Eagles

Contentious Doug Pederson refuses to answer QB questions, but gives hint

Contentious Doug Pederson refuses to answer QB questions, but gives hint

A contentious Doug Pederson refused to say who will start for the Eagles at quarterback on Thursday night. 

He did give a hint, though. Even if he didn’t want to. 

Pederson admitted that Carson Wentz has not yet been cleared for contact as he recovers from surgery to repair a torn ACL and LCL. When asked if Wentz could theoretically get cleared for contact in the next couple days and be ready for Thursday, Pederson said, “We’ll see.” 

The head coach’s pugnacious behavior came after Ian Rapoport from NFL Network reported on Saturday that the Eagles’ plan was to start Nick Foles in the game. Even though that appears to seem correct based on the fact that Wentz hasn’t been cleared, Pederson isn’t happy that the Falcons now know. Rapoport seems to clearly be the main target of Pederson’s angst. 

“First of all, I appreciate y’all putting words in my mouth this week,” Pederson said. “And therefore, I’m not going to discuss it.”

When pressed about why he wouldn’t discuss it, Pederson said, “You saw the reports.” He then said he is lumping all reporters together. 

Pederson refused to say who is taking first-team reps at quarterback, but when asked if the person who will start the game is getting all the first-team reps, Pederson said, “That’s usually how it works, yes.” 

So let’s unpack all this. 

Wentz isn’t cleared for contact. And the Eagles have clearly made a decision on who will start because one quarterback is taking all the first-team reps. If there’s a possibility Wentz wouldn’t be cleared for contact before the game, it wouldn’t make sense to give him valuable first-team reps that could go to Foles. 

Unless the Eagles are pulling off some elaborate smoke-and-mirrors show, we know who the starter is. 

Pederson said his refusal to answer questions about his starting quarterback were, in part, because of a perceived competitive advantage. 

“A little bit, yeah. A little bit,” he said. “I’m trying to win a football game. And I don’t want to put my gameplan out there for everybody to see it and read it and teams can scheme. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense. So I appreciate it.”

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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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NFL mock draft 2020 roundup 4.0: Plenty of Eagles options at WR

NFL mock draft 2020 roundup 4.0: Plenty of Eagles options at WR

I didn’t plan on this but it’s not that surprising either. 

In this latest 2020 mock draft roundup, you’ll notice there’s a common theme for every Eagles’ pick at No. 21. They’re all receivers. All five. 

With the team’s situation at receiver, they clearly need to upgrade and it just so happens that this is a pretty good class for receivers. There are six or seven likely to go in the first round, so there’s a legitimate shot the Eagles will take one of them at No. 21. 

In the modern era, the Eagles have taken a receiver five times in the first round and four of them were taken around where they’ll pick this spring. 

2015: Nelson Agholor (20)
2009: Jeremy Maclin (19)
2001: Freddie Mitchell (25) 
1984: Kenny Jackson (4) 
1982: Mike Quick (20) 

Here are some options for the Eagles in a couple months: 

The Draft Network, Benjamin Solak

Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado 

What they said: It’s no secret that I’m a big Laviska Shenault fan, but the bigger secret in Philadelphia is that it may have exactly zero 2021 starting receivers from its current 2020 roster. With rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside struggling to find the field, Alshon Jeffery looking like an eventual cap casualty once his figure goes down and DeSean Jackson yet to prove he’s back healthy, the receiving corps needs an overhaul something fierce.

Enter Shenault, who can line up anywhere and win with a simple route tree early given his dominant athletic ability and quality hands away from his frame. He makes a lot of sense as well if Jeffery and Jackson are healthy. Shenault can win as an underneath player whose best trait is his yards-after-catch ability. That’s where Shenault is truly dominant.

My take on Shenault: I agree with Ben that Shenault (6-2, 220) would make a ton of sense for the Eagles. His college production wasn’t off the charts but I think that will matter less to the Eagles this time around. And if Shenault goes to the combine and shows off his speed and athleticism, I will have seen enough. He’s a versatile player who could become a dynamic playmaker in the NFL, so he certainly checks off all the boxes. 

Solak has Shenault as the fourth receiver off the board after CeeDee Lamb (13th), Henry Ruggs III (15th), Jerry Jeudy (19th). Tee Higgins is still available here but I kind of agree that Shenault would be a more exciting pick. 

CBS Sports, Chris Trapasso

Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Here’s what they said: Higgins is there for Philadelphia. Marvelous situation for Carson Wentz. Higgins has otherworldly ball skills and deceptive long speed.

My take on Higgins: About a month into mock draft season, it seems like Higgins has been the most common pick for the Eagles. At 6-4, 215, Higgins is a different player than Sheanault and is coming off back-to-back 59-catch seasons. Let’s see what Higgins does in the 40 at the combine — I think that number will matter. 

In this mock draft, Higgins is the fifth receiver selected after Lamb (8th), Ruggs III (11th), Jeudy (13th) and Shenault Jr. (18th). TCU’s Jalen Reagor goes at 24. 

CBS Sports, R.J. White

Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama 

Here’s what they said: Ruggs certainly could go much higher than this, but if he's available, he'll bring the dynamic presence the Eagles sorely lacked last year when DeSean Jackson, who is 33, missed most of last season with an injury.

My take on Ruggs: I fully expect Ruggs III (6-0, 190) to be long gone by the time the Eagles pick at 21 but there are surprises every year, so I won’t sit here and say there’s no chance. I do think that with the talent at receiver in this class, there will likely be more than two in the top 20. To put it simply with Ruggs: the Eagles need speed and no one has more speed than him. 

White has just two receivers — Lamb (12th) and Jeudy (13th) — going before Ruggs. 

The San Diego Union-Tribune, Eddie Brown

CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Here’s what they said: The Eagles wide receiver corps is in shambles. The inconsistent Nelson Agholor faces free agency while DeSean Jackson isn’t getting any younger (or healthier). Lamb has elite hands and ball skills (he’s special with the ball in the air). He can also contribute as a blocker. 

My take on Lamb: I think this is the first time I have seen Lamb (6-2, 189) mocked to the Eagles and that’s mostly because he’s usually off the board long before this. Same situation with Ruggs — I guess there’s an outside chance Lamb could be available, but I doubt it. 

For reference, the other four mock drafts we’re looking at today had Lamb off the board on average at 11.5. So his falling to 21 seems unlikely … at least for now. 

Yahoo Sports, Eric Edholm

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State 

Here’s what they said: The need for (receiver) speed is real. I thought about a corner here, with the Eagles smelling a possible run at that position. But I believe they could be smitten with the vertical ability of Aiyuk, who also earned the apt nickname of “Ai-YAC.” 

My take on Aiyuk: It’s an interesting name and among the guys mocked to the Eagles, Aiyuk (6-1, 206) is probably the name you’re least familiar with. He has speed and is a big YAC guy, so he would certainly seem to fit a need. He has traits to possibly become a dynamic play-maker but 21 might be too early. 

Opinions are clearly split on him. Trapasso and White had him at 26 and 24, respectively, while Solak and Brown had Aiyuk in the second round at No. 54 and 56. 

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