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March 08, 2020

Eagles mailbag: What five changes would you make to get back to the Super Bowl?

Eagles NFL
030820CoryLittleton Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Linebackers are people too.

In our Eagles chat on Friday, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow.

Question from Carson's Jersey: What five changes you would make to the Eagles to make them Super Bowl champions should you suddenly be promoted to head honcho.

Well, back in January, I laid out my Eagles' next calendar year, in stick figure form:


In that post, I just let the drawing speak for itself, without added analysis, which I'll now add here. To note, the drawing is both what I would do, and what I think the Eagles will do, just FYI whereas those two things don't always match.

1) Cut Alshonymous: Alshon Jeffery isn't some bad locker room guy, or anything like that, as far as I can see. He's quiet, and seems to get along with most of his teammates. He's not a sideshow, like Odell Beckham, asking opponents to trade for him during games. He's not an ego maniac like Antonio Brown. He's not doing situps in his driveway like Terrell Owens. But he did criticize Carson Wentz anonymously in each of the last two years, and for that, he simply can't stay on the roster.

If he were OBJ, or Brown, or Owens, in terms of ability, maybe you just live with the possibility that he causes a major in-season distraction for the third year in a row. But he's not. He looked cooked for most of the 2019, and that was before he underwent surgery for a Lisfranc injury. He has to go. I'd just take the huge cap hit and get him out.

So that'd be change No. 1.

2) Super Bowl roster purge: I'd move on from all the players pictured. I'd have also moved on from Nigel Bradham, but I didn't include him because I wasn't sure if the team would. They made the right decision there, and they're making the right (though uneasy) decision to let Jason Peters test the free agent market. So that's change No. 2.

3) Spend big at cornerback: I don't care if the price tag for Byron Jones gets as high as $18 million per year, pending the outcome of a new collective bargaining agreement. If the cap is going to rise, so too are free agent contracts. A $18 million/year deal will sound like much more of an overspend than it is in reality. As we (maybe) transition to a new CBA, perhaps the better way to view contracts for now would be to look at them in terms of percentage of cap spending.

But for me, I can't get past the exercise I undertook when I looked at all the big plays the Eagles allowed last season.

They must stop that bleeding, and Jones will go a long way toward achieving that. With Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas not panning out as second- and third-round picks, respectively, the Eagles' penance is to have to overspend in free agency. So that's change No. 3.

4) Add 3+ wide receivers: With Jeffery and Nelson Agholor on their way out, and DeSean Jackson being a major durability concern, the Eagles need receivers in bulk, finding immediate contributors in free agency, as well as either immediate or eventual starters in a loaded draft class. This needs no further explanation. So that's change No. 4.

5) Find middle ground with Malcolm: Keeping an already under contract Malcolm Jenkins on the roster isn't really a "change," as the question was posed to me, though I would find a way to keep him if I'm the Eagles. So let's come up with a different No. 5 for the purpose of this exercise:

5) Actually use some valuable resources on a linebacker who is worth it: The Rams' Cory Littleton is a perfect fit for the Eagles' defense. He's outstanding in coverage (most PBUs in the NFL the last two years, plus 5 INTs), he makes a ton of tackles (6th in the NFL the last two years), and he's an elite special teams player (5 blocked punts!). He is an impact linebacker, and he's just sitting there on the open market. Go get him!

Question from RKotite: Do we have the heir apparent for Jason Kelce on the roster (under contract) right now? Are we finding one this year? If so, draft or FA?

Yes, I think that the Eagles believe that Isaac Seumalo can/will eventually move into that starting center spot, though they do have options. Because of Seumalo's versatility, the Eagles have the luxury of finding a long-term fit at either LG or C whenever Kelce retires. I don't think they'll put a significant resource into the interior OL until they know Kelce is going to hang them up, unless there's a value they can't pass up, like the Temple kid, Matt Hennessy, in the third round, for example.

In free agency, no quality interior offensive lineman will have any interest in coming to the Eagles, seeing as there are no starting jobs available. Conversely, the Eagles aren't going to spend valuable resources on an interior offensive lineman when they have so many other immediate glaring needs.

Question from Mike: Any chance Howie would draft a safety (Antoine Winfield / Kyle Dugger/ Ashtyn Davis) in round two?

I would throw Jeremy Chinn into that tier of safeties as well, but no, I think that it is unlikely that they take a safety in the second round. My sense is that they'll want to have their starting safety situation finalized in free agency, and if indeed they do, that would make an early safety pick unlikely. Should one of those guys fall into Round 3, then yep, I could see that.

Obviously, we know that they are extremely unlikely to take a safety in Round 1, since they have literally never done it.

Question from LostInChiTown: Care to lay some odds for us? What do the birds do?

  1. Eagles stay pat at 21
  2. Eagles trade up to 16 (cost 3rd+)
  3. Eagles trade up slightly (cost ~5th)
  4. Eagles go crazy, trade up to 12 (cost 2nd+)
I would rank the odds in exactly that order.

Question from Bob: How much would you say the prospect of Minshew-mania merchandising opportunities is playing into the Jags' decision on Nick Foles?

I don't blame the Jags for wanting to cut their losses on Foles, but to do so because they think Gardner Minshew is the answer is insanity to me. Maybe that's just the message they want out there now, and then they draft a quarterback in the first round? But if I were a fan of that team, I'd be really bummed knowing that they're going to waste a season on Minshew as their starter. I just don't see him as an ideal long-term starter, at all.

Question from Irish Eagle: Is Howie in sole control of the draft board this year now that Douglas and Berry are gone?

Howie will run the draft, but he won't set the draft board. Andy Weidl now has Joe Douglas' job.

Question from Pragmatic: Where does Brady end up? Probably New England, but a realistic second place?

It looks a lot like Tennessee is a contender, what with Bill Belichick disciple Mike Vrabel tampering and whatnot.

Question from Snorpus Blart: Hey Jimmy: I just Googled your twitter acct to find some news, and in doing so, so a picture of you sitting on the floor, shirtless, wearing black pants and Timberlands. Quick question: Don't do that any more.

That's hilarious, and it's sort of a funny thing about this job. That picture was of me "OBJ'ing."

Here's OBJ on the boat:

Without context, if you Google image my name, that comes up, lol, and without context I just look like a crazy person (more so).

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