Eagles

Eagles Rookie Report: Derek Barnett, Mack Hollins, Corey Clement continue to impress

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Eagles Rookie Report: Derek Barnett, Mack Hollins, Corey Clement continue to impress

It wasn't pretty, but the Eagles took care of business with a 33-10 win Sunday over the winless 49ers at the Linc (see breakdown).

First-round pick Derek Barnett and wide receiver Mack Hollins continue to make their presence felt in this week's rookie report, as did the undrafted Corey Clement.

Let's take a look at a few of the highlights.

2nd quarter, 6:50, 1st-and-10 at SF 25 - Eagles 3, 49ers 0
San Francisco's left tackle Joe Staley has been rumored in trade talks (Eagles?). He's on the downside of his career at 33, but he's a five-time Pro Bowler and can still play a little bit. On this play, Barnett owns him. Barnett bull rushes Staley off the snap and blows the vet backward. Barnett then easily wraps up running back Carlos Hyde for a loss.

2nd quarter, 3:41, 1st-and-10 at SF 44 - Eagles 3, 49ers 0
The Eagles' offense got off to a dreadful start. The line couldn't keep Carson Wentz upright or get any push in the run game (see report card). For the second time in the game, Doug Pederson made the decision to go uptempo. After a couple of short passes to Hollins and tight end Trey Burton, things loosened up. Hollins is the lone receiver lined up to the left. He runs a post and Wentz hits him for a 24-yard gain. Hollins uses a tremendous head fake to the outside to open up the middle of the field. That's two weeks in a row Hollins has run a tremendous route and made a big play to get the offense going.

2nd quarter, 1:51 - Eagles 9, 49ers 0
After Wentz hits Ertz for a touchdown, kicker Jake Elliott misses the extra point. On the replay, you can see punter/holder Donnie Jones juggles the snap and Elliott shanks the kick left. Jones has been incredibly reliable in this department during his time with the Eagles. It was pretty clear the rainy conditions were a factor.

3rd quarter, 8:06, 4th-and-5 at SF 32 - Eagles 17, 49ers 0
Redemption for Elliott and Jones on this one. Good snap from Rick Lovato, good hold from Jones, and Elliott blasts a 51-yarder right down the middle. For Elliott, it was already his fifth field of 50-plus yards. That's now the Eagles' single-season franchise record.

3rd quarter, 4:51, 3rd-and-14 at PHI 22 - Eagles 20, 49ers 0
It's not always rainbows and sunshine on the rookie report. On this play, Hollins in lined up to the right next Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery runs a go route, intended to clear out the way for Hollins, who's running a 10-yard in. It looks like Hollins stops running at the top of his route but 49ers corner Akhello Witherspoon doesn't. Witherspoon picks off Wentz. This pick looks like it's on Hollins (see Roob's observations).

3rd quarter, 4:24, 2nd and 10 at PHI 25 - Eagles 20, 49ers 7
This another example of why Clement made this roster. He's not the most physically gifted back on the roster, but he may have the best patience and vision. He gets a great block from left guard Stefen Wisniewski, who was pulling on the play. Clement waits for Wisniewski to get through and create a cutback lane. Clement then makes a great cut and takes the run up the field for 24 yards. On the next play, Wentz hits Jeffery for a 53-yard TD. Another big play by a rookie that sparks the offense.

4th quarter, 14:10, 4th-and-goal at PHI 9 - Eagles 27, 49ers 7
This kid is becoming downright disruptive. Barnett anticipates the snap perfectly, leaps and blocks Robbie Gould's kick. For good measure, he even runs down the football and returns it for eight yards. This is a big reason why I loved Barnett coming out of Tennessee. His effort level will never be questioned.

4th quarter, 7:14, 1st and 10 at SF 49 - Eagles 33, 49ers 7
Cornerback Rasul Douglas wasn't tested too much as the Eagles' front had rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard under constant duress. But on this play, the rookie corner was ready. The speedy Aldrick Robinson tries to beat Douglas with a straight go route. Douglas is with him stride for stride and makes the play on the deep ball.

Analysis
I'm more impressed with Barnett every week. He's learning and gaining more and more confidence. He's only going to get better as this season goes on. This defensive front is crazy deep and Barnett is a big part of that. 

Hollins continues to make plays and get more snaps. That interception is probably on him. It's a rookie mistake and I'm sure he'll be coached up on it.

Clement continues to maximize his touches. He also appears to be gaining more confidence in the run game, showing more burst through the hole. He finished with career highs of 10 carries and 54 yards.

Elliott missed two extra points but nailed that 50-yarder. This missed XP's shouldn't be a cause for concern. They appeared to be a result of the poor weather. Elliott has been extremely consistent since nailing that 61-yard game winner.

Trey Burton denies report questioning his Eagles future

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Trey Burton denies report questioning his Eagles future

Several hours after an NJ.com report surfaced that the Eagles were unlikely to re-sign Trey Burton, the tight end denied it on Twitter.

Replying to a tweet about the report from former Eagles teammate Emmanuel Acho, Burton said he hasn't spoken to anyone.

NJ.com's Matt Lombardo reported Friday that the Eagles made Burton an offer that the soon-to-be-free-agent "didn't consider serious."

"We are fully expecting Trey to sign elsewhere," the source said.

It wouldn't be surprising whatsoever if Burton leaves in free agency. A team will likely pay him starter's money and offer him a chance to start, which he doesn't have here with Zach Ertz firmly entrenched.

The Eagles are over the projected salary cap, and while they could create space in numerous ways, they also have to worry about re-signing key linebacker Nigel Bradham.

6 ways for Eagles to create cap space

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. 

Rework/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 rework 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 β€” we explore it more here. 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.