Eagles

Eagles' Nelson Agholor reportedly viewed as trade option around NFL

Eagles' Nelson Agholor reportedly viewed as trade option around NFL

Nelson Agholor survived speculation he could be released by the Eagles in March, but that doesn’t mean the club won’t part with the wide receiver in a draft-day trade.

At least, that’s what NFL teams believe might happen. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, front offices around the league view Agholor as a player who could be “available” and wind up on the trade block — if the Eagles take a receiver in the draft.

Rapoport cites Agholor’s guaranteed salary of $9.4 million in 2019 as reason why the Eagles would consider a move.

The possibility for a trade makes sense from several vantage points, including money. The Eagles have quite a bit invested in the position already between Alshon Jeffery, with his $14.7 million cap hit for 2019, and DeSean Jackson, due $12 million over the next two seasons. Agholor is also in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2020.

Acquiring another receiver in the draft, presumably early, creates a logjam for playing time as well, with 2017 draft picks Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson among the prospects still in the mix. Braxton Miller has also earned praise from the organization, while the Eagles recently signed AAF standout Charles Johnson as well.

It’s easy to connect the dots and see how the Eagles could be motivated to deal Agholor, which would create cap space and a roster spot, all while netting an asset before he reaches free agency.

Such a trade would not be without some downside, however.

Agholor only turns 26 in May and is coming off back-to-back 60-reception/700-yard receiving seasons with 12 total touchdowns. He’s a versatile weapon who can work the short and intermediate areas of the field and run with the ball in his hands, but is a threat to take the top off the defense, too.

Perhaps greater than Agholor’s on-field ability — the full potential of which he perhaps hasn’t reached — is his work ethic and presence in the locker room. A former first-round choice himself, this is somebody who has worked to shake the dreaded draft “bust” label, and in the process earned the utmost respect of the Eagles’ coaching staff and front office.

In February, Eagles coach Doug Pederson gushed about Agholor’s attitude while discussing how a mid-season trade for fellow wideout Golden Tate impacted his production.

“Nelson, oh man. Love this guy,” Pederson said. “He’s the first one in and the last one out. He’s a hard worker. Spends time before and after practice. Can’t say enough good things about Nelson Agholor and what he’s brought to the table and what he will continue to bring. I think last year, you look at the amount of guys we had, and then we added Golden (Tate) midseason.

“I’m not going to stand up here and say it didn’t affect Nelson. I think it did. The question was asked earlier about getting everybody the ball. In this league, it’s a challenge … And yet Nelson didn’t complain. He came to work every single day. He put in the time, he put in the work. He was a huge part of what we did … I’m excited, I love working with him.”

If the Eagles ultimately decide to move on from Agholor, it doesn’t sound like a decision that will be made lightly.

It’s impossible to say what the Eagles should do without knowing the return or how the draft will unfold. Agholor is even more valuable than his numbers suggest, though, so one would expect he’d fetch a nice price.

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Redskins’ Reuben Foster carted off field in first OTA practice

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Redskins’ Reuben Foster carted off field in first OTA practice

Organized team activities are off to a rough start down in Washington. 

Just minutes into their first spring practices, the NFC East rival has already lost a big piece of its defense. Linebacker Reuben Foster went down and needed his left leg stabilized as he was carted off the field. 

Several reporters in Washington said Foster was crying in pain as he was carted away. Brutal scene. 

Foster, who was claimed by Washington in November, figured to be an important piece of its defense. He was claimed by Washington after a domestic violence arrest, but the charges were dropped and Foster has not been suspended. That was not Foster’s first run-in with the law and he came to Washington on thin ice in that department. 

Here’s what Finlay wrote about Foster just a few days ago:

An elite talent in college at the University of Alabama, Foster was a first-round pick in 2017. He had a well documented two year run in San Francisco, marred by two domestic violence arrests and his release from the Niners last fall. Beyond the domestic violence allegations, which were both dropped in court, Foster also had a gun charge and a marijuana charge in the time since he was drafted. 

All that said, if Foster can keep his act together, he could present a significant influx of talent to the Redskins linebacker group. It's a huge if though, because even in his rookie season in San Francisco, Foster did not consistently show the same talent as he did at 'Bama.

This will be a big loss for Washington if the injury is as serious as it appears. 

In other news from OTAs down there, Case Keenum got the first first-team snaps, but Haskins has apparently been impressive. 

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A closer look at Eagles’ 2019 defensive line without Chris Long

A closer look at Eagles’ 2019 defensive line without Chris Long

After a few months of pondering his future, Chris Long officially announced his retirement on Saturday night.

The Eagles will miss him. No doubt. 

They would have a better team if he was still on it. 

But the main reason Long walked away is the same reason the Eagles think they are probably going to be fine without him. There wasn’t going to be much opportunity for Long in the 2019 season. So, barring injury, he wasn’t going to play that much anyway. 

During his two seasons in Philly, Long was a third-down specialist. He played some other downs too, but he predominantly came into games on passing downs and got after the quarterback. For an aging pass rusher with plenty left in the tank, that’s a pretty desirable role. No, it’s not starter snaps, but being an integral part of the Eagles’ top pass rush line has to be pretty fun. This season, Long would have been bumped from that position. 

The reason Long was on that pass-rushing line in 2017 and 2018 was because one of the other defensive ends (Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham or Michael Bennett) would slide inside to play next to Fletcher Cox at DT. Then Long would come on the field at defensive end to replace them. But this offseason, the Eagles added Malik Jackson, an interior rusher who will stay on the field for those third-down passing situations. 

This is the Eagles’ new top pass-rush line: Graham, Jackson, Cox, Barnett 

It’s not that Long wouldn’t have had any opportunity; it’s just that the role he had for two years was gone. He wasn’t interested in playing in a decreased role after feeling like he had two pretty productive years (he’s right about that; Long was productive in that role for two seasons). Long told Peter King that he’s a rhythm player and the Eagles were seemingly carving out a “player-coach” role for him. That didn’t interest him. 

Long said the Eagles were honest with him about the reduced role he’d see if he returned and Long was honest with them, telling the Eagles to plan as if he wouldn’t return. That’s what they’ve been doing. 

Here’s a look at the Eagles’ defensive line going into last season and their current defensive line: 

2018 

DE: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett, Chris Long, Josh Sweat

DT: Fletcher Cox, Destiny Vaeao, Haloti Ngata, Bruce Hector 

2019

DE: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller, Daeshon Hall

DT: Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Tim Jernigan, Treyvon Hester, Hassan Ridgeway

Going from Bennett and Long being their top backup defensive ends to Vinny Curry and Sweat/Miller is a considerable drop-off. The Eagles basically traded away Bennett for nothing and never really adequately replaced him. Curry is a solid player but hasn’t gotten over 4.0 sacks in a season since 2014. The issue isn’t that Long retired; it’s that the Eagles lost both Long and Bennett. 

That could be a big problem if there’s an injury to Graham or Barnett. But if those guys stay healthy, the Eagles should be fine. Sweat or Miller or even Hall could fill that role as the fourth defensive end. In fact, if the Eagles want to develop one of them, this is a perfect opportunity to focus on limited snaps.

And it’s also worth mentioning that while the group of defensive ends is weaker this year, the group of defensive tackles is much stronger and deeper. Even though it likely ended Long’s career in Philly, the addition of Jackson was a good one. And if Jernigan can stay healthy, having him as a rotational player at his new salary is quite a coup. 

If the Eagles did want to replace Long with an outsider, they might have missed their window. There aren’t many free agents available and even if they want to add someone or make a trade, it would probably make more sense to see how Sweat, Miller, Hall and Joe Ostman perform this spring and summer first. As much as the Eagles will miss Long, there’s a chance they can get by with the group they have. 

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