Eagles stocked with players who have something to prove

USA Today Images/AP Images

Eagles stocked with players who have something to prove

They're playing like they're mad at the world. Like they're trying to shut people up. Like they have something to prove. And there's a pretty good reason for that.

The Eagles' roster is largely made up of guys who were late-round draft picks. Guys who went undrafted, who were unwanted by their previous team, who were benched somewhere or toiled on the practice squad.

Castoffs, misfits, journeymen.

Put it all together and you have a roster stocked with guys who were told they'd never make it. Who have a chip on their shoulder. Who are driven by a team or coach or GM or even a fan base who doubted them and questioned them and gave up on them.

That's who this team is.

Let's look at the 53-man roster.

There are 20 guys drafted in the fifth round or later. There are seven undrafted free agents (and that doesn't include guys like Jason Peters and Chris Maragos, who are on IR). There are a dozen who've been released at some point in their career. A bunch more have been traded and several have been benched.

A good chunk of this roster is made up of players who've been doubted or questioned or left by the wayside, and that can go one of two ways. You can wind up with a group of football players who just aren't good enough to play in this league. Or you can wind up with a locker room full of men who are hungry, motivated, selfless and determined.

Find the right combination of those guys and find the correct roles for them and then develop them and what do you have?

You have the 2017 Eagles.

Heck, even some of their first-round picks play like they're fighting for their lives.

Carson Wentz heard repeatedly that he'd never be a big-time quarterback coming from an FCS school like North Dakota State. Brandon Graham heard for years he was a bust and the Eagles should have taken Earl Thomas instead. Even Fletcher Cox heard that his level of play dropped last year after he signed his massive contract.

Good luck finding a guy in this locker room who didn't have to overcome some long odds or who isn't driven by being treated unfairly at some point in his life.

Jason Kelce is playing at an All-Pro level. He was a sixth-round draft pick.

Corey Clement scored three touchdowns against the Broncos Sunday. He was undrafted.

Patrick Robinson and Jalen Mills have been unreal at cornerback. Robinson is with his fourth team in four years, and Mills was a seventh-round pick.

Go right through the roster.

LeGarrette Blount, released by two different teams and unwanted in New England after rushing for 18 touchdowns last year.

Tim Jernigan, cast off by the Ravens. Nelson Agholor, benched a year ago. Mychal Kendricks, shopped by the Eagles for the last few years. Jake Elliott, released by the Bengals and dumped on the practice squad. Stefen Wisniewski, started the season as a third-stringer. Rodney McLeod, undrafted.

“You look at this locker room, a lot of guys have things to prove," McLeod said.

"There’s a lot of different stories on this team. Guys being cut. Guys going undrafted. Guys getting overlooked. And they all make up a team that’s hungry as a whole. So that’s what you have. A lot of guys who are hungry and just want to win."

And it goes beyond the locker room.

The general manager was essentially benched two years ago, exiled to the equipment department, of all things. The head coach was released eight times in his NFL career and toiled in the Arena League and World League when he couldn't get an NFL job.

When Pederson talks about culture, this is what he means. A whole bunch of people thinking the same way, believing the same thing, working toward a common goal.

The Eagles are the best team in the NFL because he's got 53 guys, most of them driven by some significant obstacle in their lives, playing like the only thing that matters is proving everybody wrong.

It's not the normal formula for building a winning football team. Take a handful of premium draft picks and surround them with a whole bunch of guys off the scrapheap.

But for this team, it's working. And all the guys who are motivated by proving people wrong? They're well on their way to doing exactly that.

Eagles reward Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles with reworked contract

USA Today Images

Eagles reward Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles with reworked contract

The Eagles gave Nick Foles a little raise on Friday, reworking the Super Bowl MVP’s contract, a league source confirmed. 

Basically, the Eagles are rewarding Foles after he helped the franchise win its first-ever Super Bowl a few months ago. 

Foles, 29, is still entering the final year of his contract with the Eagles, but the new deal also includes a mutual option for the 2019 season, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. The mutual option will still allow Foles the possibility to test the free agent market next season, but could leave the door open to a possible return beyond this upcoming season. 

Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport from NFL Network first reported the revised contract, which includes a $2 million signing bonus and “several millions in incentives if he’s the starter and hits various benchmarks,” according to Rapoport. 

That part makes a ton of sense. If for some reason Carson Wentz isn’t ready to play in 2018 or if he goes down again, Foles will have a chance to earn what might be closer to starter money. 

Foles was set to earn a base salary of $4 million in 2018, with a salary cap hit of $7.6 million on the contract before Friday’s renegotiation. 

Wentz and Foles grew very close last season — third-string QB Nate Sudfeld too — and have both been very selfless in a situation that would be awkward for many others in the league. But both have been incredibly selfless throughout the entire process. Just this week, Wentz admitted he had to fight jealousy but was truly happy for his teammate and friend, who became the Super Bowl hero (see story)

Earlier on Friday, Foles tweeted out this photo with his wife and daughter from the NovaCare Complex. That’s a $2 million smile. 

Eagles well-represented on list of top NFL sellers

USA Today Images

Eagles well-represented on list of top NFL sellers

It turns out winning the Super Bowl is pretty good for business. 

The NFLPA on Friday released its top 50 player sales list from March 1-Feb. 28 and the Eagles were the most represented team on the list, with five players ranking in the top 50. 

3. Carson Wentz 
17. Zach Ertz
22. Nick Foles
43. Alshon Jeffery
45. Jay Ajayi 

This list is a combined total of all officially licensed merchandise, not just jerseys. It shouldn’t be surprising that Wentz is near the top of this list, behind just Tom Brady (1) and Dak Prescott (2). Even though he was injured late in the year, he was having an MVP season before going down and is obviously the Eagles’ quarterback of the future. 

But Foles making the list at 22? That’s pretty impressive. Remember, for most of the 2017 season, Foles was just a backup on a two-year deal. He had to make a heckuva comeback once he took over for an injured Wentz and led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl championship. Foles returned to the top 50 list after two years off of it. 

Weirdly, Foles sold more drinkware product from Wincraft than any other player — 10 times more than any other player!

And there are likely a lot of Eagles fans walking around the city with players on their legs. Five of the top 10 sellers of Strideline socks were Eagles: Foles, Wentz, Chris Long, Ajayi and Jeffery. 

Only Brady and Odell Beckham Jr. sold more in Fathead decals than Wentz. 

Here’s the top 10: 

1. Brady
2. Prescott
3. Wentz
4. Ezekiel Elliott
5. Antonio Brown
6. Aaron Rodgers
7. Beckham Jr. 
8. Russell Wilson
9. Rob Gronkowski
10. Derek Carr