Budding stars, promising young cores give Philly fans hope

Budding stars, promising young cores give Philly fans hope

Wins have been hard to come by for far too long in this city. When that’s the case, your only real alternative as a sports fan short of bailing on your team is to focus on the individuals and what might be someday.

This is done in part by looking ahead to drafts, free agency and trades. The Sixers have made an art form of it, but each of the other three teams has had plenty of practice as well.

We don’t yet know what lies ahead for the Eagles this season. There certainly is reason for optimism and the large majority of that hope is centered around the quarterback.

Carson Wentz heads a growing list of young players with star potential who could lead the Philadelphia sports scene out of the depths of despair. The fruits of the laborious losing could finally be paying off.

Wentz appears to have the physical tools, work ethic and the desire to lead that translates into greatness and winning. The Eagles will need to continue to surround him with the right parts and coaching, but Howie Roseman’s vision and bold move up to get the QB could be a franchise-changer.

In the NFL, more than any other sport, one position dictates winning. With Wentz at the helm, the Birds could finally halt their Super Bowl futility.              

The Sixers' potential cup runneth over in the “what could be” department. Joel Embiid’s brief but impactful 31 games last season fed a fan base starved for something tangible to back up that process faith. One can only imagine what he would do over an entire season.

The fact that he did not play in 51 games because of injury, and by design, makes Embiid the scariest of propositions. The upside is so high, but he could go down as the biggest heartbreaker in Philadelphia sports history.  

Then there’s Ben Simmons. The 6-foot-10 lefty with handle, skill, vision, unselfishness and athleticism. In a league that is becoming increasingly positionless, Simmons would appear to be the prototype. The thought of him grabbing a defensive rebound and pushing the ball the other way with endless options is downright scary. 

And the perfect complement to Simmons' skill set is Markelle Fultz. Similar to Wentz, the Sixers' front office identified their man and, with the ammunition, made their move. Fultz's versatility on and off the ball should allow Brett Brown the freedom to move Simmons all around to create the kind of matchup nightmares the club envisions.     

Rhys Hoskins' start to his Phillies career has been nothing short of spectacular. He is not just a one-trick pony. While the 24-year-old has shown immense power, he is a hitter first. He works counts and he’s not afraid to operate from behind in the count. He has something not many Phillies batters have had in recent years: an approach.

You can also throw in Nick Williams, who has had a somewhat quiet, yet very strong rookie season. Of course, there is Odubel Herrera and, in the very near future, Scott Kingery. Aaron Nola, last two starts aside, has been ace-like since his return from the disabled list. There aren’t many other answers with the club’s arms.

Overall, the Phils appear to be building a core of regulars that could be pretty potent.

Despite starting last season at the ripe old age of 19, Ivan Provorov proved to be the Flyers' best player. His poise and skill were on display from the jump. The blue line will be the club’s foundation going forward and Provorov will be the leader of this group.

If this year’s No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick’s injury history becomes nothing more than a footnote, the orange and black could have two foundational pieces to go along with Shayne Gostisbehere that move them out the malaise they've been in the last few seasons. 

While it’s not time to block off parade routes, if these players continue down the path they're currently on and they get some help, the fortunes of this city could be changing sooner rather than later. In the meantime, enjoy the youngins.

Vinny Curry reportedly heading to the Buccaneers

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Vinny Curry reportedly heading to the Buccaneers

One day after being released from the Eagles, Vinny Curry has reportedly already found a new home.

The defensive end is heading to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a three-year deal worth up to $27 million, with an $11.5 million injury guarantee, according to ESPN's Jenna Laine.

After signing him to a five-year, $47.25 million extension in 2016, the Eagles moved on from Curry and his scheduled $11 million cap hit on Friday. The transaction saved the Eagles $5 million in cap space, with $6 million in dead money.

While Curry, 29, had the best season of his career in 2017, his production still didn't match his high cap number and he became more expendable after the Eagles acquired Pro Bowler Michael Bennett from the Seahawks.

Curry will join former Eagles defensive tackle Beau Allen in Tampa Bay. Allen signed a three-year, $15 million deal with the Buccaneers earlier in the week. 

As Bradham re-signs, he lauds former teammate

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As Bradham re-signs, he lauds former teammate

After getting the opportunity to stay with the Super Bowl champions, Nigel Bradham spoke at length and quite passionately about someone who didn’t get the same opportunity.
Brent Celek.
Bradham, the veteran linebacker, spent the last two years with Celek, who the Eagles released earlier this week after 11 seasons.
“That’s obviously devastating, man,” Bradham said. “Taking about a guy who was here his whole career and the way he came every day and his character every day.
“He really … me and a lot of guys on our team what it takes to win a Super Bowl, and he let us know it doesn’t come easy, it takes work, and he came in and worked every day. Like no other.”
Celek was due to earn $5 million in 2018 but is counting only $1 million in dead money against the 2018 cap, so the Eagles gained $4 million under the cap by releasing him.
That cap space certainly helped them find room to re-sign Bradham, who enjoyed a career-best season in 2017 for the Super Bowl champs.
But Bradham was effusive in his praise for the veteran tight end, who has played the fourth-most games in Eagles history.
“You would never know he was (11) years in because of the way he worked,” Bradham said. “So when you lose a guy like that it obviously takes a toll on your team.
“You hate to lose guys like that that meant so much and impacted this team so much. His leadership was on another level. He went over and beyond the things he could have done as a leader. Obviously, wish he could be here still.”