Eagles

Brandon Brooks addresses his anxiety-related exit in Sunday's Eagles-Seahawks game

Brandon Brooks addresses his anxiety-related exit in Sunday's Eagles-Seahawks game

Updated: 8:09 a.m.

Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks left Sunday’s 17-9 loss to the Seahawks in the first quarter with what the team called an “illness.”

On Monday morning, head coach Doug Pederson confirmed on 94WIP that Brooks' "illness" was a return of the game-day anxiety that had afflicted the starting right guard earlier in his career.

"Yeah, it’s connected," Pederson said. "I’ll just say this, I’m not going to get into a lot of detail with that. Because, listen, this is a real life issue. This is not a football issue with Brandon. This is a real life issue that he has come out and publicly acknowledged and kind of shared his story a few years back. It’s something that he’s dealing with each and every day of his life. You never really know what triggers it. We’re here to support him, we love him. It is unfortunate that it happened, but it’s something that he deals with every single day. We’re just going to continue to support him."

Shortly after, Brooks acknowledged what happened, via Twitter:


The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane first reported the link. 

After the game, when asked if Brooks’ illness was related to anxiety, Pederson said he hadn’t yet talked to team doctors.

“He just got sick and just had an illness, and we had to make a sudden change,” Pederson said.

Brooks, 30, has previously spoken publicly about his battle with anxiety, but he’s been able to control it for the past few seasons. Brooks hadn’t missed any time because of it since 2016, when he missed two games in a three-game span.

This is an issue that dates back to Brooks’ time with the Texans in Houston, where he also missed games. Back then, Brooks thought he was dealing with stomach ulcers. He didn’t realize it was anxiety until he joined the Eagles.

“For me, it’s just I always want to be perfect in what I do and if I’m not perfect it’s not good enough, and sometimes that just really weighs on you,” Brooks said in 2016.

“And I have to learn how to kind of chill out and understand it’s OK to make mistakes. It’s OK to not be perfect.”

Brooks has credited his teammate Lane Johnson for helping him to deal with his game-day anxiety. Johnson didn’t play on Sunday because of a concussion he suffered against the Patriots.

Since 2016, Brooks has made back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2017 and 2018. And in 2019, he returned from a torn Achilles to play in the season opener after just eight months. And through 10 games in 2019, Brooks was well on his way to another Pro Bowl appearance.

After being on a pitch count in the opener, Brooks had played every offensive snap since Week 2 until Sunday.

With Brooks out against the Patriots, Halapoulivaati Vaitai filled in at right guard for the rest of the first half. But once Andre Dillard was benched to start the third quarter, Big V slid to right tackle and Matt Pryor took over at right guard.

Back on Nov. 11, Brooks signed a four-year contract extension worth $56.2 million, making him the highest-paid guard in the NFL. Based on his play and what he means to the team, the contract extension was warranted.

But this latest reported setback with his anxiety is certainly troubling for him and for the team.

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How good can Eagles running back Boston Scott be?

How good can Eagles running back Boston Scott be?

One of the more intriguing guys on the Eagles’ roster is Boston Scott, who like so many others started on the practice squad and had carved out a significant role by the end of the season.

Is Scott just a flash-in-the-pan who had a few nice moments before teams figured him out?

Or is he a legit talent who can be an effective change-of-pace running back playing behind Miles Sanders?

Scott didn’t find his way onto the active roster until mid-October, when Corey Clement went on Injured Reserve, and he wasn’t really a significant part of the offense until the last month of the season.

But he still managed to rush for 270 yards with a 4.0 average and five TDs and catch 27 balls for 227 more yards.

Over the last month of the season, only four NFL backs had more receiving yards – Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, Saquon Barkley and Melvin Gordon, and only 11 had more yards from scrimmage.

The former Saints 6th-round draft pick showed a combination of elusiveness and power both as a runner and receiver and proved to be a valuable No. 2 back with Clement, Darren Sproles and Jordan Howard all out with injuries.

What's next? How much better can he get?

I haven’t arrived by any means,” Scott said in a recent chat. “I haven’t reached the standard I have for myself. I appreciate all the support, I appreciate all the love, but I’m not done. I’m still hungry. There’s still more.

Scott’s always been one of those guys who’s had to fight for everything.

Walk-on at Louisana Tech. Late-round draft pick. Stints on both the Saints’ and Eagles’ practice squads.

It wasn’t until the Eagles’ Week 14 win over the Giants, when he ran 10 times for 59 yards and a TD and caught six passes for 69 yards, that we all really saw what kind of player he could be.

Never feel comfortable,” he said. “Never satisfied. Always hungry. That’ll never change. Since I was a walk-on. That’s definitely where I laid the foundation of never being satisfied. I want to be the best at what I do. I want to be up there with the elite, and the only way to get there is through hard work and dedication. I’m a long way off from where I want to be, but I’m definitely determined to get there.

Sproles has retired, Clement is still under contract and Howard is facing free agency.

Where does Scott fit in?

It’s a fascinating question and the answer really depends on whether you believe Scott’s performance late last year was a fluke or whether he can really be an impact player in this league.

I’m just really thankful Doug and Howie had faith in me to continue to put me out there,” he said. “I made mistakes, and I learned from them and I think every rep I spent out there on the field my confidence grew, and I look forward to continuing to build on what I’ve put together in my time here. There’s plenty to clean up. I’m far, far from where I want to be, but it’s definitely a good starting point and having something to build on in the offseason.

There’s really no reason to think Scott can’t do what he did the last four weeks over a full season.

He’s got the physical tools, he’s got the toughness, he’s got the attitude.

Can he be what Correll Buckhalter was to Brian Westbrook?

Can he be what Charlie Garner was to Ricky Watters?

Can he be what Earl Gros was to Timmy Brown? (That one's for Ray Didinger)

We already saw it during a playoff push. A full season of Boston Scott is going to be fun to watch.

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NFL free agency: Weighing pros and cons of a Darius Slay trade for Eagles

NFL free agency: Weighing pros and cons of a Darius Slay trade for Eagles

The Eagles desperately need some help at cornerback and one of the top ones in the game is reportedly available. 

Of course the Eagles should be interested. 

Schefter doesn’t list any teams in that report but it would make plenty of sense if the Eagles were one of them. In fact, during the 2019 season, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported the Eagles were interested in possibly trading for Slay before the trade deadline. That obviously didn’t happen. 

And now the three-time Pro Bowler is about to enter the final year of his contract with the Lions. 

Let’s weigh the pros and cons of a possible deal for the Eagles: 

Pros

• Slay is good and still in his prime. This is pretty obvious. The 6-0, 190-pound cornerback was an All-Pro in 2017 and has been a Pro Bowler in each of his last three seasons. And he’s been good for a long time. Since 2014, Slay has 19 interceptions, which ranks him fourth in the entire league behind Marcus Peters, Stephon Gilmore and Reggie Nelson.  

And Slay during his time in Detroit has traveled with their opponent’s best receiver a ton. That’s something Jim Schwartz hasn’t done in his time with the Eagles but would probably want to if he had a player of Slay’s caliber. And in a division with Amari Cooper, Darius Slayton and Terry McLaurin for the next few years, that would be nice to have. 

• The Eagles desperately need help at cornerback. Whether it comes through the draft, free agency or a trade, the Eagles need to revamp a position that has been a problem for years. They have struggled to sign cornerbacks as much as they’ve struggled to draft them. Slay would immediately be the best cornerback to suit up for the Eagles in a decade. Their last Pro Bowl caliber cornerback was Asante Samuel, who hasn’t played here since 2011. 

• The trade might not cost as much as you’d think. ESPN’s Mike Clay projected a Slay trade for the Eagles a few days ago. In that trade, he had the Eagles sending a third-round pick and Sidney Jones to Detroit. That sounds like a small haul for a perennial Pro Bowl player but Slay is entering the final year of his contract and if the Lions are going to move on, they probably want to get something for him. Lions new DC Cory Undlin seemed to like Jones when he was here and a change of scenery could help him live up to his potential. 

Plus, if the Eagles trade for Slay and can’t work out a long-term deal, they’d probably get a compensatory pick back for him. 

Cons 

• Slay is 29. The Eagles want to get younger and Slay is nearing 30. While he has been durable, playing at least 13 games in all seven of his NFL seasons, it’s fair to wonder how long he’ll be in his prime. So many of the Eagles’ best players are near or over 30 and adding Slay would mean adding another aging player to the core. 

• He wants a contract. Slay is a 29-year-old Pro Bowler entering the final year of his deal. He has a base salary of $10 million in 2019 but wants to get paid and he’s earned that. The highest-paid six cornerbacks in the NFL make over an average of $14 million per season, so to sign Slay to a long-term deal, it’ll take at least that. The highest-paid CB in the NFL is Xavien Howard at just over $15 million per season. Slay is three years older but that’s likely where his agent will want to start. 

• There might be more attractive options. Sure, it’s hard to imagine a better option than a three-time Pro Bowler who still appears to be in his prime, but there might be cheaper and younger options. There’s a deep free agent class this offseason with guys like Logan Ryan and Kendall Fuller and then there are plenty of solid options in the draft. One of those options might be more appealing to the Eagles but those possibilities might also keep the price (trade and contract) at a reasonable level for Slay. 

So …. 

The Eagles should absolutely be interested in Slay, especially if we’re talking about a trade like the one Clay put forward. For that trade price, it might even be worth getting Slay for one season and seeing what happens. I don’t know how Slay would feel about playing out the final season of his contract but if he’d show up, that might be the best move because the Eagles will have enough cap space to pay him $10 million in 2020. The Eagles could trade for Slay, draft a corner or two and then see where things stand heading into the 2021 season. Not saying this is a slam dunk, but we all know Howie Roseman isn’t shy to pick up the phone. And this time it’s warranted. 

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