Eagles

Eagles’ Chris Long even more unsure of football future

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USA Today Images

Eagles’ Chris Long even more unsure of football future

As the 2019 NFL draft nears, one of the Eagles most veteran players still hasn’t made a decision about his football future. 

We’ve known that 34-year-old Chris Long has been pondering retirement for a while now, but here’s what he said to the USA Today’s Jarrett Bell after a Players Coalition town hall meeting at George Mason University Arlington: 

“In March, I really wanted to play. Now, I don’t know.” 

Bell theorizes that Long is contemplating taking a pay cut, which he insinuates could be the reason for Long’s indecision. This seems unlikely to me. In March, the Eagles reportedly pushed back Long’s $2 million roster bonus until after the draft because, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Long felt uncomfortable taking it with an uncertain future. 

And Long is the guy who once gave away his entire year’s salary, so to think money is the reason he might not return just doesn’t quite add up. 

Long confirmed his decision has nothing to do with money: 

It seems far more likely Long is — as he’s said plenty of times before — making a football decision. He has said he doesn’t want to be a “locker room guy” and wants to be a contributing player. Based on his 2018 season, he still has plenty productivity left in him. 

This offseason, even though the Eagles traded Michael Bennett, they re-signed Brandon Graham and brought back Vinny Curry. Perhaps even more importantly, they signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson, who could take away third-down snaps from Long. In the last couple years, the Eagles have slid Graham or Curry inside on passing downs, but Jackson has the ability to be a three-down player next to Fletcher Cox. 

It made sense that the roster bonus was pushed back until after the draft because if the Eagles use a first- or second-round pick on a defensive end, they’re probably going to want to get that player snaps in Year 1, which would then minimize Long’s role. 

"I’m pretty undecided, but from the looks of things they’re going to make it hard for me in my favorite city,” Long said to USA Today. “We’ll see.”

Bell took that to mean something about his contract, but if I had to venture a guess, I think it probably means more about the roster. If he returns, Long is set to have a cap hit of $5.6 million in 2019, which seems like a relatively fair price. The Eagles have $24.975 million in cap space, according to the most recent public report from the NFLPA, so it’s not like they desperately need to create space. 

The Eagles begin OTAs in May, but Long said he definitely doesn’t feel like going to OTAs. They’re voluntary anyway and the Eagles have brought back players like Darren Sproles and Corey Graham well after the spring workouts. They’d likely be fine doing the same for Long if he decides he wants to come back. 

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Jets ask for permission to interview Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas

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Philadelphia Eagles

Jets ask for permission to interview Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas

It looks like familiarity with Jets head coach Adam Gase is a prerequisite for the GM job in New York.

For a while, we’ve heard reports that Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas is a favorite to replace Mike Maccagnan, but now we know his competition.

Douglas and Gase worked together briefly in Chicago for a season. Gase and Kelly worked together in Chicago and Denver.

Kelly is the Bears’ assistant director of player personnel. He just finished his second season in that role with Chicago. Kelly and Douglas also worked together in 2015, when Douglas was the Bears’ director of college scouting and Kelly was the Bears’ director of pro scouting.

It has been previously reported that Douglas is Gase’s pick for the job, so we’ll see how much power the head coach wields in this process.

There has also been a thought that Douglas to the Jets is a done deal. While that might be unsubstantiated, if the Jets do want to hire Douglas, they wouldn’t have to interview any more candidates than these two because Kelly would fulfill the Rooney Rule requirement. The Rooney Rule requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and GM jobs.

While losing Douglas would be a blow, the Eagles have likely been preparing for that possibility for a while.

"At some point, we are going to lose executives," Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said in March. "When you’re winning, you’re going to lose executives. I think we’re in a great position to be able to deal with that. We don’t want to put a cap on how many good executives we have in football operations. That would be a competitive mistake."

Douglas could theoretically wait for a more stable offer to appear, but there are just 32 of these jobs available. And if the Jets do give Douglas final say, it would probably be pretty hard for him to turn it down.

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Eagles backup quarterback spot appears to be Nate Sudfeld's to lose

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Eagles backup quarterback spot appears to be Nate Sudfeld's to lose

The Eagles aren’t saying it. Nate Sudfeld isn’t saying it. But Sudfeld is the Eagles’ backup quarterback.

Who an organization brings in this time of year to compete with its backup typically speaks volumes about how they feel about said backup. When executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman proclaimed in February the Eagles were looking at veteran signal callers, people thought Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Fitzpatrick, maybe Tyrod Taylor.

The Eagles used a fifth-round draft pick on Clayton Thorson and signed free agent Cody Kessler a couple weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Sudfeld received a second-round tender from the club as a restricted free agent this offseason — the second-largest qualifying offer — signing for over $3 million in April.

“It was really exciting,” Sudfeld said after Tuesday’s practice. “That really kind of gave me a vote of confidence and just was really exciting because again I wanted to be here and I have another year to keep getting better and developing here.”

Sudfeld’s contract isn’t guaranteed or anything, so in theory, Kessler — a former third-round pick with 12 not-awful starts under his belt — could steal the job. Yet, even listening to the language Eagles coach Doug Pederson used, it’s clear what the expectation is.

“Nate has an opportunity to really compete and solidify the No. 2 spot,” Pederson said on Tuesday. “He gets an opportunity and it’s a great opportunity for him to do that.

“Depth brings a lot of competition. At that spot, there is no exemption. Looking forward to that.”

Some might think it a gamble for the Eagles to hitch their wagon to a backup who’s thrown just 25 passes in NFL regular season games. Then again, the club’s trust in Sudfeld has never waned, going back to his rookie year in 2017 when he served as Nick Foles’ backup throughout the playoffs and Super Bowl.

Clearly, the Eagles see something in the 25-year-old the rest of us simply haven’t yet had the chance to experience. They stashed him on the 53-man roster for the better part of two seasons. They’ve watched him grow as an athlete and quarterback.

“I feel like I’ve improved in a lot of ways since Washington,” Sudfeld said, referring to where he got his start as a sixth-round pick out of Indiana in 2016. “I think physically I’ve developed a lot. I think I was kind of a late bloomer, so I feel like I’ve gotten a lot stronger in the weight room, faster on the field. I just feel like physical development’s been huge. And then just being in the NFL a couple years, some great systems and great coaches, just understanding ball a lot more and seeing situations and being able to apply it.

“I think arm strength has improved, velocity, weight room just in general, core, everything. I just feel a lot better.”

That doesn’t mean the Eagles will simply give Sudfeld his spot. Kessler is an intriguing prospect — he was reasonably accurate and took care of the football (64.2 completion percentage and 5 interceptions in 17 career games) as a member of bad Browns and Jaguars squads. Thorson, too, while likely more of a project, could take a surprise leap at the next level.

Whether because he’s confident in his ability or simply understands the situation, Sudfeld doesn’t seem to be sweating the competition.

“Nothing’s ever going to be handed to you, and you don’t want it that way,” Sudfeld said. “There’s no sense of entitlement. Everything’s earned. I’m just trying to improve myself as much as possible, try to be the best version of myself, work on my craft. I know if I can keep improving and become a better player, it’ll all take care of itself.”

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