Eagles

Carson Wentz gets his chance to respond to PhillyVoice story

Carson Wentz gets his chance to respond to PhillyVoice story

Carson Wentz sat down to read the Bible. He ended up reading a hit piece. 

On the morning of Jan. 21, Wentz had just finished breakfast with his wife and was about to have his daily quiet time, where he sits on the couch and reads the Bible. A member of the Eagles’ public relations staff sent him the link to a story from PhillyVoice, citing more than half a dozen anonymous Eagles players and sources close to the team. It characterized the franchise quarterback as “selfish,” “uncompromising” and “egotistical.” 

Wentz on Thursday sat down with a group of select reporters and addressed the situation, providing perspective and context sorely missed from the original report. He allowed that, at times, he can be selfish. He talked even more in-depth about his personality and the look inward he took after the story was published (see story)

While Wentz didn’t dismiss the entire report as inaccurate, he did express frustration that any issues weren’t resolved in-house and did explicitly shoot down several details. 

I just read it and I was a little confused, I guess,” Wentz said. “It’s never obviously fun to read your name being thrown around like that, but at the end of the day, try not to stress about it too much and let the media or the perception of others dictate who I am. I know who I am, first of all. I know how I carry myself, I know I’m not perfect, I know I have flaws. So I’m not going to sit here and say it was inaccurate and completely made up, I’m not going to do that. But at the end of the day, I will say our locker room is really close. If there were guys that had issues, in hindsight, I wish we could have just talked about them.

Right after Wentz read the report, he admitted he began to play detective, trying to figure out which of his teammates might have said disparaging things about him to a reporter. “But then you’re like, ‘does it really matter?’” Wentz said. “You know what I mean?”

When asked if he had encountered any friction in the locker room before this story, Wentz said he hadn’t (see full transcript). What seemingly bothered him the most was that if there was a problem, it wasn’t resolved internally. He said that part would have bothered him even if the story wasn’t about him. 

(When) we have an issue, usually we resolve it as brothers, as the family that we are,” Wentz said. “It’s why I think myself and a handful of other guys were just confused that it came out like that. If there were problems, we just usually handle it and it doesn’t come out the way that did.

Wentz didn’t want to get into too many specifics from the PhillyVoice report, but, when asked about several, did address a few things he claimed were inaccurate. 

1. The PhillyVoice story claimed, a “highly-respected veteran teammate” verbally attacked Wentz for not being a “team guy.” 

Wentz: “To go off of what I said earlier, I’m not really going to go into specifics about some of those stories, but I didn’t know what that was. I didn’t know what that was about.”

2. The story also claimed offensive coordinator Mike Groh was “bullied” by him. Wentz said he talked to Groh that same day and, “I think we all know that never took place.” 

Wentz: “I even go back to the year before to Frank (Reich). I know Frank has gone and said him and I used to have these competitive arguments that were healthy. That stuff happens. That’s what I think good football teams have, the ability to respectfully do that and kind of be stubborn and those things. That was the same way with Groh. In my opinion, he’s a very good football mind. And in my opinion, I feel like I have something to contribute too. 

“I feel like we had some really healthy dialogue. And to say, quote, ‘bullied him,’ I’d say I think that’s, A, kind of disrespectful to Groh. I don’t think anyone bullies Coach Groh. And I think, B, we have a great relationship and it’s just going to keep getting better. That line, I was just kind of blown away by what that would have meant.”

3. Another part of the report said Wentz didn’t want to run “Foles’ stuff” in the offense. Wentz said he never refused to run plays. 

Wentz: “The idea of running Foles’ stuff, we both see the game differently to some extent. To say that I was resistant to running his stuff and then vice versa, I don’t … there’s so many things in the X’s and O’s of the game, to just say a blanket statement like that, just doesn’t necessarily do it justice. Again, we both kind of like different concepts, but we’re running similar stuff. And then it’s based on what the defense is giving us. … It’s just such a blanket statement that there’s too many intricacies that necessarily apply.” 

Instead of spending some customary quiet time on his couch reading The Good Book on the day the story came out, Wentz was forced to deal with an unflattering and partially unwarranted negative story about him. It wasn’t exactly how he expected his offseason to begin, but he seems determined to learn from the experience any way he can. 

It might have ruined that morning, but it hasn’t ruined his days since. 

“It kind of changed my attitude a little bit, but just talking to some teammates that talked to me about it and tried to just figure out why and what can we do to resolve it,” Wentz said. “But then at the end of the day, I was just like, I went to bed and just on with the next day. I don’t turn on the radio, I don’t read the papers. I’ve been off of Twitter for a while other than posting tweets, so I try not to let that tie me down. But again, the real element of it, just learning. If there is truth in this, where can I improve as a teammate and as a player and all that?”

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Starting today, Eagles can franchise tag Nick Foles ... but will they?

Starting today, Eagles can franchise tag Nick Foles ... but will they?

The NFL’s annual game of tag begins today. 

That doesn’t mean the Eagles are going to play. 

Today marks the first day that NFL teams can slap a franchise tag (or transition tag) on a pending free agent, which basically gives that player a one-year deal at a pretty high salary for a season (average of the top five players at that position). The Eagles really only have one candidate for the franchise tag this year and it’s quarterback Nick Foles. 

The idea here is that the Eagles could possibly slap a franchise tag on Foles and then trade him to get back better compensation than they’d eventually get from a compensatory pick for 2020. The tagging window runs through March 5. 

If the Eagles were to use a franchise tag on Foles, they would have to be extremely confident in their ability to trade Foles; more likely, they would need to have a trade worked out. So don’t just expect the Eagles to tag Foles and then see what happens. 

Later this month, the NFL combine will take over Indianapolis. That seems to be the most likely time for Eagles VP of football operations Howie Roseman to work something out. And Roseman would probably really love to trade Foles because the former Super Bowl MVP does have value. 

But I still think it’s unlikely to happen. Here are three reasons why: 

1. It’s technically against the rules 
My colleague Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk did a good job digging this up (see story). In the CBA, it says if a franchise tender is extended, the club must “have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.” 

So it would seem pretty obvious to all of us that the Eagles don’t plan on employing Foles to be a backup quarterback with a price tag of around $25 million in 2019. Slapping a tag on him for the purpose of a trade would violate the spirit of the franchise tag rule. Florio thinks if the Eagles tagged Foles, the QB could still become a free agent by March 13 by fighting it with an expedited grievance. 

There is some gray area here, though. Because while it sure seems obvious the Eagles don’t want to pay Foles $25 million, we’d be expecting the NFL to decipher the intentions of a team, which certainly isn’t an absolute. 

2. It would take salary cap space 
Since the Eagles already exercised Foles’ option and Foles paid back $2 million to buy his freedom, his contract will come off the books at the start of the new league year, making the Eagles cap compliant. If the Eagles tag him and Foles signs the tag — even if they just want to trade him — they’d have to fit his entire salary (approximately $25 million) under the cap. Basically, Foles has to be on their books before they trade him. The Eagles are in a tight cap spot right now, so that would take some maneuvering. They could get there, but it would be a little more complicated. 

3. Foles has all the leverage 
To me, this is the big one. It seems pretty clear Foles will want to become a free agent. Why would he want the Eagles to dictate where he ends up? If you’re thinking it doesn’t matter what Foles wants — the Eagles should trade him anyway! — think about this: What team would trade for a QB who doesn’t want to be there and who won’t sign an extension? And why would Foles want to strip his new team of assets (players or picks) before he gets there?

The Eagles would also be in a position where any trade partner knows they need to trade Foles. That doesn’t necessarily make it harder to trade him; but it does hurt his value. We have no way to know for sure, but we kind of assume Foles will bring back a third-round compensatory pick in the 2020 draft, so any compensation in a trade now would need to be greater than that. 

— — — 

Just after the season ended, Roseman, when asked about the Foles situation, said the Eagles ultimately needed to do what was best for them. But he also admitted there’s a “respect factor” when it comes to players like Foles. If that’s true, the Eagles should have open communication with Foles and his agent. And maybe Roseman is able to work some magic and get him on board with a trade, but I just can’t see it. 

If the Eagles don’t tag Foles by 4 p.m. on March 5, he’ll become a free agent on March 13. To me, that still seems like the most likely ending to this story. 

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NFL mock draft 2019 roundup 5.0: Does cornerback even make sense?

NFL mock draft 2019 roundup 5.0: Does cornerback even make sense?

We’re still weeks away from the start of free agency, which will inform how a lot of teams draft, particularly in the first round. 

But that hasn’t stopped the flood of mock drafts. So many mock drafts. 

Honestly, I’m getting a little worried about the guys from CBS Sports. Blink twice if you’re locked in a room, being forced to fill out mock after mock. 

Anyway, here’s the latest roundup to see who the Eagles might take at 25: 

ESPN, Mel Kiper Jr.

Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson 

Here’s what they said: “Injuries in the secondary really hurt the Eagles in 2018, as the defense couldn’t match the play that led it a Super Bowl LII victory. And with Ronald Darby possibly leaving in free agency, cornerback is a spot to target here or with one of their two second-round picks. Mullen had an inconsistent 2018 season, but he has some excellent 2017 tape. And at 6-foot-2, 186 pounds, he’s a big corner. He should test well in Indianapolis.”

My take on Mullen: Oh, a corner? I’ve seen several mock drafts where the Eagles take a corner. Yeah … I’m not sold on that idea. The Eagles have some decent depth there and I’d imagine they’d rather try to develop some of the young talent at that position. They still have Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, Cre’Von LeBlanc. If there was a corner that was wayyyy ahead as BPA, maybe they’d do it. But I doubt that will happen. As for Mullen, he’s a long corner with good cover skills. He might be a reach at 25. 

San Diego Union-Tribune, Eddie Brown 

Byron Murphy, CB, Washington 

Here’s what they said: “The secondary remains the weakest link of this team for various reasons. Murphy is an athletic playmaker with great instincts and an active tackler, especially against the run.”

My take on Murphy: Another corner, Eddie? We already got into the position above, so let’s take a closer look at Murphy. I really like him despite his lack of size and unlike Mullen, I think he’s a better first-round prospect. Some teams will want him to play inside because of his height, but he’s good enough to play outside. Maybe the Eagles want another Washington corner, but there are more pressing needs.  

TheDraftNetwork, Benjamin Solak 

David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin 

Here’s what they said: “David Edwards was recently featured in a piece on overrated prospects from Bleacher Report, which I found mighty interesting — because nobody really talks about him that highly in this class. He’s a borderline Top-5 OT, and that’s mostly on upside.

“Philadelphia is fine with that trade, however: they need an OT to start in 2020, not 2019, the last year of Jason Peters’ deal. Edwards has elite athleticism for the tackle position, and a good foundation of technical skills given his limited years playing offensive tackle for the Badgers.

“Within a couple years of NFL ball, you expect him to be a starting-caliber player, with a sky-high ceiling.”

My take on Edwards: I think offensive tackle would make quite a bit of sense for the Eagles in the first round. It’s time to think about life after Peters and none of us know what Jordan Mailata will become. There’s some sneaky OT depth in this draft; I think five or six will go in the first round. As for Edwards, he’s a fine prospect, but there are several other tackles in this class I like more and there were a couple of them available in this mock when Edwards went. But still, decent idea. 

CBS Sports, Chris Trapasso 

Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame 

Here’s what they said: “Defensive line is a sneaky need for the Eagles, and Tillery can play anywhere up front and create pressure with his towering frame.”

My take on Tillery: I don’t dislike this pick. Tillery is a huge guy at 6-foot-7, 305 pounds and could be plugged in next to Fletcher Cox. He had seven sacks in 2018 and proved to be a pretty good pass rusher mainly with his power. He might get into the first round after Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons tore his ACL. 

NFL.com, Maurice Jones-Drew

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson 

Here’s what they said: “Lawrence is a big, talented player who will alleviate pressure on Fletcher Cox.”

My take on Lawrence: He’s been a pretty popular pick for the Eagles and he’s a good player, but I want a little more pass rush from a DT in Round 1. He’s known more as a big ol’ run stuffer.  

CBS Sports, Ryan Wilson

Jachai Polite, DE, Florida 

Here’s what they said: Polite was one of the most exciting players we watched last season. There will be questions about his size (he's listed at 240) and his one year of production, but if teams are OK with both, he could be a top-15 pick.

My take on Polite: First, I’ll say I like Polite as a prospect and think he’ll be off the board well before the Eagles pick at No. 25. I think with his size, he’s a better fit to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4. In the right system, I think he could become a dynamic pass rusher. Not the best fit in Philly, but still worth thinking about if he’s available. The Eagles should seriously think about taking an edge rusher in Round 1. 

CBS Sports, Pete Prisco 

Brian Burns, DE, Florida 

Here’s what they said: "They will likely lose Brandon Graham in free agency and they need to get a young pass rusher to go with Derek Barnett. Burns has big-time speed."

My take on Burns: Burns is tall and skinny. He’s 6-5 and around 230 pounds, which isn’t exactly ideal size for a 4-3 DE. Remember when the Eagles drafted Josh Sweat out of Florida State last year? He’s 6-5, 250. But Burns is a really intriguing prospect who had 23 sacks in three years at Florida State, including a 10-sack campaign in 2018. He’s a really good pass rusher but lacks power as you might anticipate. We’ll see if he puts on weight for the combine and keeps his speed. Like I said above, though, defensive end should be right at the top of the list for the Eagles in this deep defensive line class. 

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