Eagles

Inside Rodney McLeod's 'mind-blowing' talk with Dallas Goedert amid George Floyd protests

Inside Rodney McLeod's 'mind-blowing' talk with Dallas Goedert amid George Floyd protests

A number of Eagles players, current and former, have spoken up in the weeks since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis and protests against institutional racism and police brutality swept across the nation, including here in Philadelphia.

One player who took to the streets alongside Philadelphia residents was safety Rodney McLeod, who protested in Center City, as did former Eagles safty Malcolm Jenkins.

Jenkins became the team's de facto leader on societal issues during his time in Philly, but with Jenkins leaving the Eagles this offseason, McLeod said this week that he's trying to take the lead and be an agent for change.

And that includes in his own (virtual) locker room.

McLeod appeared on NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Wednesday to talk about his role in the protests, and his conversations with teammates amid the ongoing protests:

The ninth-year safety said he's spoken to a number of Eagles, but one conversation in particular stuck out:

I had conversations with guys like Carson, Zach Ertz, [Jason] Kelce, Jake Elliott, and Dallas Goedert, and two guys who we all know have spoken out in a very powerful way and made statements were Zach Ertz and Carson. And I challenged them to not have their voices end there, to now take action. One thing I observed from them was their willingness to listen, and also being eager to learn more, to get out there in the front lines, to be a participant, and to stand alongside their brothers like myself. 

I had a very candid conversation with Dallas Goedert where he told me his first encounter with an African-American man was in college. It was mind-blowing for me to hear him say that, to think that neighborhoods or people's upbringings exist, because I come from a different background, where I've seen all different types of races, and I've encountered them all, and shared experiences with them. So you have to think that there are plenty of Dallas Goederts out there who, unfortunately, don't get the opportunity to experience the African-American man, and when they do, what is their perspective? How has that race been portrayed, either through the news or what they see on television, or what they're talking about in their homes?

That's quite a detail from Goedert. The 25-year-old tight end grew up in Britton, South Dakota, a small town with a population just over 1,200 and an overwhelmingly white demographic breakdown, so it makes sense.

McLeod, on the other hand, grew up around Clinton, Maryland, a town of over 30,000 with a majority African-American population.

It's really cool to see Eagles players of different backgrounds and upbringings coming together and having important conversations as a team during such a unique moment.

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How does Zach Ertz rank himself compared to Kittle and Kelce?

How does Zach Ertz rank himself compared to Kittle and Kelce?

His Madden rating dropped. His ranking among the top 100 NFL players plunged. He didn’t make all-pro. He caught 28 fewer passes than a year before.
 
Zach Ertz, who has more catches than any tight end in NFL history after seven seasons, is largely seen as No. 3 in the league these days behind George Kittle and Travis Kelce. 
 
Ertz laughs about all of it, and if there’s a sense he’s declining as a player, he sure doesn’t share it. Neither do the numbers.
 
“I do consider myself in that upper echelon of guys, in that same tier with all those guys,” he said on a Zoom call Friday. “I don’t mean any disrespect, but I think a lot of guys in this building feel the same way about me. I’m never in the business of comparing people. I think all three of us are at the top of our games, and I think we’re all perfect in the offense that we play in, honestly. I think we all have unique skill sets. We’re all very different, with some similarities. But overall I don’t think my game is any less than any of their games.”
 
Kelce is an incredible down-field threat. Kittle is a remarkable blocker. But Ertz just keeps putting together Pro Bowl season after Pro Bowl season.
 
And in the two years that Kelce, Ertz and Kittle have all been regular starting tight ends, Ertz has more catches than either of them.
 
You can argue that Kittle or Kelce is the best tight end in football, but you can’t argue with Ertz’s seven-year body of work.

It's unprecedented.
 
It includes the biggest 4th-down conversion in Super Bowl history, a 4th-quarter game-winning catch in the Super Bowl, an NFL-record 116 catches in 2018. 
 
He’s one of only four tight ends with six straight 700-yard seasons and one of only three with five straight 70-catch seasons.
 
He’s not even 30 yet, but he’s already 13th in NFL history among tight ends with 525 catches.
 
Just 68 catches out of 8th.
 
“The goal when I was a rookie was to (be) in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “I sat with my trainer growing up training for the combine and he said, ‘What are your goals when you get into the NFL?’ And I said, ‘I want to be a 1st-round draft pick and I want to go to the Hall of Fame.’ Unfortunately, I was not a 1st-round draft pick - three picks later - but I came to the best situation for me here in Philly. But the Hall of Fame goal is always something that I’ve strived for.”
 
Every eligible tight end that’s caught 600 passes is in the Hall of Fame. 
 
Ertz is 75 short, and he’s 29.
 
Four more seasons averaging 75 catches puts him behind only Antonio Gates, Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez. Pending what Kelce does.
 
“You talk about accomplishments, you talk about progress, it’s never something in my opinion you look at as you’re playing,” Ertz said. “It’s always the next season. How can you become a better football  player, how can I become a better teammate? Even when we won the Super Bowl, that next offseason my mentality didn’t change and I broke the record for catches. My mentality didn’t change. It’s always, ‘How can I be better this year than I was last year?’"
 
“I feel the best I ever have going into Year 8. I don’t think I’m slowing down by any means. Doug and my tight ends coach (Jason Peelle) said last year was my best year as a pro that they’ve seen. So overall I’m excited with where I’m at. The end goal will never change. I’m just fortunate and blessed to even have my name in those conversations this early in my career.”
 
What about his contract?
 
Ertz has two years left at $6.6 million this year and $8.25 million next year. What if the Eagles get into cap trouble? What if Dallas Goedert continues to establish himself as an NFL top-10 tight end? What if Kittle’s forthcoming deal redefines tight end salaries?
 
Who knows what the future holds, but Ertz is clear about one thing.
 
“From the moment I got here as a rookie … my goal was to be like Kobe Bryant or Jason Witten, play for one organization their entire careers,” he said. “I’ve made that known. I’ll let my agent and Howie (Roseman) handle the rest, but I know for sure I want to be here the rest of my career.”

Is he Kittle? Nope.

Is he Kelce? Nah.

But he's Zach Ertz, and that should be good enough for every Eagles fan.

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Eagles bringing back veteran DE Vinny Curry on a 1-year deal

Eagles bringing back veteran DE Vinny Curry on a 1-year deal

The Eagles are bringing back a familiar face to bolster their defensive line depth, signing Vinny Curry to a one-year deal, sources confirm to NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

Curry, 32, played in all 16 games last season with two starts and finished the season with five sacks. Curry also had 27 tackles, 5 TFLs and 12 QB hits last season. 

Curry’s one-year deal is worth up to $2 million, with $1.3 million guaranteed, a source confirmed. NFL Network first reported the news. Curry was also weighing an offer from the Browns, according to our own Derrick Gunn. 

That 5-sack total was the second-highest in his career and the most he had in a single season since 2014, when he had 9.0. 

With Curry back in the mix, the Eagles will go into 2020 with Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett as their starters at DE. Curry and Josh Sweat will be the primary rotational players. And then we’ll see which players out of Genard Avery, Shareef Miller, Joe Ostman and Casey Toohill make the roster. 

Curry was a 2nd-round pick out of Marshall back in 2012 and while he’s never really lived up to that draft status, he’s put in a lot of solid seasons in an Eagles uniform. After the 2017 season, he cashed in on a big deal with the Buccaneers but lasted just one year in Tampa Bay. Curry signed a one-year deal with the Eagles for the 2019 season too. 

While Graham and Barnett led the way in snaps for the Eagles last year with 791 and 712, respectively, Curry was next with 397 snaps. He played more than Sweat. 

We’ll also see what this means for Malik Jackson. The Eagles’ defensive tackle has the ability to play defensive end and likely would have if the Eagles needed depth there. But signing Curry might take care of that. 

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