The700Level

The Eagles' Jordan Matthews Conundrum, Tramaine Brock, and other notes

The Eagles' Jordan Matthews Conundrum, Tramaine Brock, and other notes

The Eagles and the Jordan Matthews Conundrum

Apparently, we need to have the Jordan Matthews talk. Again.

How much do Eagles fans hate Matthews? After averaging 75 receptions, 891 yards and six touchdowns over his first three NFL seasons, there are legitimately people who want to see Matthews traded so that a wide receiver who averaged 30 receptions, 324 yards and two touchdowns in two seasons can have more playing time.

The latter production belongs to Nelson Agholor, and I mean no disrespect. He’s had a tremendous offseason and training camp, and certainly might be poised for a breakout year. Yet, everything that has folks excited about Agholor has happened at practice. For three years, Matthews has been getting the job done in games.

Say what you want about dropped passes, about volume, about misleading statistics. Matthews has 225 receptions for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns during his brief career. Those are respectable numbers! He’s useful! And he could be even better now that he’s the offense’s second or third option.

Never mind the regular season is still a month away, and injuries could alter the depth chart at receiver in a hurry between now and then. Has anybody stopped to think the Eagles could use both Matthews and Agholor in the event somebody gets hurt?

If the Eagles get a great offer for Matthews, fine. If Matthews departs as a free agent in 2018, fine. But the Eagles don’t have to trade Matthews just because his contract is expiring – who knows, maybe he’ll have a strong season and the club will re-sign him? And the Eagles certainly don’t have to move him to make room for a receiver who has proven nothing.

I don’t understand what’s to dislike about Matthews. He’s perfectly fine when not miscast as a No. 1 receiver, and likely to improve now that he’s not the singular focus of opposing defenses on a weekly basis. Maybe wait and see how 2017 plays out before awarding his roster spot to Agholor.

Should the Eagles sign Tramaine Brock?

In perhaps the best example yet of what a sad state of affairs the Eagles cornerbacks are – or at least the perception is – there is a sudden clamoring to sign Tramaine Brock.

I’m not saying Brock wouldn’t be in the mix to start if he joined the Eagles. Nearly instantaneously after the seven-year veteran was “cleared” of domestic violence charges Wednesday – we’ll get to that in a moment – there was already a report the Eagles are interested. Seriously, the man had barely set foot outside the courthouse.

Speaking strictly about his play on the field, Brock is a proven, experienced cornerback. He started 43 games for San Francisco since 2013, including playoffs, racking up 156 tackles, 38 pass deflections and nine interceptions. Brock is not a shutdown cover man by any means, but he only turns 29 in August, and neither is anybody else on the Eagles' roster.

Of course, that’s if you can overlook the allegations against Brock. Yes, charges were dropped, but there’s a difference between “not guilty” and “uncooperative witness.” The evidence was compelling enough for the 49ers to cut Brock immediately in April, and he could still face discipline from the NFL.

The Eagles will likely do their homework. It’s no secret the club is still searching for help at cornerback, and based on ability alone, Brock represents a potential upgrade. Whether a marginal talent boost would be worth the trouble is a matter of perspective – although I don’t imagine the Eagles will think so.

Did the Eagles mess up with Byron Maxwell?

When the Eagles traded Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso to move up five spots and go from No. 13 to No. 8 in the 2016 NFL draft, I graded the deal a C+. A year and a half later, that still seems about right.

Sending Maxwell and Alonso to the Dolphins accomplished a lot. Not so much in terms of the No. 8 pick, which was eventually included in the trade for Carson Wentz – a trivial move as long as the Eagles were serious about getting their franchise quarterback. (Those five slots were not going to kill the deal with Cleveland.) It was more about removing Maxwell’s contract from the books, while simultaneously dumping a couple of bad fits for the locker room.

Both Maxwell and Alonso went on to become solid starters in Miami. That’s not surprising. Maxwell wasn’t as bad as his reputation with fans, and Alonso wasn’t healthy during his tenure with the club. Meanwhile, the Eagles still need at least one quality cornerback, maybe two, possibly even three. There’s no question Maxwell would be an upgrade right now, and the team essentially gave him away.

So did the Eagles screw up, as Maxwell recently claimed? It’s easy to look at the club’s depth coupled with his performance in Miami and say yes. Then again, Maxwell brought a mercenary vibe to the locker room, and after some memorably toasty games, was never going to repair his image with fans. He wasn’t viewed as a great fit for Jim Schwartz’s defensive scheme, either.

I wasn’t as down on Maxwell as most. After a rough start to his Eagles career, Maxwell played well, until a late-season collapse aided by injuries. But he was vastly overpaid, and didn’t possess the right type of mindset to thrive as a professional athlete in this city.

Was the Maxwell trade a great deal for the Eagles? Not really. But were they better off for making it? Even looking at the state of the corners a year later, definitely.

Eagles do right by Brandon Graham

It seems like Brandon Graham and the Eagles were able to work out a fair compromise on the contract front. Details of that can be found here, but in short, there are all sorts of incentives for the eighth-year veteran.

It’s worth pointing out Graham was not wildly underpaid. The $7.5 million he is scheduled to cost the Eagles under the salary cap in 2017 is tied for 20th among all edge defenders, according to Over The Cap. Graham was set to drop to 26th in 2018, the final year of his contract. For a player with a career high of 6.5 sacks and zero Pro Bowls, that doesn’t seem completely out of line.

Then again, there’s no question Graham is better than sack totals indicate, and more valuable to the Eagles than can be measured. He’s as hard a worker as there is and a tremendous personality in the locker room. And any limitations Graham might lack rushing the passer, he more than makes up for exceling in run defense.

These new incentives don’t change the fact that Graham’s contract allows the Eagles to move on with minimal consequence next year. He no doubt would have preferred something more permanent and long term. The club didn’t have to do anything at all for Graham, either. It seems like a sign of good faith, and perhaps the precursor to something more long term if he continues to perform.

Maybe most of all, recent deals with Graham and Jason Peters send a message to the Eagles' locker room and players around the league that this is an organization that will reward contracted veterans who are deserving. Take one look at all the holdouts around the NFL right now, and you’ll quickly realize that’s not the case everywhere.

JJ Redick responds to video in which he allegedly used racial slur

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SB Nation/Twitter

JJ Redick responds to video in which he allegedly used racial slur

Updated at 12:50 a.m.

Early Sunday, a video surfaced on social media that appeared to put Sixers’ guard JJ Redick in an extremely poor light. Redick has since responded to clear up the situation.

Here’s what happened:

At about 8 a.m., a post appeared on Reddit showing a screenshot and caption alleging that Redick said a racial slur during a video from NBA players wishing Chinese fans a Happy New Year. The video caused a huge uproar on social media. If you wish to see the video, it is located here, at the top.

On the surface, without a response, it looked odd from the start. Redick, who we have come to know as a well-spoken individual who is typically very appreciative of basketball fans, isn’t someone you’d expect this from, let alone with a camera pointing directly at his face with an NBA microphone in front of his lips.

He offered this response on his official Twitter account, saying he was tongue-tied and had no intentions of saying what he did on the video.

Fans reacted on both sides of the issue, some still asking for an apology and others taking Redick for his word. 

On Sunday night, Redick followed up with a longer statement where he further explained himself and indeed issued an apology.

Please read. Thank you.

A post shared by JJ Redick (@jjredick) on

Early Monday, Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin tweeted a statement saying that he spoke with Redick and believes the Sixers' guard didn't say a racial slur.

With the All-Star Break going on, Redick won’t be available for a few more days for the media to ask him about this. There’s a chance this story will continue into next week.

The Process is ready for primetime

The Process is ready for primetime

Basically, you saw everything you'd want to see from Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid during the Rising Stars Challenge on All-Star Friday night, as they kept doing what they've basically done all February: winning. 

Ben Simmons was electric all over the court, ending with 11 points (5-5 FG, mostly dunks), six boards, a game-high 13 assists and a team-high four steals. A still-locked-in Dario Saric was the beneficiary of a handful of those dimes, ending with 18 points (7-11 FG, 4-7 3PT), three boards and five assists. 

Joel Embiid had an underwhelming stat line in his thankfully clipped playing time (just eight minutes after sitting out Wednesday's game — we'll see him more on Sunday), ending with just five points and two boards, and not exactly displaying the defensive dominance we're accustomed to from our big man. But the five points came on back-to-back possessions in the third, where JoJo nailed a top-of-the-break three and then scored on a dunk following a Fultzian spin move to the basket, showing the range of his skills in an appropriately breathtaking (and Internet-slaying) manner. 

And of course, the Sixers — I mean, Team World — won handily, outscoring Team USA in every quarter and ultimately triumphing 155-124. Even though Sacramento's Bogdan Bogdanovic took home MVP honors on the night for his white-hot shooting night (26 points on 9-16 FG, including a handful of Steph Curry-esque extended pull-up triples), I thought Simmons was the best all-around player on the floor, another thumb in the eye of the All-Star committee that snubbed him (four times!) for the proper game on Sunday night. 

Perhaps more importantly, the Sixers' presence just dominated the game altogether. Hell, they made up 3/5 of Team World's starting lineup — no other team had more than two representatives, across both squads, though the Lakers would have were Lonzo Ball available — and in the broadcast booth, the TNT guys couldn't stop talking about Embiid all night, comparing him to Hakeem and debating whether they'd ever seen a big man of his versatility before. 

And to think, this year they'll actually be represented on Saturday and Sunday, too. Hopefully Ben and Dario get a nice, relaxing All-Star break from here — they've certainly earned it — and now, it's Embiid's spotlight. The Process is ready for primetime, baby, and longtime Trusters should make sure to enjoy this moment as much as JoJo himself undoubtedly will.