Nigel Bradham

Eagles Stay or Go — De'Vante Bausby to Brandon Brooks

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Eagles Stay or Go — De'Vante Bausby to Brandon Brooks

In the second part of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the world champion Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro try to figure out who will be on the roster in 2018.

We go alphabetically. Part 1 was Nelson Agholor to Derek Barnett. Today is De'Vante Bausby to Brandon Brooks. 

De'Vante Bausby
Roob: The Eagles liked Bausby to keep the 25-year-old cornerback on the practice squad all year. What does that mean for the former undrafted free agent from Pitt (Pittsburg State in Kansas)? Probably nothing. The Eagles are loaded with young corners. Between Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones, they have four corners 24 or younger to build around. Bausby has logged some regular-season playing time with the Bears, but if he hopes to ever really compete for a roster spot on a team's 53-man roster, he's in the wrong place, because it won't happen here.

Verdict: GOES 

Dave: The Eagles added the young cornerback to their practice squad the week before the Chiefs game in Week 2. At the time, it looked like they simply added him because Bausby had previously been with the Chiefs. He heard plenty of that early on during his time with the team, but then he lasted the rest of the season on the practice squad and was re-signed after the year ended. He was good enough to stick around, but the Eagles have plenty of depth at corner to keep him off the roster. 

Verdict: GOES

Will Beatty
Roob: Beatty joined the Eagles halfway through the season as an emergency backup offensive tackle, but with Doug Pederson making it clear that he expects Jason Peters back at left tackle next year, that means Halapoulivaati Vaitai would be the leading backup tackle. I would expect the Eagles would draft a tackle at some point, and that guy could be the fourth tackle. Beatty has had a nice career and now has two Super Bowl rings, but it's hard to imagine that he has any kind of future with the Eagles.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: There's a reason Beatty was on the street until the Eagles called in November. The Birds probably need to upgrade at their backup tackle spots and Beatty is past his prime and shouldn't be the answer. He helped the scout team down the stretch and worked hard to help the Eagles get a Super Bowl ring, but it's time to move on. 

Verdict: GOES

LeGarrette Blount
Roob: This is a tough one because Blount meant so much to this team, both with his unflinchingly unselfish attitude in the locker room and his big-time production on the field. How do you cut ties with a guy who was 14-for-90 rushing with a touchdown in a Super Bowl? But that's the reality the Eagles are facing. Blount is 31 and a free agent. Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement are the future at running back. And as mighty as Blount was in the Super Bowl, he did average 3.5 yards per carry or worse in eight of the last 13 games. Blount is a fun guy to be around and a tremendous natural leader. He played his heart out for this team. It'll be tough to see him go, but I think we'll have to.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Blount is a 31-year-old unrestricted free agent running back and it wouldn't be crazy to bring him back. After all, Blount shouldn't be very expensive and he was able to combine with Clement and Ajayi to form a pretty dynamic running back group. But Ajayi is going to get an offseason with the Eagles and he's going to take over more of the offense. The Eagles will have a decision to make with both Blount and Sproles hitting free agency. This is a pretty tough one, actually. 

Verdict: GOES 

Nigel Bradham
Roob: The Eagles have several valuable free agents you'd like to have back, but nobody is as important as Bradham, who had a very good year in his second season with the Eagles. The Eagles have depth at running back, tight end, and cornerback, where their most prominent free agents play, but they have very little at linebacker. Especially with Jordan Hicks missing half of two of his three NFL seasons, the Eagles must find a way to sign Bradham.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Bradham is an unrestricted free agent and should be the Eagles' top priority this offseason. It flew a little under the radar, but Bradham's 2017 was a huge reason for the Eagles' successful run to the Super Bowl. After Hicks went down, the Eagles relied on Bradham to make the defensive calls like a MIKE. He and Mychal Kendricks ended up being huge keys to the season. He's still just 28 and it'll be interesting to see how much he'll demand. Either way, the Eagles have to try to bring him back, especially as Hicks recovers from his Achilles tear. And you better believe Jim Schwartz will make his case for keeping a guy who has played for him more than anyone on the team. 

Verdict: STAYS

Bryan Braman
Roob: The Eagles brought Braman in late in the season after injuries took such a toll on special teams, and the former high school javelin star got himself a Super Bowl ring for his six games of work. But there's a reason Braman wasn't on a roster the first few months of the season. He's 30 years old now, turns 31 in May, and special teams is a young man's game. And Braman really doesn't have a position, although he's listed on the roster as a linebacker. It's tough for teams to really invest in a 31-year-old special teams specialist.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: After they brought him back in December, Braman did provide a certain spark to the Eagles' special teams group. But he's 30 now and doesn't give anything on defense. He carved out a nice career in the NFL as a special teams ace, but it seems like his time might be over, especially now that the Eagles have other key special teamers like Kamu Grugier-Hill. 

Verdict: GOES

Brandon Brooks
Roob: Like so many guys on the Eagles, Brooks left a challenge-filled 2016 season in his wake and enjoyed tremendous success in 2017. He played all 16 games, he successfully dealt -- in a very public and constructive way -- with the anxiety that had been plagued him on and off the field, he made his first Pro Bowl and was an absolute wrecking machine at right guard, especially in the postseason. Brooks is signed for three more years. He's not going anywhere.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: This season, Brooks finally fulfilled his potential and became one of the most dominant offensive guards in the league. More importantly, he bravely put his issues with anxiety in the rearview. Brooks started every game for the Eagles this season and was their most consistent offensive lineman. He also made his first Pro Bowl team in 2017 and it shouldn't be his last. He's under contract for three more seasons. 

Verdict: STAYS

Examining Eagles' 14 free agents

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Examining Eagles' 14 free agents

Toward the end of their magical playoff run, the Eagles started realizing that as special as the 2017 team was, it was going to change before the 2018 season. 

They were right. 

While most of the starters will return, the team is going to change plenty over the next few months and it'll have a different feel by the time the season kicks off in September. 

The Eagles have 14 players from last year's team who will become free agents on March 14, when the new league year begins. Until then, the Birds will have exclusive negotiating rights with the unrestricted free agents. 

Here's a look at all of them: 

Nigel Bradham
Bradham is at the top of the list because he's clearly the most important of the bunch and the only no-doubt-about-it starter on the list. His 2017 season actually started off a little slow, but then he really picked it up. And when Jordan Hicks went down in October, Bradham took over as the defensive signal caller. His role on the Super Bowl-winning team probably wasn't emphasized enough. Jim Schwartz clearly thinks a lot of Bradham, who played under him in 2014 in Buffalo, as well. 

So how much is Bradham worth? It's tricky. Mychal Kendricks is the highest-paid linebacker on the team and will have a base salary of nearly $6 million in 2018. Meanwhile, Hicks would have been in line for a payday, but he's now recovering from another Achilles tear and is still cheap on his rookie contract. Based on the Spotrac market value tool, Bradham is worth around $5.9 million per season. They look at guys like K.J. Wright, Kiko Alonso and Malcolm Smith as comparable players. Bradham is a little older than those guys, but that's probably where his representation will start. Wright's four-year deal was worth $27 million, Alonso's four-year deal was worth nearly $29M and Smith's five-year deal was worth $26.5M. 

Trey Burton 
Burton might have thrown a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl, but he's known more for his ability to catch the ball. The Eagles would probably love to bring Burton back for another season, but there's a chance that the secret about the 26-year-old tight end is out. He can catch. The Eagles tried to lock him up during the 2016 season, but couldn't get it done and now he might be out of their price range, especially with Zach Ertz already on the roster making a ton of money at the position. Spotrac estimates his annual value at $7 million. 

Patrick Robinson
During training camp, Robinson was so bad everyone thought there was a good shot he'd be cut. But then the team traded for Ronald Darby, which moved the veteran into the nickel corner role and he never looked back. He was a huge part of the 2017 Eagles' success. The 30-year-old corner joined the Eagles on a one-year prove-it deal and he proved he can play. Now, how much is a 30-year-old slot corner worth? We're about to find out. Spotrac values him at $6.7M, but it's really hard to know. Meanwhile, cornerback was once a weakness for the Eagles, but now their depth at the position is a strength. They'll bring back Darby, Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas. It might be hard to justify signing Robinson and blocking Jones from getting on the field. 

Beau Allen
Over the last two years, Allen worked so hard to prove he could play in a 4-3 scheme and in the process, he doubled his list of suitors this offseason. He can play in either front, which should make him an appealing name for a lot of teams. Allen ended up playing just as much as Tim Jernigan down the stretch, but the Eagles already paid Jernigan ... and the rest of the starters on the defensive line. Would they really prioritize paying a rotational player now? Remember, the team still has a depth piece in Destiny Vaeao and drafted Elijah Qualls in the sixth round last spring. 

Darren Sproles
Sproles is a 34-year-old running back coming off a torn ACL and a broken hand. But it still might make sense for the Eagles to bring him back. While Corey Clement proved to be a receiving threat — he had 100 yards receiving in the Super Bowl! — he's not a Sproles-level threat. The screen game eventually came around, but that was a big element of the offense the Eagles seemed to be missing when Sproles first went down. All signs point toward a comeback for the veteran, but he hasn't definitively said so yet. 

Corey Graham
Graham didn't join the Eagles until early August on a one-year deal and it ended up being a solid move by Howie Roseman and the front office. Graham ended up playing 36 percent of the team's defensive snaps in 2017 as the third safety. Having Graham allowed Malcolm Jenkins to play down in the slot for matchup purposes. But Graham will turn 33 in July. 

LeGarrette Blount
Coming in on a one-year deal in May, Blount had a pretty good season. During a year in which he turned 31, the veteran rushed for 766 yards in the regular season. And in the Super Bowl, he ran like a monster, going for 90 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. But Blount also saw his workload diminish after the addition of Jay Ajayi. The team still has Ajayi and will bring back Clement. 

Kenjon Barner
He was on the street until late September when the Eagles brought him back. While Barner didn't have much of a role on offense, he did become the Eagles' primary kick and punt returner. He returned 27 punts for 240 yards (8.9) and had 10 kick returns for 194 yards (19.4). His 8.9 punt return average was 11th in the NFL. 

Najee Goode
The Eagles brought back Goode on another one-year deal last March and Goode again filled the role of special teams player and occasional defensive role player. It's hard to believe, but Goode has played for the Eagles in every season since 2013. The 27-year-old has 61 games and four starts under his belt with the Eagles. 

Caleb Sturgis
Sturgis got hurt and then had to watch as rookie Jake Elliott took his job. Even with his missed extra points, Elliott made so many big kicks last year that he's not going to be giving that job back anytime soon. The shame of it for Sturgis is that he was actually a pretty good kicker for the Eagles. At least he'll get a Super Bowl ring. 

Dannell Ellerbe
For most of the 2017 season, Ellerbe was on his couch. The 32-year-old joined the Eagles in November and eventually took over as the team's starting middle linebacker. But because of how much time the Eagles spent in their nickel package, he never really played a lot. He played just three snaps in Super Bowl LII. The Eagles need to upgrade their linebacker depth. 

Will Beatty
Like Ellerbe, Beatty didn't have a team until the Eagles brought him into their facility in November. Beatty played in the regular-season finale but was inactive throughout the playoffs. His primary role was helping on the scout team. The Eagles need to find better tackle depth. 

Bryan Braman
The Eagles needed a boost on special teams so they brought Braman back on Dec. 12. He provided Dave Fipp's unit a spark, but he's a 30-year-old special teamer who offers nothing on defense. 

Jaylen Watkins (RFA)
It's unlikely there will be a bunch of teams knocking down Watkins' door, but he became a nice depth piece for the Eagles in 2017 and when they needed him, he played well. If the Eagles want him back, he'll be back. They can use an original-round tender (he was a fourth-rounder) on him, which would pretty much guarantee his return. 

These 4 Eagles want another serving or two

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AP Images

These 4 Eagles want another serving or two

It took Nigel Bradham six years in the NFL before he got a chance to play in his first playoff game. 

He's not taking any of this for granted. 

"It's funny, man, because you think, 'Damn, I've been playing in the league six years and this is my first appearance,'" Bradham said this week as the Eagles prepare for Sunday's NFC Championship Game. "You kind of be like, 'Dang, man, why'd it take so long?' It's more than just you, obviously. It's a team sport. I've been fortunate enough to be on a great team and to have the opportunity. 

"Right now, I'm 1-0 and I'm looking forward to having more success in the playoffs. It's definitely an amazing feeling."

Bradham isn't the only Eagles player in a similar situation. Stefen Wisniewski, in his seventh season, and Rodney McLeod and Alshon Jeffery, both in their sixth seasons, all played in their first playoff game last Saturday against the Falcons. 

The group, which had a combined 369 regular-season games without a playoff appearance, finally got a taste of the postseason. They're not ready for this ride to end. 

Because no one ever really knows how long it might take to get back. 

"The feeling was great," McLeod said. "To go out there, first playoff game, at home and come out with the win. Couldn't ask for a better story. 

"But now knowing that game is history and moving on to the Vikings, who are a great team and they've been like that all year. We're going to have to elevate our game even more than last week if we want to get to that next step. The road to the Super Bowl doesn't get easier."

All four definitely made their impact felt against the Falcons last Saturday. Bradham played well all game and came up huge on the final fourth down. McLeod was called for a personal foul, but it was a weak call and either way, it saved a touchdown. Jeffery caught four passes for 61 yards, including some that came in huge situations. And Wisniewski played his best game since joining the Eagles two years ago. 

Jeffery called the atmosphere at the Linc against the Falcons "electric" and expects the same type of level from fans this Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. 

"I just try to stay in the moment, stay locked in," Jeffery said about his first playoff run. "I'm not trying to reflect on anything right now. I think I'll do that after the season, when the season is officially over with. Right now, I'm just trying to do a great job trying to stay locked in one day at a time." 

It's pretty clear it meant a lot to Jeffery to finally make it to the playoffs, but he's also very clearly not happy with just getting there. He's always a calm guy during the week, but it's obvious he's working to keep his emotions in check. 

"Of course, we all know we're one game away from the Super Bowl," Jeffery said, "but you just have to be relaxed and try to not go out there and think about that." 

Of course, these four players aren't the only first-timers the Eagles have in the playoffs. They have many more. It's just that these four had to wait the longest. 

In the week leading into the Falcons game, head coach Doug Pederson admitted he of course wondered how his first-timers would perform under the bright lights of the playoffs. Based on one win, he got a pretty quick answer. 

One thing is for sure: the four guys who had to all wait at least six seasons for their first taste of the playoffs will do almost anything to keep this going. 

"This is what we worked for," Bradham said. "When you go back to OTAs and all your training and doing everything in the offseason with the guys, 7-on-7 and things like that. This is what it's all for. You put all that work in, man, and you know what's on the line. We all are excited. We're just ready to go out here and play."