June 19, 2020
Welcome to a Friday edition of What They're Saying, where we'll take a look at some of the latest news and, in this case, rumors surrounding the Eagles as the longest offseason* in NFL history rolls on.
*Yes, at this point it hasn't been any longer than any other offseason, but with no OTAs or minicamps and training camp still a month away, it certainly feels that way.
On Thursday, word came down that Jamal Adams officially requested a trade from the Jets — and the Eagles were revealed as one of the All-Pro safety's preferred landing spots. Earlier this week, following the loss of Brandon Brooks for the 2020 season, the Birds were linked to Patriots All-Pro guard Joe Thuney, who was hit with the franchise tag earlier this offseason but is still looking for a new longterm deal. And, with the Eagles virtual offseason coming to an end this week, head coach Doug Pederson also spoke to the media and was asked about their plans at running back, as well as whether or not they'd be willing to bring in Colin Kaepernick.
It really seems like every time there's a big-name player available, the Eagles are involved in the rumor one way or another, whether it's Jadeveon Clowney, Yannick Ngakoue, one of the names listed above, or any of the countless players who have been linked to the Birds this offseason and in the past. And there's probably a good reason for that.
We'll get into all that and more in today's edition of What They're Saying...
While we came away with the distinct impression that it would be difficult (and unlikely) for the Eagles to actually land Jamal Adams — most importantly the fact that they're hoping to roll over much of their remaining salary cap space to next season, when they're projected to be $50 million over the cap — brining in the 24-year-old All-Pro would make a ton of football sense for the Birds.
Over at ESPN, their football experts were asked a couple of questions about Adams, his trade value, and what he deserves to be paid.
When it came to which team would be the best fit, three of the six writers polled picked the Eagles, while two picked the Cowboys and one picked the Ravens. Here's a look at the three who think he fits best in Philly.
According to Adam Schefter, Adams would accept a trade to the Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers or Seattle Seahawks. Which of those represents the best fit for him?
Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: Eagles. Adams would be an easy fit in Jim Schwartz's system, given his versatile traits. In Philadelphia, Adams would match to tight ends in coverage, spin down as a robber safety/underneath zone defender or pressure the quarterback in schemed-up blitzes.
Mike Clay, fantasy writer: Eagles. Philadelphia currently ranks among the league leaders in cap space and has a major need at safety following the offseason departure of Malcolm Jenkins. Linebacker and edge rush depth are also weak spots, which makes Adams' versatility very intriguing. The Eagles are also in need of guard help following Brandon Brooks' injury, so perhaps a deal including Adams and Brian Winters could be in the cards.
Aaron Schatz, editor of Football Outsiders: Eagles. Moving Jalen Mills to safety seems like a good idea, but let's make no mistake, Adams would be a major upgrade as a playmaker who could do everything Jenkins has done for the Eagles' defense in the past. And their weakness at linebacker makes them a team likely to mix in some three-safety packages. [espn.com]
That brings us to the Joe Thuney report, which came from SI's Albert Breer and obviously was related to the Brandon Brooks injury. First, here's what Breer had to say...
And I don’t think if they get through a couple weeks of camp, and Matt Pryor, Nate Herbig and Jack Driscoll aren’t where they should be, that Roseman will hesitate to pick up the phone.
Would they take a big swing on someone like New England’s franchise-tagged All-Pro guard, Joe Thuney? Based on what I know … I think they’d at least explore it. But, again, that’s probably more of a down-the-road contingency thing for now. [si.com]
That's not neccarily saying the Eagles are "in" on Thuney, just that Breer believes he could be an option for the Birds if their in-house options fail to step up. Before getting into whether or not a deal for Thuney would make sense for the Eagles, let's look at it from a New England perspective, courtesy of Pats Pulpit:
Breer mentioning Thuney is not the first time the guard’s name comes up as a potential trade option this offseason. Ever since the Patriots placed the franchise tag on him in mid-March, he was seen as an option to be moved in order to create some financial breathing room for a team currently only $650,989 under the salary cap (according to Miguel Benzan). Trading Thuney would, of course, add his entire non-guaranteed franchise tag tender to that total and give New England considerable more wiggle room.
With the July 15 deadline looming — if no deal is reached at that point, Thuney will play the entire 2020 season on the one-year tag — and talks between Thuney’s camp and the Patriots reportedly also not having gone anywhere so far, a trade does seem like a realistic option from the team’s perspective. Add the team’s depth behind him and the fact that his trade value will only go down after next month, there appears to be no better time to trade Thuney than now. This is particularly true considering the Eagles’ situation. [patspulpit.com]
So while the Patriots may be willing to deal Thuney, the Eagles are unlikely to be the team that trades for him. Here's what our own Jimmy Kempski had to say in a recent mailbag.
Even if the Patriots were just like, “Hey guys, you can just have Thuney, don’t even bother giving us a draft pick for him,” the Eagles still probably couldn’t take on his contract. Add in that RG is probably the least important position on the offense, and the fact that the Pats would demand a high pick for him, and you can go ahead and ignore that silly rumor. [MORE]
So why, if the local writers seem to so often dismiss these rumors, do national reporters keep linking big-name players to the Eagles? The answers not that complicated. They have a GM who is willing to make big moves and is always willing to make a phone call just to check in on a player's status. That's the point John McMullen, who writes a column here at PhillyVoice, made in a recent story for Sports Illustrated.
There is a bit of an inside joke among those of us who report on the Philadelphia Eagles for a living.
And it concerns NFL rumors as a whole which always end with the same tagline: ‘...and the Eagles.’
Howie Roseman’s reputation is well-known around the NFL and he’s often very honest when discussing players who might be available. While the Eagles’ GM never addresses specifics due to tampering rules, he consistently admits it’s his philosophy to check in on everyone just in case. [si.com]
There's also something to be said about the fans and media in Philly, who aren't afraid to write stories every time a national reporter mentions their team's name — we're not innocent here — and it's not hard to imagine that throwing the Eagles name onto the end of a report is a way to get more eyeballs on it. Couple that with Roseman admitting that he's aggressive on the phones, and you can see how this all works. Here's more from McMullen:
The wording there is key as agents are just like the rumor-mongers in that they not only understand Roseman is going to do his due diligence when it comes to a player the caliber of Adams, the GM is often also willing to admit he’s picking up the phone.
When you add in the fact that the Jets’ GM is Joe Douglas, Roseman’s former first lieutenant and good friend, obviously the phone call is being made and the topic is being discussed. So the reporting is 100 percent accurate.
The devil is in the details, however.
Are the discussions between Roseman and Douglas about their kids with a flippant ‘what’s going on with Adams’ thrown in? Or are they serious and substantive? [si.com]
Despite bookmakers giving the Eagles some of the longest odds to sign free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports believes they're one of eight teams who make sense for Kap.
7. Philadelphia Eagles
If the Eagles were concerned about the optics of adding a high-profile backup for Carson Wentz after Nick Foles' tenure, they wouldn't have drafted Jalen Hurts in the second round. And while Hurts' early pick would seem to take them out of the mix, they incessantly justified that selection by calling themselves a "quarterback factory" and emphasizing the importance of the No. 2 spot. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie is a known progressive on the social justice front, his Eagles have been a bastion for that kind of work since Malcolm Jenkins helped further the foundation, and they've taken polarizing swings before (see: Michael Vick). Adding Kap, even as a one-year rental, would give Doug Pederson a new toy, Hurts more time to grow and Wentz a more experienced reserve. [cbssports.com]
If the Eagles hadn't just drafted Jalen Hurts and re-signed Nate Sudfeld, we'd be a little more inclined to see them as a fit, but right now it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. While Kap is almost certainly better than Sudfeld — at least he was when we last saw him play — there's something to be said about having a backup who already knows your system and can fill in in the short-term should Carson Wentz miss part of a game. It's part of the same reason why Sudfeld will likely enter the season ahead of Hurts on the depth chart.
Someone should definitely sign Kap, I just don't think it will be the Eagles.
So what does Doug Pederson think of the possibility of bringing in Kap? He was recently asked that very question during an interview with Angelo Cataldi on SportsRadio 94 WIP.
Could the Eagles be the team to bring Kaepernick back to the NFL? They recently made a list of logical landing spots and they are aiming to be a quarterback factory, after all.
CATALDI: Would you consider signing him?
PEDERSON: Well, I think, again, obviously I can’t comment necessarily on Colin, but if a team or even us were in a situation, I think we look at all possibilities, all scenarios. I think the one thing you keep in mind is that he hasn’t played in a couple years but that doesn’t mean come in and be a backup and learn your system and do those types of things for you. It’s not out of the realm, it’s not out of the possibility that that could happen.
With Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, and Jalen Hurts already in the fold, I don’t see the Eagles signing Kap. But they did attend his workout last fall so they’ve done some homework on him. [bleedinggreennation.com]
The Eagles have the best tight-end combo in the NFL with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. It's part of the reason — in addition to terrible wide receiver play — that the Eagles lined up in 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE) 52% of the time in 2019, according to Sharp Football. That was by far the highest number in football, with the next closest team being the Vikings at 34%.
That number will likely dip this year as the Eagles look to get more explosive on offense. But having two tight ends that bring that much to the table is also a double-edged sword, as they're soon going to be in a situation where they can no longer afford both, and Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson are going to have a difficult decision to make.
While there’s no question Ertz is one of the best tight ends in the NFL and is putting up historic numbers, Goedert is probably more well-rounded. He’s a very good blocker and has big-time YAC ability.
In fact, ProFootballFocus ranked Goedert as the sixth-best tight end in the league in 2019 and Ertz was 14th. The big difference came in pass and run blocking, where Goedert excels.
In 2020, Goedert is entering the third year of his contract as a second-round draft choice so he has a base salary of under $1 million this year and around $1.25 million in 2021. Meanwhile, Zach Ertz has base salaries of $6.66 million and $8.25 million in the next two years. The interesting thing is that both of their current contracts run through the 2021 season and it would be unrealistic to think they can keep both players beyond that year. [nbcsports.com]
Which tight end winds up sticking in Philly beyond that season remains to be seen, but if Goedert continues to progress, it's hard to imagine they get rid of the younger option, even if Ertz is the best tight end in franchise history. This one is worth keeping an eye on.
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