Will Beatty

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. 

Super Bowl win would be extra special to these 4 Eagles

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Super Bowl win would be extra special to these 4 Eagles

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- At one point this season, Dannell Ellerbe, Kenjon Barner, Will Beatty and Bryan Braman were all free agents on the street.

Now they're in the Super Bowl.

All three — from the different times they've joined or rejoined the team — have helped them get to this point. And there's a decent chance all four will be able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night. It's been a crazy few months.

"It has [been crazy]," Braman said. "I feel like it's just all a part of the job. But this was the first time I've experienced this situation. But it's pretty special, man. It's kind of how they say the thing can go. One minute you can be jobless, the next minute you're playing in the Super Bowl.

Braman, 30, is a career special teams player. This week, he admitted it was tough for him to watch most of the 2017 season until he was signed on Dec. 12. As the season went on, he couldn't help but think about his future as the situation became more and more stressful.

Barner has a much different story. The running back was released on Sept. 2, but on the very next day, he went to Lake Havasu in Arizona to go wakeboarding and wakesurfing. He obviously wanted to be back in the NFL, but the 28-year-old was strangely at peace.

"Everybody was asking me, 'how are you at ease?'" Barner recalled. "'How are you doing what you're doing? You should be upset.' About what? Something I can't control? I'm not going to sit here and worry about anything I can't control. Me having faith, that's what made it so peaceful."

Twenty-four days later, the Eagles placed Darren Sproles on injured reserve and Barner's phone rang. He's been their return man ever since.

Ellerbe, 32, was pretty calm as well. He played just last season, so he patiently waited for the right call to come in. According to Ellerbe, other teams were interested in him, but he waited until he found the right situation. That came with the Eagles on Nov. 13.

Since then, the former Super Bowl champion has gone from a backup to the team's starting middle linebacker in its base package.

"It's definitely a blessing," Ellerbe said. "I knew the call was going to come. ... I never once got discouraged because I didn't go through a whole season without getting picked up. I knew I was eventually going to get picked up."

Just one day after the team added Ellerbe, it brought in depth on the offensive line in Beatty. Another former Super Bowl champ, Beatty joined the team and has been trying to make the most of his second chance.

A former second-round pick, many think Beatty never lived up to his potential with the Giants. Since joining the Eagles, he's been working with the team's scout team and tries to give the team's defensive ends the best possible work he can in practice. He takes pride in knowing he's elevating their play.

While he didn't boast confidence like Ellerbe, he tried to not let his time without a team wear on him.

"You never know what the future's going to hold," he said. "You have to make sure you're mentally strong. ... When I had time to sit and wait to see where I'm going to go, I had a lot of time for reflection. Ever since I got with this team, I'm like 'how can I let this team know I'm thankful for the opportunity? Thankful for the second chance and for what they saw in me.' Whatever you saw in me, it was only a glimpse of what I can do. Show them I can do more. How can I help this team each and every week?"

The group of players watched plenty of the Eagles from afar, so when they joined the team, they thought there was a decent chance they might end up in Minnesota in February for the Super Bowl.

"That's always the hope," Beatty said. "That's always the dream, that you're playing in this game on the big stage. You're working every week to be in the playoffs. I had that opportunity to experience that but I didn't take full advantage of that moment. I want to make sure that I'm living in the moment now, I'm embracing the moment."

Eagles' Dannell Ellerbe, Will Beatty playing catch-up with new team

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Eagles' Dannell Ellerbe, Will Beatty playing catch-up with new team

After signing with the Eagles about a week and a half ago, Will Beatty has been working hard to catch up. 

He's learning a new offense, new terminology, new teammates. 

And a new building. 

"I'm still trying to figure out where everything is here," Beatty said. "A lot of the doors here are not labeled, so it's like 'where does this door lead?'"

Eventually, the 32-year-old offensive tackle finds where he's going. For the most part, he just tries to follow his teammates. When he's the only player around, he begins to worry and checks the schedule to make sure he's not missing something. 

Beatty isn't alone. He was brought in last week a day after the Eagles signed veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. Both players are veterans over 30. Both players have won a Super Bowl. And both are playing catch-up. 

How has it been going? 

"Really good," head coach Doug Pederson said. "In both cases, picking up the offense with Will and the defense with Dannell. Dannell has probably gotten a couple of reps with our defense in the past couple of weeks. Both of them are doing really, really well."

While Ellerbe has gotten some practice reps, don't expect him to have a role with the defense just yet. Pederson on Friday morning said Ellerbe's role is still to get comfortable with the defense. 

While Jim Schwartz said Ellerbe was going to learn all three linebacker positions, Ellerbe has been focusing more on MIKE and SAM. The former Saint said he likes to learn the entire concept of the defense. The biggest hurdle is learning the new terminology. 

"I've been sitting out since OTAs, so it's been a while," Ellerbe said. "It's like riding a bike. Just repetition."

Both players were inactive against the Cowboys, less than a week after their arrivals. It is yet to be seen if either will have roles down the stretch. 

When Beatty eventually finds his way to the practice field, he has been working with the Eagles' second-team offense, which means he's going against the Eagles' first-team defense every day. That's a good way to shake off some rust. 

For now, second-year player Joe Walker has been playing the MIKE position in the Eagles' base defense. If Ellerbe were to ever get on the field, it would likely be in that spot. But Walker has been playing OK since Jordan Hicks went down. 

During meetings, Beatty pretty much stays quiet when he has questions. He writes down what he doesn't understand and then brings it to offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland afterward so he doesn't slow down the entire group. It's basically like seeing a teacher after class for extra help. 

One of the tough parts about joining a team in the middle of the season is everyone is already settled into a routine. Beatty and Ellerbe are working just to catch up. 

"It's a little different, but would much rather be doing this than anything else," Beatty said. "This is a great organization. Everyone welcomed me with open arms."