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March 22, 2019

What they're saying: Eagles are among most-improved teams so far this offseason

Plus, how the Birds are trying to mess with the Cowboys, Vinny Curry spurning the Giants, and a potential running back solution...

Eagles NFL
desean-jackson_032219_usat Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson works out prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the team who traded for him this offseason.

It didn't take very long, but NFL free agency has cooled off quickly. And with a month still remaining before the 2019 NFL draft, things are looking good for Howie Roseman and the Eagles. After entering this offseason with almost no money to spend, Roseman has not only been able to free up quite a bit of space, but he's also been able to make solid moves with those dollars, whether that means signing Malik Jackson or trading for (and then extending) DeSean Jackson.

Let's take a look at what the local and national media are saying about the Birds so far this offseason... 

Free agency winners

Staff | ESPN.com

Over at ESPN, they took a look at some of the biggest questions of the NFL offseason so far, like which deals will have the biggest impact and which team is the most improved. While there was a lot of love for Oakland, the Eagles were one of the four teams mentioned... 

Seifert: Philadelphia Eagles. Let's not forget what the Eagles have done, amid outsized concerns that they would be too tight against the salary cap to do much. They signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson to play alongside Fletcher Cox, as potent an interior pairing as there is in the NFL. And they brought back receiver DeSean Jackson, who is still one of the NFL's top deep threats and is adept at the routes quarterback Carson Wentz throws best.  [espn.com]

Interestingly enough, when it came to which move was the most questionable, nearly every writer picked something the Giants did — whether that be trading Odell Beckham, letting Landon Collins walk, or overpaying for Golden Tate. Hell, some of the writers just said everything the Giants did was the worst move of the offseason. (One, however, listed the Jaguars signing of Nick Foles as one of the most questionable moves so far this offseason.)

If you haven't read Jimmy Kempski's NFC East free agency grades, I highly recommend checking out the grade he gave to New York. Let's just say Dave Gettleman won't be hanging it on his refrigerator.

Leveling the playing field

Mike Florio | ProFootballTalk

The Eagles submitted a rule proposal to the NFL's competition committee that would change a longstanding holiday tradition: they don't want the Cowboys and Lions to play at home every Thanksgiving. In short, every team in the NFL is required to play one Thursday Night Football game per season, and playing those games on the road is a huge disadvantage. But because the Lions and Cowboys were the first two teams to agree to play on Thursdays — and became a Thanksgiving staple in the process — they've been guaranteed to play their Thursday game at home every year. And that's an unfair advantage. 

Before the rule change could be voted on, however, the Eagles withdrew their proposal. But why? 

Here’s a theory: The Eagles fully intended to make the proposal and then to withdraw the proposal, with the understanding that the withdrawn proposal would still appear on the list of proposed rule changes. That way, the Eagles don’t look like jerks (or they look less like jerks) but the point still gets made...

Since the owners can pass any rule changes that they want, they can proceed with this one, regardless of whether it was withdrawn by the Eagles. And, in the interests of fairness to all teams, the owners should take up this issue, and vote in favor of it.  [profootballtalk.nbcsports.com]

Bringing it all back home

Dave Zangaro | NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles got Vinny Curry for a steal. According Zangaro, his one-year deal is worth a max of $3.5 million, but only $2.25 million guaranteed (the other $1.25 million is incentive-based). Considering he signed with the Bucs last offseason for a deal worth an average of almost $8 million per year, that's quite a bargain. 

But the best part might be the fact that he turned down a better offer from the Giants in order to return "home." 

But this wasn’t all about money for Curry. 

He wanted to come back. You could feel his excitement on the other end of Thursday’s conference call. 

In fact, Curry was reportedly offered more money to join the Giants, but came back to the Eagles instead. 

"Definitely had a couple different offers on the table, but home is home," [Curry said.] "This just felt right. This felt like the right situation. I think it was just time for me to be back in Philadelphia."  [nbcsports.com]

Bargain sellers?

Danny Kelly | The Ringer

The Eagles may have added a veteran backup in Vinny Curry, but they also lost a key contributor to their defensive line from last season when they traded Michael Bennett to the Patriots. Danny Kelly of The Ringer listed that addition by the Patriots as one of "The Best Bang-for-Your-Buck Moves of NFL Free Agency."

DE Michael Bennett, Patriots

I’m not sure how the Patriots always seem to add top-quality veteran players for pennies on the dollar, but here we are again. New England acquired Philly pass rusher Michael Bennett for a late-round swap of 2020 picks (the Eagles send their 2020 seventh-round pick along with Bennett in exchange for the Patriots’ 2020 fifth-round pick), adding a still-dominant pocket disruptor to fill the role of the recently departed Flowers for what amounts to peanuts.

The 33-year-old Bennett racked up 9.0 sacks and 68 pressures in 2018—tied with Khalil Mack for eighth among all defensive linemen—and comes with a very manageable $7.2 million cap hit in 2019. Bennett is a perfect fit in Bill Belichick’s hybrid scheme too, capable of lining up on the edge or rushing from the inside.  [theringer.com]

Running on empty

Justin Grasso | Inside The Iggles

Sure, the Eagles have done a good job in free agency so far, but they've failed to address one of their most glaring holes, running back. Right now, the Eagles just don't have enough there. And while they could add some talent via next month's draft, it's going to be difficult to add any proven talent between now and next season. 

As it stands, the Eagles running backs are Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams. Jay Ajayi is a free agent and is testing the waters — he recently visited with the Colts but left without signing a deal. And it's still unclear whether or not Darren Sproles plays at all in 2019. 

Other free agents like Tevin Coleman have signed elsewhere and there isn't much left out there for the Eagles, which could lead to Ajayi returning to the Birds, despite the fact that he tore his ACL last season. But if the Eagles are looking for a veteran to run between the tackles, there's a free agent out there who is just begging to be signed...

As C.J. Anderson waits for his next opportunity, the Eagles could be waiting patiently to strike. Right now, there’s a chance that the Eagles get Jay Ajayi back on a short-term deal, but I believe Ajayi is still searching for a different situation. As he visited the Indinapolis Colts earlier in the week, Ajayi seems to be open to moving on from Philly as he may not see a long-term future there knowing they will most likely draft a running back.

At 28-years-old, Anderson cannot be picky. If the Eagles were to call him at some point, there’s a good chance he comes and plays in Philly. As Anderson did fairly well for the Los Angeles Rams for their late season, and postseason run, he could be the perfect candidate for what the Eagles are potentially looking for. Could he be another LeGarrette Blount-type addition? Only time will tell. But if all else fails this offseason, Anderson will most likely be available for cheap.  [insidetheiggles.com]


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