Most improbable season in Eagles history?

Most improbable season in Eagles history?

A guy or girl walk into a bookstore (no, this is not a bad joke premise), they ask one of the workers where they would find the book about the NFL team that lost its starting quarterback, starting left tackle, middle linebacker, returner, special teams captain and kicker. Oh, and that team still managed to reach the Super Bowl. Oh, and it'll play the same team that beat it 13 years ago in said game.

After the worker finished laughing, they pointed them to the fiction section instead of sports.

That Cliffs Notes version of the Eagles' season really doesn’t begin to do it justice. This has been the most improbable ride in the history of the organization.

The Eagles' over/under win total prior to the season was 8½ in most sports books. Optimistic fans thought this team would top out at 10 wins and a playoff appearance. And that was if the Birds remained healthy. They are now 15-3 and playing in the Super Bowl.   

Carson Wentz was the best player in the NFL until his season-ending injury Week 13 in Los Angeles. The second-year starter had thrown for 3,296 yards, 33 touchdowns and a 101.9 passer rating with only seven picks. That was with three-plus games left to play in the regular season. Enter Nick Foles, fresh off a season as a backup in Kansas City following a disaster of a year in St. Louis as a benched starter. Right there, most seasons would have been written off. Or perhaps when Foles threw for a combined 34.3 passer rating in his game-and-change to close out the regular season. Surely he had lost his mojo and this would be a one-and-done in the playoffs with him at the helm. Not so fast. Foles not only beat the best defensive team in football in the NFC title game, he took it apart to the tune of 26 of 33 passing, 352 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 141.4 passer rating.

The Eagles' defense was excellent all regular season long. Including the Falcons game in the divisional round. It had allowed 9.2 points per game in its last six home games prior to the Vikings. Yet all the talk entering this past Sunday's game was about Minnesota’s defense. Final score: 38-7 Eagles. Enough said.        

Peters/Big V
Everson Griffen racked up 13 sacks in the regular season. He was the first Vikings player on that side of the ball who Doug Pederson mentioned in the week leading up to the game. Griffen is on a milk carton today. He was a non-factor. And the man who put him there is Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who was the supposed weak link after future Hall of Famer Jason Peters was lost in Week 7.                 

Beneath the “awe, shucks” demeanor lies a smart, in-tune, competitor whose players buy in. That’s what we know now about Pederson. Prior to the season, at least on the outside, the jury was out. Was he nothing more than the anti-Chip, a Reid-clone? Would he be the Eagles' head coach in 2018? These were all the questions. Little did we know, Pederson had all the answers.

Rodney Dangerfield
The Eagles were underdogs against the Falcons in the divisional round, ditto in the conference title game vs. the Vikings and will be once again in the Super Bowl in their rematch with the Patriots. Few, if any on the outside, have believed. And this team likes it that way. Not since Rodney Dangerfield has any person or team fed more off the disrespect angle. New England is installed as a 5½-point favorite in less than two weeks in Minneapolis. There could be no better final chapter written to a season or for a franchise than avenging a loss in the sport's biggest spectacle to the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady-led Pats dynasty.

And that most certainly is fact, not fiction.

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

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 — 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.