Eagles

Eagles Stay or Go 2020: What’s after Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert?

Eagles Stay or Go 2020: What’s after Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert?

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 tight ends:

Zach Ertz

Roob: Ertz just turned 29 and is already 13th in NFL history in catches by a tight end. And he only needs 22 catches to reach the top 10. He’s an all-time great already, and he’s got a lot of football to go. And Ertz finally put to rest the myth that he’s not tough enough by playing in the Seattle playoff game 14 days after suffering a broken rib and lacerated kidney.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Ertz has consistently been one of the best tight ends in the NFL for the last several seasons and is putting up numbers that might one day get him to Canton. This will be an important offseason for tight ends; it’s time for one of them to re-set that market because they’ve been underpaid for a long time. Ertz is just a great and consistent player and one of the most important pieces of the Eagles’ offense and he’s under contract. A long-term extension makes sense but the next one is gonna need to be a big one.

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: It was interesting hearing Ertz express some doubt about his future in Philadelphia. Fans like to bandy his name about as a possible trade chip, when in reality, he's a focal point of the offense. Then again, 2021 is the final year of his contract, which means 2020 is the time to start negotiating — especially since he's not getting any younger — and where will those talks go? The Eagles appreciate what Ertz brings on and off the field, but he's approaching 30 and starting to rack up a lot of mileage. It's hard to imagine the situation getting too messy, and the three-time Pro Bowler will probably play this year without a new deal. If the right offer came along though, the front office actually might jump on it.

Verdict: Stays

Dallas Goedert

Roob: Despite playing in Ertz’s shadow, Goedert is legitimately a top-10 tight end in his own right. He was 9th in the NFL in catches among tight ends this year and including the playoffs the only TEs with more catches since Week 5 are Travis Kelce, Ertz and George Kittle. You may have heard the Eagles like to play a lot of 12 personnel. With Ertz and Goedert, they can do it as well as anybody.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: After a slow start (five catches in four weeks), Goedert ended up having a big season. He had 58 catches for 607 yards and five touchdowns. His 58 catches ranked him ninth in the NFL. The Eagles committed to 12 personnel (two tight ends) this season and it worked, especially because the receiver position was a mess. Will it be their base personnel group going forward? Probably not. But they still need to find ways to get Goedert on the field.

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: As is customary with young players, specifically high draft picks, a lot of people were sleeping on Goedert's contributions midway through his second season. Until everything was said and done though, the second-year player ranked among the top 10 tight ends in the NFL in catches (9th), yards (10th) and touchdowns (t-7th). Not bad at all considering he's technically the No. 2 tight end. So what's the problem?

Verdict: Stays

Richard Rodgers

Roob: The Eagles re-signed Rodgers when Ertz got hurt in the Giants game, but that was just as an emergency in case everybody else got hurt. Rodgers is six years into his career, and he’s caught as many as 58 passes in a season. He’s smart, knows the offense, keeps himself in shape. But if he has a future in the NFL it’ll be somewhere else.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: At the end of the season, Rodgers got a few paychecks from the Eagles. He should be back in camp but he has struggled to stay healthy, so they probably can’t rely on him. He has a shot but …

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: Keep his number in the Rolodex in case of emergency, but Rodgers has not been able to stay healthy the last two seasons. You don't need much from a third tight end. Availability is one of the primary traits.

Verdict: Goes

Josh Perkins

Roob: The Eagles were lucky they had Perkins, who’s able to give them reps at wide receiver or tight end as needed. And he did help out, mainly in the second Giants game, when he caught four passes for 50 yards, including that crazy 29-yard TD from Carson Wentz. But he’s not fast enough to consistently play receiver and he’s not a good enough blocker to get consistent tight end reps. He’s a gamer, but he really doesn’t have a position.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: I give credit to Perkins, who came in this season and made some plays down the stretch after being called up from the practice squad. The problem here is that the last two seasons, the Eagles have needed Perkins because of his ability as a wide receiver. If they solidify that position — and they need to — Perkins isn’t as important.

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: Three times in the last two seasons, Perkins recorded at least 4 catches and 37 yards -- and he's barely played. He's got great measurables at 6-foot-3, 223 pounds with 4.6 speed, and is even a significant special teams contributor. Really nice prospect. The trouble is he's a free agent. The Eagles should try to keep him, otherwise they'll just have to replace him. Seeing as he spent most of the year on the practice squad, there shouldn't be that much of a clamoring for his services.

Verdict: Stays

Alex Ellis

Roob: Ellis had two stints on the 53-man roster and two stints on the practice squad, but the sum total of his season was six snaps on offense and 62 on special teams. Ellis had a nice preseason, and I would expect him to be back for training camp again this coming summer. Whether he can actually make the roster out of camp and help during the regular season remains to be seen.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: I really liked what I saw from Ellis, who was actually a late arrival to training camp last summer. He was the first tight end to be promoted from the practice squad this past season. The good thing about Ellis is that he offers blocking ability too, which is important in a possible third tight end. The Eagles could even use him as a fullback in certain situations. I like his potential with a full offseason here.

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Ellis bounced between the Eagles' roster, practice squad an unemployment in 2019, and has been bouncing around the league since 2016. He has three career catches and worn five different uniforms. Pretty sure he's out of practice squad eligibility, too. He's only back if Perkins is out. Even then, you probably draft somebody.

Verdict: Goes

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

NFL trade rumors: Why Stefon Diggs makes sense for the Eagles

NFL trade rumors: Why Stefon Diggs makes sense for the Eagles

On Tuesday night, receiver Stefon Diggs sent the internet into a tizzy when he apparently erased any mention of the Vikings from his Instagram account. 

We’re taking a bit of a leap here (gotta love 2020) but if this is Diggs’ somehow voicing his frustration with the Vikings it wouldn’t be the first time. And it would also basically be a Bat Signal to the other 31 NFL teams: “Come and get me!” 

The Eagles should. 

It’s funny. Before all those rumors began to swirl on Tuesday night, I was on NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Quick Slants and was asked for one potential trade target for the Birds. The name I gave was Diggs. He made sense even before this. While there’s no guarantee the Vikings trade him, it’s worth finding out. 

If you haven’t noticed, the Eagles are in desperate need of help at receiver. It’s why about 85 percent of mock drafts have them taking one in the first round of the draft in a couple months. But any player they pick in the draft is an unknown. Diggs is not. 

There are three big reasons why Diggs should be attractive to the Eagles: 

1. He just turned 26 back in November

The Eagles are committed to getting younger this offseason and getting Diggs now would kind of be like signing a free agent after his rookie deal. The Eagles have been getting older but Diggs would help them get younger. No, he’s not a 21-year-old anymore but he is arguably entering his prime. 

2. Diggs is already one of the best receivers in the NFL

Despite his targets dropping from 149 in 2018 to 94 in 2019 (ostensibly one of the reasons for his displeasure), Diggs still managed to have more receiving yards this past season. Since the 2016 season, Diggs has 313 catches, 3,903 yards and 26 touchdowns. There are just six players in the league with better stats in those four seasons: DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Travis Kelce and Michael Thomas. 

What has been impressive about Diggs is that he’s been successful in different ways. After averaging 10.0 yards per catch in 2018, he averaged 17.9 (a career high) in 2019 and was a tremendous deep threat. Just three players in the NFL had a higher yards-per-catch average in 2019. 

The Eagles certainly saw what he can do. In Week 6 against the Birds, he had his best game of the 2019 season. He caught seven passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns. That was the only time this season he was targeted over 10 times in a game. 

3. Diggs is relatively cost-controlled for another four seasons

While trading for Diggs will cost draft equity (we’ll get to that soon), his salary will be cheaper than that of a free agent of the same caliber because he’s already locked up. While multiple teams will out-bid each other for free agents and end up over-paying, Diggs has a contract that runs through the 2023 season and it’s a very reasonable contract. By the end of it, there’s a very good chance he’ll be extremely underpaid. Even though he just signed the five-year extension in the summer of 2018, he’s already just the 13th highest-paid NFL receiver in terms of APY, according to OverTheCap. 

Check out his base salaries for the remainder of the contract: 

2020: $10.9M
2021: $11.4M
2022: $11.4M
2023: $11.4M

No, that’s not exactly cheap like a rookie contract would be but it’s very manageable. And once the new CBA is eventually worked out, those prices will probably look even better. And there are some performance escalators written in, but if Diggs hits them, both sides would be happy. 

So what will it take? 

This is the big question. I think we all agree that Diggs is a good player and the Eagles would love to have him. But what would they have to give up in a trade? 

Well, the Vikings are going to start any negotiation with a first-round pick at minimum. They should. All those reasons I listed above are reasons why they should have teams lining up for Diggs. It’ll be interesting to see just how bad things really are between Diggs and the Vikings, though. There was definitely frustration during the 2019 season but he finished out the year. Is it bad enough that it’s an untenable situation? If so, then the Vikings would lose some leverage. 

If it’s a second-round pick, this is an easier conversation. The real question is whether or not the Eagles would be willing to give up a first-round pick. I kind of doubt they’d be willing to but you can make a real case for it. It’s easy to say the Eagles should just focus on the draft and take one of the many talented options with the 21st pick but there’s no guarantee they’ll hit. In fact, their history picking receivers, especially in the last decade, shouldn’t instill much confidence. They have drafted four Day 1 or Day 2 receivers since 2010: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. 

None of them ever became what Diggs is right now. And there’s a good chance any player taken at 21 won’t become what he is either. 

Maybe GM Howie Roseman and the Eagles will be worried about Diggs’ fit in the building; after all, he has created enough drama in Minnesota to bring all of this up in the first place. Would that eventually happen here? Hard to say. This isn’t a no-brainer but it’s worth a call or two. 

Pick up the phone, Howie. 

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

Brandon Graham, DeSean Jackson, more Eagles players react to Nigel Bradham move

Brandon Graham, DeSean Jackson, more Eagles players react to Nigel Bradham move

The Eagles decided Tuesday to decline the team option on Nigel Bradham's contract (see story), cutting the 30-year-old linebacker loose after four years in Philly. From the highs of winning a Super Bowl to the lows of his multiple run-ins with law enforcement, Bradham's time with the Eagles was nothing if not entertaining.

Bradham's teammates received the news Tuesday, just like fans did, and a number of his now-former teammates shared their reactions to the team's move on their Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Brandon Graham lamented the end of his time playing alongside Bradham:

DeSean Jackson and Kamu Grugier-Hill wished Bradham luck in his next NFL stop:

Nate Gerry thanked Bradham for teaching him the ins and outs of the linebacker position, and of life as pro football player:

Rodney McLeod and Nelson Agholor, two players who might not return to Philly in 2020, also shouted Bradham out on Instagram:

One particularly interesting reaction, to my eye, was that of cornerback Rasul Douglas, who opted to use the head-slap emoji in a quote tweet of a report about the move:

Whether that signifies surprise or displeasure, it seems like Douglas would've preferred Bradham return to Philly in 2020.

Instead, free agency is off and running, and the Eagles' sleepy offseason is finally about to heat up.

More on the Eagles