July 30, 2020
As baseball struggles to get its act together it seems strange to talk about any sports that aren't taking place in a bubble, as they seem destined for big issues trying to return during a pandemic, but the NFL is proceeding toward its season nonetheless. The Eagles returned to NovaCare this week for the start of training camp, but with the new protocols in place they've yet to hit the field for their first full-team workout.
Some Eagles, like Marquise Goodwin, who opted out for the season, and Lane Johnson, Nate Gerry and Jordan Mailata, who were added to the special COVID-19 injury list on Wednesday, won't be with the team when they hit the field. But the practices will go on as scheduled as the team prepares for a season that will be unlike any other, assuming it gets played at all.
And the Eagles, who certainly have cuts to make over the next couple of weeks, might not be done adding players — and we're not just talking about potential replacements for Goodwin, as the Eagles should be able to account for that from within after drafting a trio of speedy wideouts back in April. The Birds are still looking for a veteran running back to slot in behind Miles Sanders, and another area they've reportedly been looking at is defensive end, with the big names that keep popping up being free agents Jadeveon Clowney and Everson Griffen, as well as the Jaguars' Yannick Ngakoue, who has made it well known this offseason that he wants out of Jacksonville.
And that's where we'll start today's edition of What They're Saying...
We know, we know. Ngakoue's name has come up several times this offseason in regard to the Eagles, whether that being his liking of tweets suggesting the Eagles trade for him, his own cryptic tweets with Eagle emojis or simply due to the fact that he's an incredibly talented young player who wants off his current team and fits an area of need for the Eagles. So why are we suddenly bringing him up with less than six weeks remaining before the start of the season?
That's because Ngakoue, who never signed his franchise tender ($17.8 million for 2020), has yet to report to Jags camp and remains the only tagged player unsigned. The 25-year-old pass rusher is clearly making it know that he no longer wants to play in Jacksonville (as if that wasn't obvious already) and instead wants to be traded to a team where he can sign a longterm deal to be paid like the top edge rushers in the game. Perhaps he's looking for a deal somewhere close to what Miles Garrett or Joey Bosa recently received — they each had at least $100 million guaranteed in their new contracts.
The Jacksonville Jaguars finally got their answer on Yannick Ngakoue's status for the start of the 2020 season. On the day Jaguars veterans were scheduled to report to training camp, head coach Doug Marrone confirmed Ngakoue was a no-show -- meaning the Pro Bowl defensive end is officially holding out as he seeks a trade out of Jacksonville.
"I have not (had any conversations with him)," Marrone said in a conference call Thursday. "He's one player I know that's always ready, always taking care of himself. I'm going to reiterate it again. As a coach, you love for that perfect harmony between management and the player as far as the business end of things. When you look at it, both sides have rights from a management side to a player's side.
"You look for a solution to be part of to help bring parties together. Dave (general manager Dave Caldwell) would be better to speak on where everything is at as far as talks and whether they talked or not."
Nagakoue wants his extension too, but isn't interested in Jacksonville handing it to him. Jacksonville is determined to receive huge compensation in return for Ngakoue, similar to the deal they landed when the franchise traded Jalen Ramsey last year. Ngakoue hasn't helped matters, feuding with co-owner Tony Khan as he's been begging to leave Jacksonville for months. [cbssports.com]
So, what might Ngakoue cost the Eagles, assuming he's actually traded? For starters, it's going to be a lot considering what the Jags got for Jalen Ramsey and what the Jets just got for a player in a similar situation, Jamal Adams. Both were apparently worth multiple first-round picks.
Jacksonville is looking for at least first round pick compensation. I think a lot of people believe the Jaguars are ready to move Ngakoue on how quickly we let Jalen Ramsey go in a trade, but you have to remember... the Los Angeles Rams offered us two first round picks for him! That’s a king’s ransom. You don’t turn down that offer unless it’s for a Patrick Mahomes caliber quarterback. Dave Caldwell is sitting tight and he’ll force Yannick to play out his contract (and whatever subsequent franchise tags he decides to throw on him) or sit out the season, resulting in Yannick missing out on the money and the additional year of accrual. That delays his progress towards free agency. [bigcatcountry.com]
Of course, on top of that, the Eagles would also have to worry about fitting Ngakoue's contract into their already complicated salary cap picture, but that's a different conversation for another day.
One of the big stories that's dominated the Eagles news cycle this week has been those NFL Top 100 rankings that came out earlier this week — and specifically the fact that Carson Wentz was left off that list.
Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst (and known Wentz supporter) Dan Orlovsky took exception to the fact that the Eagles quarterback was nowhere to be found.
This list stinks! Carson Wentz not being on the top 100 list … this is what happened. Because he’s not new. He’s not the new fad. It’s like when you go to a barbecue nowadays and everyone’s like here, try this new finger food, it’s great. And you look at it and it’s like feta cheese, watermelon, and mint. Just give me pigs in a blanket! Or when you’re sitting around with your friends and they’re like, look, I have this great app we can play on my phone. Just put down Scrabble or Taboo and let me bust your head in that. Or when you’re sitting around with your family and friends and everyone’s like man, play this song, it’s the greatest song ever. No, just put on Frank Sinatra and let ride and let me have my glass of red wine. The newness of some players has taken away the vision of what great players look like. 2017 he’s third in the league and last year he’s not in your top 100?! Last year he’s got a better completion percentage. He threw for 1000 more yards. Yards per attempt is just about the same and yards per game is just about the same. How can a guy go from third to not in your top 100 when he did more last year than he did the previous two years when you ranked him at 3? It doesn’t make any sense. I believe Max Kellerman is behind this, or Mina Kimes is behind this, and I will not stand for this buffoonery. [h/t bleedinggreennation.com]
Orlovsky wasn't the only one thought this was a big miss by the voters. Louis Riddick agrees with Orlovsky (and pretty much all of Philadelphia...
"This is just getting stupid. ... I think people are exercising an agenda with Carson Wentz right now by leaving him off of this list."@LRiddickESPN is not having the Wentz disrespect. pic.twitter.com/dvDeEGDdQ5— First Take (@FirstTake) July 29, 2020
In his latest mailbag, MMQB's Albert Breer was asked about Wentz as well, and specifically why analysts seem so split on the Eagles quarterback.
From Marc Ryan (@MarcRyanOnAir): Why is the only consistent such inconsistency surrounding the public perception of Carson Wentz? One can speak to two different, intelligent NFL guests and receive two completely different analyses. My take: I can’t evaluate him because I can’t rely on him to stay healthy.
I think it’s mainly just what you said—his injury issues have kept all of us from getting a clean read on him. His best year was 2017, which ended with a torn ACL. His 2018 featured fits and starts in the aftermath of that. His 2019 was sabotaged by injuries around him, then he got hurt in the playoffs. And now, he’s off his rookie deal, which means there’ll be a little more on him to make it work.
I love Wentz’s talent. I think he’s got a very bright future, and it’s not all potential—we’ve seen how good he can be. He was right there for MVP with Tom Brady in Year 2.
He just has to find a way to stay healthy. That’s part of the game for quarterbacks. Part of it’s been rotten luck for Wentz. But because of his size and athleticism, he’s put himself in harm’s way some too, and that catches up with even the biggest, most freakish guys at the position (see: Newton, Cameron). Which is to say, even if it may sound a little callous to say it, at some point, we have to see him make it through more than a couple months without having something debilitating hanging over his head. [si.com]
Over at NFL.com, they ranked the best training camp battle on each team, and while the Eagles didn't come in very high on the list, the battle they picked was certainly an interesting one given how different the resume is for each of the players mentioned...
11. Philadelphia Eagles
WR | Jalen Reagor vs. JJ Arcega-Whiteside vs. Alshon Jeffery vs. Greg Ward
This battle for snaps behind DeSean Jackson already lost one participant when trade acquisition Marquise Goodwin opted out of the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jeffery's foot surgery might prevent him from playing early in the season, so the Eagles desperately need their first-round pick this year (Reagor) to step up. [nfl.com]
While it's often difficult for rookie wideouts to make immediate contributions — and that could be even tougher this year with a pandemic-shortened offseason — Jeff McLane of The Inquirer believes there's a chance Jalen Reagor might be an exception rather than the rule. Why? It could be opportunities born out of necessity more than anything else.
Jalen Reagor doesn’t have [John] Ross’ 40-yard-dash speed. But he’s explosive despite his time (4.47 seconds) at the combine. He’s still in the top third among receivers who ran since 1999. And in pads, Reagor was once clocked at 22.6 m.p.h. and was behind only Henry Ruggs III among drafted receivers in the average of his top five speeds.
The Eagles chose him in the first round for myriad reasons, but his speed was paramount in their decision-making. They viewed Reagor as a budding replacement for DeSean Jackson who could be mentored by one of the marquee big-play receivers of all time while also contributing.
The draft came amid a pandemic with NFL offseason workouts already shut down. Training camp was months away. But the coronavirus has continued to spread – at increasing rates – and the NFL has been forced to delay practices, cancel the preseason, and limit contact at team facilities.
Rookies will likely be the most affected by the restrictions. There are already numerous obstacles to playing right away, but this year will be unprecedented. The Eagles, though, might not have the luxury of allowing Reagor and other young receivers to watch and learn. [inquirer.com]
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