As a confident Nick Foles goes, so go the Eagles

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As a confident Nick Foles goes, so go the Eagles

Nick Foles didn't put up bad numbers in the first half of Saturday's 15-10 win over the Falcons in the divisional round. 

He just wasn't playing very well. 

Until the final drive of the half, the offense seemed stagnant and Foles looked more like the guy who struggled against the Raiders and Cowboys instead of the guy who threw four touchdown passes against the Giants. 

Then something changed. In the third quarter, Foles started cooking and the Eagles rode his confidence into the NFC championship game. 

"I'm sure the Patriots feel the same way with Brady," head coach Doug Pederson said. "The way he goes, they feel that energy. Same way with us. However your quarterback goes, you're going to feed off of that. You're going to feel that energy and you're going to feel that confidence. That's the way the team felt as the game wore on the other day."

After a lackluster 39 minutes to start Saturday's game, Foles and the Eagles took over at their own 7-yard line with 5:53 left in the third quarter. And Foles put together a masterful drive. 

He completed his first five passes of the drive for 68 yards, and although his last two fell incomplete (one was a drop from Jay Ajayi), he did enough to put the Eagles into field goal range. Jake Elliott drilled a 37-yarder that put them up for good. 

Pederson said he didn't make a bunch of offensive changes at halftime. That would have been reactionary anyway. He explained that things just started to open up as the Eagles stuck to their plan. Alshon Jeffery got involved, Zach Ertz got more involved, the screen game worked. 

But more than anything, Foles just found a way to work himself out of a funk. 

"You feel like with veteran quarterbacks, they've been in games and they can kind of settle down and settle down early and calm down and get into that rhythm," Pederson said. "Feel that way with Nick, obviously, and the confidence I have in him." 

By the end of the game, Foles completed 23 of 30 passes for 246 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown, he didn't throw an interception. He didn't play a bad game. He didn't play a great game. 

He played just well enough for the Eagles to pull out another improbable win. 

During the lead up to the divisional round game against the Falcons, Pederson admitted he went back into the archives to watch old tape of Foles from previous seasons. He wanted to get a better sense of what types of plays would work best with his new starting quarterback. 

In the end, he didn't end up installing new plays or really changing what the Eagles offense has done all season. Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich simply tried to gear the game plan a little more toward Foles' strengths. 

"We felt real good with our game plan last week," Pederson said, "and we have to do the same thing again this week."

Trey Burton denies report questioning his Eagles future

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Trey Burton denies report questioning his Eagles future

Several hours after an NJ.com report surfaced that the Eagles were unlikely to re-sign Trey Burton, the tight end denied it on Twitter.

Replying to a tweet about the report from former Eagles teammate Emmanuel Acho, Burton said he hasn't spoken to anyone.

NJ.com's Matt Lombardo reported Friday that the Eagles made Burton an offer that the soon-to-be-free-agent "didn't consider serious."

"We are fully expecting Trey to sign elsewhere," the source said.

It wouldn't be surprising whatsoever if Burton leaves in free agency. A team will likely pay him starter's money and offer him a chance to start, which he doesn't have here with Zach Ertz firmly entrenched.

The Eagles are over the projected salary cap, and while they could create space in numerous ways, they also have to worry about re-signing key linebacker Nigel Bradham.

6 ways for Eagles to create cap space

6 ways for Eagles to create cap space

The Eagles are coming off a thrilling season but there's a lot of work to be done. 

The NFL's new league year begins on March 14 and the Eagles must be under the salary cap by then. The problem is that based on projections, the Eagles are set to be more than $9 million over the cap, according to OverTheCap. So it's time for some maneuvering. 

The good news is that Howie Roseman's specialty has always been finding unique ways to get the Eagles out of cap trouble. There are ways for him to do it again.

Cut Torrey Smith 
Probably the easiest one. Smith was a great teammate and a solid addition to the Eagles' locker room, and he really stepped up his game in the playoffs, but it's probably not enough to bring him back. He just wasn't good enough last season, and cutting him would save the Eagles $5 million in cap room with no dead money. The Birds still have Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, while Mack Hollins is entering Year 2. 

Cut Brent Celek
This one will hurt, but Celek can take away the sting if he decides to walk away as a champion. He's set to have a cap number of $5 million. That's just way too much for what Celek provides these days. By cutting him, the Eagles would save $4 million in cap space. So just between Smith and Celek, the Eagles will almost get back to zero ... but there's other work to do. They'll still need money to sign free agents and draft picks. 

Extend Brandon Graham 
Graham is entering the final year of his contract with a cap number of $8 million. He wants a new contract and deserves one. Good news: An extension would work for both sides. Graham would get more money long term and the Eagles could get his cap number down this season. 

Rework/cut Vinny Curry
Curry is coming off of probably his best season in the NFL but will have an $11 million cap number. That's tough to swallow, especially with Derek Barnett waiting for his chance to start. It seems likely the Eagles will ask Curry to take a pay cut or rework his deal. If not, cutting him would leave $6 million in dead money but would also save $5 million in cap room. 

Trade Mychal Kendricks
If you remember, Kendricks actually wanted a trade last offseason. Good thing that didn't happen. Kendricks ended up being a big part of the Eagles' success in 2017. Depending on what happens with Nigel Bradham in free agency and with Jordan Hicks' Achilles recovery, trading Kendricks might again be an option. A trade would save $4.4 million in cap space. 

Trade Nick Foles 
This is such a tough one β€” we explore it more here. But basically, Foles is a pretty amazing insurance policy until we know when Carson Wentz is going to be ready. If the Eagles do trade Foles, it would save them $5.2 million that they could certainly use. The problem is that by the time they know Wentz's status, free agency will be long gone and that cap space won't help this year. But it could help in 2019.