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July 27, 2019

What they're saying: Eagles not 'clear-cut contenders,' plus more Carson Wentz MVP hype

And a look at what's been ailing Mack Hollins and why Birds fans can forget about Jadeveon Clowney.

Eagles training camp is officially underway, with the Birds breaking out the pads for the first time on Saturday before having Sunday off. As is the case every summer, there are so many storylines that it's impossible for us to cover them all. So, as we do from time to time, let's take a look around the local and national media landscape to find out what they're saying about the Eagles.  

'On the cusp of contending'

Staff | ESPN+

Over at, their panel of NFL Nation writers broke down the entire NFL based on what they think are realistic timelines for each winning a Super Bowl. Somewhat surprisingly, despite all the hype surrounding the Eagles heading into training camp, Philly was not among the top tier of teams listed as "clear-cut contenders right now." That distinction belonged to four teams: the Chiefs, Rams, Patriots, and Saints.

The Eagles were in the second tier — "on the cusp of contending" — along with the Bears, Colts and Chargers. As for the rest of the NFC East, the Cowboys were a rung below the Eagles, under the title "still a year away" with teams like Atlanta, Green Bay and Minnesota. The Giants and Washington were much further down, as both were listed under "four or five years away." 

Here's a look at what they had to say about the Birds:

Philadelphia Eagles

Last Super Bowl appearance: 2017
2019 FPI rank: No. 10
Future power rank: No. 3

Tight end Zach Ertz called this the most talented team he has played on, and that includes the 2017 Super Bowl squad. Carson Wentz is healthy and surrounded by playmakers, from Ertz to Alshon Jeffery to speed demon DeSean Jackson. Wentz might never be blessed with a stronger supporting cast than the one he has now; he needs to take advantage. -- Tim McManus  []

One of the deepest rosters in football

Kevin Clark | The Ringer

Kevin Clark of The Ringer outlined some of the biggest storylines to follow in the NFL this season, and the Eagles are certainly one of them. There's also an excellent quote from former Eagles exec and current Jets GM Joe Douglas. 

The Eagles stack up.

When Eagles executive Joe Douglas took the Jets general managing job this summer, he told Sports Illustrated that it was a tougher decision to leave the Eagles this year because, well, the Eagles are going to be awesome this year. “I really feel like that franchise, that football team, they’re firing on all cylinders,” Douglas said. “It’s as deep of a team as I’ve ever seen there. And that’s including the ’17 team.”

I’ve been around the Eagles a lot over the past few years, and they are among the smartest organizations in sports. Their roster is always well managed, and this offseason they plugged some of the holes they had: They brought in a handful of solid veterans on dirt-cheap deals: Vinny Curry, Andrew Sendejo, and Jordan Howard among them. They signed mid-priced veterans who could become bargains: Ronald Darby re-signed for $6.5 million, Malik Jackson is getting just $10 million per year and DeSean Jackson is on a three-year, $28 million deal. Having a bunch of great contracts doesn’t mean you are going to win the Super Bowl, but only teams with a bunch of great contracts win the Super Bowl. The Eagles, like the Patriots (and, lately, the Rams), have cornered the market on great contracts. No Eagle accounts for more than 7.4 percent of the salary cap—that’s Alshon Jeffery. There’s a healthy mix of young and veteran talent. The Eagles built one of the deepest rosters in football.  []

The Wentz hype train rolls on

Jason La Canfora | CBS Sports

There's been a lot of talk about how good Carson Wentz has looked this offseason coming off of back-to-back season-ending injuries — although he didn't have his best day on Saturday. He's also gotten plenty of MVP hype for this season. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports has been down at the NovaCare Complex the last few days and wrote extensively about what he saw from the defensive line, the new additions, and much more. Here's what he had to say about Wentz:

I am on board with the Carson Wentz MVP hype. Not that he wasn't always in great shape, but he looks incredibly lean and agile this summer. Unencumbered by a knee brace, he was slinging the ball all over the place at the practice I observed.

There is so much multiplicity and versatility in his assortment of receivers and tight ends, and with a forward-thinking head coach, the sky is the limit on offense. DeSean Jackson will have a big year toggling between the slot and the outside, and when the Eagles go empty with him and Nelson Agholor in the slot on the opposite side, it looks formidable. The buzz about second-year tight end Dallas Goedert is greater by the day. He was flashing all over the place, and is another chip that can be moved all over the field.  []

MORE: A look at Vegas' MVP candidates for the 2019 NFL season

'Member Mack Hollins?

Reuben Frank | NBC Sports Philadelphia

Well, Hollins, a fourth-round pick back in 2017, is back at practice — and has looked pretty good — after missing all of the 2018 season with a mysterious groin injury. It's apparently something he's been dealing with for quite some time, but never had a chance to fully recover from. Hopefully resting last season allowed him to get healthy again, but he could be another dangerous weapon for Carson Wentz's already loaded arsenal. 

Here's more on what Hollins has been going through from Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

Last time Mack Hollins wasn’t dealing with nagging groin pain, the Eagles had never won a Super Bowl, Nick Foles wasn’t yet a living legend and the wide receivers coach the Eagles fired a few months ago hadn’t been hired yet.

It’s been a while.

It’s been a difficult 18 months for Hollins, a roller-coaster of progress and setbacks, encouraging steps forward and crushing disappointment.

Hollins, the Eagles’ third-year fourth-round receiver out of North Carolina, is back at practice, he’s healthy and his year-and-a-half nightmare appears over.

"It’s been rough, it has been,” Hollins said Friday in his first interview since late in the 2018 preseason. "You’re a competitor. You grew up all your life playing football, and now you can’t play and you can’t be out there? That’s rough. I think I learned a lot from it. You can always get something out of it,. At the beginning it’s, ‘Why am I hurt,’ but being on the side and getting the coach’s view, how things work, how plays are run, seeing the bigger view? You try to learn something from it. But that gets old quickly."  []

Don't hold out hope

Brandon Gowton | Bleeding Green Nation

As we alluded to above, the Eagles should have a pretty stacked defensive line, despite losing Chris Long and Michael Bennett in the offseason. Derek Barnett is back from injury. So is Timmy Jernigan. The Eagles brought in Malik Jackson and Vinny Curry, and the team is expecting "big f**king things" from second-year DE Josh Sweat. And that doesn't even include Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, the team's two best defensive linemen. 

So it was kind of interesting that the Eagles came up as a team who could be interested in bringing in former No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney, who has yet to report to Texans training camp as he holds out after being hit with the franchise tag by Houston. But, at least according to one NFL insider, Eagles fans can forget about bringing in Clowney.

According to one NFL reporter, though, it’s not likely to happen. Here’s what Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson had to say on Friday evening.

Clowney is currently holding out from Houston’s training camp. The No. 1 overall pick from the 2014 NFL Draft was seeking a long-term contract extension but now he won’t be able to sign one until 2020 at the earliest since the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players has passed.

Clowney could be hoping to get traded to a team that has interest in signing him after 2019. And that’s where Philadelphia could theoretically come in. If the Eagles work out acceptable trade terms with the Texans, Clowney could sign his franchise tender and choose to go to Philly.

Of course, Clowney could easily decide that the Eagles aren’t the best landing spot for him and refuse to sign his tender.  []

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