Eagles DE Chris Long still wants to play but doesn't rule out retirement

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Eagles DE Chris Long still wants to play but doesn't rule out retirement

Eagles defensive end Chris Long would like to continue his NFL career but hasn’t yet ruled out the possibility of retirement. 

After the Eagles won Super Bowl LII, Long pondered retirement before deciding to return for his 11th NFL season, which was a productive one. But Long said that for the rest of his career, each offseason will be met with the same questions about his career. 

Long, who will turn 34 in late March, was on 94WIP on Friday afternoon and was asked about his football future going into this offseason.

I’d like to play football in 2019. I thought I had a strong year and felt good physically. Listen, I know I’m an older guy. But, you know, I don’t think I’ve missed a practice over the last two years. I feel like I’ve been durable and ready when called upon.

In 2018, Long played in all 16 regular-season games and both playoff games (he hasn’t missed a game since signing here) and had a productive season. He had 6 1/2 sacks, his highest total since 2013, and two forced fumbles. Long has had six forced fumbles over the past two seasons.

After giving him a raise before last season, Long is under contract for the 2019 season with a salary of $3.5 million and a cap hit of $5.6 million. Sure, the Eagles have some salary cap gymnastics to perform this offseason, but that’s not an outrageous amount of money for a productive pass rusher. And knowing Long, he’ll just give away all of it to charity anyway.

At the end of the day, the itch is still there, I still love playing on Sunday. But as far as what happens, I’m literally just kind of sitting back and seeing what the Eagles do and who they bring in or don’t bring in and how deep that room gets. But I’d still love to play. But at the end of the day at 33, I could go either way.

It makes sense that Long is going to kind of sit back and watch for a while this offseason. The Eagles have decisions to make on the defensive line. Michael Bennett is under contract for 2019, but Brandon Graham is set to be an unrestricted free agent and Howie Roseman just called this an extremely deep draft for defensive linemen.

Still, the Eagles would probably like to have Long back in 2019 and it’s good news that he seems ready to lace up his cleats for one more season.

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

Starting Tuesday, 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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