Thoughts and Eagles questions from NFL Combine

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Thoughts and Eagles questions from NFL Combine

The 2018 NFL Combine has now come and gone. After spending last week in Indianapolis, here are some of my takeaways, Eagles-related and beyond.

Foles' future
MMQB's Peter King reports the Eagles have a “respectable” offer for Nick Foles on the table. How does King define respectable? Only he knows. The Eagles got a first- and fourth-rounder for Sam Bradford two years ago. But that was one week before the season and the Vikings were desperate after Teddy Bridgewater’s injury. A first-round pick and more is where the Birds will likely start with a Foles asking price. But the question is whether the Birds' brass would be willing to move Foles for, say, second and third-rounders since it doesn't have either in this year’s draft?

No more Nigel?
When asked about free agent Nigel Bradham, who played so well last season, Howie Roseman did not go out of his way to praise the linebacker. He can’t tip his hand publicly, but Roseman was willing to show others some verbal love. You can pay only so many people. But with Jordan Hicks' injury history, one would think Bradham would be a priority for Roseman and the Eagles. Maybe not.

It will be interesting to see if Mychal Kendricks can play at the same high level as last season if he is not moved this offseason.   

Beast of Burton
Trey Burton is going to get paid. And the odds are it won’t be here in Philly. Burton is highly regarded around the league and there are enough teams in need of tight end help that he will get an offer too rich for the Eagles' blood.

What to do at No. 32?
The Birds have an obvious need at linebacker and could use depth at offensive line. But when you don’t pick until last in the first round, the best course of action is to leave your options open to the best available player. So don’t be shocked if a very good player falls and the Eagles take him at a position that may not scream immediate need.         

Hear him roar
Not Eagles-related, but in no upset whatsoever, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley stole the show at the combine. He dominated the drills and at the podium. The kid is a flat-out beast. If this was 20 years ago, he would likely be a lock to go first overall to the Browns. And that scenario could be a boost to the Eagles. Running backs are viewed as disposable these days compared to quarterbacks but he will still go in the top five. Easily.

Shaq’s statement
Lastly, UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin lost his hand when he was 4 due to a congenital disease. All he did was run the fastest 40-yard dash of any of the linebackers at the combine, posting a 4.38. He then put up 20 reps on the 225-pound bench press while using a prosthetic hand. He personifies over-achievement and his attitude and perseverance are what make sports great. He will make any team that gets him better.

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.

Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

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Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

A day after we found out that Brian Dawkins picked Troy Vincent to introduce him at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony this summer, Terrell Owens has picked his presenter. 

No surprise: It's not Donovan McNabb.

After alienating many people in the league throughout his tremendous career, Owens picked a name from his early days. Longtime NFL assistant coach George Stewart, who was Owens' receivers coach in San Francisco, will introduce T.O. at the 2018 induction. 

In a video released by the Hall of Fame, Owens said Stewart "knew what to get out of me."

Now special teams coordinator and assistant head coach for the Chargers, Stewart has been an NFL coach for three decades. He began his time in San Francisco in 1996 (Owens' rookie season) as a special teams coach but was their wide receivers coach from 2000-02.

"Things that George Stewart may say, it may be shocking to a lot of people, but not to him because he knows who I am," Owens said. "... To know who Terrell Owens is, you really have to spend some time with him. Fast forward, George Stewart became a father figure to me."

The first season Stewart became the 49ers' receivers coach, Owens went to his first of six Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro for the first of five times in his career. Owens was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in all three of the seasons that Stewart held the position in San Francisco. 

Of course, Owens' growth under Stewart led to his becoming one of the biggest stars in the NFL.

Eventually, Owens forced his way out of San Francisco and got to Philadelphia. With the Eagles, Owens had a short and tumultuous two seasons, but was also dynamic on the field and nearly helped them pull off a Super Bowl win over the Patriots. 

Owens averaged 93.5 receiving yards per game during his time in Philadelphia, the highest average in franchise history. It wasn't his play that led to his downfall in Philly. It was his beef with McNabb, along with his attempt to strong-arm the Eagles into a new contract. 

Owens was a divisive personality for his entire career. It's likely the reason it took him three tries to make it into the Hall of Fame. Because his numbers don't lie: He's one of the best receivers of all time.