What They’re Saying About the Eagles
Here are some of the top Eagles stories so far this week:
Donovan McNabb doesn’t like the Eagles’ offseason moves at quarterback, reports Dan Levy of BillyPenn.com.
You sign Sam Bradford to a multi-year deal and give him big money, then you trade picks to move up to No. 2 – that was dumb. I mean, nothing against Carson Wentz, but why would you do that? That’s just a bad business decision from the Philadelphia Eagles.
Chase Daniel is not a bad player. Chase Daniel can hold the fort down for 6-8-10 weeks and then if things aren’t going well you move a slow transition to Carson Wentz. Because the crowd…I’m going to tell you, the people of Philadelphia — and you know it — the people of Philadelphia they’re not going to call for Chase Daniel. They’re calling for Carson Wentz.
So when Sam Bradford struggles, we can talk about all we want to, if he struggles or the defense ain’t stopping nobody and the offense is ranked around 15th, you’re going to make a decision around week seven, week eight or week nine. If he can hold it until week 10 or week 11 it’s better for Carson Wentz to come in and finish up that season, because he will learn the speed of the game.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke ranks the Eagles as the 26th-best team in the NFL.
The Eagles are semi-settled at quarterback for the time being, with Sam Bradford ahead of Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz in the pecking order. Now, the coaching staff has to figure out exactly who is helping Bradford et al., from the skill positions. Darren Sproles and Zach Ertz are about the only sure things, although Jordan Matthews comes close to that designation. Can Ryan Mathews stay healthy? Will Nelson Agholor be reliable? A lot of unknowns.
NFL.com’s Elliott Harrison says Brian Dawkins is the Eagles’ top Hall of Fame candidate.
With apologies to John Lynch, Steve Atwater and Darren Woodson, there was no better safety in pro football from the late 1990s through the late 2000s. Dawkins patterned his game after Woodson, trying to be the most complete safety possible: stopping the run, making impact plays and, perhaps most importantly, being able to cover. Dawkins was named to nine Pro Bowls during his career, but even more significant was all the team success he enjoyed, including five trips to the NFC Championship Game and one to the Super Bowl.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell picks potential future Hall of Famers for every team currently playing, including a couple of logical selections for the Eagles.
1 to 10 percent: Fletcher Cox is the proud owner of a mammoth new contract, but he has made only one Pro Bowl in his first four seasons. I fully expect that to change with Jim Schwartz around as defensive coordinator, but let’s wait for that to happen first.
Jason Peters had a case as the best non-Joe Thomas left tackle in football for a while there; he slipped some last season, and this is probably his last year in Philadelphia, but Peters has made it to eight Pro Bowls and has been a first-team All-Pro twice by the age of 33. He’s probably one additional good season away from the Hall. 50 percent
Barnwell also wrote about the Eagles’ salary cap crunch next season, and a few options to solve it.
Release or trade Sam Bradford. It’s almost impossible to imagine a situation where Bradford plays for the Eagles in 2017. If he continues to produce mediocre numbers, the Eagles will cut the former first-overall pick, and if Bradford finally has his breakout season, Philadelphia will likely trade him to open up an opportunity for Wentz and recoup some of those missing draft picks. In either case, the Eagles will create $17 million in cap space, leaving $5.5 million in dead money on their cap.
Cut Jason Peters. Injuries and aging have led to Peters slipping some from his peak, when he was arguably the best left tackle in football. The Eagles gave Lane Johnson a massive extension this offseason, which tells us that they expect him to settle in as their left tackle eventually. The only question left is when. The 2017 season is the first time that really makes sense: Philadelphia would clear out $9.2 million in cap space by releasing Peters, who will be in his age-35 season. Just one tackle in 20 years — the Chiefs’ Willie Roaf in 2005 — has managed to make the Pro Bowl during his age-35 season.
Do something about Connor Barwin’s contract. The six-year, $36-million deal Barwin signed after Chip Kelly’s arrival in Philadelphia has been one of the best free-agent deals in recent memory. Barwin has chipped in with 26.5 sacks over the past three years while helping out regularly in coverage. Barwin will be owed $18.6 million over the final two years of his deal, and Philly might very well be able to leverage that into an extension on friendly terms and reduced cap hits over Barwin’s next couple of years in town.
The Eagles are 30th in ESPN’s under-25 talent ranking.
Some solid draft classes kept the Eagles around 14th the past two years, but Zach Ertz and Fletcher Cox both turned 25 and no longer qualify. Marcus Smith has made little impact with 1.5 sacks in two years, and Nelson Agholor was far from impressive as a rookie (just 23 catches). Jordan Matthews is not well-suited to be a No. 1 wideout; he’s more of a slot WR, but he should still lead the team in receiving again this year.
The Eagles actually gain back a Pro Bowler from injury, but it’s just kicker Cody Parkey, who had marginal value on kickoffs in 2014. We’d also normally give a boost for drafting a quarterback No. 2 overall, but we downgraded Philadelphia for the decision to redshirt Carson Wentz this year. Even if he were the starter, Wentz raises plenty of red flags given his limited experience in a run-heavy offense against lesser college competition.
Eric Rowe should see more snaps this year, but the U25 defender in Philadelphia to watch is linebacker Jordan Hicks, who outplayed teammate Kiko Alonso. Hicks was leading the team in tackles before tearing his pectoral in Week 9.
The Eagles are also 30th in NFL.com’s triplet rankings.
As much as some analysts attempt to reduce football to a math equation, the game is still played by human beings. And I simply can’t imagine things going well so long as Bradford is under center (while No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz watches from the sidelines). Bradford has proven to be fragile both physically and emotionally, so it seems unlikely that he’s going to be a rock-solid field general in his seventh season with his replacement waiting in the wings. Speaking of injuries, Mathews has had a lot of ’em. But last year, he did look very good when on the field. The Matthews with two Ts in his surname has a knack for catching TDs, but he needs help from Nelson Agholor this year.
The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane tweeted out a couple of nuggets about Darren Sproles’ new deal.
#Eagles added $500K RB to Darren Sproles' 2016 BS ($3.5M). Cap#: $5.1M. 2017 BS $4M. $2M guar for injury only – $1M on roster 15th day of LY
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) August 2, 2016
Second $1M of Darren Sproles' 2017 guar is if on roster 3 days after last day of draft. He has $100K pro bowl bonuses.
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) August 2, 2016
Our old friend Adam Hermann writes for the Daily News about the adversity tight end M.J. McFarland has faced.
But in mid-July of last year, McFarland was told by UTEP coach Sean Kugler that he had failed a drug test.
McFarland was stunned. Thinking back, he realized the culprit was a drug he’d taken to aid his recovery from a concussion he’d suffered in spring practices.
It was a costly mistake. McFarland was suspended by the NCAA for the entire season.
Five months later, his father was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer and began chemotherapy.
“It was devastating,” McFarland said.