July 14, 2020
The Eagles made a bit of actual football news on Tuesday when they announced the signing of future Hall of Famer Jason Peters to play right guard, a spot left vacant when Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles' earlier this offseason.
It was welcome news for Eagles fans concerned over how the team would fill the void left by the All-Pro tackle, especially with another question mark on the other side of the line in second-year prospect Andre Dillard, who struggled in limit action in his rookie year.
Could the Eagles make another splash this week? Well, there's at least a chance, even if it's a long shot. And that's where we'll start today's edition of What They're Saying...
[We'll have more reaction to the Jason Peters signing on Wednesday, since that news is still relatively fresh.]
With the deadline looming for players under the franchise tag to sign new long-term deals, Jaguars star defensive end Yannick Ngakoue remains one of the few players yet to put pen to paper and sign his tag, let alone restructure a new deal. And that could open the door for a potential trade, should Howie Roseman decide to pull the trigger.
To keep an eye on as Wed's deadline grows closer: There remains some interest around the NFL in trading for #Jaguars pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue, I’m told. Would be a difficult, complicated deal to do, but not impossible. For Jax, it would have to make sense compensation-wise.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 14, 2020
Ngakoue's name has repeatedly been linked to the Eagles — often by Ngakoue himself — as the 25-year-old defensive end continues to try to force his way out of Jacksonville. He's been adamant about signing a new long-term deal and has openly expressed that he doesn't want to play on the franchise tag. Obviously, that's why he hasn't signed it yet, as he's hoping for the Jags to pull off a last-minute move to send him to another team that would want to lock him down for the foreseeable future.
And, despite the reported interest in Ngakoue around the league, that's where it gets complicated.
After playing the first four years of his career under his rookie contract, Ngakoue entered this offseason looking for his first big NFL payday. Instead, he was met with the franchise tag — and although it originally seemed like the two sides would work toward a long-term deal in the meantime, those talks have since fallen apart and the two sides appear to be at a stalemate.
Something's gotta give, whether that's Ngakoue caving and signing the one-year tag, holding out and refusing to play this season (which, given the COVID-19 landscape isn't that big of a stretch), getting traded, or, the least likely scenario at this point, reaching a new deal before Wednesday's deadline.
If Ngakoue doesn't get a deal by Wednesday, his only option should he wish to play this season would be to play under the franchise tag — even if the Eagles traded for him — and that would all but price the Eagles out. But if he can be traded before then, it would give Roseman a chance to work out a long-term deal that would fit into the team's salary cap structure moving forward. Here's more from ESP on how the Birds could make it work...
The $17.8 million the Eagles would have to pay Ngakoue if they traded for him after July 15 would be an even bigger blow to their salary cap picture.
The Eagles currently have around $24 million in salary cap space. Ngakoue on the franchise tag would take up (roughly) 75% of their remaining salary cap for this season. That is a hit the team is almost certainly not willing to take, especially when they need as much as they can to roll over into the 2021 offseason, where they are currently projected to be around $50 million over the salary cap. There is also the uncertainty about what the salary cap could look like in 2021, with potential revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Signing Ngakoue will not be cheap, but if the Eagles are able to trade for him prior to Wednesday, they could at least attempt to structure the contract in a team-friendly way. Ngakoue will likely be looking for a deal in line with the ones that Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark signed. Both had an average salary of around $20 million. There is no question Ngakoue is worth that money for the Eagles, it is just a matter of fitting it under their cap. [94wip.radio.com]
Of course, there's also the cost of acquiring Ngakoue. He'll likely cost the Eagles at least a first-round pick, but perhaps there's a way Roseman can get creative and package a lower pick with someone like Derek Barnett. After all, he seemingly has all the tools necessary to get a complex deal like this done. At least that's what they're saying...
Over at The Athletic, Ben Standig published the 2020 NFL agents survey, in which he asked 30 anonymous agents to weigh in on all things football, from the odds they play a full season to whether or not Colin Kaepernick will be signed to which teams had the best (and worst) offseasons.
There were also some pointed questions about the general managers themselves, and the answers painted an interesting picture of how the various front offices around the league are viewed. And on first glance it seems like rival GMs, assuming they see things the same way as their player rep counterparts, are worried about doing business with the Eagles.
For starters, Howie Roseman was among the GMs considered to be the least trustworthy, which isn't always a bad quality to have in negotiations as a GM. And when you combine that with the fact that Roseman was also voted as the smartest GM in the NFL, you can see what teams would be wary of dealings with the Eagles, as they may feel like they're about to get fleeced.
Still, after reading this, you come away with the distinct impression that Howie is a shark. And you always want your GM to be a good ol' no-neck shark, not a sheep. Sheep get fleeced.
Honestly, I just wanted an excuse to use that video. Here's a look at what those agents had to say about Shark Howie...
13. Among general managers or front-office leaders, whom do you trust the least?
Belichick, Patriots head coach (4 votes)
John Elway, Broncos GM (3 votes)
Roseman (2 votes)
“Just look at his career path. He’s pretty much pulled the rug out from underneath everybody that ever got close to him in Philly. And when he does, Howie’s gonna do his best for Howie. He’s proven that year after year after year.”
“He’s very good. He is very good at executing his plan and utilizing the information or the tools or the people or whatever to help him get there. And, you know, he’ll get there at whatever costs that he needs to get to his goal. And I don’t say that he’s not trustworthy, because he’s not a bad dude or a liar or whatever. But you know, he’s just very good at his job.” [theathletic.com]
14. Among general managers or front-office leaders, who is the smartest?
Roseman (5 votes)
“If I was gonna go into the lab and build a GM, it’s a guy that can deal with the media, a guy that knows personnel and a guy that knows money. Those are the three things. Howie Roseman is a guy who I think is very good with the media from what I can tell. I know that he knows the money game very well. And I’ve known him for 15-18 years and he’s worked incredibly hard to learn football and how to evaluate to the point now where he’s really good. I give him a lot of credit that he can handle all three parts of the job.”
“He knows how to put teams together. And he’s working with a limited amount in terms of the cap. He knows how to maneuver and get players that he feels like will fit the scheme even if he doesn’t have to pay them top dollar. He’s very smart in terms of chess moves. I’m not a huge fan. I will say that, as well. But he knows what he’s doing in terms of putting things together.” [theathletic.com]
Last week, we looked at Fowlers rankings of quarterbacks and tight ends, with the Eagles faring quite well in both. Today, we'll take a look at two of their newer Top 10 lists, starting with interior defensive linemen...
3. Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles
Age: 29 | Highest ranking: 2 | Lowest ranking: 5
Cox had a similar composite ranking to [Chris] Jones but garnered fewer top-three votes.
50-plus NFL players who could get contract extensions before the 2020 season
"If you're talking quickness, Cox gets the edge," an NFC exec said.
Cox is still No. 1 on opposing offenses' game plans each week. But production slipped last year. Cox's 3.5 sacks were his lowest total since 2013.
"Fastball wasn't what it was two years ago, but still premier," said a veteran NFL defensive coach.
Ask veteran offensive linemen about that fastball -- as we did -- and they'll debunk that in a hurry.
"There's no one else I hate facing more, maybe other than Aaron Donald," said one veteran NFL guard. "He can beat you with speed or overpower you." [espn.com]
Fowler also recently posted his ranking of interior offensive linemen, and the Eagles would've had two players on the list if not for an injury.
"And Philadelphia Eagles guard Brandon Brooks, a surefire top-5 guard when healthy, is left off because he's missing the 2020 season with a torn Achilles tendon," explained Fowler.
Still, the Eagles managed to get another lineman on the list, which is a credit to just how good they've been at building at that position.
8. Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles
Age: 32 | Highest ranking: 5 | Lowest ranking: 13
So many voters have had Kelce as their top center that they have trouble moving off him as he declines with age.
"Not quite as good as he used to be but still a fantastic player," said one NFC exec. "He does everything well."
Kelce still produced an 81.0 Pro Football Focus ranking and hasn't missed a game in five years on his way to three straight All-Pro bids.
"Probably lost a step at this point -- he's great at managing the game but will struggle at the power game," said a veteran NFL defensive coach. [espn.com]
Finally, another ESPN ranking, this one taking a look specifically at each team's offensive weapons. And while the Eagles still managed to crack the Top 10, it's a decided step back from where they were a year ago. Perhaps that because after Barnwell got burnt last year — the Eagles were ranked fourth but had one of the least explosive offenses in the NFL — he's playing it safe this time around.
10. Philadelphia Eagles
2019 rank: 4 | 2018 rank: 7
On paper, the Eagles should be higher. At wide receiver, they can utilize two talented veterans (DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery), two highly drafted young players (JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Jalen Reagor) and two speed demons (Marquise Goodwin and John Hightower). When you throw in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert at tight end, this should be one of the best receiving corps in the league.
Of course, that group has flaws. Jackson missed most of 2019 with a core injury, and his future with the team is uncertain after he posted anti-Semitic messages on social media. Jeffery suffered a Lisfranc injury in December, and he has no timetable for return. Arcega-Whiteside was a disaster as a rookie, averaging just 0.58 yards per route run while dealing with injuries and making mental mistakes. Goodwin has missed 12 games over the past two season with various injuries and personal absences. Reagor and Hightower are rookies. Chances are that one or two of these guys will turn out to be productive players, but there's also a realistic chance that Philadelphia is frustrated by its wide receivers again in 2020.
The workload at running back will fall on Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, although it still seems likely that the Eagles will add at least one veteran back before the start of the regular season. Sanders narrowly topped 800 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards as a rookie. The list of backs to hit the 500-500 club as a rookie since the 1970 merger is pretty impressive: Sanders, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Gio Bernard, Reggie Bush, Edgerrin James, Marshall Faulk, Herschel Walker, Earl Cooper and Billy Sims. [espn.com]
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