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May 23, 2019

Mailbag: Is the Eagles' 2019 roster better than their Super Bowl roster in 2017?

In our Eagles chat this week, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow.

Question from Brian: Would you say the roster this year has more talent than the 2017 squad?

I think that one of the big reasons the 2017 team was so successful was that the locker room jelled, which is a major intangible. To be determined if this team will mesh the same way. On paper, let's go position by position, with the better year in parentheses:

Quarterback (2017): You're basically trading Nick Foles for Clayton Thorson here. Also, Carson Wentz hadn't yet torn his ACL/LCL, and suffered a back fracture.

Running back (2019): You could look at running back one of two ways. Since Jay Ajayi was added mid-season, do you count him, or do you just count guys who were on the roster to start the season? If it's the latter, I'll take Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders over LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles. If we're counting Ajayi, I'd take the 2017 group.

Wide receiver (2019): Basically you're trading out Torrey Smith for DeSean Jackson, plus the Eagles will have more immediate upside with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside than they did with Mack Hollins.

Tight end (2019): Brent Celek was a great Eagle for a long time, but Dallas Goedert has a chance to be special. Goedert has far more to offer this season than Celek did in his final season.

Offensive line (2017): I believe the Eagles' depth is better in 2019, but I'll take 35-year-old Jason Peters, pre-ACL tear, over 37-year-old Peters.

Defensive line (2017): At DE, it's Chris Long vs. no Chris Long. On the interior, the Eagles had a healthy Timmy Jernigan and Beau Allen alongside Fletcher Cox, while the 2019 team has the intriguing Malik Jackson and a probably not 100 percent Jernigan. This is closer than I thought it would be, but there's no debating the impact the 2017 defensive line had on their Super Bowl season. I'll take 2017.

Linebacker (2019): The injury-prone Jordan Hicks was still here, obviously, and while he was a good fit for the defense, he simply couldn't stay healthy. Once he (predictably) went down, the Eagles were forced to scramble for answers. Zach Brown and Nigel Bradham should be a good starting duo, and the Eagles are better prepared with depth if someone goes down.

Cornerback (2019): Patrick Robinson was one of the best slot corners in the league in 2017, and he really helped solidify the Eagles' pass defense. However, in 2019, all of the Eagles' still young corners are two years older and wiser, and the team also added Avonte Maddox, who has all kinds of promise. This is a tough call, considering that Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are still injured. I'll still take 2019, but with no conviction.

Safety (2017): The 2017 starting safeties were younger and healthy, and No. 3 safety Corey Graham was still a viable player.

Overall (2017): So the final tally is four for 2017, five for 2019, though the 2017 roster was better at quarterback, and on both sides of the line. I'll give the overall nod to 2017, but it's close, which bodes well for the 2019 team's Super Bowl aspirations.

Question from MikeMikeMikeMike: Malcolm Jenkins is making $22,274,000 over the next two years. How exactly is he underpaid?

I believe that you are looking at his cap charges for the next two seasons. His cap number for 2019 is $11,387,000. In 2020, it's $10,887,000. But that's not what he is making. His salary in 2019 is $8,100,000. In 2020, it's $7,600,000, and it isn't guaranteed.

Jenkins' contract, when he signed it, was an average per year of $8,750,000. That is now ninth in the NFL. As a player, Jenkins is arguably a top-five safety in the NFL. He's now 31, but has shown no signs of slowing down. Add in his intangibles, like leadership qualities, and the fact that he kept the Eagles' secondary from completely falling apart last year despite an absurd number of injuries both at cornerback and safety, and his value to the team can't be overstated. 

This offseason, a bunch of safeties got paid. Here's how they fared on the open market:

 PlayerTeam Years Dollars APY 
 Landon Collins (25)Washington $84,000,000 $14,000,000 
 Tyrann Mathieu (27)Chiefs $42,000,000 $14,000,000 
 Earl Thomas (30)Ravens $55,000,000 $13,750,000 
 Lamarcus Joyner (28)Raiders $42,000,000 $10,500,000 
 Adrian Amos (26)Packers $36,000,000 $9,000,000 
 Tashaun Gipson (28)Texans $22,500,000 $7,500,000 
 Eric Reid (27)Panthers $22,050,000 $7,350,000 
 Kenny Vaccaro (28)Titans $24,000,000 $6,000,000 
 Eric Weddle (34)Rams $11,502,051 $5,751,025 

Jenkins is better than Landon Collins. He's also better, in my view, than post-ACL tear Tyrann Mathieu. And yet, he's making roughly 60 percent of what they're making. 

Surely, there will be some who feel that Jenkins should honor the contract he signed. Players would argue, rightfully, that teams can simply cut players whenever the hell they want, so they should be paid more when they outperform their contracts relative to their peers.

Jenkins has plenty of leverage. If Rodney McLeod isn't ready for the start of the season, does anyone really want to see Andrew Sendejo and Tre Sullivan starting at safety?

Question from Joe: What would your draft re-do be if you could pick different players at the Eagles' draft spots?

OK, so Joe didn't actually ask this. He just told me what his would be. But I want to do mine, so there.

22. Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

52. Dre'mont Jones, DE/DT, Ohio State

57. Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis

138. Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama

167. Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami

To note, I would have absolutely tried to move back from pick No. 57 to pick up an extra third-round pick, if possible.

I'm curious what yours would be.

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