Eagles

Deserving Hall of Famers, Agholor's improvement, more in Roob's observations

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Deserving Hall of Famers, Agholor's improvement, more in Roob's observations

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — One day left until Super Bowl LII finally gets here, and it's a happy edition of Roob's 10 Random Eagles Super Bowl Observations because it starts with …

1. Dawk is a Hall of Famer (see story).

2. That deserved its own line. But let me share a quick story. It was the day before the Eagles left Lehigh for the 2006 Hall of Fame Game in Canton, and I wanted to talk to Dawk about one day maybe being a Hall of Famer. Dawk at that point was getting ready for his 11th NFL season and his career was already remarkable, although he would go on to make four more Pro Bowls, three of them with the Eagles. I waited and waited and waited for Dawk, who was out on a practice field talking to Sean McDermott, now the Bills' head coach but back then the Eagles' assistant defensive backs coach. Eventually, there was nobody left at the entire compound except Sean and Dawk, talking intensely as the sun blasted down on them, and me standing there watching from 40 yards away. Finally, after close to half an hour of intense conversation, they began walking over toward me, and I asked Dawk what they had been talking about. And he said, "We were just talking about the Hall of Fame and what it takes to become a Hall of Famer and what it means to be one and the level of play I need to continue playing at if I'm going to one day become one." Dawk always wanted to be the best ever, and on Saturday he was recognized that way. Nobody is more deserving.

3. As for T.O., I can't say I'm happy for him. I don't particularly like him or care about him. I saw the effect he had on that 2005 Eagles team. He set out to destroy the Eagles from the inside because he was unhappy with his contract, which really speaks volumes about what he was all about as a player and a person. But this is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Teamwork or Hall of Unselfishness. There's no denying the numbers. He was definitely deserving (see story).

4. I keep having this vision of Alshon Jeffery having a huge game Sunday. Alshon has been strong in the postseason so far, with nine catches for 146 yards and a couple touchdowns against the Vikings. I don't think the Patriots can cover him. I don't think they can stop him. I think he has a T.O. 2004 Super Bowl type of game.  

5. I spent a few minutes Thursday just watching a very self-assured, very relaxed, very poised Nelson Agholor sitting on a podium surrounded by TV cameras and microphones fielding all sorts of questions about Nick Foles, about Doug Pederson, about Jeffery, about the Super Bowl, and I couldn't help think … "This guy couldn't catch a pass and got benched last year." And look at him now. It's just remarkable how far Agholor has come. From a guy who caught 11 passes for 99 yards the entire second half of last season to playing a major part on a Super Bowl team. I asked him if he's taken a moment to reflect on the last year and he said he hasn't. Which probably is another sign of how far he's come. "I’ll be able to process it when it’s all said and done," he said. "The most important thing right now is to get my energy and my focus and for us to get the job done. And when I’m home in the offseason with my family, we can give hugs and I can thank them, but right now the most important thing is to get the job done. Just being here isn’t my dream. I feel like a lot of my teammates understand that and feel the same way. I don’t want to just be here. Being on this podium is cool and we appreciate being here, but at the end of the day getting the job done is the most important thing.”

6. So how much sleep do you think you'll get tonight?

7. Interesting to note that the Patriots have never scored in the first quarter of their seven Super Bowls under Bill Belichick. But they’ve also only allowed one touchdown in those seven first quarters and 15 total points. The Patriots are so good at adjusting and finishing strong. Of their five Super Bowl wins, they've only led going into the fourth quarter twice. They are just never out of a game, which we obviously saw last year. Then again, the Eagles are pretty darn good late in games as well. They haven't allowed a second-half point in their two playoff games, and they've outscored their last five opponents 45-15 after halftime. But the Patriots are 184-22 when leading at halftime, including a 48-2 mark in their last 50 games. They're 19-4 under Belichick in the postseason when they lead at halftime. I feel like it's really important for the Eagles to get off to a strong start. Be physical early. Set a tone that, "Hey, we belong here as much as you!"

8. Foles has handled himself so well this week. Definitely not wide-eyed or in awe of the moment. If he's overwhelmed, it's not showing at all. Two months ago he was an anonymous backup running scout team with Shelton Gibson, Marcus Johnson and Greg Ward. On Sunday, he starts in a Super Bowl. God, I love sports.

9. Time for my pick. I just feel like the Eagles have the edge up front on both sides of the football. I expect the Eagles' offensive line to give Nick Foles time to throw and give the running backs room to run and their defensive line to overwhelm the Patriots' offense and wear down New England's O-line. The strength of the Patriots is the greatest quarterback of all time. The strength of the Eagles is their two lines. And I'll take the team relying on two dominating lines over the team relying on a 40-year-old quarterback. I'm going Eagles 27, Patriots 20, and Philly celebrates an NFL championship for the first time in 57 years.

10. Nick Foles Mind-Boggling Stat of the Day: Postseason performances with 69 percent accuracy and no interceptions in Eagles history: Nick Foles 3, Every other quarterback in franchise history: 0.

Eagles Stay or Go — How about all the tight ends?

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Eagles Stay or Go — How about all the tight ends?

In the third part of our offseason series examining the future of the world champion Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro try to figure out who will be on the roster in 2018. 

We go alphabetically — Part 1 was Nelson Agholor to Derek Barnett, Part 2 was De'Vante Bausby to Brandon Brooks. Today is Billy Brown to Vinny Curry.

Billy Brown
Roob: Don't be surprised if Brown makes the team next year. He's got good size at 6-4/255, and from what we've seen he has pretty good hands. We saw his catching ability at training camp last year, and he caught eight passes for 51 yards in the preseason. Brown spent the entire 2017 season on the practice squad, but with the future of both Trey Burton and Brent Celek up in the air, Brown may be able to secure a roster spot with a good training camp. I expect Burton to get an offer in the $7 million per year range if he hits the open market, which the Eagles most likely won't be able to match, and Celek could either retire or get released to save cap space. Brown could be the next guy up.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: After spending his entire rookie season on the Eagles' practice squad, Brown is going to have a pretty good shot to make the roster in 2017. Brown, who came from Shepherd University, was a training camp standout last summer. He's a converted wide receiver, so he has a good past as a receiving tight end. He has to prove himself, but the path to making the 53-man roster is there. 

Verdict: STAYS

Trey Burton
Roob:
Burton has gone from an undrafted free agent long shot to make the roster in 2015 to one of the most attractive tight ends set to hit free agency this spring. With his soft hands, versatility and tremendous athleticism, Burton should be in line for a multi-year deal in the ballpark of $7 to $7.5 million per year. Even the Super Bowl touchdown pass speaks volumes about Burton and his ability to stay cool and composed and make a play under extreme pressure and in a situation he'd never been in as a pro. You'd love to be able to keep Burton, but Zach Ertz is the Eagles' tight end and they just don't have the cap space for the luxury of a high-priced backup.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Burton is no longer a secret. The Eagles actually tried to extend Burton during the 2016 season, but the two sides were never really close. Burton wanted to bet on himself and now that seems wise. He played the 2017 season on a relatively cheap deal after being a restricted free agent last offseason. But now he's unrestricted this time around and other teams are going to be interested. Burton had his best season in 2016, when he caught 37 passes for 327 yards, but he did have a career-high five touchdown catches in 2017. He's going to get paid more for his potential, though, and it's going to price out the Eagles. 

Verdict: GOES

Brent Celek
Roob: We continue Tight End Day with the 11-year veteran, one of the most popular Eagles of the past generation. Celek will one day be enshrined in the Eagles Hall of Fame, but now he's just another veteran with a $5 million cap figure that is just too high. Maybe Celek will help the Eagles avoid a major decision by retiring. Celek has plenty of interests outside football and he's 33 years old now and has a ring, and retirement may be attractive to him. Go out on top. Or maybe he'll take a massive pay cut down to the veteran's minimum and stick around another year and get the two yards he needs for 5,000. But I think it's most likely Celek won't be here next year. Whatever happens, he'll always be remembered as a champion.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: This is a tough one just because it's Celek. He embodies the city of Philadelphia better than anyone else on the team. He's also the longest-tenured athlete in the city. It's important to him to be a career Eagle, to never play for another team. But he just can't be back in 2018 on his current salary. It doesn't make good football or business sense. His cap number in 2018 is $5 million, which is just way too high for a reserve blocking tight end. It would be tough for the Eagles to flat out cut him, but if he doesn't want to retire and doesn't want to restructure down to nearly the minimum, that's what's going to have to happen. 

Verdict: GOES

Corey Clement
Roob: 
To go from an undrafted rookie free agent running back with virtually no history as a pass catcher to a 100-yard receiver in the Super Bowl in 10 months is just insane. Clement showed me enough that I believe he can be a lead back on this team. I think the plan will be to take a good long look at Jay Ajayi this coming season, with Ajayi and Clement splitting time, then decide after 2018 whether or not to keep Ajayi, who is due to become a free agent in another year. But under any scenario, Clement will be a major part of this team's running back corps for at least the next few years.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: I was wrong about Clement last summer. I thought he was a good running back but there was nothing special about him. I thought Wendell Smallwood deserved to be ahead of him on the depth chart. Oops. Clement had an incredible rookie season. The most incredible thing was that he became a legitimate receiving threat out of the backfield, something he had never been in college or even in high school. He did everything the Eagles asked him to do in his rookie season and excelled at everything. He hasn't just earned a spot on the roster; he's earned the right to be a part of the running back rotation going forward. 

Verdict: STAYS

Fletcher Cox
Roob:
I think Fletch might be around a while. Cox goes into his seventh season with the Eagles having made three straight Pro Bowls and is one of the most dominating interior linemen in the NFL. And he's under contract for the next five years. He stays. And will stay for the foreseeable future.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Sometimes we all sort of forget how good Cox really is. As an interior defensive lineman, Cox doesn't always make flashy plays. But just ask around the league about the Eagles' defense and everyone comes back with one guy on their mind: big No. 91. There's a reason he's become a perennial Pro Bowler and there's a reason he got a $100 million contract last offseason. He's the engine to the Eagles' defense and we saw him elevate his game even more in the run to the Super Bowl by barely leaving the field. This is stupid easy. 

Verdict: STAYS

Vinny Curry
Roob: Curry didn't really have the stat numbers to back it up, but he did play fairly well this year. He's got some massive cap numbers coming up — $11 million in 2018, $11.25 million in 2019 and $12.25 million in 2020. Those are astronomical figures for a guy who has nine sacks in his last 50 games. The Eagles could clear $5 million in cap space by releasing Curry, and that number goes up to $7.25 million next year and $10.25 million before the 2020 season. I think he stays this year, but those cap savings could be tempting for the cap-starved Eagles.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: After a down season in 2016, Curry became a starter and had the best year of his career in 2017. Some folks will argue against that because his sack numbers weren't shocking, but Curry was just tremendously solid as a rusher and against the run in 2017. He's a big reason why the Eagles' defensive line was their top unit and why their run defense was the best in the NFL. But his cap hit of $11 million is a killer this year and first-rounder Barnett is ready to start. I think if Curry is back, it'll be after reworking that deal. But for now ... 

Verdict: GOES

Former GM would demand king's ransom for Nick Foles

Former GM would demand king's ransom for Nick Foles

The Super Bowl champion Eagles face a multitude of tough decisions this offseason. 

The toughest is what to do with Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles. With franchise QB Carson Wentz recovering from a serious knee injury, the situation becomes more complicated.

Longtime NFL executive and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian essentially thinks Foles is untouchable.

Two first-round and two second-round picks would be a doozy of an offer for a quarterback who has one year left under contract. But that speaks to how highly Polian values Foles and the idea of having a top-notch backup QB on a contending team.

Former Eagles LB turned TV host Dhani Jones is in the same boat as Polian, saying he believes that Foles should be the starter, even if Wentz is healthy by Week 1.

Check out Jones' opinion in the video above.