May 04, 2020
Welcome back to another (virtual) offseason edition of What They're Saying about the Eagles.
On Monday, Eagles writers were able to talk to starting quarterback Carson Wentz about how the Birds handled the draft, free agency and more. Given it was Wentz' first media session since suffering a concussion in the Eagles' season-ending wild-card loss to the Seahawks, there was a lot to discuss. For starters, Wentz said he wasn't concerned about the team's decision to draft fellow QB Jalen Hurts in the second round that that he'd be willing to share the field and even snaps if that would help the team reach their goal of winning a second Super Bowl.
Wentz also talked about the other Eagles additions — like wideouts Jalen Reagor and Marquise Goodwin — as well as what it's like to be the veteran in the quarterback room and if the birth of his daughter will change his approach to the game.
But Wentz' comments — and you can read them here — aren't the only thing worth talking about in the world of Eagles football, so let's take a quick look around at what they're saying...
The Eagles wide receiver situation was dreadful last season, largely due to injuries suffered by their starters that ultimately left Greg Ward as the Birds' top option in a playoff game. The Eagles addressed that in the first round of the draft by grabbing Jalen Reagor with the 21st pick. DeSean Jackson appears to be healthy. Nelson Agholor is gone. But the biggest question mark this offseason has been around Alshon Jeffery, who is still recovering after a Lisfranc injury and subsequent surgery.
There were rumors that the Eagles might trade him — and even reports that they tried to do so last season, after the team gave him a massive contract extension less than two years earlier. With so much guaranteed money attached and an injury complicating any trades, Jeffery still remains on the roster. And once he gets healthy, he could be a big part of the offseason again. At least that's what Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro believes.
The plan is for Alshon Jeffery to be a major part of the offense as he recovers from his Lisfranc injury. He has to complete his rehab, of course, and Jeffery is in the course of doing so. The Eagles have made sure this offseason to get the word out that Jeffery is being counted on and Roseman has had conversations to that extent with having No. 17 in the picture. A healthy and fully focused and hungry Jeffery would be a huge boost for the offense. He eats up defensive backs and the Eagles are fully aware that the last complete game Jeffery played was at Miami, on December 1, and he caught nine passes for 137 passes and a touchdown. He was dominating. Having Jeffery back all the way is an important piece in the offensive puzzle for 2020. [philadelphiaeagles.com]
Obviously, this story appearing on the team's own website gives it a little more credit, but it's still just Spadaro's opinion here. And this certainly doesn't preclude the Eagles from moving on from Alshon before the start of the season.
It was also worth noting that, as best we could tell, during the aforementioned Wentz call with the media, he mentioned nearly every other receiver or tight end at one point or another, including DeSean Jackson, Reagor, Goodwin (twice), Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert and even Josh freaking Perkins.
There was one noticeable exception. And no, not JJAW and Greg Ward.
If you're keeping score at home, this isn't the first time something like this has happened recently...
FWIW, Doug Pederson only mentioned DeSean Jackson, Greg Ward, and recently acquired Marquise Goodwin when talking about the Eagles needing to lean on their veteran WRs. No mention of Alshon Jeffery. (h/t @SheilKapadia) pic.twitter.com/4ZwQZQBl85— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) April 26, 2020
[Note: Howie Roseman made sure to mention Alshon a few questions later, but only said the team needs "to get him healthy, get him right."]
Speaking of Eagles wide receivers...
Over at ESPN, Matt Bowen highlighted some draft picks who he thought landed in the ideal situation. And Eagles first-round pick Jalen Reagor was among his selections, although given the Eagles need at wideout, whatever player they picked at that position in the first round likely would've been in a good spot.
But Bowen does highlight a few of the wrinkles that Reagor could add to Pederson's offense that a few of the other receivers taken in the first round might not have provided. It should be fun to see how the Eagles plan to use him in Year 1.
Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (Pick No. 21)
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 206 | School: TCU
Clay's 2020 projections: 52 catches on 84 targets for 646 yards and five TDs; 147 fantasy points
Reagor brings instant juice to an Eagles offense that last season averaged a league-low 6.5 yards per target on passes to wide receivers. With explosive-play traits and vertical stretch ability, coach Doug Pederson will scheme up deep-ball opportunities and use Reagor on crossers and over routes.
But don't forget about Reagor seeing slot targets in this offense. That's where Carson Wentz can target the TCU product on quick game throws and run-pass option concepts. There are going to be catch-and-run opportunities for him, in addition to the jet sweeps, screens and reverses Pederson can call to manufacture even more touches for Reagor. Those are high-efficiency plays that allow Wentz to get the ball quickly out of his hands. [espn.com]
One of the things Howie Roseman and Co. have championed since their decision to draft Jalen Hurts in the second round is that they're basically married to Wentz after giving him a monster contract last season. Over at 94 WIP, Eliot Shorr-Parks took a look at just how tied the Eagles are to Wentz longterm, and when they might be able to get out of that deal without it hurting their bottom line too much.
I also want to note what Eliot pointed out at the start — he's not advocating the Eagles try to trade Wentz, he's simply breaking down the contract and the options it gives the Eagles down the line.
Wentz has pretty reasonable base salaries in each season after 2020, which starts at $15.4 million in 2021, $22 million in 2022, $20 million in 2023 and $21 million in 2024. Unless Wentz suffered a serious injury in 2020, the Eagles would likely have multiple teams interested in trading for him. They would likely get at least one first-round pick in return for Wentz, and perhaps two depending on how many teams were interested.
If the Eagles were able to get a good return for Wentz they could view the dead money as essentially buying extra draft picks. Plus, with Hurts only making around $1.5 million, they would in theory still have around the same amount of money allocated to the quarterback position in 2021 as they would if they kept Wentz. The difference would be not only would they have extra draft picks to build with, but they would also be able to build going forward without having to worry about the massive deal they handed Wentz, something that has clearly impacted their plans this offseason. They would also be moving forward with at least two seasons of having Hurts, their new starting quarterback, on a rookie deal.
The same logic -- selling high while inserting a cheap rookie as the starter -- is being used for the possibility the Green Bay Packers could move on from Aaron Rodgers after this upcoming season despite just handing him a big contract extension. [94wip.radio.com]
Long story short, Eliot argues that the Eagles are married to Wentz likely for the next two years. If your interested in the ins and outs of Wetnz's deal, you should go read the full story.
Last week, we took a look at the NFL.com power rankings, which had the Eagles falling several spots to No. 14. They actually came in two spots better on ESPN's latest list — largely because ESPN was already more down on the Birds than NFL.com coming out of free agency. But the real reason we're including this is Tim McManus' little nugget about how Zach Ertz is the Eagles player who benefitted most from the team's draft. And it's really hard to argue with him.
12. Philadelphia Eagles
Post-free-agency ranking: 12
Player who benefited: TE Zach Ertz. The Eagles invested heavily in speed receivers, using draft picks on Jalen Reagor, John Hightower and Quez Watkins and trading for Marquise Goodwin. Add them to DeSean Jackson, and you have a group that will stretch the field and open things up underneath for Dallas Goedert and Ertz, who was double- and triple-teamed last season with few dynamic playmakers around him. The influx of receiver talent will help Carson Wentz too, though the Jalen Hurts selection in Round 2 makes it hard to select Wentz as the player who benefits most from this draft. -- Tim McManus [espn.com]
And this is why power rankings are great and awful at the same time. While both ESPN and NFL.com have the Eagles on the outside of the Top 10 looking in, The MMQB actually has the Eagles in the top 5. And that apparenty sparked such an outrage among readers that they actually had to defend themselves. And while Albert Breer, who voted the Eagles as No. 5, seems bullish on the Birds, one of their writers actually had the Eagles ranked third. Here's more:
Several readers let us know they weren’t happy that the Eagles landed in our top five. After all, the team went 9-7 last season, finished 12th in our rankings after the Super Bowl, and got a relatively poor draft grade in our book. Allow Albert Breer, who voted for them in fifth, to explain:
I know Philly fans have spent the balance of the offseason freaking out over the Eagles’ receiver situation, and the corner situation, and are acting as if we weren’t calling this the most talented roster in football nine months ago. The truth? The truth is Philly spend a first-rounder to address the former (Jalen Raegor), picks, cash and cap space to address the latter (Darius Slay), and is still sturdy along the offensive and defensive lines, which is a much better indicator of an NFL team’s success than the flashier spots. Bottom line, this is still a very well-conceived team with very good talent. If—and I understand that this is a big if—Carson Wentz is healthy and himself again, this is 100% a top five team. [si.com]
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