Eagles Wake-Up Call: Eric Rowe’s Learning Curve
Eric Rowe was scrolling through Twitter when he heard the news. The Eagles traded Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso to the Dolphins to swap first-round picks, and just one year after the team signed Maxwell to a six-year, $63 million deal, the cornerback was gone and his rookie understudy learned a valuable lesson.
“I didn’t think that would happen. Not after one year. Now I see what the NFL is like and what they expect. I was really surprised by that,” Rowe said. “When I came in and heard about his contract, I was like, ‘Okay, he’ll be here for a good while.’ I guess no matter how much you get paid or how long you sign for, you can be gone within a year. That kind of was a wake-up call.”
Maxwell’s departure opened up a starting spot at corner, but Rowe doesn’t know whether he’ll step into that role given the Eagles’ offseason additions, including Leodis McKelvin, who played for Jim Schwartz in Buffalo. The Eagles could also add a talented cornerback in the draft, such as Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves, with the No. 8 overall pick.
Unlike this time last year, however, Rowe hasn’t paid much attention to the draft. Instead of studying what cornerbacks could be selected and which teams need secondary help, he’s now focused on the NFC East’s top receivers. The exception, of course, is Devontae Booker, Rowe’s former college teammate who is projected to be a second-round pick. According to Rowe, two Eagles scouts talked to the running back at Utah.
Despite the shift from the 3-4 to the 4-3, Rowe said “nothing major” will change with the scheme in the secondary, outside of running more press-man coverage. Rowe also confirmed the notion that Schwartz’s scheme can put more pressure on defensive backs.
“He keeps saying: [My calls are] based on how much I trust the corners. That’s all I keep hearing. Based on how good the corners can play in man. Based on how good the corners can hold on the outside,” Rowe said. “I can feel that pressure a little bit. I can definitely see it.”
Jordan Hicks replacing DeMeco Ryans as the linebacker making pre-snap calls will be another significant difference, however. Hicks, who played significant snaps in just seven games last season, will be tasked with filling some of the leadership void left by the 10-year veteran.
Rowe appeared genuinely confident Hicks is prepared to do so.
“Obviously, he’s a really smart player on the field. I would have full trust that he knows what he’s doing, because I’ve seen him off the field studying tape and in the locker room studying tape,” Rowe said. “Based on how he acts on and off the field, I think he has total respect of the locker room to the point where he can actually command people to follow him, because they will.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I don’t think people put enough emphasis on it.” Jordan Matthews on the Eagles’ family feeling.
Jordan Hicks is healthy and ready to lead, writes T-Mac.
Draft Daily: Is Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin an option at No. 8 overall?
Tim’s wake-up call on Leigh Steinberg, Paxton Lynch and the Eagles.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The Eagles hold the cards in the Fletcher Cox contract negotiations, says Jimmy Kempski.
While Eskin may have gone a little overboard in his criticisms of France, his point that the Eagles have their share of leverage is absolutely valid. As noted, Cox is schedule to make just under $8 million this season, and if the Eagles franchise tag him in 2017, he’ll make significantly less than what he would make if he signs a deal anywhere near the contracts listed above. The franchise tag amount for defensive tackles in 2015 was $11.19 million, and $13.65 million in 2016. If we were to project a similar increase in 2017, Cox is looking at a franchise tag amount of about $16 million. If Cox and the Eagles cannot get a deal done, he’ll essentially be playing for something close to $24 million over the next two seasons.
Back in January, Cox said that he wants to finish his career in Philadelphia.
“I’m making eight million dollars so why wouldn’t I be excited to play,” asked Cox. “Who wouldn’t be excited to make eight million dollars? Wouldn’t you? Why complain about that?”
Jordan Hicks and Eric Rowe should play prominent roles on defense, writes Ed Kracz.
Hicks already knows he will be the starting linebacker. If that hadn’t been clear when the team released DeMeco Ryans on Feb. 24, it became even clearer April 4. It was on the first day of the Eagles’ three-week offseason conditioning program, which will conclude with a three-day voluntary camp Tuesday through Thursday, linebacker coach Ken Flajole doled out assignments.
Flajole informed Hicks he would start at MIKE, which is the middle linebacker spot. Mychal Kendricks will play the weak side position (WILL) and free agent Nigel Bradham will play the strong side (SAM).
Rowe, meanwhile, watched his cornerback position undergo plenty of change. While it shrunk by one when Byron Maxwell was dealt to Miami, it grew by three, with the additions of free agents Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks and Aaron Grymes.
Draft Daily continues with a potential mid-round running back option.