Eagles

Eagles Mailbag: Still confident Carson Wentz will return to form?

Eagles Mailbag: Still confident Carson Wentz will return to form?

The Phillies, Sixers and Flyers have taken headlines recently, but before you know it, everyone’s focus will be back on football and the Eagles. That’s the way it always goes. 

And you guys still care. 

I got a ton of questions in the mailbag (thanks as always), so let’s get into the first batch today: 

My confidence in Carson Wentz as a player has never really wavered. No, he didn’t look like an MVP in 2018, but he wasn’t that far removed from a really serious knee injury. Remember, it was an ACL and an LCL tear. Even Wentz admitted these injuries can take two years to fully heal. And even with that and then dealing with the back fracture, he still threw for 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2018. He actually had a higher passer rating in 2018! I have no doubts in Wentz as a player. We all saw what he was capable of during the 2017 season and I fully expect him to get back to that level. I think he’ll win an MVP in this league. I think he’ll win a Super Bowl. 

The only real question is the other one you asked. Can he stay healthy? We don’t really know. I think he can, but there’s no doubt there’s at least some reason for concern about his durability. The key, for me, is this: When you look at his injuries, they haven’t been soft tissue injuries. If he kept hurting his hamstrings or groins or calves, I could see a common thread. But Wentz’s injuries have been breaks and impact injuries. As long as he protects himself and limits contact, I think he can stay healthy, like when he played all 16 games in his rookie season. 

I’ll start this by saying I think the Eagles don’t move on from Jason Peters this season. Yes, he has a big salary and he struggled to stay healthy in 2018, but I don’t think the other options are as enticing. 

As for moving Lane Johnson to left tackle, I suppose that’s an option, but I think it was telling that they didn’t do that for the second half of the 2017 season when Peters went down. They like Johnson at right tackle; it’s where he’s become a Pro Bowler and where he faces some of the top edge rushers in the NFL. I think there’s a very good chance they draft an offensive tackle with one of their first three picks. Bringing in a tackle in free agency is a little harder because teams aren’t normally willing to let them walk, so to get one, you have to overpay. Think Nate Solder with the Giants. It’s possible, but more cost effective to draft one. 

I know the Eagles think quite a bit of Nate Sudfeld and Washington should be kicking itself for letting him walk out of the building to come to Philly. I thought the Eagles showed how much they liked Sudfeld when they allowed him to be their backup quarterback for the entire Super Bowl run in 2017. Sure, there wouldn’t have been much time to catch another guy up, but if the Eagles didn’t feel comfortable with him then, they would have made a move. At every checkpoint, the Eagles have shown how much they like Sudfeld. They brought him over from Washington, promoted him to the active roster to avoid a poaching and then let him be the backup through Wentz’s injuries. I think he’ll be the backup in 2019. 

As for the second part of that, I do think it would be a good year to bring in a developmental quarterback. Doug Pederson once said he would like to draft quarterbacks often and keep developing them. This is a perfect year to do so. The top two are going to be Wentz and Sudfeld, but the Eagles have three sixth-round picks. I think a QB would be good use for one of them. The guy in that range I like is Boise State QB Brett Rypien.  

Oh! I’m good. Thanks! 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on you device.

More on the Eagles

Ronald Darby’s goal is Week 1, knows he needs to stay healthy

Ronald Darby’s goal is Week 1, knows he needs to stay healthy

Ronald Darby tore his ACL on Nov. 11 against the Cowboys, so by the start of the 2019 season, he’ll be just about 10 months removed from the injury. 

His goal is to be ready to play.  

“My rehab is going great right now,” Darby said on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon. “I’m hitting all the marks I need to. My goal is to be back by Week 1.” 

Darby, 25, recently signed a one-year deal to stay in Philadelphia. It’s really a one-year, prove-it deal for the talented young corner, who has missed 15 regular season games over the past two seasons. 

In 2017, Darby missed eight games with a dislocated ankle but returned for the playoffs. 

In 2018, Darby missed seven regular-season games and both playoffs games after tearing his ACL. 

On Tuesday, Darby said he thinks serious injuries in back-to-back seasons affected his value on the free agent market. In 2019, he’ll not only need to play well, but he’ll — more importantly — need to prove he can stay healthy. Darby played in 15 games as a rookie and 14 games in his second NFL season, both in Buffalo before the trade to the Eagles in 2017. 

Of course it’s been real frustrating. I never got hurt like this before until I got to Philly. So this was new. Everything was new to me. But I’ve been playing football since I was 8 years old. I’ve just got to have a healthy season. … This year, I’m gonna go out there, have a healthy season, compete and play hard.

If all goes well for Darby in 2019, he’ll be in line for a major contract this time next year. He said he would “love” to be back with the Eagles, but we’ll see where both sides of the negotiating table are after the 2019 season. 

“I always wanted to be back, of course,” Darby said. “It’s hard to walk away from a place like this.”

The move to bring back Darby was slightly surprising given that the Eagles seem to have a defensive back room stocked with young, cheap talent. But after they were decimated by injuries in 2018, they will at least have the luxury of depth for this coming season. In addition to Darby, they still have Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc under contract. 

Darby said he thinks the talent in the defensive backs room should breed a lot of competition. That would be ideal. But the Eagles are paying him like a starter, so he needs to be that for them in 2019. If he does, and if he can stay healthy, he’ll earn himself some serious coin this time next year. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

DeSean Jackson’s 3-year deal includes manageable cap number in 2019

usa_desean_jackson_gallery_7.jpg
USA Today Images

DeSean Jackson’s 3-year deal includes manageable cap number in 2019

DeSean Jackson’s three-year contract with the Eagles is structured similarly to Malik Jackson’s deal, with an option bonus that alters the Year 2 base salary and two fake years that defer the cap hit, according to a league source familiar with the details of the contract.

Most importantly, it includes a manageable cap hit of just $3.164 million this year.

Because of the option bonus, Jackson’s deal can operate either as a two-year, $18 million contract or a three-year, $27 million deal.

The main component of the deal regardless of its duration is a $7.17 million signing bonus that Jackson receives now as part of $17 million in guaranteed money. 

There are also $400,000 roster bonuses each year from 2019 through 2021 payable as weekly $25,000 bonuses for each week he’s on the team. There are also $400,000 annual workout bonuses.

All the bonuses count against the cap except $100,000 of the 2019 roster bonus, which is considered not likely to be earned, since Jackson missed four games last year.

As a three-year deal, Jackson has base salaries of $1.03 million in 2019, $6.2 million in 2020 and $8.2 million in 2021, with cap figures of $3.164 million this year, $8.934 million next year and $10.934 million in 2021.

The contract includes a $2 million option bonus for 2021 that they would need to exercise in 2020. If they pay Jackson the bonus, it would remain a three-year contract and would add $500,000 in pro-rated bonus money per year starting in 2020.

If they decide not to pay the option bonus, the $2 million is added to Jackson’s 2020 base salary, increasing it from $6.2 million to $8.2 million.

In that event, his 2019 cap figure would remain $3.164 million, but his 2020 cap figure would increase $10.434, since it would include the entire option bonus as part of his new base salary.

In that case, Jackson would become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season.

This contract structure essentially protects the Eagles from having to release players and give them a chance to gain compensatory picks by making them unrestricted free agents.

But it also protects the player because in the event he doesn’t get the bonus, he still gets the money.

The two fake years at the end of the contract serve to defer the cap hit beyond this year.  

The signing bonus pro-rates to $1.434 million per year, so if this ends up being a two-year deal, it adds up to $4.302 million in dead money in 2021 — three years worth of pro-rated signing bonus — and if it’s a three-year deal, it adds up to $3.868 million in dead money in 2022 — two years worth of pro-rated signing bonus ($2.868 million) and two years of the pro-rated option bonus at $500,000 per year ($1 million).

Jackson, 32, enters his 11th NFL season with 589 catches for 10,261 yards and 53 touchdowns. His 17.4 yards-per-catch is highest in the NFL in the last 25 years, and his 24 touchdowns of 60 yards or more are most in NFL history.

After spending his first six seasons with the Eagles, he spent three with the Redskins and two with the Buccaneers before the Eagles traded for him last week and gave him this new contract.

Jackson had one year remaining on his contract with the Bucs paying him $10 million for 2019.

In the trio of Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Jackson, the Eagles are paying $22.16 million in base salary in 2019 with a combined cap hit of $27.27 million. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles