Will Beatty, healthy and well rested, believes he can help Eagles' offensive line

USA Today Images

Will Beatty, healthy and well rested, believes he can help Eagles' offensive line

Will Beatty is back in the NFL after signing with the Eagles on Tuesday, and he brought his crazy facemask with him.

Beatty started 63 games during the previous eight seasons with the New York Giants, primarily at left tackle. Yet the former second-round draft pick may be better known for his unusual headgear — a helmet equipped with a visor and five-bar facemask.

By no means is Beatty’s facemask intended to be a fashion statement. More like a token of the struggles to continue his career.

“It looks cool, but I would rather not have went through what I had to go through to get it,” Beatty said Wednesday after practicing with the Eagles for the first time.

Beatty began wearing the mask following season-ending surgery to repair a detached retina in 2011 — a freak injury. He returned, healthy, and over the course of the next three years, the helmet became a cute sidebar for television broadcasts while Beatty quietly played a solid tackle.

Then another freak injury struck. Beatty never saw the field in 2015, hurting his shoulder while lifting weights during the offseason. Two surgeries later, he was released by the Giants, eventually rejoining the team as a backup in time for the ’16 campaign.

Beatty has lined up for all of seven snaps over the past two and a half seasons, including exhibition games. He’s expected to serve as a backup for the Eagles as well, and at 32 years old, who knows if he’ll have many opportunities to play again.

Despite all of the trials and tribulations, Beatty never considered retirement, and his passion certainly never waned.

“I can’t say I would be here if it wasn’t for the things that happened to me, all the adversity,” Beatty said. “I’m playing this game because I love playing this game. I got out there on the field today, and literally everything that happened the past few months, it all washed away.”

As the weeks went by, Beatty admits he wasn’t sure another chance would come his way. But he kept preparing as if it would. When the Eagles called, he was in Arizona, working out at a gym owned by former Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis.

Beatty wasted no time. He was on a plane hours later, then under contract all within the same day.

“It’s a blessing to be back here, being out here with the players,” Beatty said. “Out there on the field, I feel like I’m at home, so it’s just good to be here. Whatever I can do to help out the team, I’m more than willing.”

The question now becomes what can Beatty do to aid the Eagles? Obviously, the offensive line can use the depth after left tackle Jason Peters went down for the year, but is Beatty still that player?

During that healthy three-year stretch with the Giants, Beatty was arguably one of the top tackles in the league. He finished among the top-20 highest-graded tackles twice, according to Pro Football Focus, including a tie for eighth in 2012.

“I’ve been around the league for awhile,” Beatty said. “I still feel young. I still feel like there’s a lot that I can contribute. I had years going up against great defenses.”

But Beatty hasn’t played in years, not even exhibition games. There’s no way to get a sense of how he will perform at this stage, after injuries and age have taken their toll.

It seems Beatty is relying on experience and sheer desire as his greatest assets.

“Football, the game I love, it hasn’t changed,” Beatty said. “It’s still the same. I’m not coming here thinking I’m going to be Superman and do something different. I’m just being me, having fun, trying to make myself better and my teammates as well.”

For his part, Beatty believes the time off could even be beneficial.

“(The Eagles) are coming off a bye week. I’m coming off a very long bye week,” Beatty said. “I’m extremely fresh right now, and I’m using that to my advantage.”

It’s going to be interesting if he’s pressed into action. Listed at 6-foot-6, 320 pounds, Beatty says he weighed in around 300 and didn’t know if the Eagles will want him to bulk up. He also needs to learn the playbook before he can do anything.

As far as resilience is concerned, Beatty appears to have no shortage of it. The facemask that everybody will be talking about the moment he gets into a game is a testament to that.

Beatty is determined to stay in the NFL, and based on that alone, it’s difficult to imagine he’ll fail the Eagles. Now that he finally made it, that’s the only thing that matters.

“Everything that’s in the past means nothing,” Beatty said. “New team, same person, so all I have to do is be myself and make sure that I’m giving this team everything I have each day.”

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.