Brandon Brooks will go down as an Eagles all-time great free agent pickup

Brandon Brooks will go down as an Eagles all-time great free agent pickup

Brandon Brooks was a good player.

He wasn’t great until he arrived in Philadelphia. In hindsight, that’s what makes his signing in 2016 so impressive. 

And after Brooks inked a new four-year, $56.2 million extension on Monday morning, it’s becoming clear that he’s going to go down as one of the greatest free agent acquisitions in Eagles history. Heck, he could end up being the greatest. 

He’s already put himself in the conversation with Troy Vincent, Jon Runyan, Malcolm Jenkins and Nick Foles. 

When the Eagles signed Brooks in the 2016 offseason, he was 26 and had just finished up the fourth and final year of his rookie contract with the Houston Texans. He was happy to leave that franchise and start fresh somewhere else. While the Texans clearly didn’t value Brooks enough, the Eagles did. They saw the potential for Brooks to be more than a good player. They gave him a five-year, $40 million deal, which sounded like a lot at the time. Obviously, that ended up being a steal. 

I remember being on Philly Sports Talk the day Brooks signed with the Eagles in 2016. I agreed with the Eagles’ assessment of Brooks. He wasn’t great yet, but he could be. That day, I said I thought Brooks would end up being a Pro Bowler. This is where the bragging portion of this column ends. 

To be fair, at that time, I had a little more knowledge of Brooks than most folks in Philly. I’ve known Brooks since his rookie year in 2012 from my time covering the Houston Texans from 2012-14. I watched as Brooks went from a third-round rookie who couldn’t get on the field to a solid starter and fully expected him to take another step in his career. 

While in Houston, I saw the power, athleticism and untapped potential inside the 330-pound guard. I watched day after day in training camp when he was the only offensive lineman on the roster strong and quick enough to match up with Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. 

And long before his battle with anxiety became public or his recovery from Achilles surgery, I remember the first time I saw Brooks’ ability to overcome adversity. In 2012, Brooks was in a position battle with fourth-round pick Ben Jones. Brooks is a smart guy, graduated from Miami (Ohio), but Jones is somewhat of a football savant. Both were rookies, yet despite Brooks’ obvious athletic advantage, Jones won the job. But after working his way off the inactive list, Brooks began to split reps at right guard and became the starter in 2013. He hasn’t looked back since. 

On Monday, I asked Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland for something he learned about Brooks after the Eagles acquired him. 

What an athlete,” Stoutland answered. “He’s such a big man, but you don’t realize what a great athlete he is. He’s very light on his feet. He’s an extremely athletic individual.

So how did Brooks go from good to great? 

The Eagles helped him to harness his unique blend of size and athleticism and match it with sound technique and great coaching. Stoutland is the best offensive line coach Brooks has had in the NFL. And in Philly, Brooks was plopped at right guard between one of the best centers and one of the best tackles in the NFL. The Eagles gave Brooks every opportunity to succeed and he’s exceeded expectations.  

In two of his three seasons as an Eagle, Brooks has been a Pro Bowler. He’s well on his way to a third consecutive Pro Bowl nod and after playing like the best guard in the league this season, now he’s gonna get paid like it. 

Brooks isn’t good anymore. He’s great. Brooks deserves credit for that, but so do the Eagles. They brought him in and helped bring that greatness out of him. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Navy pulls off iconic Philly Special at the Linc

Navy pulls off iconic Philly Special at the Linc

Let's just say, the Navy Midshipmen certainly know how to win over a crowd in Philadelphia.

On Saturday during the 120th Army-Navy game, a familiar play call was seen.

You might have seen it before. There's a statue immortalizing it in front of the Linc. It happened during Super Bowl LII. Anything come to mind?

That's right. The Philly Special.

What an awesome moment in the middle of one of the best days in sports. Check it out:

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

A myth dispelled, thoughts on the Carson Sucks crowd and much more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!

A myth dispelled, thoughts on the Carson Sucks crowd and much more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!

Another myth dispelled, thoughts on the Carson Sucks crowd, an observation about Duce Staley and lots more in this weekend's edition of Roob's Random Eagles Observations! 

1. Dwayne Haskins may develop into a big-time NFL quarterback. He certainly has the arm. But right now he’s a 22-year-old rookie with 3 TDs and 7 INTs in seven career games and a miserable 61.2 passer rating — worst among current starter QBs. This is a quarterback the Eagles need to dominate. Pressure him. Mix coverages and blitzes. Confuse him. When you get your hands on a ball, make the interception. When you get your hands around him, bring him down. He can’t drive the offense 75 yards down the field in 10 plays, but he's got a legit arm so don’t allow big plays over the top. Don’t give the Redskins a reason to keep fighting like you did the last two weeks against bad teams. The Eagles are 4-1 against rookie quarterbacks under Jim Schwartz, allowing 12 points per game. More of that Sunday. This shouldn’t even be a game by 2:30 p.m. But I'm afraid it will be.

2. Here’s one for the Carson Sucks crowd: Despite missing eight games the last two years and with three games still to go, Wentz already has the 9th-most TD passes in NFL history by a QB in his first four seasons. Three more in the last three games move him up to 6th. He’s also thrown 35 interceptions. Of the 10 QBs currently ahead of him in TD passes over their first four seasons, only Russell Wilson has also thrown fewer than 44  interceptions in his first four years, and only Wilson and Dan Marino have a higher passer rating. Worst QB ever.

3. The Eagles have used 18 cornerbacks since 2016.  Eight of them are no longer in the NFL.

4. I’m always up for a good conspiracy theory. Did you know the first manned moon landing was actually fabricated and the astronauts were actually on a film set in Arizona made to look like the moon? For real! I saw it in Capricorn One! Some conspiracy theories are hilarious, like the one making the rounds this week. Did you know Jordan Howard isn’t really hurt, he’s sitting out to protest not having a long-term contract? I swear, I got that from at least a dozen people this past week. Yeah, that’s a great way to get a new contract! Pretend you’re hurt, lie about a neck injury, miss five games, watch your free agency value plummet and hope that the Eagles just happen to forget to inform other teams that you were healthy all along but just didn’t feel like playing. Makes perfect sense!  

5. MYTH: “Jim Schwartz NEVER ADJUSTS.”
REALITY: Since 2016, the Eagles have allowed the 11th-fewest first-half points in the NFL  [11.0 per game], but they’ve allowed the 4th-fewest second-half points [9.6], behind the Vikings, Patriots and Ravens. Among the top 20 defenses in the league over the last four years, only the Vikings [2.1-point differential] have a larger first-half / second-half point differential than the Eagles [1.4 points]. Overall, the Eagles have allowed the 7th-fewest points in the NFL over the last four years.

6. I count 21 Eagles players who’ve missed a total of 105 games so far this year, a figure that will go up considering how many won’t be playing the next three. Two things: 1) The Eagles have to take an honest look at every facet of their training, conditioning and rehab this offseason and figure out why half the team is always hurt. And 2) It really makes you appreciate guys like Malcolm Jenkins and Jason Kelce, the only Eagles to start and finish all 45 games since opening day 2017. Not far behind are Brandon Graham and Brandon Brooks (44), Fletcher Cox (43) and Zach Ertz (42). Those guys have been there for their team every step of the way — or almost every step — for three years now. They're all-time Eagles.

7. What the heck is going on with Genard Avery? The Eagles spent a 4th-round draft pick to acquire Avery from the Browns in October, and he’s played 20 snaps on defense in five games since. TWENTY SNAPS. He didn’t play a snap on defense in the Giants game. His snaps were supposed to go up as he got acclimated to the defense. Now he’s not even playing. He’s been here seven weeks now, and he can’t even get a single snap on defense? He’s playing a lot on special teams (19 snaps per game), but that’s an awfully expensive special teamer.

8. How bad are the Redskins? They've scored 79 points in six home games. They have eight offensive touchdowns at Fedex Field this year. And five of them were in their first two games. They've scored THREE offensive touchdowns in their last four home games. The Eagles are actually 3rd-BEST in the NFL in road scoring at 29.3 points per game. This REALLY needs to be a blowout.

9. Rasul Douglas is the Eagles’ best cornerback.

10. Think about Duce Staley’s body of work as Eagles running backs coach: 1) Got a 776-yard, 9-TD season out of Ryan Mathews in 2016. 2) Won a Super Bowl with LeGarrette Blount on his last legs and Jay Ajayi coming in halfway through the season. 3) Undrafted rookie Corey Clement, who had 10 catches all year, had a 100-yard receiving game and miracle TD in a Super Bowl. 4) Got over 500 yards and a 4.3 average from undrafted rookie Josh Adams in 2018. 5) Miles Sanders has already broken the franchise record for scrimmage yards by a rookie. 6) Jordan Howard was in the midst of a comeback year with a 4.4 average and 7 TDs before he got hurt. 7) Darren Sproles netted nearly 1,400 scrimmage yards in just 30 games, all after turning 33. 8) Boston Scott comes off the practice squad to pile up 128 scrimmage yards in a critical win over the Giants. 9) Eagles are the No. 12 rushing team in the NFL in four years under Staley even though nobody on the roster has rushed for more than 850 yards TOTAL during that span. 10) All 11 running backs who’ve gotten at least 30 carries under Staley have averaged at least 4.0 yards per carry under Duce. Nine of them have averaged at least 4.3 yards per carry. The Eagles haven’t had a back with 550 yards in consecutive years since Shady, yet the Eagles always seem to run the ball well. The guy’s really good.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles