History says no repeat, but these Eagles could buck the trend

History says no repeat, but these Eagles could buck the trend

Math says the Eagles are more likely to have a losing record in 2018 than return to the Super Bowl.

Now, maybe math doesn't get just what this football team is all about, but since the onset of free agency, it's been rare for teams to make repeat trips to the Super Bowl.

Since the inception of free agency in 1993, only seven teams have reached a Super Bowl in consecutive years. Going back to 1992 to make it an even 25 years, seven of the last 50 Super Bowl participants have made it back to the Super Bowl the next year. During the same span, nine of those 50 teams have had a losing record the next year — which actually seems like a very low figure. 

In all, 17 of 102 Super Bowl teams have gotten back to the Super Bowl the next year, but it's important to note that 15 of those 17 were quarterbacked by a Hall of Famer (16 if you count Russell Wilson, who I think will one day be in Canton). The only exception is the 1982 and 1983 Redskins, with Joe Theismann (who probably should be in the Hall of Fame).

It seems that teams that reach the Super Bowl one year generally put together very good regular seasons the next year but don't often go deep in the playoffs. 

Of those 50 Super Bowl teams since 1992, only 16 even won a playoff game the next year.

So that's what the Eagles are up against.

The Super Bowl hangover is a very real thing. 

That hunger this team had, that deep, profound desire to prove all the doubters wrong and deliver a championship to a city starving for one, won't be easy to replicate. 

The roster will change. The coaching staff already has. There's always the risk that some players hit the banquet circuit a little too hard and come back in the summer out of shape or not quite as motivated as a year earlier. New players mean a new locker room dynamic. That delicate chemistry that drove the 2017 Eagles could be tough to find in 2018.

It's so hard to repeat. Heck, even the Patriots have won back-to-back Super Bowls only once under Tom Brady and Bill Belichick — in 2003 and 2004. 

Nobody has won back-to-back titles since. 

The last teams to do it before those Patriots teams were the Broncos in 1998 and 1999 and the Cowboys — the last NFC team — back in 1992 and 1993. The 49ers won in 1988 and 1989 and those are the only four repeaters in the last 35 years.

Every one of those teams wanted to get there and aimed to win it again. Only 11 percent of them did.

OK, all that said, I fully expect the Eagles to be right back in the thick of things next year.

I like that Doug Pederson didn't waste any time setting the tone for 2018. His message was that this group, this nucleus, has a chance to accomplish something extraordinary over the coming seasons if the players return in 2018 with the same attitude they had this year.

He didn't shy away from dynasty talk. He didn't shy away from wanting to be Belichick or Gibbs or Walsh.

I'm sure every Super Bowl coach has had that same conversation with his team, but I believe this team has a very good chance at sustained success for one big reason: Doug.

Pederson established a culture last season where players put the team first, didn't get wrapped up in individual stats and achievements, and worked their butts off from July to January. Now, that 2016 team just didn't have enough talent or experience to win, but you could see the progress as the season went along. They believed in Doug, they believed in themselves.

Then the Eagles went out and overhauled the roster. By the time they arrived in Minneapolis, they had 25 new players who weren't part of the 2016 team. Virtually half the roster wasn't even here last year. 

Yet the culture remained. What Doug instilled in the locker room remained.

Pederson's ability to create a unique, healthy, winning culture in the locker room and then carry it over from one year to the next despite a massive roster overhaul is remarkable. 

That tells me that as long as he has the locker room leaders along with him — Malcolm Jenkins, Jason Peters, Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce — he can maintain that culture, and that means the team will remain as hungry and as driven and as determined in the future as it was this year.

This strikes me as a group that won't be content with just one. 

History may not be on their side, but one thing we've learned about this football team is that when history isn't on their side that's when they're at their best.

Trey Burton denies report questioning his Eagles future

AP Images

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

USA Today Images

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.