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May 26, 2023

Mailbag: Should the Eagles add DeSean Jackson, Zach Ertz, Julio Jones, Budda Baker, Matt Araiza, or (fill in some other recognizable name)?

Eagles NFL
052523ZachErtzDeSeanJackson Jeff Hanisch/usa

Spoiler: No.

On Wednesday, we solicited questions for an Eagles mailbag via Twitter. Thank you as always for doing half the work for me. There were a lot of "Should the Eagles sign this guy or that guy" questions, so let's bang all of those out here, with a second mailbag later this weekend? Cool? Alrighty then.

Question from @KingDro12: Is a veteran WR add worth a shot? Like DeSean Jackson for the playoffs or a trade for a veteran on the final year of his contract? If one of the Eagles' WRs gets hurt, I definitely worry about Quez Watkins as a No. 2.

DeSean Jackson doesn't seem interested in some kind of backup role, seeing as he requested a trade in 2021 from a then 7-1 Rams team that looked like legitimate Super Bowl contenders because he was unhappy with his playing time. The Rams couldn't even find a taker to trade for Jackson, and ended up releasing him after the trade deadline. He then signed with the Raiders. The Rams of course went on to win the Super Bowl without Jackson. The Raiders made the playoffs as a wildcard, but were one-and-done.

The last time Jackson was employed by the Eagles, from 2019 to 2020, he missed 25 of 33 games, and he posted a (fake) quote attributed to Adolf Hitler, which almost got him cut. Spoiler: The Eagles are not bringing him back for a third stint. 

Back in April I had proposed Kenny Golladay as a player who could maybe resuscitate his career as a role player on a winning team, but I don't foresee that happening.

Ultimately, while I agree that Watkins' 2022 season raises serious concerns about his reliability going forward, I think the Eagles still like him more than the fans/media.

Question from Burt (via email): Your thoughts on the report that Julio Jones could sign with the Eagles?

When I received this email, I was like, "Wait, what?" And I had to stop enjoying my day momentarily to search for something I thought I had missed. But, no, it was not a report. It was just someone speculating on some signings that might make some sense. So please don't do that to me, thank you kindly in advance.

Anyway, the premise was that Jones could be ring chasing at this stage of his career, and might take less money to sign somewhere that would afford him an opportunity to win it all. And sure, if Jones were interested in signing some super low cost deal with the Eagles, why not? He was actually a rare player who came to play in the Bucs' playoff loss to the Cowboys last season, catching 7 passes for 74 yards and the following TD:

I wouldn't count on Julio Jones playing an NFL season for peanuts, though.

Question from @wmunro02: If the Eagles were to sign D.J. Fluker, where do you see him fitting in? Depth tackle? Competing for the open guard spot?

Fluker is 32 years old. 108 games played, 96 starts, RG/RT. He last played in 2020, with the Ravens, where he appeared in 16 games, and started eight. He bounced around between three teams — the Dolphins, Raiders, and Jaguars — in 2021, but at no time was he ever even on any of their active 53-man rosters. He was out of football in 2022.

Jeff Stoutland coached him once upon a time at Alabama, so there is some familiarity there, but if the Eagles were to sign him he would have to be viewed a longshot to make the team.

Question from @mzilla57: Do you think there is a future trade back for Zach Ertz?

Ertz is a case study in being careful about what you wish for. He wanted out of Philly, and found himself in what was for a short time a seemingly better situation in Arizona. Welp, that changed fast. He's now on the worst team in the NFL, and he had to watch as the Eagles played in the Super Bowl in his new home stadium. Oops.

Ertz has a base salary of $8,755,000 in 2023, $8.5 million of which is guaranteed. That is obviously way too expensive for a backup tight end. Even if Dallas Goedert tore an ACL or something, Ertz's price tag would be too rich for my blood at this stage of his career as a starter.

I'm sure the rebuilding Cardinals would be happy to trade him for a bag of kicking tees just to get him off their books, but my guess if that he's not going anywhere unless the Cardinals eat some of his salary.

Question from @OrijitB: What are the chances the Eagles re-sign Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph at some point? I think the team absolutely needs them as part of the regular rotation of four DTs and two NTs.

I touched on Suh and Joseph in a "Where are the Eagles deep and not so deep" article earlier this week. The Eagles of course have Fletcher Cox back on a one-year deal, but they are otherwise extremely young on the interior of their defensive line:

• Milton Williams: 24
• Marlon Tuipulotu: 23
• Jordan Davis: 23
• Jalen Carter: 22
• Moro Ojomo: 21

And then they also have free agent Kentavius Street and 346-pound 2022 UDFA Noah Elliss, who got hurt last year and didn't get to show what he could do. 

Those young guys are going to get every opportunity to contribute this season, but I do think they all have to show something in training camp. If the Eagles aren't loving what they see from the vast majority of the young guys after the first few weeks of camp, they can always give Suh and/or Joseph a call.

Question from @BigsWinz: Why haven’t the Eagles signed Matt Araiza yet?

So for those of you who are unfamiliar, Araiza is a punter who routinely hit bombs at San Diego State:

He got drafted by the Bills last year, and won their punting competition in training camp. I think Michael David Smith of PFT did a nice job off succinctly explaining what happened thereafter:

But shortly after earning the punting job, news surfaced that while he was at San Diego State, Araiza was accused of raping a 17-year-old girl. In the uproar that ensued, the Bills cut Araiza.

This month, prosecutors said they will not charge Araiza, saying that evidence showed he was not present during an alleged gang rape of the girl, that Araiza’s sex with the girl was consensual, and that Araiza believed that she was 18 so no charges of sex with a minor could be pursued. The girl and her attorney stand by her accusation and are pursuing a civil case against him.

I have repeatedly gotten asked if the Eagles should sign Araiza, so, alright fine. The short answer... I don't have an answer 🤷‍♂️. I can watch All-22 and opine on whether a guy can play or not, and obviously the guy can punt, but I have no idea what kind of person he is. Just because he was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in this case, that doesn't necessarily make him a saint, and his legal battles seemingly aren't over. I have no doubt that Dom DiSandro has done his digging on the matter and Araiza himself, but I have no information as to what he and the Eagles may have found. My guess is that if the Eagles were comfortable with Araiza the person they've have already brought him in.

Also, I respect your persistence, BigsWinz, ha.

Question from @tech__44: Top 3 Eagles who could be traded this off-season or during the season? Mine are Derek Barnett, Quez Watkins, and Trey Sermon.

I'll cover each of those three guys first:

Derek Barnett: The Eagles have four edge rushers ahead of Barnett in Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, and Nolan Smith. Barnett has a base salary of $1,080,000, so he'd be a cheap player for any new team to acquire. So, sure, if he eventually passes a physical and shows that he is healthy in the preseason, I could see him getting dealt for some small return.

Quez Watkins: Again, I think the Eagles probably like Quez more than you do.

Trey Sermon: There isn't much sense in playing injury risk backs like D'Andre Swift or Rashaad Penny in preseason games, so I could see Sermon getting showcased there.

Some other possibilities:

Ian Book: With the new emergency quarterback rules, maybe a team with two quarterbacks is willing to toss the Eagles a late Day 3 pick for Book?

One of their cornerbacks: The Eagles have a lot of corners. (To be clear, we're not talking about any of their starters, or like, Kelee Ringo or something.)

Question from @Gold_Standard17: Is Howie done, or should we expect a late move for an impact starter (ala CJGJ last summer)?

Howie Roseman is always open to adding talent via trade if he thinks a player will make the team better, and he is always probing for opportunities. I am aware that this is a very generic answer, but it is not necessarily true of every NFL GM.

Question from @ShaqMitchell: Do you foresee a move for a LB soon?

Soon? Maybe. At some point before the start of the season? Yeah, I think that's close to a lock. The Eagles currently employ six off-ball linebackers. Here they are, listed in order of their 2022 defensive snap counts:

  1. Nicholas Morrow: 1086
  2. Nakobe Dean: 34
  3. Christian Elliss: 22
  4. Shaun Bradley: 0
  5. Davion Taylor: 0
  6. Ben VanSumeren: N/A

Morrow, the only player with any real NFL starting experience on the team, was signed for barely over $1 million this offseason. It would be really surprising if the Eagles didn't add another linebacker with some starting experience when they should be viewed as the favorites to get back to the Super Bowl out of the NFC.

Question from @7he_Reason: Any post June 1st cuts to keep an eye on that make sense?

Players released with June 1 designations are typically let go long before June 1, like Ezekiel Elliott was back in March, for example. Where the actual June 1 date comes into play in terms of potentially spurring action around the league is with trades. In 2021, for example, the Falcons traded Julio Jones to the Titans shortly after June 1, because it meant that Atlanta could spread out Jones' dead money over 2021 and 2022, instead of the full amount being applied to 2021. There is no option to trade players prior to June 1 with "a June 1 designation" like there is with players who are released.

As for who might become available in a trade post-June 1, there are a number of players who have been the subject of trade rumors, like Dalvin Cook, Austin Ekeler (not anymore), Trey Lance, Patrick Queen, Devin White, Corey Davis, and Budda Baker.

The only one of those players who would both (a) make any logical sense for the Eagles to acquire based on positional needs, and (b) would make more sense post June 1 because their current team would see more immediate savings on their cap, would be Baker. (I don't see that happening, for the record.)

Question from @Chic0Frankie: When will the Birds start looking for DeVonta Smith’s replacement? No NFL team pays more than one receiver $20+ million per year. And Smith will get it.

There are a number of teams that pay wide receiver duos a lot of money:

  1. Keenan Allen ($20,025,000) and Mike Williams ($20,000,000) are both in the $20 million club for the Chargers. 
  2. The Raiders have Davante Adams ($28,000,000) and Hunter Renfrow ($15,850,000) whose APY sum equals almost $44 million.
  3. The Seahawks have DK Metcalf ($24,000,000) and Tyler Lockett ($17,300,000) whose APY sum is a little over $41 million.

And then there are a few teams that could soon have a pair of guys in the $20 million club, like the Dolphins (Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle), and the Bengals (JaMarr Chase and Tee Higgins).

Having a dominant wide receiver duo is a formula that is tried and true in the NFL. Jerry Rice and John Taylor. Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Art Monk and Gary Clark. Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce (yes I know he's a tight end). They all won chips, and in some cases, multiple chips. And then there are plenty of examples of wide receiver duos who were a huge reason for their teams' successes, even if they never closed the deal, like Cris Carter and Randy Moss, Mark Duper and Mark Clayton, or Andre Reed and James Lofton.

There's no need to overthink it. If Brown and Smith both continue to play at a high level, the Eagles will pay both of them.

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