January 28, 2019
The Philadelphia Eagles' 2018 season is over, and there will be a lot of interesting decisions made on the players currently on the roster, perhaps more so than in most years. Let's take a position-by-position look at who will likely be back with the team in 2019, and who won't.
Previous stay or go positional analysis
Today we'll look at the specialists.
In his rookie season with the Eagles in 2017, Elliott made 26 of 31 field goals, including a 61-yarder to beat the Giants at the end of regulation in Week 3. It was something of an oddball season as a kicker, as he was money on the long kicks, but was shaky on the short ones. In 2018, Elliott was once again 26 of 31, but his misses were more normal, as they were generally of the long kick variety. A look at his first two seasons in the league:
In both of his seasons in the NFL (and therefore also for his career so far), Elliott is hitting field goals at an 83.9 percent clip. That was good for 21st in the NFL among kickers with at least 15 attempts in 2018 (it was good for 17th in 2017), in a league where kickers are far more precise than they used to be. In other words, he's close to the league average in that department.
Elliott is also roughly at the league average on missed PATs, of which he had two in 2018. There were 64 missed PATs in the NFL this season, which averages out to two per team.
Where Elliott has stood out in his Eagles' career so far, however, is that he has ice water in his veins in clutch situations. In 2017 alone, he did the following:
• He made the aforementioned game-winning 61-yard field goal against the Giants.
• In the Super Bowl, he hit an underrated 46-yarder with just over a minute to play to extend the Eagles' lead to eight points. Would the Eagles have won the Super Bowl if he doesn't make that kick?
• He was 4/4, hitting from 45, 40, 53, and 47 against the Chargers in a game the Eagles only won by two points.
• He was 2/2, hitting from 50 and 48 in a close game against the Panthers.
• He was 3/3 against the Rams, including a pair of fourth quarter kicks. That game was way closer than the 43-35 score would indicate, as the Eagles got a defensive touchdown with no time left on the clock.
In 2018, Elliott made some big kicks at home against the Texans, Giants, and Cowboys, but none that will be remembered in 10 years. He did have a first-quarter miss against the Panthers that faded to the right in heavy winds in a game where the Eagles could have used those points.
On kickoffs, Elliott can reliably it through the back of the end zone when asked, and is also good at hitting popups that land just shy of the goal line.
Elliott just turned 24 last week. and it's reasonable to expect that he'll only get better. He is actually an exclusive rights free agent this offseason, which means he cannot negotiate with other teams. The Eagles can tender him for peanuts, which they certainly will, and he'll remain with the team.
#JimmyVerdict: He'll run unopposed in training camp like he did in 2018, I'd think.
After a brutal start to to the Eagles' offseason camps, Johnston improved dramatically, and hit the longest punt I've ever seen in person during a preseason game against the Steelers:
During the regular season, Johnston was third in the NFL both with a 48.1 punting average, and a 42.7 yard net. Obviously, he had a quiet (quiet is good), but great season.
#JimmyVerdict: He'll run unopposed in training camp, just like Elliott.
Back in the day, I used to watch every long snap of the season. For real, I had serious problems. I don't do that anymore, and as such, I can't speak intelligently on the accuracy or speed of Lovato's snaps, so let's just go the lazy route here and just say that he didn't have any egregious mistakes that I can recall last season. Good? Good.
Lovato is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason. The Eagles will likely tender him at the lowest level, and I imagine he'll return to the team.
Also, it should be noted that Lovato has the cleanest locker on the team. If the cleaning staff has any say, he'll stay. Michael Bennett's is the messiest, by far, in case you're wondering.
Green = Stay
Red = Go
Orange = Will be back in camp in 2019, but a roster spot is not guaranteed
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