QB Nate Sudfeld makes 'very tough call' to join Eagles, leave Redskins

QB Nate Sudfeld makes 'very tough call' to join Eagles, leave Redskins

After the Eagles drafted Carson Wentz last year, they messaged some of the other quarterbacks in the 2016 draft and wished them luck.

One of those guys was Nate Sudfeld.

“I had a formal interview (with the Eagles) at the combine and I got to know Coach (Frank) Reich and (quarterbacks coach John) DeFilippo ... Coach Flip ... I still can’t pronounce his name very well," Sudfeld said.

"Got to know them pretty well in the draft process. Obviously they drafted Carson, but they still texted me and said, 'Hey good luck, you’re going to have a great career.' They always kind of seemed to be interested and have my back."

They're still interested. 

The Eagles snatched Sudfeld from the Redskins on Sunday, signing him to their practice squad a day after the Redskins released him and then tried to re-sign him to their practice squad.

Sudfeld spent all of last year on the Redskins' active roster and expected to be back in Washington this year. But when the Redskins cut him, Sudfeld had to re-think everything.

"It was a very tough call," he said. "Honestly, it was really sad leaving someplace where you make so many friendships and relationships. I love the coaches, I love everyone there. I just talked to my agent, talked to my family (and) just felt like this was the best decision for myself and really excited for the opportunity.

"It's tough because I have nothing but love for everyone over there. It’s just sad always to move on. It’s still pretty fresh. The equipment guys, the chefs, the lady at the front desk, everything like that. It’s really tough. 

"Being there all last year on the roster. I really love my time there and really appreciative of my time there."

So why is he here?

Sudfeld clearly believes he has a better opportunity to develop behind Wentz and Nick Foles and under this coaching staff than behind Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy in Washington.

"I just felt like some new scenery and a different thing was the right thing at the right time," he said.

"It's a great spot for me to develop and continue to get reps and improve as a player. I'm trying to have a long career in the NFL. Everybody wants to play — as a quarterback especially — till their late 30s. 

"I'm trying not to get too overwhelmed with the 'now,' because I'm a 23-year-old guy. I was one of the youngest guys on the Redskins team, and I just have to do what’s right for me at the time and not be selfish or look into the future. Just what’s going to make me the best quarterback in the long run."

Sudfeld, a sixth-round pick out of Indiana last year, played well both last year and this year in the preseason. 

He combined to complete 61 of 109 passes (56 percent) for 598 yards with three TDs and no interceptions in six preseason games over the last two summers. 

And he did not expect to be released.

"Honestly, I was a little surprised," he said. "But I don’t want to say I didn’t go (back) there because it was ill will or anything. But I was a little surprised. But it is what it is. It’s a business. More and more teams are going with two quarterbacks.

"When they released me they said this was no indictment of you, we don't think any less of you, we just have some needs on defense, whatever that means. 

"I don't know. Who knows. It's a crazy league. Who knows how everything shakes out in a year or 10 years if I'm playing that long. I don't feel like any bridges are burned or anything. I still have a lot of love for everyone over there."

Obviously, the Eagles face Sudfeld's former team in five days in the season opener at FedEx Field.

Could the Eagles have acquired Sudfeld to pick his brain about the Redskins' offense?

"I think that's overrated," he said. "I haven’t really talked to anybody about the Redskins."

Then he paused and said, "Yet."

Michael Bennett knows why Eagles can repeat as Super Bowl champions

Michael Bennett knows why Eagles can repeat as Super Bowl champions

Michael Bennett was with the Seahawks when they won the Super Bowl in 2013, and he was with the Seahawks the next three years when they were supposed to but never did again.

He knows how hard it is to win it twice. If the Seahawks, with Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Marshawn Lynch and company, couldn’t do it, who can?

Bennett thinks his new team is on the right track.

“They’re not complacent,” he said. “You look at most organizations. They win, they think that’s it, that year. But this team is pushing and moving pieces and finding our weaknesses and making them better, and I think that’s how you prepare to win [again]. 

“I think they’ve done a great job of it and me being an addition is something that I think is a great move.”

The Eagles, who won Super Bowl LII six weeks ago, acquired the 32-year-old Bennett, a Pro Bowl defensive end in each of the last three years, and a seventh-round pick from the Seahawks last week in exchange for receiver Marcus Johnson and a fifth-round pick.

Bennett was there in 2013, when the Seahawks went 12-4 and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff bracket before losing, 28-24, to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona.

The Seahawks were one yard from winning. But that final sequence shows just how hard it is to repeat. The last NFL team to win back-to-back Super Bowls was the Patriots in 2003 and 2004. The last NFC team was the Cowboys in 1992 and 1993.

“When you come to the NFL, you want to hold that Lombardi,” Bennett said. “A lot of people can get Pro Bowls, a lot of people can get a lot of different things in the NFL when it comes to contracts, but not a lot of people can hold that Lombardi, and when you hold it, it’s something that’s very dear. 

“It’s like you’re holding your child and being able to caress it and hold it and it’s yours and it’s something that you really value, and I think for me, that’s what it’s really about. 

“To come into an organization and you look around and everybody wants that. First thing I talked to Howie (Roseman) about was, the first thing he said is, 'I want to go back,' and when you hear somebody say something like that, you feel it, and I felt it through the phone and I felt the vibe, so for me, that’s what it’s really about.”

Bennett was asked what he learned from Seattle’s failure to repeat its 2013 success and how that might help the Eagles find their way to a second consecutive championship.

“I kind of go with the Nelson Mandela approach: ‘You never really lose, you either win or you grow from situations,’" Bennett said.

“And I think we were just growing as a team. We were a young team, we were having so much success, I was on a team full of superstars every single day. There were never enough cameras, every commercial was somebody on my team. So it was just us growing and I think we all just wanted to continue to grow. 

“As you know, in this league, it’s hard to get back to those moments and be able to win those games. Things happen, people get traded, new players come in, things change. I don’t think it took a toll on us, we just move on season to season and try to be the best players we could possibly be.”

Michael Bennett thinks Eagles' DL can be among 'greatest' ever

Michael Bennett thinks Eagles' DL can be among 'greatest' ever

As Michael Bennett watched the Eagles face the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, he couldn’t help but think about how he would fit with the Birds’ defensive line.

And how he could make an already impressive unit even better.

“Then a month later, it happens,” Bennett said at his introductory press conference in Philly on Monday afternoon. “Things always happen for a reason. This is just another great opportunity.”

Bennett is 32 now, but is coming off his third consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl. He clearly thinks he has plenty left in the tank and the Eagles obviously agree. They traded with the Seahawks to get him and then released a more expensive Vinny Curry.

The Birds then brought in Haloti Ngata and let Beau Allen walk in free agency. So the Eagles’ defensive line now includes Bennett, Ngata, Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Brandon Graham, Chris Long and Derek Barnett. The group includes five former first-round picks and has a combined 11 Pro Bowls between them.

On Monday afternoon, Bennett put the quarterbacks of the NFC East on notice (see story) and then didn’t mince words about how great this defensive line can be in 2018.

“I think it can be one of the greatest,” he said. “I think we can have one of the greatest defensive lines to ever play the game if we approach the game every single way. Just go out there and just keep doing what they’re doing and just finding a way to add and just keep showing how many great players.

“I think a great defensive line is about the rotation. It’s kind of like Golden State. You want to be able to have those guys who can come in and shoot and shoot and score every time.”

This isn’t the first time an Eagles defensive lineman has compared the unit to the Golden State Warriors. In fact, it was Curry who said it last October after the Eagles tortured San Francisco's C.J. Beathard for an afternoon at the Linc (see story). Curry’s out and Bennett is in, but the rotation is still going strong.

Bennett played 934 defensive snaps for the Seahawks in 2017. That was the third most of any defensive lineman in the NFL. For comparison’s sake, Graham led the Eagles’ defensive linemen in snaps with 666 in the regular season; that ranked 43rd in the NFL among defensive linemen.

So maybe that means that the disruptive numbers Bennett put up in Seattle were because he played so much. Or, on the flip side, staying fresh might actually help increase his productivity and lead to more longevity. The Eagles are hoping for the latter.

“I’m comfortable with taking less plays, man,” Bennett said. “But, like I said, I came here to be an All-Star, just like I’ve been, to continuously play at a Pro Bowl level and I don’t think that’s no different. Just taking snaps off, being able to have a [longer] career, it’s something that every player wishes and dreams about. And this organization, when you think about play snaps and counts and keeping guys fresh for the moments that count.

“Because at the end of the day, it’s not about September or October or November; it’s about January and February. To be able to keep guys fresh and to have those opportunities where you have guys to be able to keep rushing the quarterback as savage as we can. You gotta go out there and play savage every single play and I think less snaps can give me the opportunity to do that.”