Eagles

Duce Staley's promotion could be coming

Duce Staley's promotion could be coming

This piece has been updated after initially running on Feb. 3.

LeGarrette Blount wasn't even asked about Duce Staley. He was talking about Jay Ajayi and then all of a sudden he segued to Duce and what a terrific head coach he thinks his position coach would make.
 
“He’ll be a great head coach and hopefully he gets that opportunity," Blount said.
 
Staley's seventh year as an Eagles assistant coach and fifth year as running backs coach culminated with a Super Bowl ring. He and Doug Pederson are the only coaches on the current Eagles staff who coached under Andy Reid, and Staley is the only one who's coached under Reid, Chip Kelly and Pederson.

He's firmly established his credentials as one of the NFL's best running backs coach. But he wants more, and he deserves more.

With John DeFilippo now in Minnesota and Frank Reich in Indianapolis, Staley is a top internal candidate to become the Eagles' offensive coordinator.
 
"He know defensive schemes inside and out," Blount said. "He studies film relentlessly. He texts us throughout the week and sometimes throughout the night and it's just like, 'Hey man, make sure you look at this, make sure you look at that, make sure you understand this,' so we can go out there and play fast.
 
"I think he can be an amazing play-caller. Just because he’s a running back doesn’t mean that he’d be one of those coaches who goes out there and runs the ball 60 times and throws it 15."
 
After retiring in 2006 and spending four years away from the game, Staley spent two years as the Eagles' special teams quality control coach under Reid before taking over running backs under Kelly.
 
Staley, 42, did interview for the Eagles' head coaching vacancy after Kelly was fired. He said he'd love the opportunity to move up in the coaching rankings.
 
“Yeah, definitely," he said in early February. "I think as coaches when you get into this business you're always looking to climb the ladder. Not looking to maintain that certain position.
 
"When you have a chance to move forward, when you have a chance to advance, you definitely want to take advantage of it."
 
Pederson and Staley were teammates in 1999. Staley had a franchise-record three 1,000-yard rushing seasons during his Eagles career. Along with former teammate Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy — who he coached — and Wilbert Montgomery, he's one of only four players in Eagles history with 4,000 rushing yards and 250 catches.
 
“Duce has done a great job," Pederson said before the Super Bowl. "He definitely, kind of like myself, leans on his experiences as a player because he’s been there, done that, out there in the games.
 
"The running back coach position, it takes a special coach. I don’t think just anybody can do it. You’ve got to have a presence about yourself, you’ve got to have a way about yourself, you’ve got to be able to communicate with different personalities in that room, and in our case we’ve got a couple starters in that room, and he’s been able to really shape them and mold them and get them to buy into what we’re doing offensively.
 
"Each one has a role, he does a great job with that, and he knows when to be hard on them. They all take coaching extremely well, and he’s been a big asset to that room, to the running backs, and to me.”
 
For whatever reason, Staley had not previously been considered a "hot name" when offensive coaching promotions were discussed, but he should have been.
 
Since he became running backs coach in 2013, the Eagles have the fifth-most rushing yards in the NFL and the sixth-highest rushing average at 4.4 yards per carry.
 
They're also third in scoring during that span and fourth in total yards.
 
"Duce is a guy who wants to win a lot of football games and he’ll do whatever it takes to win those games," Blount said. "So as a head coach I think he’d be a perfect candidate for a lot of teams.”

6 ways for Eagles to create cap space

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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. 

Re-work/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 re-work 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 herehttp://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/stay-or-go-super-bowl-mvp-nick-foles. 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.

Stay or Go — Will both Grahams return?

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Stay or Go — Will both Grahams return?

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Nathan Gerry
Roob
: Gerry, a fifth-round pick last year, seems to be a decent late-round linebacker prospect. He was a core special teamer — his 180 snaps were sixth-most on the team — on a roster where the linebackers are generally older guys (with the exception of oft-injured Jordan Hicks). A roster spot will be there for the taking if Gerry has a good training camp, especially with Trey Burton likely to leave and Corey Clement’s role on offense expected to grow.

Verdict: STAYS — as a special teamer

Dave: As a rookie, Gerry switched from safety to linebacker but didn't get a chance to play much on defense. He did find a role on special teams. He played in 10 regular-season games and every postseason game, including Super Bowl LII.

Verdict: STAYS

Shelton Gibson
Roob
: Gibson, a fifth-round pick last year, got only 17 snaps on offense and caught just two passes for 11 yards. He’ll be invited back to camp, but for once, the Eagles have depth at wide receiver, and young guys like Mack Hollins and Johnson are well ahead of Gibson in the Eagles' eyes. Even if Torrey Smith doesn't return, Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery and Hollins have spots locked up. Gibson's lack of special teams value will play a role.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: After a mostly terrible training camp, Gibson was inactive for the first 10 games of the 2017 season before playing a small role on special teams down the stretch. He still hasn't shown his potential as a fifth-round speed receiver, but he'll get another chance. 

Verdict: STAYS

Najee Goode
Roob
: Goode was one of those underrated players that every Super Bowl team seems to have but nobody talks about. He's a terrific special teamer — he was third behind Kamu Grugier-Hill and Burton with 294 special teams snaps — got 200 snaps at linebacker and held his own defensively. Goode is a free agent, and you can probably keep him at minimum wage.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Since 2013, Goode has appeared in 61 Eagles games. Not the best linebacker but a solid special teamer. Goode was on a one-year deal in 2017 so he's an unrestricted free agent-to-be. At 28, he isn't a viable option on defense, but I never thought he'd be here this long. 

Verdict: STAYS

Brandon Graham
Roob
: Graham has another year left on his deal. He’s now one of the NFL's top outside pass rushers with a career-high 9½ sacks this year and his first Pro Bowl honors. But he turns 30 this spring, and Derek Barnett is under contract with modest cap figures through 2020. The team can't afford to keep both Graham and Vinny Curry. Graham is obviously the superior player, but how difficult will it be for the Eagles to keep him? I expect he’ll look for a long-term deal in the $12-13 million per year range. He'll get it. I'm just not sure where.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: The Eagles didn't give Graham a new contract last offseason but they added some incentives to the last two years of his deal. As their most disruptive pass rusher, his strip-sack on Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII was the biggest play of the game. The Eagles have to decide if they're going to break the bank but for now, he'll be a huge part of the 2018 season. 

Verdict: STAYS

Corey Graham
Roob
: Corey Graham is another one of those one-year contract veterans who made a big impact this season both on defense and special teams. He’ll turn 33 before camp opens but is in tremendous shape. He's played in 171 of a possible 176 games in his 11-year career and shows no sign of dropping off. Graham is also a terrific natural leader who was extremely vocal during the Super Bowl run. The Eagles don't really have any young safeties knocking on the door, so as long as Graham is willing to accept another cap-friendly contract, I don't see a reason not to re-sign him.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Signing Graham was one of the best moves Howie Roseman pulled off last summer. Having a quality third safety freed up Malcolm Jenkins to slide into the slot when needed and allowed the Eagles to use a smaller lineup in their dime package. Graham is a free agent and the Eagles might try to go younger, but they should think about bringing him back.

Verdict: STAYS