at who the most indispensable Eagles are this season.

5. Ryan Mathews — It’s tough to leave out talented players like Malcolm Jenkins, and a role as important as pass rusher that Vinny Curry fills, but if Mathews is unavailable, the Eagles have an unimpressive group of backs to carry the load. And if Sam Bradford has no running game, how much success will the Birds have as a one-dimensional offense? Mathews is on this list because of how big of a drop-off there is without him; even if he doesn’t rank second in the NFL again with more than five yards per carry, he’ll still give you good production. His talent has never been in question — it’s always been about him staying healthy. Mathews ranked eighth in the NFL last season in rushing DYAR, Football Outsiders’ metric that values performance on a play where the running back touches the ball compared to the replacement level, adjusting for situation and opponent. Mathews’ rushing DYAR was 133, while Darren Sproles’ was 80, and Kenjon Barner’s was 30. (DeMarco Murray’s, in case you were curious, was -29, sixth-worst among players with at least 100 carries.)

4. Jordan Hicks — Joe Walker. That’s who would likely be the Eagles’ middle linebacker if Hicks isn’t on the field. When you add that to the importance of this position group Hicks is expected to lead, it’s difficult to not include Hicks on here. With the defensive line free to roam around and leave gaps unattended, the linebackers will have to do a good job of cleaning up behind them and thinking on their feet to plug running lanes. It seems like the expectations for Hicks only get higher and higher, despite him starting just five games in his career, but that’s what happens when you discard Kiko Alonso and DeMeco Ryans and don’t have much depth behind your starters. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Ranking the Assets

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

For your mailbag question to be considered, complete the form at the bottom of this post.

How do you rank the top longterm players on the Eagles? -Terry

NFL teams unexpectedly cut and trade players all of the time, but one thing Howie Roseman has brought to the Eagles this offseason — at least for the near future — is clarity. By giving out twice as much guaranteed money as any other team since the beginning of the calendar year, it’s clear who the team values and wants to build around.

But one of the biggest question marks with Roseman has never been his salary cap management — it’s talent evaluation. So this is an interesting mailbag question to consider, and although the Eagles made a big trade to acquire a guy they think could be a franchise quarterback, they are building around a core group of players who went 7-9 last year and were on a team which often appeared worse than their record suggested.

Is that a nucleus you can win a Super Bowl with? Read more »

Weekend Reading: Fletcher Cox’s Impact Across the League

Fletcher Cox. (Jeff Fusco)

Fletcher Cox. (Jeff Fusco)

Here’s this weekend’s roundup of the national stories about the Eagles:

In Denver, the Fletcher Cox extension puts the Broncos in a more difficult situation to sign Von Miller, as Mike Klis of KUSA reports.

Even with Cox’s $63 million guarantee coming in over four years — $55.2 million over three years in “new” money, while [Ndamukong] Suh’s $60 million is over three seasons and the Broncos’ offer of $58 million to $59 million in guarantees to Miller is over three years – it can’t be argued the Eagles just guaranteed more dollars to Cox than the Broncos are offering to Miller. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Strengthening the Core

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Howie Roseman retold the Fletcher Cox draft story Thursday. About how they had a trade worked out with Seattle to move up from 15 to 12 if one of their targets happened to still be on the board; that they never anticipated one of those primary targets — Cox — to actually last that long; and how a last-second offer forced them to contemplate their chosen course of action.

“When he got to 12 and we were ready to make the pick, we had agreed on the trade, and then we got a call from another team offering us to move back for a future one,” said Roseman. “And so we just kind of took a minute and just thought about Fletcher and what we projected him to be. And if he was that, how would we get that guy again? And all around the room, everyone agreed that to get a 6-4, 310-pound guy, 35-inch arms, powerful, athletic, great character, we’d have to pick in the Top-5 — 21 years old. For us, even if that future one was a 12 or 13 or 14, we thought it was a unique opportunity that we were able to get that kind of guy, so we just kind of made the pick.”

Roseman called it “one of my favorite stories that we’ve had here.” And no wonder: it’s a triumphant tale involving the single-best pick he’s ever made. Chances are, he’s got some good ones about Vinny Curry and Zach Ertz and Lane Johnson as well.

The key thing, as we work to make sense of the decision to pour $143 million of guarantees into those four players, is the very fact that there are stories to tell. Read more »

Roseman Explains Approach To Cox Negotiations

Fletcher Cox

Talks between the Eagles and Fletcher Cox accelerated over this past week. The two sides were far apart during a portion of their months-long negotiations, Howie Roseman said, but were finally able to come to an agreement earlier this week that includes $63.3 million in guarantees for the 25-year-old defensive tackle.

What made it come together now?

“I think I just said, ‘Yes,'” Roseman responded with a laugh. Read more »

Adam Schefter: Fletcher Cox Considered Holding Out

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

ESPN’s Adam Schefter appeared on 97.5 The Fanatic’s morning show Tuesday and offered some interesting nuggets about the Fletcher Cox situation.

“Fletcher Cox had given some serious consideration to not showing up to the mandatory minicamp,” said Schefter. “[He] decided to go when the Eagles said ‘Hey, we’re gonna keep talking about this, we’re gonna keep coming up with proposals to try to get this worked out.’ And so often we see players stay away.”

Just a few days after the end of mandatory minicamp, the 25-year-old defensive tackle agreed to a six-year $103 million extension, with $63 million guaranteed. The guaranteed money is a record for a non-quarterback.

Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Cap After Cox

Howie Roseman. (Jeff Fusco)

Howie Roseman. (Jeff Fusco)

The Eagles actually picked up about $1.5 million in cap relief for this season after inking Fletcher Cox to a mega-deal and now have a touch over $8 million to play with, according to former agent and contracts/salary cap expert Joel Corry. A nice perk for the here and now. It’s down the line where the obstacles lie.

Given the $280 million spending spree they have been on since the start of the year — including the recent Cox contract  that includes $63 million worth of guarantees — it may not come as a big surprise to hear that the Eagles have more cap commitments than any other team in the NFL for 2017.

The number, Corry says, currently sits at just shy of $178 million. OvertheCap sees it the same way. Even when you factor in an 8-10 percent increase in the league salary cap (it’s currently a touch over $155 million) and some carryover money, the Eagles are projected to be north of the ceiling. (OTC has them at plus-$11 million at the moment.)

“They’re going to have to shed people next year,” Corry said during a conversation with Birds 24/7. Read more »

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