Doug Pederson's biggest victory came off the field

Doug Pederson's biggest victory came off the field

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — In his public appearances, Doug Pederson remained stoic. On Dec. 11, just after he announced that Carson Wentz had a torn ACL and was out for the season, he was asked if his team could overcome the loss. 

He emphatically said yes, it could. And he meant it. 

But initially, of course there was a little bit of doubt, a little bit of self-pity. The Eagles were rolling through the season but lost the most important player on their team. They lost the NFL MVP. 

There had to be at least one "Are you kidding me?" moment, right? 

“You know what … maybe in here somewhere," said Pederson, tapping his chest. "But not out here. I would never do that out here. I would never do that in front of the team. I would never do that in front of [reporters]. 

"But, inside, you’re kind of going, ‘Dang, we’ve got this thing going.’ Look at what Oakland did a year ago … they were riding along, and Derek [Carr] went down at the end of the year. You know what I’m saying? But, even for me at that time, it didn’t take long to fire back up, quite honestly. 

"We’ve got a tremendous defense, we use our running game, Nick [Foles is] a veteran quarterback. We had a lot of things going for us at the time … we just won the NFC East, we bought ourselves a ticket to the postseason, we were still in good shape."

On Monday night, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie remembered back to a phone call he had with VP of football operations Howie Roseman in the offseason. Roseman found a way to basically trade in Chase Daniel for Foles, but it meant allocating $12 million this season to the backup quarterback position. Lurie acknowledged that's a little unusual, but he agreed with the idea of bringing back Foles to back up Wentz. 

Lurie called Foles a "big-time, big-game player" and Foles has looked like it in the playoffs after a somewhat rough stretch at the end of the season. 

Wentz's injury and how the team recovered from it were clearly the defining moments of the 2017 season. In hindsight, the Eagles obviously still had a great chance to win without Wentz, but in December, you could understand why that might have been a tough notion to believe. 

Pederson had to sell it to the team. While some guys didn't need the sales pitch, others were understandably a little mopey that Monday morning, when the team's worst fears were confirmed and it found out it was going to be without Wentz for the rest of the season. 

It didn't take long for just about every player to come around, though. It started with Pederson and his veteran leaders taking control, not letting there be any time for self-pity. 

Did Pederson have to sell it to himself a little bit too? 

“It wasn’t a perception. That was real," he said. "That part was an easy sell for me.”

More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

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More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

The Eagles have given veteran defensive end Chris Long a raise, but according to one report, Long is concerned enough about his playing time with the Eagles that he's mulling his options regarding his future.

What is certain is that at some point before March 15, Long signed a new contract with the Eagles that increases his 2018 base salary from $1 million non-guaranteed to $2½ million fully guaranteed.

However, NFL Network's Michael Silver reported Monday that Long may decide he doesn't want to accept the new contract — which he already signed.

According to Silver, Long is concerned about how many snaps he would get as a third-down rusher following the addition of Pro Bowl pass rusher Michael Bennett.

The Eagles officially acquired Bennett on March 14, although the deal was reported a week earlier. Long's new contract was filed with the NFLPA on March 15, but there is a good chance he agreed to it and signed it before the Bennett acquisition.

Whether or not Long knew Bennett was coming to the Eagles when he signed the restructured deal is unknown. But at some point Long knew about their interest in Bennett and even gave Bennett a "glowing recommendation" when the Eagles asked, according to an interview Long gave to SBNation.  

Long wouldn't appear to have many options. He could retire, in which case he would have to return the $500,000 bonus he received from the Eagles last week.

He could request a trade, which would be bizarre for someone who signed a contract extension just a few days earlier.

Or he could simply play under the terms of the contract restructure and pay increase, which was first reported by Field Yates of ESPN and confirmed by NBC Sports Philadelphia with a source familiar with the renegotiation.

As for the contract itself, including that $500,000 roster bonus — which was also in the previous version of the contract — Long would receive $3 million guaranteed this year instead of $1.5 million non-guaranteed plus $750,000 in easily achieved roster bonuses.

Long had five sacks and forced four fumbles last year as a rotational defensive end. He wound up playing 496 snaps, 10th-most on the defense and only about 10 per game fewer than starter and Pro Bowler Brandon Graham and five per game fewer than starter Vinny Curry, who the Eagles released.

Long, who turns 33 next week, has 63½ career sacks. His 5.0 sacks last year were his most since 2013. He's won back-to-back Super Bowls the last two years with the Eagles and Patriots.

What happens next?

Long has demonstrated that the money is secondary to him. He donated his entire 2017 base salary to charity.

At some point very soon, the Eagles will need him to decide whether he's even going to have a 2018 base salary.

Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

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Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

A day after we found out that Brian Dawkins picked Troy Vincent to introduce him at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony this summer, Terrell Owens has picked his presenter. 

No surprise: It's not Donovan McNabb.

After alienating many people in the league throughout his tremendous career, Owens picked a name from his early days. Longtime NFL assistant coach George Stewart, who was Owens' receivers coach in San Francisco, will introduce T.O. at the 2018 induction. 

In a video released by the Hall of Fame, Owens said Stewart "knew what to get out of me."

Now special teams coordinator and assistant head coach for the Chargers, Stewart has been an NFL coach for three decades. He began his time in San Francisco in 1996 (Owens' rookie season) as a special teams coach but was their wide receivers coach from 2000-02.

"Things that George Stewart may say, it may be shocking to a lot of people, but not to him because he knows who I am," Owens said. "... To know who Terrell Owens is, you really have to spend some time with him. Fast forward, George Stewart became a father figure to me."

The first season Stewart became the 49ers' receivers coach, Owens went to his first of six Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro for the first of five times in his career. Owens was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in all three of the seasons that Stewart held the position in San Francisco. 

Of course, Owens' growth under Stewart led to his becoming one of the biggest stars in the NFL.

Eventually, Owens forced his way out of San Francisco and got to Philadelphia. With the Eagles, Owens had a short and tumultuous two seasons, but was also dynamic on the field and nearly helped them pull off a Super Bowl win over the Patriots. 

Owens averaged 93.5 receiving yards per game during his time in Philadelphia, the highest average in franchise history. It wasn't his play that led to his downfall in Philly. It was his beef with McNabb, along with his attempt to strong-arm the Eagles into a new contract. 

Owens was a divisive personality for his entire career. It's likely the reason it took him three tries to make it into the Hall of Fame. Because his numbers don't lie: He's one of the best receivers of all time.