Eagles Stay or Go — De'Vante Bausby to Brandon Brooks

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Eagles Stay or Go — De'Vante Bausby to Brandon Brooks

In the second part of our 12-part 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. Today is De'Vante Bausby to Brandon Brooks. 

De'Vante Bausby
Roob: The Eagles liked Bausby enough to keep the 25-year-old cornerback on the practice squad all year. What does that mean for the former undrafted free agent from Pitt (Pittsburg State in Kansas)? Probably nothing. The Eagles are loaded with young corners. Between Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones, they have four corners 24 or younger to build around. Bausby has logged some regular-season playing time with the Bears, but if he hopes to ever really compete for a roster spot on a team's 53-man roster, he's in the wrong place, because it won't happen here.

Verdict: GOES 

Dave: The Eagles added the young cornerback to their practice squad the week before the Chiefs game in Week 2. At the time, it looked like they simply added him because Bausby had previously been with the Chiefs. He heard plenty of that early on during his time with the team, but then he lasted the rest of the season on the practice squad and was re-signed after the year ended. He was good enough to stick around, but the Eagles have plenty of depth at corner to keep him off the roster. 

Verdict: GOES

Will Beatty
Roob: Beatty joined the Eagles halfway through the season as an emergency backup offensive tackle, but with Doug Pederson making it clear that he expects Jason Peters back at left tackle next year, that means Halapoulivaati Vaitai would be the leading backup tackle. I would expect the Eagles would draft a tackle at some point, and that guy could be the fourth tackle. Beatty has had a nice career and now has two Super Bowl rings, but it's hard to imagine that he has any kind of future with the Eagles.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: There's a reason Beatty was on the street until the Eagles called in November. The Birds probably need to upgrade at their backup tackle spots and Beatty is past his prime and shouldn't be the answer. He helped the scout team down the stretch and worked hard to help the Eagles get a Super Bowl ring, but it's time to move on. 

Verdict: GOES

LeGarrette Blount
Roob: This is a tough one because Blount meant so much to this team, both with his unflinchingly unselfish attitude in the locker room and his big-time production on the field. How do you cut ties with a guy who was 14-for-90 rushing with a touchdown in a Super Bowl? But that's the reality the Eagles are facing. Blount is 31 and a free agent. Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement are the future at running back. And as mighty as Blount was in the Super Bowl, he did average 3.5 yards per carry or worse in eight of the last 13 games. Blount is a fun guy to be around and a tremendous natural leader. He played his heart out for this team. It'll be tough to see him go, but I think we'll have to.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Blount is a 31-year-old unrestricted free agent running back and it wouldn't be crazy to bring him back. After all, Blount shouldn't be very expensive and he was able to combine with Clement and Ajayi to form a pretty dynamic running back group. But Ajayi is going to get an offseason with the Eagles and he's going to take over more of the offense. The Eagles will have a decision to make with both Blount and Sproles hitting free agency. This is a pretty tough one, actually. 

Verdict: GOES 

Nigel Bradham
Roob: The Eagles have several valuable free agents you'd like to have back, but nobody is as important as Bradham, who had a very good year in his second season with the Eagles. The Eagles have depth at running back, tight end, and cornerback, where their most prominent free agents play, but they have very little at linebacker. Especially with Jordan Hicks missing half of two of his three NFL seasons, the Eagles must find a way to sign Bradham.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Bradham is an unrestricted free agent and should be the Eagles' top priority this offseason. It flew a little under the radar, but Bradham's 2017 was a huge reason for the Eagles' successful run to the Super Bowl. After Hicks went down, the Eagles relied on Bradham to make the defensive calls like a MIKE. He and Mychal Kendricks ended up being huge keys to the season. He's still just 28 and it'll be interesting to see how much he'll demand. Either way, the Eagles have to try to bring him back, especially as Hicks recovers from his Achilles tear. And you better believe Jim Schwartz will make his case for keeping a guy who has played for him more than anyone on the team. 

Verdict: STAYS

Bryan Braman
Roob: The Eagles brought Braman in late in the season after injuries took such a toll on special teams, and the former high school javelin star got himself a Super Bowl ring for his six games of work. But there's a reason Braman wasn't on a roster the first few months of the season. He's 30 years old now, turns 31 in May, and special teams is a young man's game. And Braman really doesn't have a position, although he's listed on the roster as a linebacker. It's tough for teams to really invest in a 31-year-old special teams specialist.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: After they brought him back in December, Braman did provide a certain spark to the Eagles' special teams group. But he's 30 now and doesn't give anything on defense. He carved out a nice career in the NFL as a special teams ace, but it seems like his time might be over, especially now that the Eagles have other key special teamers like Kamu Grugier-Hill. 

Verdict: GOES

Brandon Brooks
Roob: Like so many guys on the Eagles, Brooks left a challenge-filled 2016 season in his wake and enjoyed tremendous success in 2017. He played all 16 games, he successfully dealt — in a very public and constructive way — with the anxiety that had been plagued him on and off the field, he made his first Pro Bowl and was an absolute wrecking machine at right guard, especially in the postseason. Brooks is signed for three more years. He's not going anywhere.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: This season, Brooks finally fulfilled his potential and became one of the most dominant offensive guards in the league. More importantly, he bravely put his issues with anxiety in the rearview. Brooks started every game for the Eagles this season and was their most consistent offensive lineman. He also made his first Pro Bowl team in 2017 and it shouldn't be his last. He's under contract for three more seasons. 

Verdict: STAYS

Michael Bennett knows why Eagles can repeat as Super Bowl champions

Michael Bennett knows why Eagles can repeat as Super Bowl champions

Michael Bennett was with the Seahawks when they won the Super Bowl in 2013, and he was with the Seahawks the next three years when they were supposed to but never did again.

He knows how hard it is to win it twice. If the Seahawks, with Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Marshawn Lynch and company, couldn’t do it, who can?

Bennett thinks his new team is on the right track.

“They’re not complacent,” he said. “You look at most organizations. They win, they think that’s it, that year. But this team is pushing and moving pieces and finding our weaknesses and making them better, and I think that’s how you prepare to win [again]. 

“I think they’ve done a great job of it and me being an addition is something that I think is a great move.”

The Eagles, who won Super Bowl LII six weeks ago, acquired the 32-year-old Bennett, a Pro Bowl defensive end in each of the last three years, and a seventh-round pick from the Seahawks last week in exchange for receiver Marcus Johnson and a fifth-round pick.

Bennett was there in 2014, when the Seahawks went 12-4 and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff bracket before losing, 28-24, to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona.

The Seahawks were one yard from winning. But that final sequence shows just how hard it is to repeat. The last NFL team to win back-to-back Super Bowls was the Patriots in 2003 and 2004. The last NFC team was the Cowboys in 1992 and 1993.

“When you come to the NFL, you want to hold that Lombardi,” Bennett said. “A lot of people can get Pro Bowls, a lot of people can get a lot of different things in the NFL when it comes to contracts, but not a lot of people can hold that Lombardi, and when you hold it, it’s something that’s very dear. 

“It’s like you’re holding your child and being able to caress it and hold it and it’s yours and it’s something that you really value, and I think for me, that’s what it’s really about. 

“To come into an organization and you look around and everybody wants that. First thing I talked to Howie (Roseman) about was, the first thing he said is, 'I want to go back,' and when you hear somebody say something like that, you feel it, and I felt it through the phone and I felt the vibe, so for me, that’s what it’s really about.”

Bennett was asked what he learned from Seattle’s failure to repeat its 2013 success and how that might help the Eagles find their way to a second consecutive championship.

“I kind of go with the Nelson Mandela approach: ‘You never really lose, you either win or you grow from situations,’" Bennett said.

“And I think we were just growing as a team. We were a young team, we were having so much success, I was on a team full of superstars every single day. There were never enough cameras, every commercial was somebody on my team. So it was just us growing and I think we all just wanted to continue to grow. 

“As you know, in this league, it’s hard to get back to those moments and be able to win those games. Things happen, people get traded, new players come in, things change. I don’t think it took a toll on us, we just move on season to season and try to be the best players we could possibly be.”

Michael Bennett thinks Eagles' DL can be among 'greatest' ever

Michael Bennett thinks Eagles' DL can be among 'greatest' ever

As Michael Bennett watched the Eagles face the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, he couldn’t help but think about how he would fit with the Birds’ defensive line.

And how he could make an already impressive unit even better.

“Then a month later, it happens,” Bennett said at his introductory press conference in Philly on Monday afternoon. “Things always happen for a reason. This is just another great opportunity.”

Bennett is 32 now, but is coming off his third consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl. He clearly thinks he has plenty left in the tank and the Eagles obviously agree. They traded with the Seahawks to get him and then released a more expensive Vinny Curry.

The Birds then brought in Haloti Ngata and let Beau Allen walk in free agency. So the Eagles’ defensive line now includes Bennett, Ngata, Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Brandon Graham, Chris Long and Derek Barnett. The group includes five former first-round picks and has a combined 11 Pro Bowls between them.

On Monday afternoon, Bennett put the quarterbacks of the NFC East on notice (see story) and then didn’t mince words about how great this defensive line can be in 2018.

“I think it can be one of the greatest,” he said. “I think we can have one of the greatest defensive lines to ever play the game if we approach the game every single way. Just go out there and just keep doing what they’re doing and just finding a way to add and just keep showing how many great players.

“I think a great defensive line is about the rotation. It’s kind of like Golden State. You want to be able to have those guys who can come in and shoot and shoot and score every time.”

This isn’t the first time an Eagles defensive lineman has compared the unit to the Golden State Warriors. In fact, it was Curry who said it last October after the Eagles tortured San Francisco's C.J. Beathard for an afternoon at the Linc (see story). Curry’s out and Bennett is in, but the rotation is still going strong.

Bennett played 934 defensive snaps for the Seahawks in 2017. That was the third most of any defensive lineman in the NFL. For comparison’s sake, Graham led the Eagles’ defensive linemen in snaps with 666 in the regular season; that ranked 43rd in the NFL among defensive linemen.

So maybe that means that the disruptive numbers Bennett put up in Seattle were because he played so much. Or, on the flip side, staying fresh might actually help increase his productivity and lead to more longevity. The Eagles are hoping for the latter.

“I’m comfortable with taking less plays, man,” Bennett said. “But, like I said, I came here to be an All-Star, just like I’ve been, to continuously play at a Pro Bowl level and I don’t think that’s no different. Just taking snaps off, being able to have a [longer] career, it’s something that every player wishes and dreams about. And this organization, when you think about play snaps and counts and keeping guys fresh for the moments that count.

“Because at the end of the day, it’s not about September or October or November; it’s about January and February. To be able to keep guys fresh and to have those opportunities where you have guys to be able to keep rushing the quarterback as savage as we can. You gotta go out there and play savage every single play and I think less snaps can give me the opportunity to do that.”