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May 11, 2019

What they're saying: Will Howie Roseman cap off impressive Eagles offseason with Carson Wentz extension?

Eagles NFL

For the most part, the player-acquisition period of the Eagles offseason is over. And things are looking pretty good for Birds' personnel boss Howie Roseman.

Sure, there will still be some additions (followed by plenty of subtractions), but with the draft and the bulk of free agency in the rearview, Roseman and Co. will be transitioning from roster-building to roster-pruning. 

And by all accounts, Roseman has had a very successful spring, from getting a steal with Andre Dillard in the first round of the draft to free agency acquisitions like Jordan Howard, DeSean Jackson and others. Even the latest free agent addition, linebacker Zach Brown, is drawing praise for how little he's going to cost the Eagles (more on that in a minute).

But there may be one more splashy move for the Eagles front office this offseason: extending Carson Wentz. The Eagles already exercised his fifth-year option for 2020 — even though we don't yet know if he'll be back at 100 percent in time for OTAs — and Roseman hasn't been shy in expressing his desire to ink the 26-year-old quarterback to a longterm extension. 

The main knock on Wentz is that he hasn't been able to last a full season since his rookie campaign in 2016, but what he's shown when healthy is more than enough to prove he's worth a big extension. Perhaps the Eagles will wait until Wentz shows the stress fracture in his back is fully healed before making any moves, but at least one national football writer believes something will get done before Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season, and that's where we'll start today's edition of What They're Saying... 

Wentz extension could be coming sooner than later

Albert Breer | MMQB

With the Eagles exercising that fifth-year option on Wentz, many thought that negotiations for his next contract could be pushed back until next offseason, after the quarterback has the chance to prove to the team that he can stay healthy. It may get done quite a bit earlier than that, according to Albert Breer... 

I still believe there’s a good chance Wentz gets a deal between now and Week 1. I don’t think Goff will, just because of the Rams’ cap situation, and the Titans are playing wait-and-see with Mariota. And therein lies how the further escalation of quarterback contracts could create an issue. 

The best guys are going to keep getting paid. Wentz will. Patrick Mahomes will. But what happens with guys who are a level down? That’s a question that a lot of teams are asking. The Cowboys’ negotiation with Dak Prescott hasn’t been, and won’t be, an easy one. The same, you’d think, might go for Mitchell Trubisky in a couple years, if he doesn’t make huge leaps forward.  []

How does Howie do it?

Reuben Frank | NBC Sports Philadelphia

Free agent linebacker Zach Brown, who recently signed with the Eagles, will cost the team $2.4 million against the cap this year. Interestingly enough, that's still less than what he'll cost his former team and division rival, the Washington Redskins. So, not only did Howie Roseman pick up a solid middle linebacker, but made Washington look stupid in the process. That's the definition of a win-win.

Brown’s contract is far smaller than the one he signed with the Redskins on March 16, 2018. That was a three-year deal that included $10 million in guaranteed money and a $4.5 million signing bonus and was worth $21 million.

But Brown only played one year of that deal and counts $3 million in dead money against the Redskins’ 2019 salary cap. That’s the pro-rated portion — two-thirds — of Brown’s signing bonus.

So Brown is playing for the Eagles at a cap figure significantly less than his cap figure for a division rival that he doesn’t play for.

That’s HowieBall.  []

A return to red-zone domination?

Tim McManus |

Eagles were second in the red zone in 2017, but fell to 17th last season. They made some big acquisitions this offseason that should help with that. As McManus points out, Jordan Howard has 17 red zone rushing touchdowns in the last two seasons, nearly as many as the Eagles had as a team (19) over that same span. They also added Miles Sanders and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside via the draft, which could make them extremely tough to cover down near the end zone.

Think about the red zone package the Eagles could roll out -- Howard in the backfield, a two-tight-end set featuring pass-catching dynamos Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, and Arcega-Whiteside lined up opposite Jeffery should they prefer his size over DeSean Jackson's speed near the goal line.

Couple that grouping with what the team brass expects to be a healthy Wentz and a top-end offensive line, and the Eagles have everything they need and more to be dominant in the red zone in 2019.  []

How will Arcega-Whiteside fare against NFL corners?

Eliot Shorr-Parks | 94 WIP

Speaking of Carson Wentz's new red-zone target, he's definitely going to be one of the players to keep an eye on this summer, especially once the veterans arrive.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: Pederson mentioned that Arcega-Whiteside’s size and speed were two of the first things he noticed about the receiver when scouting him prior to the draft. While it was just warmups, Arcega-Whiteside’s size or speed didn’t exactly stand out among the other rookie wide receivers that were there. Arcega-Whiteside looks a little bit like a less athletic Dallas Goedert out on the field. Seeing whether he is able to outmuscle NFL cornerbacks once the real roster arrives and the real practices begin is going to be very interesting.  []

Eagles had a Top 10 'draft haul'

Thor Nystrom |

Over at Rotoworld, they ranked all the teams in the league based on their draft haul, which includes their undrafted free agents. The Eagles earned some praise for what they did in the draft, but according to Thor Nystrom, it was their crop of UDFAs that was really impressive. 

9. Philadelphia Eagles | Draft: 10, UDFA: 8 | 2019 HAUL grade: B+

The gambit to move up the board to steal Andre Dillard from the Texans was one of the best moves in all of the draft this year. The model also called the Dillard pick the third-best best value selection in the entire draft.

The rest of Philly’s draft crop was solid, if unremarkable. But the Eagles did what they do and brought in some hidden value in the UDFA ranks, which bumped Philly from a No. 10 draft value ranking to a No. 9 total haul ranking.  []

Checking in on the state of the Eagles

Matt Harkenreader | Bleeding Green Nation

Overall, the Eagles have had a decent offseason. They surrounded Carson Wentz with more weapons, (hopefully) found their long-term replacement for Jason Peters, and strategically cleared cap space to prepare for Carson’s next contract, which will likely be north of $35M in annual value. They also addressed their need for quality depth at linebacker, defensive tackle, and cornerback (by bringing Darby back) to help make sure the defense can withstand the punishing NFL season.

On the flip side, their shallowest positions are crucial: defensive end and offensive guard. For a team that prides itself in building a team through the trenches, this should represent a serious concern. I do have faith in Stoutland’s ability to develop younger players like Matt Pryor, as well as Doug’s creativity in hiding weaknesses, so perhaps the fears about OG are overblown. But there’s no hiding the lack of depth at defensive end, where the Eagles rotate heavily to keep everyone fresh. It’s already shallow now, and if either of the starters miss significant time due to injury, Schwartz’ whole “generate pressure without blitzing” defense will be in trouble. There’s also the fact that the Eagles are banking hard on the development of their young cornerbacks - which they have to do at some point, as Howie correctly observed - but if there’s even mild regression among two or more players, that could also derail the defense. (I don’t even want to think about what would happen if we saw injuries on the DL coupled with regression among the CBs. That’s a season-ending scenario.)  

So, the team barometer on the whole (for me, at least) is pretty good, but not awesome. How about you? How do you feel about the “state of the Eagles”?  []

Miles Sanders plans on making No. 26 his own

Zack Rosenblatt |

People seem to be making a thing of Miles Sanders picking the same number as former Penn State teammate Saquon Barkley. But Sanders doesn't see it that way. 

Sanders and Barkley remain close friends, and the Eagles rookie even said he’s studied Barkley’s film since he departed Penn State — “I think our games’ pretty similar,” he said on Friday at NovaCare Complex — so picking the number wasn’t intended as a shot at Barkley.

In fact, he didn’t even really think much about it.

“It feels good,” Sanders. “I look at it as just a number. It’s whatever number they gave me, that’s all it is. It’s a number. I’m No. 26 for the Philadelphia Eagles.”  []

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