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July 31, 2023

Mailbag: What are the chances the Eagles trade for a linebacker, safety, wide receiver, running back, etc.?

Jimmy Kempski answers your Eagles questions here.

Eagles NFL
073123JonathanTaylor Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports


Earlier this week, we solicited questions for an Eagles mailbag via Twitter and Threads (shameless plug: follow me here). Thank you as always for doing half the work for me. This will be Part I of a two-part mailbag. Let's just get right to it.

Question from @joslewis: Would you say that the safety position is settled, or are other moves expected before Week 1?

Heading into training camp, I was higher on the Eagles' safeties than most. 

  1. I though Reed Blankenship played reasonably well enough last season.
  2. Terrell Edmunds was a competent starting safety on good Pittsburgh defenses for five years.
  3. Sydney Brown might take some time to pop, but he is smart and he has outstanding athleticism.

We're only three practices into training camp and they haven't even put the pads on yet, but there haven't been any standout moments from the safeties, and it has been interesting that K'Von Wallace has gotten a bunch of first-team reps in favor of Edmunds.

It's a little early to suggest that the Eagles should be looking to trade for a safety at this point (especially in comparison to linebacker), but my antennae are up.

Question from @mrivera5115: Percentage chance of trading for: LB? Safety? Slot WR? RB?

I'll have them add up to 100:

• Linebacker: 75 percent
• Safety: 23 percent
• Running back: 1 percent
• Slot receiver: 1 percent

Question from @vetalumnipod: Which position battle is most likely to end with the underdog player winning?

In my Eagles training camp battle tracker, I would say Christian Elliss probably has a better chance of unseating Nicholas Morrow at linebacker than any of the other underdogs have of beating out the favorites. That said, I think that if it's looking like Elliss is the best linebacker the Eagles have after Nakobe Dean, Howie Roseman will look to trade for a starting-caliber linebacker.

Question from @brianwiorasport: Two-part question here: 1) If the NFL had a “most improved player” award, is there any doubt that Jalen Hurts would have won it last year? 2) Which Eagle would be likeliest to win it this year?

Hurts would indeed have been as good a choice any anyone last year. On this year's team, I think Jordan Davis has a chance to be the most improved player.

Question from @GreaseThePoles: Which rookie looks the most ready to win a starting job or be a major contributor this season?

Nolan Smith isn't going to start because the Eagles are so absurdly loaded on the edge, but he looks to me like the most ready rookie for that kind of role. His athleticism and hustle are obvious. Jalen Carter has the tools to start as well, but I'm saving my observations of him for when the pads go on. I do think he has the best chance to start Week 1, when factoring in opportunity/personnel.

Question from @JonStinnett: Can you see the three Georgia defensive lineman / edge rushers getting to 10 sacks total, collectively, and if so what’s likely split?

I think 10 sacks is a reasonable goal for those three guys to hit collectively. Four apiece for Smith and Carter, and two for Davis?

Question from @Jack_Despeaux: Obligatory “Will the Eagles trade for Jonathan Taylor?” question...

I'm a big Jonathan Taylor fan. He had a down year in 2022 because the Colts were a dysfunctional mess, but 2021 was one of the best running back seasons that we have seen in recent years, when he had 2171 yards from scrimmage and 20 TDs.

But obviously, no, the Eagles are not going to have any interested in trading a high pick for a running back in a contract year who very likely wants to paid at the top of running back market.

The Eagles have a pretty good thing going at running back, in my opinion. In D’Andre Swift, Rashaad Penny, Kenny Gainwell, and Boston Scott, they have a group of talented backs with diverse skill sets. Here's what those guys cost on the cap in 2023:

  1. D'Andre Swift: $1,774,399
  2. Rashaad Penny: $1,230,000
  3. Kenny Gainwell: $1,023,881
  4. Boston Scott: $1,212,360

Add it all up and you get $5,240,640. If you were to create one mega-back out of those four guys — we'll call him Rashandre Scainwell — he would be the 16th highest-paid back in the NFL (based on AAV, via OverTheCap).

Question from @7he_Reason: Gardner Minshew was shaky last camp. Would you have Marcus Mariota above or below his camp so far?

Mariota was bad Day 1, good Day 2, and bad Day 3. It's probably to be expected that he's off to a slow start. He's learning a new offense while trying to get on the same page with a new group of wide receivers, and he's playing behind a second-string offensive line that is getting torn apart by the Eagles' first- and second-string defensive line. He is also taking shotgun snaps from Brett Toth, who is firing worm burners back to him. I'm not concerned there, yet.

Minshew was in an offense he already knew, throwing to receivers he already knew, and he looked shaky enough that there was a point that Reid Sinnett was getting some second-team reps.

Question from @BirdsAreTheWord: How are the non "core" receivers doing? I doubt there is much to report, but how would you rank them so far?

I like what I have seen so far out of undrafted rookie Joseph Ngata. He competes on contested catches and has made his share of plays so far for an undrafted rookie. I'm curious what kind of play demeanor he has in the blocking game and how savvy a route runner he is in terms of creating traffic and freeing up other receivers to get open, because if that stuff checks out he has a chance to take on something of a Zach Pascal role.

Question from @JoeFedorowicz (from Threads): Besides QB1, what year-long injury can the Eagles least afford?

I got you covered on the top 10 players on this question from back in May. Spoiler: It's Lane Johnson, and I don't think it's close.

Question from @Bams_dad_7236 (from Threads): What is the Eagles' reason for hanging on to Derek Barnett? Does the recent restructure make it less likely to trade him? I would think a developmental type player would be better for (deep depth on the edge)?

It was reported that Barnett took a pay cut on his base salary but scored more money in guarantees: 

When that report first emerged, I figured the increase in guaranteed money also increased his chances of making the roster this year. I later learned from a team source that his guaranteed money was always $3.5 money, not $1.5 million. In other words, he did not get a bump in guaranteed money. It was a straight pay cut.

The Eagles are loaded at edge rusher, with Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, and Nolan Smith. If this were not a team with realistic Super Bowl aspirations, I would agree that a developmental player would make more sense than a guy like Barnett, but on this team Barnett is fine as a depth guy should one of the top four edges go down with an injury so they're not trading a decent pick on a half-season rental at the trade deadline.

That said, Barnett does have to show something in training camp this year to secure his roster spot, and he has not yet practiced in team drills as he continues to recover from his torn ACL.

Question from @Joe.Forrest (from Threads): What does Matt Patricia bring to the table? What are the Eagles seeing there?

Nick Sirianni got asked about Patricia the first day of camp.

"He's been an excellent resource for me," Sirianni said. "You bring guys like that in to do just that, be resources for you, be resources for the defensive coordinator. He has a ton of experience. It's nice to have a former head coach on the staff that I'm able to bounce some different things off of. Like I said, awesome, awesome resource, comes from a great coaching tree. Always been fascinated by that coaching tree, and how I can pick the brain of that so I can continue to get better as a coach and ultimately us get better as a team."

Patricia has three years of experience as a head coach, six as a defensive coordinator, and he has coached linebackers, safeties, offensive line, and defensive line. I think that hire is fine. It's not as if he's one of the coordinators or something. It's an advisory role.

Question from @Buff985: Will all three Eagles who have the chance to break David Akers' record for games played as an Eagle do so?

I hadn't realized that Akers' record was in danger this season. But, you're right. Here's the list (active players bolded):

  1. David Akers: 188
  2. Brian Dawkins: 183
  3. Harold Carmichael: 180
  4. Brandon Graham: 178
  5. Jason Kelce: 176
  6. Brent Celek: 175
  7. Fletcher Cox: 173
  8. Chuck Bednarik: 169
  9. Tra Thomas: 166
  10. Jon Dorenbos: 162

(Does some simple math)... Barring injury (or some other unforeseen event), Graham, Kelce, and Cox will all pass Akers this year.

Question from @LunaTuukka: Why did Rob Thompson pull Sanchez after five innings when he had a no-hitter?

Why can't the third baseman and shortstop get on the same page on a popup? Why can't they run the bases? Why does Trea Turner strike out or ground out weakly on like 70 percent of his at-bats? Why does Castellanos stink again? Honestly, it's amazing that they're seven games over 0.500.

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