Saquon Barkley going 1st could be great for Eagles

Saquon Barkley going 1st could be great for Eagles

There is growing buzz that Penn State running back Saquon Barkley could be drafted first overall by the Browns.

That could end up being great news for the Eagles ... because of who picks second.

Save for the short period of time Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw were effective, the Giants have been in need of a running back since Tiki Barber retired after the 2006 season.

With the second overall pick in a draft that includes a potentially generational running back in Barkley, the G-Men are finally in position to fix their broken ground game.

But with the Browns also owning the fourth pick, they could take Barkley at 1 and get their QB at 4.

If the Browns take Barkley, the Giants would obviously be tempted to take the best QB in the draft — whoever they deem that to be — second overall. Eli Manning is 37 years old and hasn't been in the top half among quarterbacks in at least three seasons.

If the Giants do take a QB second, they'd set themselves up better for the future, but in the present, it would be a boost for the Eagles. The Birds would get one more season against a Manning-led Giants team that didn't improve any other position with its high first-round pick. A Giants team that has a weak offensive line, a non-existent running game and a pass rush that had the third-fewest sacks in the NFL last season.

The Eagles would also get to avoid facing Barkley twice a year for potentially a decade. It's true that running backs have been devalued over the last decade, but the last two taken in the top five — Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette — immediately changed the fortunes of their teams. With a more complete offense, the Cowboys went from 4-12 to 13-3 in Zeke's first year. The Jaguars went from 3-13 to 10-6 in Fournette's rookie season.

Doug Pederson would still have a better, deeper roster than both the Cowboys and Giants, but facing Elliott and Barkley a combined four times per season would be tough.

So if Barkley indeed goes first, it would be the second time in three years the Browns helped the Eagles at the top of the draft.

Big-time pass rusher traded away from NFC East

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Big-time pass rusher traded away from NFC East

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A person familiar with the deal says the New York Giants have traded defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two draft picks.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because neither team has announced the deal that gets Tampa Bay the former first-round draft pick whose career was interrupted by a fireworks accident in 2015 that severely damaged his right hand.

The Giants will receive Tampa Bay's third-round draft pick this season for Pierre-Paul, who signed a four-year, $62 million deal a year ago. The teams will swap fourth-round picks next year.

The trade was first reported by ESPN.

Pierre-Paul had 68 tackles, eight sacks and two forced fumbles last season. He had 58 career sacks since being draft in the first round in 2010. He helped the Giants win a Super Bowl in the 2011 season.

More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

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More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

The Eagles have given veteran defensive end Chris Long a raise, but according to one report, Long is concerned enough about his playing time with the Eagles that he's mulling his options regarding his future.

What is certain is that at some point before March 15, Long signed a new contract with the Eagles that increases his 2018 base salary from $1 million non-guaranteed to $2½ million fully guaranteed.

However, NFL Network's Michael Silver reported Monday that Long may decide he doesn't want to accept the new contract — which he already signed.

According to Silver, Long is concerned about how many snaps he would get as a third-down rusher following the addition of Pro Bowl pass rusher Michael Bennett.

The Eagles officially acquired Bennett on March 14, although the deal was reported a week earlier. Long's new contract was filed with the NFLPA on March 15, but there is a good chance he agreed to it and signed it before the Bennett acquisition.

Whether or not Long knew Bennett was coming to the Eagles when he signed the restructured deal is unknown. But at some point Long knew about their interest in Bennett and even gave Bennett a "glowing recommendation" when the Eagles asked, according to an interview Long gave to SBNation.  

Long wouldn't appear to have many options. He could retire, in which case he would have to return the $500,000 bonus he received from the Eagles last week.

He could request a trade, which would be bizarre for someone who signed a contract extension just a few days earlier.

Or he could simply play under the terms of the contract restructure and pay increase, which was first reported by Field Yates of ESPN and confirmed by NBC Sports Philadelphia with a source familiar with the renegotiation.

As for the contract itself, including that $500,000 roster bonus — which was also in the previous version of the contract — Long would receive $3 million guaranteed this year instead of $1.5 million non-guaranteed plus $750,000 in easily achieved roster bonuses.

Long had five sacks and forced four fumbles last year as a rotational defensive end. He wound up playing 496 snaps, 10th-most on the defense and only about 10 per game fewer than starter and Pro Bowler Brandon Graham and five per game fewer than starter Vinny Curry, who the Eagles released.

Long, who turns 33 next week, has 63½ career sacks. His 5.0 sacks last year were his most since 2013. He's won back-to-back Super Bowls the last two years with the Eagles and Patriots.

What happens next?

Long has demonstrated that the money is secondary to him. He donated his entire 2017 base salary to charity.

At some point very soon, the Eagles will need him to decide whether he's even going to have a 2018 base salary.