Eagles

Eagles Rookie Report: Corey Clement says don't forget about me

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Eagles Rookie Report: Corey Clement says don't forget about me

The Eagles bullied the Broncos on Sunday in a 51-23 win at the Linc (see breakdown).

Undrafted running back Corey Clement had his first multi-score game, first-round pick Derek Barnett continues to be disruptive and cornerback Rasul Douglas nearly recorded his third pick of the season.

Let's take a look at some of the highlights in this week's rookie report.

1st quarter, 10:49, 2nd-an- 17 at PHI 34 - Eagles 0, Broncos 0
Douglas could've kept the Broncos off the board and started the rout on the Broncos' first drive. Playing his usual off coverage, Douglas is lined up against the speedy Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders runs a 15-yard hitch. Douglas jumps the route and has nothing but green grass in front of him. Quarterback Brock Osweiler hits Douglas right in the hands but Douglas drops it. Should've been Douglas' third pick and most likely his first NFL score. Still a nice, aggressive play by Douglas.

1st quarter, 4:52, 3rd-and-13 at DEN 5 - Eagles 7, Broncos 3
Barnett just keeps getting better (see report card). On this play, he just blows by fellow rookie Garett Bolles with an outside speed rush and plants Osweiler into the ground. Osweiler has to dump it off to running back Jamaal Charles for a minimal gain because of the pressure created by Barnett and defensive end Chris Long.

1st quarter, 0:59, 3rd-and-10 at DEN 15 - Eagles 10, Broncos 3
Still early in the game, but this would've been a big stop for Denver. Clement sets up the screen perfectly, getting enough of All-Pro linebacker Von Miller to prevent him from blowing up the play but still showing early enough for Carson Wentz to hit him with the pass. Yet again, Clement shows off his balance and vision, allowing his linemen to get downfield. Most notable was right guard Brandon Brooks, whose block clears the way for Clement's 15-yard score.

1st quarter, 0:04, 2nd-and-1 at DEN 38 - Eagles 17, Broncos 3
One thing has been made abundantly clear by Barnett's play so far: he cannot be blocked by a tight end. Apparently, the Broncos didn't get that memo, as Virgil Green attempts to block Barnett on a run play. He's able to slow down running back Devontae Booker before he could even get going. Defensive tackle Beau Allen gets credit for the tackle for loss, but Barnett clearly makes the play.

3rd quarter, 14:55, 1st-and-10 at PHI 23 - Eagles 31, Broncos 9
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Clement makes a big play. With Wentz lined up in the shotgun and Clement to his left, Clement comes across Wentz's face and takes the carry off tackle to the right. Brooks and right tackle Lane Johnson blow their men off the line and create a nice crease for Clement. Clement shows off a nice burst for a 38-yard run. He lost 10 yards off the end of the run because of a hold by wide receiver Alshon Jeffery down the field.

3rd quarter, 7:32, 1st-and-goal at DEN 2 - Eagles 31, Broncos 9
This is an interesting wrinkle by head coach Doug Pederson. Wentz is lined up in the pistol formation with Clement deep behind him. They run the option to the right. Miller goes after Wentz, making it an easy decision for Wentz to pitch it to Clement, who has an easy run to the pylon.

Analysis
Remember when Clement was a long shot to make the team? Now the Glassboro, New Jersey, native has become a pretty big part of the Eagles' offense. He finished with 66 total yards and three TDs. Not bad for an undrafted rookie. I've lauded Clement's patience and vision in this space all season. His confidence and burst are starting to catch up (see Roob's observations).

Meanwhile, Barnett has become a huge part of the Eagles' D-line rotation. He continues to show why he was a first-round pick. You have to love the way Schwartz is using him. The 279-pound Vinny Curry gets in early, trying to beat tackles with strength, and he's followed by the 259-pound Barnett, who loves to use the speed rush. Bolles couldn't keep up with either Sunday.

Douglas was beaten for a big play during garbage time but was solid yet again. He continues to make aggressive plays on the ball like he did back in West Virginia. 

Wide receiver Mack Hollins finished with just one catch for eight yards.

Kicker Jake Elliott nailed his only field goal attempt, a 45-yarder. He did miss an extra point.

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?

As we continue our offseason series examining the future of the world champion Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro try to figure out who will be on the roster in 2018. 

We go alphabetically — Part 1 was Nelson Agholor to Derek Barnett, Part 2 was De'Vante Bausby to Brandon Brooks, Part 3 was Billy Brown to Vinny Curry, Part 4 was Ronald Darby to Zach Ertz. Today is Nathan Gerry to Corey Graham, with Nick Foles getting a section of his own.

Nathan Gerry
Roob
: Gerry, a fifth-round pick last year, seems to be a decent prospect as a young late-round linebacker. He was a core special teamer — his 180 snaps were sixth-most on the team — and on a roster where the linebackers are generally older guys (with the exception of oft-injured Jordan Hicks), Gerry is in a position where a roster spot will be there for the taking if he has a good training camp. I figure Gerry is here at least one more year just as a special teamer, especially with Trey Burton likely to leave and Corey Clement likely to play less on special teams next year as his role on the offense grows.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: As a rookie, Gerry switched from safety to linebacker but didn't get a chance to play much on defense as a rookie. That's still a work in progress. But on special teams, Gerry found his role. He played in 10 regular-season games and then played in every game in the playoffs, including Super Bowl LII. For now, he's just a special teams player, but that's good enough. 

Verdict: STAYS

Shelton Gibson
Roob
: Gibson, a fifth-round pick last year, got only 17 snaps on offense all year after a mostly disappointing training camp, and he caught just two passes for 11 yards all year. His lack of impact on special teams along with the Eagles' young depth puts his roster spot in jeopardy. Gibson will certainly be invited back to training 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 in 2018, and Gibson will be fighting an uphill battle.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: After a really terrible training camp, Gibson began to pick it up enough late in the summer and made the team. He was inactive for the first 10 games of the 2017 season before he began to play a small role on special teams down the stretch. His special teams ability was what gave him the eventual edge over Johnson to be active 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 pieces that every Super Bowl team seems to have but nobody ever talks about. He's a terrific special teamer — he was third behind Kamu Grugier-Hill and Burton with 294 special teams snaps — and also got 200 snaps at linebacker and held his own defensively. Goode is a free agent, but he's been around since 2013, and you can probably keep him at minimum wage. There's tremendous value in that as well.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It's pretty wild to think that Goode has been with the Eagles since 2013 and has appeared in 61 games with them. He isn't the best linebacker, but he's still a solid special teamer. He was on a one-year deal in 2017 so he's an unrestricted free agent-to-be. Goode is a 28-year-old who isn't a viable option on defense, but I never thought he'd be here this long and here we are. 

Verdict: STAYS

Brandon Graham
Roob
: Next year, this could become a very interesting situation. Graham has developed into one of the NFL's top outside pass rushers and had a career-high 9½ sacks this year and made his first Pro Bowl. But he turns 30 this spring, and the Eagles have Derek Barnett under contract with modest cap figures through 2020. It's clear the Eagles can't afford to keep both Vinny Curry and Graham, and Graham is obviously the superior player, but how much money is he looking for and how difficult will it be for the Eagles to keep him? I expect Graham to 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 did make a showing of good faith when they added some incentives to the last two years of his contract. But it's not a new contract yet. He's still their most disruptive pass rusher. His strip sack on Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII was the biggest play of the game. The Eagles are going to have to figure out if they're going to break the bank to keep Graham around for another contract. For now, though, he'll be a huge part of the 2018 season in a contract year. 

Verdict: STAYS

Corey Graham
Roob: Corey Graham is another one of those one-year contract veterans who made a big impact this past season both on defense and special teams. He will turn 33 before camp opens, but he's in tremendous shape and takes great care of himself. 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. It was a pretty low-key move, but the team brought in a veteran safety who was great in the locker room and offered them a quality third safety. That allowed Malcolm Jenkins to slide into the slot when needed and allowed the Eagles to go with a smaller lineup in their dime package when necessary. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but without a ton of great linebackers, having the flexibility to go small was huge. Graham is a free agent again and the Eagles might try to go younger, but they should at least think about bringing Graham back. 

Verdict: STAYS