Eagles Mailbag: Jeffery's next contract, Robinson's future, Embiid in football

NBCSP/USA Today Images

Eagles Mailbag: Jeffery's next contract, Robinson's future, Embiid in football

With the bye week, it seems like the Eagles haven't played football in a few months, but they'll finally get a chance to take the field on Sunday Night in North Texas. 

During the bye week, they watched all three division teams fall, but also watched a few teams other top teams in the NFC get wins. 

A win Sunday over Dallas could pretty much make the division title a lock and then the Eagles can try to lock up one of the top two seeds in the conference to get a first-round bye. 

This has been a fun season so far, huh? 

To your questions: 

Yeah, I'd expect something similar. Lawrence has been just as disruptive as Miller this season. He already has 11 1/2 sacks to lead the NFL. It seemed like the Eagles had a really good game plan for Miller. They did a few different things to neutralize him during the game. 

At times, they offered Lane Johnson some help. At other times, they let Johnson go 1-on-1 against Miller. And they also schemed some plays to take Miller out of the game in more unique ways. One particular naked play to the right sticks out. On the Alshon Jeffery touchdown, the Eagles ran a zone-read play that eventually left Miller with a straight path to Carson Wentz, but Wentz was able to stand in and deliver the throw before Miller got there. 

The Eagles will get creative, but, for the most part, they need to let Johnson take on Lawrence. Johnson has been playing at a Pro Bowl level — let him earn his trip to Hawaii or wherever the hell they play that game these days! After all, this matchup is one of the reasons they kept him at right tackle when Jason Peters went down. Let him take on another top pass-rusher. 

I think this job will belong to Patrick Robinson on Sunday. With Ronald Darby's return, the Eagles can have him and Jalen Mills outside and let Robinson focus on playing in the slot, where he has been outstanding this season. 

I don't think it makes much sense for Malcolm Jenkins to cover Beasley. Remember the game a few years ago, when Beasley went over 100 yards with two touchdowns against the Eagles? Yeah, Jenkins was on him. When Jenkins is at his best in the slot, he's going against tight ends or bigger slot receivers. Beasley is way shiftier, so Robinson makes sense. 

Robinson has been the single biggest surprise of the Eagles' season. He's been an even bigger surprise than Nelson Agholor. At least Agholor looked good during the summer. Robinson looked awful until the team moved him into the slot. Since then, though, he's been incredible. 

Here's the problem: the Eagles are going to have a logjam at corner. So would they want to bring back Robinson, who came here on a one-year deal? Well, look at who will still be on the roster. They'll still have Darby, Mills, Rasul Douglas and (presumably) Sidney Jones. All four of those guys are 23 or younger, while Robinson is 30 and probably doesn't fit into their future. If he gets a decent offer elsewhere, he's probably gone. 

Nice to see you're taking advantage of the 280 character limit, Drew. I wasn't very surprised the Eagles didn't make a move to bring in a starting tackle. There aren't a ton of those guys available. No left tackle tree in sight. You could argue Duane Brown was that guy this season and the Seahawks got him. Should the Eagles have looked into that? Yeah, probably. 

But Halapoulivaati Vaitai has played well. No, he's not Jason Peters, but there's a reason his name hasn't come up much over the last few weeks. Vaitai has been described to me as a player who just needed confidence. That's why in some games you've seen him start slow but get better as the game goes on. The Eagles think he can play and he has been proving them right so far this season. 

As far as the NFC being wide open this year? Yup. It is. And you're right, there's a chance a few of those teams will bounce back stronger next year. I don't look at the Eagles' not making a move for a starting tackle as them not going for it this year. They're going for it. They just think Big V will hold up. 

I'm going to be pretty boring here. Sorry. I think Mills will end the year with the team lead in interceptions and Brandon Graham will lead the team in sacks. 

Right now, Mills is tied with Robinson — each has three picks. But with the return of Darby, I expect Mills to have plenty of opportunities the rest of the way. 

Graham leads the team in sacks with five, a half sack more than Fletcher Cox. Graham will finish more because it's just easier for defensive ends to get sacks than interior rushers. And Graham just happens to be the Eagles' best pass-rusher. 

This is an interesting question for this reason: Jeffery hasn't put up big numbers this season. He has just 34 catches for 500 yards and five touchdowns. Not terrible, but not WR1-type production. 

A big reason for that is because of how smoothly the Eagles' offense has been running. Wentz is comfortable spreading the ball to all of his receivers, which means none of them have put up great numbers. The problem for Jeffery is that numbers come up in negotiations. This negotiation will be an interesting one. The Eagles' coaches clearly value Jeffery, but it might not be easy to find the right number. 

Spotrac has a pretty cool feature that looks at market values of a player. According to that tool, Jeffery's market value would be around $10.2 million per year, which could come out to be a five-year deal worth a little over $51 million. That would be a higher annual value than his one-year, $9.5 million deal in 2017. 

You have to remember, though, NFL contracts are never as they seem. A five-year contract worth $51 million isn't actually worth $51 million. The Eagles could backload a deal and find something to make it work. If there's one thing Howie Roseman is good at, it's this stuff. 

The biggest unknown is Jeffery. I think the Eagles would like to re-sign him. If they don't, they'll need to either sign another big-time free agent or draft a receiver high. It would make more sense to sign one in free agency because it's hard to know what to expect from rookie receivers. The Eagles could keep Torrey Smith for $5 million, but they shouldn't. The production just isn't there. And Mack Hollins has been taking on a more significant role throughout the season. He's the next guy up. Nelson Agholor can play outside but he's clearly found a home inside. But he could play outside in 12 personnel. So some combination of Jeffery/free agent, Hollins and Agholor would be my guess. 

At running back, Jay Ajayi will be the guy. LeGarrette Blount's one-year deal will be up and the Eagles won't need him back. Corey Clement might have a role. Wendell Smallwood is interesting because he's the odd man out now, but who knows next season. His issue has been staying healthy. When he's on the field, he can play a little. 

This is fun. Here's the thing we sometimes forget about NBA players because they're always surrounded by other NBA players. They're enormous. They're basically like modern-day dinosaurs. I once met Yao Ming and he could have picked me up, put me in his shirt pocket and walked away without anyone noticing. 

We'll start with Embiid, who is listed at 7-foot, 250 pounds. He would end up being tied for the tallest player in NFL history. Richard Sligh was a 7-footer who played one season in 1967. Heck, Embiid would be three inches taller than Ed "Too Tall" Jones. 

The tallest player on the Eagles' roster is 6-6. They have five guys that tall and three of them are offensive tackles. Embiid is so tall that defensive ends would be able to use their leverage to beat him. But King Dunlap was about 6-10 and that prehistoric creature ended up having a decent NFL career. Embiid is an offensive tackle, but he'd have to bulk up. 

OK, now to Simmons. He's listed at 6-10, 230. He's just too thin to play on the offensive line. I'm putting Simmons at tight end. That's the position everyone seems to think LeBron would play, so why not Simmons too? Imagine throwing the ball up to him in the end zone!

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

USA Today Images

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

AP Images

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.