Eagles' heavy lifting in free agency came already

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Eagles' heavy lifting in free agency came already

While the Eagles are expected to fly under the radar — Haloti Ngata aside — a little bit during free agency thanks to limited cap space, it’s important to remember they’ve already done a lot of their heavy lifting. 

During their Super Bowl season, Howie Roseman locked up WR Alshon Jeffery and DT Tim Jernigan with four-year contract extensions, keeping them in Philly through the 2021 season. 

If the Birds didn’t do that, Jeffery and Jernigan would top the list of 16 soon-to-be free agents from the Super Bowl team and there would probably be a lot more panic among Eagles fans, especially after seeing some numbers roll in on Tuesday morning. 

Two of the top receivers on the free agent market reportedly agreed to new contracts the day before free agency officially opens, according to NFL Network. First, the Chiefs signed Sammy Watkins to a three-year deal worth $48 million, with $30 million guaranteed. And the Bears signed Allen Robinson to a three-year deal worth $42 million, with around $25 million guaranteed. 

While Jeffery didn’t put up monster numbers in 2017, his deal with the Eagles is looking more like a slight bargain now. Jeffery’s four-year deal — signed on Dec. 2 — is worth $52.25 million, with $27.25 million guaranteed, according to OverTheCap. 

So Watkins’ average annual salary is $16M, Robinson’s is $14M and Jeffery’s is just over $13M. 

Now, it’s fair to point out that Jeffery just turned 28, while Watkins and Robinson are both still just 24. But Watkins and Robinson aren’t without their flaws. Watkins has had just one 1,000-yard season in his four years and is coming off a 39-catch, 593-yard season with the Rams. He’s never lived up to being the fourth pick in the 2014 draft. And Robinson has shown incredible ability, but he’s coming off a torn ACL. 

Jeffery wasn’t able to get back to another 1,000-yard season, but he played well in 2017 (with a torn rotator cuff) and had 12 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns in the Eagles’ playoff run, including a big performance in Super Bowl LII. If the Eagles didn’t lock him up, he was going to be a hot name on the market. 

Then there’s Jernigan. There haven’t been a lot of deals to compare his to yet, but let’s remember what his deal looks like: Four years, $48 million, with $25 million guaranteed. After a hot start in 2017, Jernigan cooled down later in the season, perhaps hampered by a lingering ankle injury. 

But locking up Jernigan and Jeffery during the season went a long way in locking up the future of the team for the next several years. The Eagles have 19 players under contract through the 2020 season (that’s a lot) including Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Brandon Brooks, Malcolm Jenkins and others. Now, things in the NFL are flexible and eventually, they’ll need to find a way to pay Carson Wentz over $30 million annually, but for now, things look good. 

That’s important to remember if it seems like the Eagles are having a quiet offseason. 

Thank Carson Wentz (and 1 other thing) for landing Mike Wallace

Thank Carson Wentz (and 1 other thing) for landing Mike Wallace

During the 2016 season, Mike Wallace thought his Baltimore Ravens were going to steamroll the Eagles, who had a first-year head coach and first-year quarterback. 

He was wrong. 

Sure, the Ravens were able to sneak away with a 27-26 win back on Dec. 18, 2016, but Wallace watched up close as the gutsy Carson Wentz had the Eagles one two-point conversion at the end of the game away from walking out of Baltimore with a win. 

A year and a half later, when Wallace was testing free agency, the veteran receiver thought back to that game and thought to himself, “I want to play with that guy.” 

So how responsible is Wentz for Wallace’s landing in Philly? 

“Ninety-nine percent. Ninety-nine,” Wallace said at his introductory press conference on Friday afternoon after signing a one-year contract. “The other percent was the rest of the team. I’m impressed by the way he plays football, the way he moves in the pocket, the way he throws the football and his competitiveness. You can see it.”

Wallace, 31, continued to watch Wentz during the 2017 season, when the second-year quarterback was seemingly on his way to an MVP award before a serious knee injury landed him on injured reserve.  

Having been through changing teams before, Wallace said the most difficult part for him is learning the new quarterback. He hopes this process won’t take exceedingly long, but he and Wentz might be at a disadvantage. Wentz is still recovering from a torn ACL and LCL and might not be ready until the season opener, if that. 

“You can just work on that watching film and things like that, but until he gets out there, there’s no real way to simulate it,” Wallace said. “I think he’s a great young quarterback who’s fired up. Whatever extra reps we need to try to get up to speed, I’m all for it.”

Wentz is, of course, a part of the big reason Wallace decided to join the Eagles. Wallace has played nine seasons in the NFL with four different teams. He’s made money, but he hasn’t been able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. That’s what he wants. 

On Friday, Wallace said he turned down more money to join the Eagles. 

“I had options but I just wanted the best chance,” Wallace said. “I feel like this is my best opportunity to make a run. This is my 10th year. Can’t play this game forever. You don’t want to come out feeling empty. I want to get a ring.”

Wallace had been a free agent twice before this offseason and he admitted, that when he was younger, free agency was about money. He signed a five-year, $60 million deal in 2013 to join the Dolphins. 

But now, Wallace said, his family is secure. He’s made a lot of money in the NFL to make sure those close to him are well off. Now, he’s allowing himself to make a decision that benefits him. 

“I didn’t try to come into this game to leave empty-handed,” he said. “I had to secure the bag and I did that. Now it’s time to secure a ring.”

Warrant issued for Michael Bennett's arrest

Warrant issued for Michael Bennett's arrest

Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett has been indicted for a felony charge in Harris County, Texas, the Harris County district attorney's office announced on Friday afternoon.

Because of the indictment, a warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest. According to the release, prosecutors are working with Bennett's lawyers to coordinate a surrender.

Bennett is being charged with "injury to the elderly, included intentionally and knowingly, causing bodily injury to a person 65 years or older." The penalty for the charge is up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The felony charge is for injuring a 66-year-old paraplegic woman who was working at NRG Stadium last year during Super Bowl LI, when Bennett was there to watch his brother Martellus play in the game. The Patriots played the Falcons in Super Bowl LI in Houston on Feb. 5, 2017.  

Bennett, 32, allegedly "shoved his way on to the field" during the postgame celebration, when the elderly worker told him to use a different way for field access. Instead, the district attorney's office said, Bennett pushed through workers, including the elderly disabled woman.

Neither the Eagles nor the Seahawks knew about the incident, a league source told NBC Sports Philadelphia's Derrick Gunn. Bennett has been an Eagle officially for just over a week.

During a news conference on Friday afternoon, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo asked Bennett to turn himself in as quickly as possible, calling Bennett "morally bankrupt" and entitled. Acevedo said there is no video of the incident, but there is a police officer eye-witness.

Acevedo said Bennett forcibly opened locked doors to get onto the field and then pushed his way past three workers. One was a male, one was a 28-year-old female and one was a 66-year-old female, who sustained a sprained shoulder. The 66-year-old female is a paraplegic and the force of being pushed back in her motorized wheelchair is what injured her. Acevedo said the woman needed medication prescribed to her because of the alleged assault.

According to Acevedo, Bennett said, "Ya'll must know who I am, and I could own this motherf-----. I'm going on the field whether you like it or not," as he pushed past the women.

A police officer, called "Officer Morgan" by Acevedo, the same one who saw the alleged incident, then tried to stop Bennett, but Bennett disregarded him, saying "f--- you." The officer then decided to tend to the woman instead of pursuing the suspect, as he thought Bennett no longer posed a threat.

The extended time between the incident and the indictment was explained by Acevedo as a lack of resources. He said the department decided to handle cases that put citizens in danger. This was pushed to the back burner. He also said it was exceedingly difficult to get in touch with Bennett.

"Mr. Bennett may think because he's an NFL player and because some time passed he may have thought rules don't apply to him," Acevedo said. "No. 2 he doesn't have to respect the dignity of a paraplegic woman trying to earn a living. He may believe he doesn't have to answer to a police officer trying to detain him, but I'm here to say I'm very proud of the fact our department took this case as seriously as we should have."

The Eagles released the following statement on Friday afternoon:

"We are aware of the situation involving Michael Bennett and are in the process of gathering more information. Because this is an ongoing legal matter, we will have no further comment at this time."

The Eagles officially traded for Bennett on March 14. They sent receiver Marcus Johnson and a fifth-round pick to Seattle for Bennett and a seventh-rounder.