Eagles

Eagles Rookie Report: Corey Clement says don't forget about me

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Eagles Rookie Report: Corey Clement says don't forget about me

The Eagles bullied the Broncos on Sunday in a 51-23 win at the Linc (see breakdown).

Undrafted running back Corey Clement had his first multi-score game, first-round pick Derek Barnett continues to be disruptive and cornerback Rasul Douglas nearly recorded his third pick of the season.

Let's take a look at some of the highlights in this week's rookie report.

1st quarter, 10:49, 2nd-an- 17 at PHI 34 - Eagles 0, Broncos 0
Douglas could've kept the Broncos off the board and started the rout on the Broncos' first drive. Playing his usual off coverage, Douglas is lined up against the speedy Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders runs a 15-yard hitch. Douglas jumps the route and has nothing but green grass in front of him. Quarterback Brock Osweiler hits Douglas right in the hands but Douglas drops it. Should've been Douglas' third pick and most likely his first NFL score. Still a nice, aggressive play by Douglas.

1st quarter, 4:52, 3rd-and-13 at DEN 5 - Eagles 7, Broncos 3
Barnett just keeps getting better (see report card). On this play, he just blows by fellow rookie Garett Bolles with an outside speed rush and plants Osweiler into the ground. Osweiler has to dump it off to running back Jamaal Charles for a minimal gain because of the pressure created by Barnett and defensive end Chris Long.

1st quarter, 0:59, 3rd-and-10 at DEN 15 - Eagles 10, Broncos 3
Still early in the game, but this would've been a big stop for Denver. Clement sets up the screen perfectly, getting enough of All-Pro linebacker Von Miller to prevent him from blowing up the play but still showing early enough for Carson Wentz to hit him with the pass. Yet again, Clement shows off his balance and vision, allowing his linemen to get downfield. Most notable was right guard Brandon Brooks, whose block clears the way for Clement's 15-yard score.

1st quarter, 0:04, 2nd-and-1 at DEN 38 - Eagles 17, Broncos 3
One thing has been made abundantly clear by Barnett's play so far: he cannot be blocked by a tight end. Apparently, the Broncos didn't get that memo, as Virgil Green attempts to block Barnett on a run play. He's able to slow down running back Devontae Booker before he could even get going. Defensive tackle Beau Allen gets credit for the tackle for loss, but Barnett clearly makes the play.

3rd quarter, 14:55, 1st-and-10 at PHI 23 - Eagles 31, Broncos 9
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Clement makes a big play. With Wentz lined up in the shotgun and Clement to his left, Clement comes across Wentz's face and takes the carry off tackle to the right. Brooks and right tackle Lane Johnson blow their men off the line and create a nice crease for Clement. Clement shows off a nice burst for a 38-yard run. He lost 10 yards off the end of the run because of a hold by wide receiver Alshon Jeffery down the field.

3rd quarter, 7:32, 1st-and-goal at DEN 2 - Eagles 31, Broncos 9
This is an interesting wrinkle by head coach Doug Pederson. Wentz is lined up in the pistol formation with Clement deep behind him. They run the option to the right. Miller goes after Wentz, making it an easy decision for Wentz to pitch it to Clement, who has an easy run to the pylon.

Analysis
Remember when Clement was a long shot to make the team? Now the Glassboro, New Jersey, native has become a pretty big part of the Eagles' offense. He finished with 66 total yards and three TDs. Not bad for an undrafted rookie. I've lauded Clement's patience and vision in this space all season. His confidence and burst are starting to catch up (see Roob's observations).

Meanwhile, Barnett has become a huge part of the Eagles' D-line rotation. He continues to show why he was a first-round pick. You have to love the way Schwartz is using him. The 279-pound Vinny Curry gets in early, trying to beat tackles with strength, and he's followed by the 259-pound Barnett, who loves to use the speed rush. Bolles couldn't keep up with either Sunday.

Douglas was beaten for a big play during garbage time but was solid yet again. He continues to make aggressive plays on the ball like he did back in West Virginia. 

Wide receiver Mack Hollins finished with just one catch for eight yards.

Kicker Jake Elliott nailed his only field goal attempt, a 45-yarder. He did miss an extra point.

Eagles hoping no-risk, high-reward veteran signings can rekindle past success

Eagles hoping no-risk, high-reward veteran signings can rekindle past success

When you’re in salary cap hell, you have to be creative when building a roster.

And one tactic Howie Roseman used when putting together the Eagles team that begins training camp Thursday is signing a handful of no-risk, high-reward guys.

Players trying to revive their careers. Players trying to reclaim past glory. Players running out of chances.

These are no-risk, high-reward guys. They could become contributors, but if it doesn’t work out? The Eagles can release them before the season with modest or no cap ramifications.

When you’re in salary cap hell, you can’t sign all the free agents you want. So you sign the free agents that you can. And you do that by signing players nobody else wants. Guys with no leverage.

One tool Roseman likes to use is the NFL’s minimum-salary benefit, which gives teams some salary cap relief when they sign veteran players to certain deals.

The minimum-salary benefit can be used only for veterans with at least four years of experience who sign one-year minimum-wage deals with combined bonuses equalling $90,000 or less. 

Here’s a look at four of these no-risk, high-reward players the Eagles added this offseason.

Markus Wheaton

The Eagles signed Wheaton to a one-year deal with a $790,000 base salary (sixth-year minimum) with a $45,000 signing bonus, a $45,000 workout bonus but a cap number of $720,000, thanks to the minimum-salary benefit.

If the Eagles release Wheaton before the season, he would count just $90,000 against the cap, the value of his two bonuses.

Wheaton is only 27 and should be in his prime but has done nearly nothing the last two seasons after two very good years.

In 2014 and 2015, he combined for 97 catches for 1,393 yards, seven touchdowns and a 14.4 average. He had seven catches of 40 yards or more during those two years. Pretty good production.

But the last two years, Wheaton had just seven catches for 102 yards and one TD for the Steelers and Bears.

If he’s healthy and can be even half the player he was in 2014 and 2015, he could really help as a fourth receiver.

Matt Jones

The Eagles signed Jones to a two-year, $1.51 million deal that includes base salaries of $705,000 this year and $805,000 next year with no bonus money, which means no dead cap money if he’s released.

Even though Jones’ deal is not subject to the minimum-salary benefit, his base salaries of $705,000 and $805,000 are minimum wage for a third-year veteran in 2018 and a fourth-year vet in 2019.

Jones was one of the NFL’s best running backs the first half of 2016. Through seven games, he had 460 yards and a 4.6 average with three TDs. In a mid-October win over the Eagles at FedEx Field, he ran for 135 yards, the most rushing yards against the Eagles the last two years.

But he hurt his knee and never got his job back, then was released before last season. He resurfaced with the Colts but had only five carries all year.

Jones is only 25 and is a good enough receiver that he caught 19 passes for 304 yards and a TD as a rookie reserve.

With LeGarrette Blount gone, Jay Ajayi on a pitch count because of chronic knee soreness, Corey Clement’s role still undefined and Darren Sproles likely to be limited on offense at 35 years old, Jones will have a chance to work his way into the mix.

And if it doesn’t work out? No cap hit.

Richard Rodgers

The Eagles signed Rodgers to a one-year, $880,000 contract that includes a $790,000 base salary, a $45,000 signing bonus, a $45,000 workout bonus and a $720,000 cap figure, courtesy of the minimum-salary benefit rule.

If the Eagles release him, he’ll count $245,000 in dead money, the amount of guaranteed money in his one-year deal.

As recently as 2015, Rodgers caught 58 passes for 510 yards and eight touchdowns, which ranked him 12th among all NFL tight ends in catches and fifth in TDs. But he dropped to 30 catches in 2016 and just 12 last year.

Rodgers is only 26 and should be in his prime, but he’s reached only 30 yards twice in his last 31 games.

With Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, the Eagles have a potent 1-2 punch, but if Rodgers can regain his form of 2015, it would give Doug Pederson even more options in a ridiculously talented array of skill players.

LaRoy Reynolds

The Eagles signed Reynolds to a one-year, $880,000 contract that includes a $790,000 base salary, a $90,000 roster bonus and a reduced $720,000 cap figure.

Because there’s nothing guaranteed in his contract, the Eagles would not absorb any dead money under the cap if they release him before the season.

Reynolds, now with his fourth team in four years, has played in 68 games with seven starts. He’s only 27 and is considered an above-average special teamer and adequate depth linebacker.

The Eagles have some big question marks at linebacker, with Paul Worrilow (Reynolds’ former teammate) out for the year, Mychal Kendricks now with the Browns, Nigel Bradham suspended for the opener and Jordan Hicks able to finish one of his first three seasons.

Reynolds will have a chance to work into that mix. If not? No harm done.

More on the Eagles

Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

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Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, John Clark and Barrett Brooks are pumped for the start of training camp. Following MLB Commissioner's comments on Mike Trout's marketability, the guys discuss if it's on the player or the league to market an athlete? The Falcons said they will not give Julio Jones a new contract. At what point does a public contract negotiation become a distraction in the locker room?

1:00 - Guys are excited for the start of training camp.
4:45 - Is it on a player or a league to market an athlete?
11:00 - When does a Julio Jones contract situation become a locker room distraction?
18:00 - When money starts dividing a locker room.

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