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April 02, 2018

Mailbag: Why is there Ronald Darby trade speculation?

In our weekly Eagles chat last Thursday, 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, we published a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow on Saturday. Here's another one.

Question from Cody: Why trade Ronald Darby? He hasn’t had a full year with the team, while Jalen Mills has been there for two years and you know what you have with him. He’s not too fast and he’s just overall average. Darby has the speed, but was playing on a bum ankle all year.

Darby had his bad moments last season (vs. the Giants Week 15) and his good moments (his INT vs. the Raiders flipped the likely outcome of that game). With a full offseason in the Eagles’ scheme, and no injury setbacks, it's fair to expect that Darby should be more consistent in 2018. So I’m with you there.

As for the injury, the Eagles really took their time putting him back out on the field. It was diagnosed as a four-to-six-week injury. The Eagles brought him back after 10 weeks. His ankle was fine when he returned. It was more a matter of getting his body back into “football shape,” which I think he did quickly.

Anyway, as for why Darby is the most likely of the Eagles’ corners to be dealt, if any, it’s really a matter of their contracts. You know how the Eagles didn't have a lot of money to spend this offseason, and had to make a few moves to get under the cap before the new league year began? Well, they're going to be very tight up against the cap next year, too.

The Eagles have the second-most amount of money in the NFL committed toward their 2019 cap, behind only the Jaguars, and there is about $20 million gap between Philly and the team with the third-most committed money.

Darby is in the final year of his contract, while the rest of the Eagles' corners have at least two years remaining on their deals. He is going to be very difficult for the team to afford next offseason. Rather than let Darby walk next offseason for nothing more than the possibility of a 2020 comp pick, if the Eagles can get, say, a third-round pick for him now, that would make a lot of sense.

As for Mills, he was one of the most improved players on the team this year, and is very much part of the long-term plans of the team, as a guy who can play inside, outside, and maybe safety down the line. He’s one of Jim Schwartz’s favorite players, and he isn’t going anywhere.

Question from Robb Gaylord: What’s your take on the Odell Beckham Jr. situation? Is the trade of OBJ to a team like Cleveland good new for the Eagles? Or is it bad news, it that they might have a plethora of draft picks to now become viable in the near future?

I think it’s outstanding news for the Eagles if the Giants trade Beckham. He’s their best player, by far, and a guy who has historically killed the Eagles. In seven career games against Philly, he has 50 catches for 603 yards and 6 TDs. Over a 16 game season, that equates to 114-1378-14.

If the Giants trade him, they are going to get 50 cents on the dollar, if that.

Question from Dan: Who returns punts for the Eagles this season?

Someone currently not on the roster.

Question from Tim: Lamar Jackson at 32 an option?

Nah. To begin, he’ll be long gone by then. Secondly, the Eagles have a franchise quarterback. Why open up a gigantic can of worms by drafting one in the first round? Thirdly, there’s no room for him or any other quarterback in this draft, sans a Nick Foles or Nate Sudfeld trade. I wouldn’t say flatly that they absolutely can’t carry four quarterbacks, but that would be highly irregular.

I think you’ll see the Eagles begin to play the “draft and develop” quarterback game every other year or so, beginning in 2019, which will keep their financial cost of the backup quarterback position down, while also giving the Eagles the potential of flipping them down the line for premium picks.

Question from CFfromLancPA: In regard to throwback uniforms, how did some teams have different colored helmets (i.e. Packers with the brown helmets)? Did the team paint them and then re-paint them?

For those of you unsure what this question is in reference to, the Eagles don’t wear Kelly green throwbacks because the NFL has a policy in place in which teams are not allowed to change the base color of the helmet (more here). The Eagles could wear Kelly green jerseys, but they would have to keep the midnight green helmets, which would look dumb.

Anyway, in regard to the Packers’ brown helmets, or the Eagles’ ugly blue and yellow helmets (which I’ve also been asked about), they wore those before the NFL changed their policy on wearing a second helmet. It’s a fairly new policy – 2011 or 2012, I think. But to answer your question, no, the Packers didn’t paint and then re-paint their helmets. They wore them when the NFL still allowed a second helmet.

Question from 3 Links and a Bagel: You should do an updated cereal mock draft. With all due respect, your last one was terrible.

My cereal mock draft was the second-most controversial thing I’ve ever published, behind only my candy mock draft.

Those two mock drafts drew more hate than the article I wrote saying the Eagles were going to get rid of DeSean Jackson for no good reason in 2014.

Question from B-West: Say it ain’t so. You cut the boarding line at the airport? You leave that giant shelf of snow on your car roof when you pull out of the driveway too, don’t you?

To begin, for me, there’s no real advantage to boarding a plane first, other than to clinch a spot for my carry-on. If there are no spots for the carry-on, then I (usually) just pick it up on the jetway after the flight, unless it’s a jackass airline that sends it baggage claim. But usually, boarding last is no big deal.

The one airline where it does matter is Southwest, which does not have assigned seats. It’s basically prison rules trying to find a seat once you board the plane. For those of you who are unfamiliar, they have this idiotic system where the passengers are lumped into different boarding classes – A, B, C, etc. If you’re an A, you’re getting a good seat. If you’re a C, you’re sitting in row 37 between two obese motorcycle dudes.

Anyway, your classification is based on nothing more than the order in which you checked in online. In other words, the guy who sets his alarm to check in exactly 24 hours before the flight is almost certainly always going to be in the A group.

So that guy is better than me in the eyes of Southwest because he has no life? Screw that guy. I just attempt to board with the A’s, and more often than not, the person scanning boarding passes either doesn’t look at what class you’re in, or doesn’t care. You can usually just board with the A group nerds anyway.

Similarly, if it’s 5 a.m., I’m sitting at a red light, there are literally no cars visible in any direction, and there’s no red light camera, guess what? I’m not sitting there for 2 minutes waiting for the light to turn green.

As for clearing snow off the top of the car, I’m not a monster. That’s a legitimate safety hazard. I’m not going to put anyone in danger by being a self-centered jerk, but I sure as hell couldn’t care less about annoying the guy who sets his alarm to be in the A group.

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