Trey Burton

Leftovers from breakfast with Doug Pederson

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Leftovers from breakfast with Doug Pederson

ORLANDO, Fla. — While several reporters gathered at the round table next to Doug Pederson and piled their plates full of eggs, fruit and breakfast meats, Pederson decided to go without. The questions were plenty filling. 

The Eagles' head coach arrived at his hour-long media session a tad before the 7:15 a.m. start time and after jokingly checking his watch a few times, agreed to begin. He even went a bit long. 

So an hour-long media session went to about 65 minutes and covered a huge range of topics from Michael Bennett, enjoying the afterglow of the Super Bowl, and, of course, the quarterback situation

Plenty of other topics too. Here are a few more: 

• The Eagles lost several pieces, including Vinny Curry, Patrick Robinson, Beau Allen and LeGarrette Blount. Then, they brought in players like Bennett, Haloti Ngata and Mike Wallace. Pederson was asked about trying to keep the chemistry from last year's Super Bowl run. 

"I don't know if you keep it as much as you rebuild it again," he said. "Our team will be different. It's just the nature."

• The process of rebuilding that chemistry will begin this spring at OTAs. During Pederson's two years, attendance at the "voluntary" training sessions has been nearly perfect, but this year the Eagles played into February. Pederson understands players' bodies might not have had a long time to recover, but he can be smart with the workload he puts on them in the spring. He hopes the attendance stays up. 

"When we left back in February, I encouraged everybody — that was gonna be a concern," he said. "And when I talk about the other side of success, that's what I talk about. Guys not showing up for OTAs. Guys not showing up for the offseason program, thinking they've arrived. I don't think that we have that kind of group. It is hard when you can't communicate with them in the offseason."

• Pederson was asked to name a player who could step up like Nelson Agholor did in 2017. He named Sidney Jones and Mack Hollins first before mentioning Derek Barnett and four young receivers (Greg Ward, Rashard Davis, Bryce Treggs, Shelton Gibson). 

• The Eagles have to find a new slot cornerback after Robinson left in free agency on a pricey deal from New Orleans. Pederson said Jalen Mills and Daryl Worley can both play inside and Mills has the ability to play outside in the base package and move inside on nickel, so that's an option. 

The slot corner spot is much different from playing outside; it takes a different kind of player. 

"One, you gotta have a good change of direction, your short-area quickness," Pederson said. "You don't necessarily have to have the long speed in there. You've got to be tough as nails, you know? You've got to be able to stick your nose in there and make a tackle." 

• At tight end, the Eagles lost Trey Burton in free agency and cut Brent Celek, so they have to replace them. Pederson wouldn't rule out bringing in a free agent or drafting a TE. He also mentioned Billy Brown and Adam Zaruba, two younger players already on the roster. Pederson also said he wouldn't rule out bringing back Celek on a cheaper deal (although that seems unlikely). 

• Cameron Johnston is the only punter on the roster. Pederson said there's a chance they bring in another to compete with him. 

• When asked if he could call the "Philly Special" again, Pederson said no. "There's no way you can call that again," he said. "It's out there."

He wouldn't say it's dead, though, just on the back burner: "[It] may retire and come back."

Trey Burton feels 'hurt' by Eagles

Trey Burton feels 'hurt' by Eagles

Trey Burton will always be a hero in Philadelphia. He’ll always be the guy who helped pull off one of the most magical plays in Super Bowl history. He’ll always be the player who worked his way up from an undrafted rookie to a fan favorite. 

So it’s unfortunate he might be leaving Philadelphia with a slightly bad taste in his mouth. 

Burton, who has agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal with the Bears, a league source confirmed (see story), joined the WIP afternoon show on Tuesday and was asked about the conversations his agent had with the Eagles about possibly retaining him. 

Those conversations apparently didn’t get too far. 

“Nah, I was really disappointed, man, honestly,” Burton said. “If I’m going to be open and transparent, I was really disappointed there wasn’t any offer. Didn’t even seem like they were really trying to make it happen. In reality, you can make anything happen if you really want to. That was my mindset. I’m really disappointed in that. It kind of hurt me a little bit. 

“But I’m excited about where I’m going and where we’re heading. I think it’s a great fit for us. Really good days are on the horizon.”

In some ways, Burton is right. If the Eagles really wanted to retain him, they could have prioritized moving money around to fit him in. But Burton’s new deal with Chicago will pay him $8 million annually, making him the fifth-highest-paid tight end in the NFL. Well, the Eagles already have one guy above him on that list in Zach Ertz. And with Ertz and Brent Celek (who was released on Tuesday) also on the roster, Burton played just 27 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps in 2017. 

So it just wasn’t in the Eagles’ best interest to throw this kind of money at Burton. 

It’s unclear if the Eagles made a run at Burton during the 2017 season, but they did try to sign him during the 2016 season. Instead, the Eagles placed a second-round tender on him as an RFA to keep him in the building and push off his inevitable free agency. 

While Burton admitted he was hurt about the lack of attempt to re-sign him from the Eagles, he said he’ll always be an Eagle at heart and he made sure to thank the organization for giving him his start. Burton, who lives in the Tampa area, threw out the first pitch at the Phillies’ spring training game on Tuesday. 

“My agent and I thought it was a good idea,” Burton said. “Like a final farewell to Philadelphia. It was really cool.”

Eagles could target TE Martellus Bennett

Eagles could target TE Martellus Bennett

A sad day in Eagles history might become the catalyst for a joyful reunion between two brothers.

Following the release of Brent Celek (see story) and the impending departure of free agent Trey Burton (see story), the Eagles could potentially attempt to fill the void at tight end with Martellus Bennett.

Cut by the Patriots last week, Bennett is rumored to be interested in playing on the same team as sibling Michael Bennett, according to ESPN's Kirk Morrison. The Eagles acquired Michael in a trade with the Seahawks on March 7, with Martellus' release coming hours later.

Coincidence? Maybe not.

The Patriots reportedly made a trade offer for Michael Bennett as well, releasing Martellus only once the attempt fell through. It’s possible one or both of them were vocal about playing together.

The Eagles were certainly aware of their looming hole at tight end at the time of the trade. Celek had one year remaining on his contract but wasn’t expected back at the scheduled $5 million against the salary cap. With the club’s cap issues and a rabid market awaiting, retaining a younger, talented commodity like Burton was even less likely.

Zach Ertz remains the starting tight end after a Pro Bowl season, while Billy Brown will be a prospect to watch at training camp this summer. The Eagles could still use proven depth.

Bennett is an attractive option ... if the price is right. A Pro Bowler as recently as 2014, the 10-year veteran is a willing blocker with 433 career receptions for 4,573 yards and 30 touchdowns. Whereas Celek was used primarily as a blocker, and Burton was more often deployed as a receiver, Bennett possesses the versatility to fill both roles.

The Eagles must first do their due diligence on Bennett’s bizarre 2017 campaign.

Bennett was waived by the Packers in November for his supposed failure to disclose an injury. The 31-year-old was claimed by the Patriots the next day, appeared in two more games, then landed on injured reserve with shoulder and hamstring injuries.

Finishing with 30 receptions for 286 yards and zero touchdowns in nine games, it was Bennett’s worst season since becoming a starter in 2012.

A second-round draft pick by the Cowboys in 2008, Bennett also played for the Giants and Bears. He last played with his brother all the way back when they attended Texas A&M.

Though the Bennetts have not played on the same team in nearly a decade, the duo has joined forces for some notable interviews in the recent past and clearly have a strong relationship.

The Eagles aren’t going to sign Martellus simply because he has a bond with Michael. There is a need, however, so exploring the reunion even as a sign of good faith makes sense.