Doubted no more, Lewis meets Eagles again

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Doubted no more, Lewis meets Eagles again

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Dion Lewis had quite a bumpy road to where he is now. It's a road that went right through the Linc.

Lewis, now a standout tailback with the Patriots, was the Eagles' fifth-round draft pick in 2011 and spent two years backing up his close friend and fellow Pitt Panther product LeSean McCoy before eventually landing in New England in 2015 and becoming the Patriots' feature back this year.

“That’s what it’s all about, just being resilient," Lewis said Monday during the NFL's Opening Night at the Xcel Energy Center, home of the NHL's Minnesota Wild.

"Just keep pushing, no matter how many people doubt you. Believe in yourself and keep pushing and taking advantage of the opportunities."

All Lewis had to show for his two years with the Eagles was 36 carries for 171 yards and two touchdowns, plus three catches for 21 yards.

“It was good," he said. "Learned a lot of things being behind Shady for a couple years. That [experience] definitely helped make me a better player."

The Eagles traded Lewis to the Browns for Emmanuel Acho in the spring of 2013 but he missed the entire season with a broken leg. 

Then it was off to the Colts in 2014, but they released him before the season began.

He resurfaced in the summer of 2015 with the Patriots but played sparingly until this year, when he won the starting running back job in training camp and had a big year, averaging 5.0 yards per carry for 896 yards, catching 32 passes for 214 yards and scoring nine touchdowns.

He became the first Patriot since Antowain Smith in 2002 with 800 rushing yards and 30 catches in a season, and his 5.0 rushing average led the NFL.

In his seventh season, he finally established himself as one of the NFL's most talented backs.

“It was frustrating at times," Lewis said of his difficult journey. "But just got to stay the course, keep working hard and keep believing in yourself."

Lewis' career rushing average of 4.8 yards per carry is sixth best among active running backs.

He'll take on the NFL's No. 1 rush defense on Sunday when he faces his former team in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.

“Their front four is very disruptive," said Lewis, who played with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry. 

"Those guys, B.G., Fletch, those guys get into the backfield, and they give their linebackers easy lanes to run through and make tackles. It’s going to be a challenge."

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 — 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.