Eagles

Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Time for a decision on Alshon Jeffery

Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Time for a decision on Alshon Jeffery

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp bring back Stay or Go with the 2020 version, trying to figure out the future of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Today, we’ll look at wide receivers:

Alshon Jeffery 

Roob: This is the ultimate stay or go this offseason. I guess Alshon and Jason Peters. He really is the Eagles’ most talented wide receiver, and it’ll be a cap killer if they cut him. I just can’t get past not wanting him around. Addition by subtraction. I don’t even know if there’s a practical way that he goes. Any trade value, and I don’t think there was much, has been compromised by his foot injury. But I’m sticking to what I’ve said for a while now. He goes because it just doesn’t make sense for him to be here anymore.

Verdict: Goes 

Dave: This is a really tough one. On one hand, it seems like the Eagles are stuck with the soon-to-be 30-year-old receiver after (oopsie daisy) guaranteeing his contract for 2020. On the other hand, it seems like they desperately need to move on. But how? Cutting him would be a cap disaster. Trading him would probably take a Brock Osweiler deal, sending him with a draft pick just so someone will take on that ridiculous contract for a malcontent with a Lisfranc injury. Yikes. There’s a good chance he’ll be on the PUP to start the season anyway so the Eagles can push back this looming decision. I think the Eagles would like to get away from Alshon, but ultimately, they’re stuck with him in some capacity next season. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Ideally, Jeffery would not be costing the Eagles almost $16 million against the cap in 2020, and that was before he suffered a Lisfranc injury. Whether because of age or injury, he simply did not perform at a high level last season, plus everybody is pretty sure he's talking smack on Carson Wentz. The problem is the team can't easily get rid of Jeffery. Cutting him will cost more against the cap than keeping him, and a trade seems unlikely since he may not even be healthy to start the season. Howie Roseman has been able to get out of some tough contracts in the past -- Byron Maxwell comes to mind -- but this looks like a real pickle. On the other hand, Jeffery might be motivated once he returns, because this is essentially becoming a contract year at 30, so maybe it winds up working out in the Eagles' favor. 

Verdict: Stays

DeSean Jackson 

Roob: Lost season after opening day, and he’ll be 34 late next season but where else are you going to find a guy with his skill set? You can’t replace an entire wide receiver corps, so keep DeSean and just hope that he can stay healthy at an age where most wide outs are retiring. 

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Losing DeSean last season killed the Eagles. He’s 33 and coming off an injury, so I don’t think the Eagles can go into next season relying on him. They need to add receivers this offseason but that doesn’t mean Jackson should be gone. Because if he’s able to get on the field next year, he’s still fast and can still do DeSean things. It would be a nice boost — but also a bonus — for the Eagles if he can help in 2020. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Of all the injuries during the 2019 season, none had a greater impact than Jackson's (besides Wentz's concussion at the end, obviously). Seeing the connection those two had in camp and even Week 1 of the regular season, it really felt like they were destined to have a monster year together. So while the Eagles will be making a concerted effort to get younger and the oft-injured Jackson is 33, the club should really give it another go and hope he can stay healthy. There's no real cap benefit to moving on anyway. 

Verdict: Stays

Nelson Agholor 

Roob: Come on now!

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Agholor had one of the weirdest Eagles careers ever. A disappointing first-round pick to a Super Bowl hero to complete liability and target of the funniest viral moment of 2019. His five-year stint in Philadelphia was a perfect bell curve. Both parties know it’s time to move on. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: What a strange player. Agholor has plenty of talent -- that much was evident in 2017 and '18 -- and nobody outworks the guy. For whatever reason though, he forgot how to play wide receiver. He can't catch the ball, can't even locate it in the air, and when he does manage to find it and hang on, there's something like a 50-50 chance he'll fumble it without anybody touching him. Agholor could probably play another eight seasons and he'll probably have one or two good ones or figure it out toward the end, but right now, the dude is a head case, not to mention a free agent.

Verdict: Goes

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Roob: He stays just because there’s no reason he shouldn’t stay, but definitely a discouraging rookie year. He played 486 snaps on offense and caught 10 passes. I never count out anybody after one season, but the Eagles need him to be dramatically better in 2020.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: One year into his career, it certainly looks like JJAW was a wasted pick. Now, that doesn’t mean he’s a bust just yet and the Eagles owe it to him and themselves to see this through. Early returns just aren’t very good. Still, gotta give him another chance. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: It seems clear the Eagles should've drafted D.K. Metcalf instead of Arcega-Whiteside. Then again, it's hard to say whether Metcalf would've developed as quickly under this coaching staff. Get a decent receivers coach, and maybe JJAW can still become a competent target. Though he probably won't ever be as good as the guy the team could've had.  

Verdict: Stays

Greg Ward 

Roob: Ward showed me enough after his promotion from the practice squad that I want him to be a part of this team moving forward. The Eagles still need outside firepower, but 31 catches for 278 yards in his first eight career games makes you take notice. If he can be a 60-for-600 type of guy out of the slot you’ll take that. I don’t think it’s a lock he’s back. Depends how much new blood they bring in at WR. But I like Ward. I want him back.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Is Ward going to be the long-time slot guy for the Eagles? I’m not sold on that. But I know he gave them more than Agholor this year and he was a big reason for the late-season push to the playoffs. He’ll be back on the roster in 2020. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: It's been obvious to anybody who's had a chance to see him in OTAs and training camp the past couple years that Ward had the potential to be a nice little role player. He finally got the chance in 2020, and was easily the Eagles' best receiver down the stretch, though he showed his limitations as well, averaging 9.1 yards per catch. A pure slot receiver who can reliably field a punt and makes the league minimum, and there's room for that on this roster. 

Verdict: Stays

Deontay Burnett

Roob: He showed up when the Eagles needed him the most with a 41-yard catch in the must-win season-ending game against the Giants. I’d expect the Eagles to bring him in for camp next summer, and I’d have no problem keeping him on the practice squad. But if he’s on the 53-man roster after final cuts the Eagles had a really bad offseason.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: OK, now we’re getting into these guys. That long catch was pretty cool. He’s going to be one of about a million receivers at training camp this summer and maybe one of them has a great camp and makes the roster. Probably not for Burnett though. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Joined the practice squad in December and was starting by the end of the season, which says more about the roster and injuries than it does Burnett. He flashed some potential with three catches for 53 yards between Week 17 and the wild card game, but the Eagles need to draft a whole slew of receivers, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the guys on this list.

Verdict: Goes

Robert Davis 

Roob: Davis had a couple moments after being activated from the practice squad, and it’ll be interesting to see what the former Redskin does in training camp, but like Burnett, he’ll be on the outside looking in once the season begins. 

Verdict: Goes

Dave: I’m a little intrigued to see Davis this summer. He’s big, fast, strong and none of that really mattered when he found the field with the Eagles this season. Maybe it will with a full offseason here. But …  

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: If he never appears in another game in Philadelphia -- not at all unlikely -- Davis will be the 10th wide receiver in the Super Bowl era to finish his Eagles career with one catch. His name will be there with other franchise legends such as Seyi Ajirotutu, Alex Van Dyke, Troy Smith, Reggie Lawrence, Carlos Carson, Bobby Duckworth, Jerrold McRae, Stan Davis and Vince Papale. OK, that last one was pretty good. And yes, I just out-Roobed Roob. 

Verdict: Goes

Shelton Gibson 

Roob: One of the stranger stories of the 2019 postseason was Gibson – who spent the entire regular season on the Browns’ practice squad – being responsible for the Eagles’ longest play of the Seahawks game. A 39-yard DPI. He only played two snaps all year – regular season and postseason combined. Gibson still has only three career receptions - actual receptions -  in three seasons.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Gibson is a pretty good gunner. And he drew that DPI in the playoff game. But there’s a reason he didn’t work out in his first stint here. And there’s a reason he’s not going to work out now. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: It's mystifying the Eagles waited so long to bring Gibson back given some of the bodies they were trotting out there -- Mack Hollins and Jordan Matthews, for example. Then again, they never really gave Gibson a shot when he was here the first time, so clearly they're not very high on the kid.

Verdict: Goes

Marcus Green 

Roob: Green was the only wide receiver who was on the practice squad all year. Probably not a good sign that the Eagles promoted four other wide receivers - Ward, Gibson, Burnett and Davis - from the practice squad, bypassing Green each time. 

Verdict: Goes

Dave: My guess is the Eagles see Green as a developmental player with some upside. They kept him on the practice squad all year as they brought up just about everyone else. I see him as more of a gadgety player. The success of Boston Scott this year might doom him even more than the numbers game at receiver. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: A sixth-round pick by the Falcons in 2019, Green is undersized at 5-foot-8, but does have sub-4.4 speed. The fact that the Eagles targeted him for a futures contract is interesting, but he'll be battling for a spot on the practice squad more than likely. Maybe he makes it, maybe he doesn't.

Verdict: Goes

Marken Michel 

Roob: It was surprising the Eagles activated Shelton Gibson for the playoffs instead of Michel, who had spent the offseason with the Eagles. Michel had a solid training camp and seems to catch the ball well, and he’s got decent size. Like all these other practice squad guys, I’d expect him to get a look-see over the summer, and I won't say he'll never make it to the 53. But he won't be on the initial 53.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: As anyone who listens to the Eagle Eye podcast can probably tell you, I think Michel can play. I don’t understand why the Eagles brought the 26-year-old back to the practice squad and didn’t promote him. That doesn’t make any sense. I’d like to say I think Michel can make the roster with a good summer but he had a good summer in 2019 and it still didn’t happen. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: The most telling thing about Michel is he was actually on the roster in training camp, yet the Eagles were signing guys off other teams' practice squads rather than promoting him to the 53 at the end of the season. He's a gamer, but lacks the athleticism to play at this level.

Verdict: Goes

River Cracraft 

Roob: You hope he makes it just because of his name. Here’s some of that Dave Zangaro detective work: Carcraft played for Mike Leach at Washington State, where his position coach was Graham Harrell, who is now USC offensive coordinator and on the Eagles’ short list for their offensive coordinator vacancy. Not sure that’s enough to get him a job.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Cracraft has actually played in nine NFL games and has gotten some work as a punt return and kick return man. He has 12 punt returns for … drum roll please … 40 yards. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Oh, come on, these aren't even real people anymore.

Verdict: Goes

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Eagle Eye podcast: The biggest news from the combine

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Eagle Eye podcast: The biggest news from the combine

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank is joined by Dave Zangaro from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to go over the biggest storylines of the day. 

Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Tuesday about a wide range of topics. 

Will Jason Peters return? Have the Eagles changed their free agent philosophy? And what will the coaching staff really look like in 2020? 

• One more year of Jason Peters? 
• Eagles might change free agency approach
• More details about the coaching structure
• The rise of Press Taylor 
• What will Rich Scangarello do?  
• Breaking down Duce Staley’s role in the organization 

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Eagles leave open possibility that Jason Peters returns in 2020

Eagles leave open possibility that Jason Peters returns in 2020

INDIANAPOLIS — Jason Peters is 38 years old, will become a free agent in less than a month and the Eagles already drafted his replacement in the first round a little less than a year ago.

This seems pretty simple, right?

Yet, as Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Tuesday at the NFL’s Scouting Combine, neither man was ready to say the team is moving on.

“I think as it pertains to all of our free agents, it’s important that we keep an open mind with everyone and try to figure out as we get more information,” Roseman said.

“A big part of this week is accumulating information. That’s what we do here. Obviously, when you’re talking about Jason Peters, you’re talking about a Hall of Fame player, a Hall of Fame person, someone that’s very special to us and played at a really high level last year. We’ll go through all those decisions this week.”

Pederson gave less of a politician answer.

“Heck yeah,” Pederson said when asked if he wants Peters back next season.

So that leads us to this: Is there really a chance the Eagles would re-sign a 38-year-old left tackle instead of playing a first-round pick they traded up to get less than a year ago?

It seems crazy.

Coming into Tuesday, I thought there was a chance Roseman would get to the podium and use the forum as a chance to make a statement about Peters. I thought, maybe, he would get up there and tell us all that the Eagles were planning to let Peters hit the free agent market, thank him for his time and give a vote of confidence to Andre Dillard as the left tackle of the future.

That didn’t happen.

In fact, Roseman and Pederson actually invited more speculation and I walked away thinking there’s actually a chance they try to bring back Peters for next season, even though it sounds pretty crazy.

Maybe they just haven’t talked to Peters yet. That’s possible. In a case like this, if the Eagles want to move on, they wouldn’t want to do anything to disrespect a guy who has been here a decade and will likely end up in Canton. Even Roseman admitted that it’s important to treat guys of this magnitude a little differently.

“There’s no question,” Roseman said. “When you talk about guys who are historic players in the National Football League, guys who are going into the Hall of Fame, guys who are going into the Eagles Hall of Fame, those guys are special people and special players and you don’t have a lot of those during the course of your career.

“So you try to make decisions first that are best for the football team and at the same time have respect and appreciation for what guys have done and what guys have done going forward and have been a part of your organization for a long time.”

Peters played the 2019 season on a renegotiated one-year deal that he signed in March. And while Peters didn’t play at an All Pro level last year, he was still pretty good.

But throughout last season, it seemed like the Eagles were going to let Peters play and groom Dillard. And, sure, Dillard struggled at right tackle in his one start at the position, but acquitted himself quite well at left tackle when Peters missed a three-game stretch.

On Tuesday, I asked Pederson about the possibility that bringing back Peters could stunt Dillard’s long-term development. I mean, what would it say about a first-round rookie if the Eagles didn’t start him in Year 2 and instead re-signed a 38-year old to play in front of him?

“Andre is the guy we selected,” Pederson said. “He was our top pick a year ago. We feel like he has a bright future. Again, this is where that fine line comes in. We have to have some difficult conversations, not only for us internally but with the players.”

Pederson said his feelings about wanting Peters back are similar to the way he felt about Darren Sproles. Well, the Eagles brought Sproles back in 2018 and 2019 and he got hurt both seasons. It seems like a cautionary tale.

And unlike Sproles, who was a rotational player, if Peters returns, he’ll be the starting left tackle.

“It is that simple when it comes down to it,” Pederson said. “It’s either JP or it’s Andre and those are decisions we have to make.”

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