How Eagles have masterfully rebuilt after winning their Super Bowl

How Eagles have masterfully rebuilt after winning their Super Bowl

I’ve always thought one of the trickiest things in team sports is figuring out how to stay at a championship level after you win a championship.

You can’t sit still. You can’t keep the same team. You can’t just sit around and expect to win another title.

Because of free agency and the salary cap and aging players with declining skill and incoming draft picks you’re going to have significant turnover.

If you stand still, you fall behind. So the challenge is retaining what made that team special while turning over a minimum 30 percent of the roster.

And it’s really hard to do that.

That said, here are the Eagles 17 months after winning a Super Bowl and there are 28 guys who were on the Super Bowl roster — either on the 53 or Injured Reserve — who are no longer here.

That’s a huge chunk of a championship team. More than half of the guys who played in the Super Bowl in Minneapolis are no longer Eagles.

Yet the Eagles are still an elite team, a legit championship contender.

Howie Roseman, the departed Joe Douglas and the scouting department have done a remarkable job replacing the guys the Eagles have lost or moved on from without losing what made that 2017 team so special.

Who’s arrived since 2017? Who’s left?

Let’s take a look at how this process of replacing key parts of the 2017 Super Bowl team has gone:

Running back

Lost: LeGarrette Blount, Jay AJayi, Kenjon Barner, Darren Sproles

Gained: Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard

Barner is the only running back from the 2017 team that’s even on an NFL roster right now. The Eagles got brilliant play out of Blount and Ajayi but knew when to move on. With Sanders, they finally have a young potential franchise back for the first time since they drafted Shady a decade ago.

Wide receiver

Lost: Torrey Smith, Marcus Johnson

Gained: DeSean Jackson, JJ Arcega-Whiteside

One position without a lot of movement. Alshon and Nelly are still here from 2017 but now the Eagles have a third legit receiver to go with them and potentially the best wide receiver lineup in team history. Smith caught only 17 passes for the Panthers a year ago. Mike Wallace was here last year but played in just two games with no catches. 


Lost: Nick Foles

Gained: Clayton Thorson, Cody Kessler

Obviously until Carson Wentz wins a Super Bowl there are going to be fans second-guessing the Eagles’ decision to cut ties with Foles and sign Wentz to a long-term deal. But the reality is the Eagles lost a Super Bowl MVP at quarterback but still have one of the most talented QBs in the league, a legit MVP contender.

Tight end

Lost: Brent Celek, Trey Burton

Gained: Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers

They moved on from an all-time Eagles great in Celek and a promising young tight end and Philly Special hero in Burton, but they managed to replace them with Goedert, who has the ability to be a top-10 tight end playing alongside Zach Ertz. They cut ties with two popular, productive, capable players but got even better. This is how you remain elite.

Offensive line

Lost: Chance Warmack, Will Beatty

Gained: Andre Dillard, Jordan Mailata, Matt Pryor

The Eagles have managed to keep the entire starting o-line from 2017 intact while adding their left tackle of the future in Dillard and an intriguing young prospect in Mailata.

Defensive end

Lost: Chris Long, Steven Means

Gained: Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller

Derek Barnett was already here in 2017, but he’s the key to moving on post Chris Long (and Michael Bennett, who wasn’t here in 2017). If he stays healthy, the Eagles will be fine at defensive end.

Defensive tackle

Lost: Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls

Gained: Malik Jackson, Hassan Ridgeway, Treyvon Hester

A lot of turnover at defensive tackle, with Tim Jernigan coming and going and Cox the only tackle who’s been here straight through since 2017. But definitely a stronger, deeper group than the Super Bowl season.


Lost: Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode, Dannell Ellerbe, Jordan Hicks, Joe Walker

Gained: Zach Brown, Paul Worrilow, L.J. Fort

Hicks and Kendricks are gone, and both were talented but each had issues. The Eagles brought in a patchwork of guys the last two offseasons, but with Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill and Brown, they should have a capable group.

Defensive back

Lost: Corey Graham, Patrick Robinson, Jaylen Watkins

Gained: Andrew Sendejo, Blake Countess, Avonte Maddox, Cre’Von LeBlanc

Robinson in particular was such a huge part of that 2017 postseason run and Graham played really well in 2017 as well, but the Eagles have put together an auspicious stable of young corners. This is potentially a terrific secondary.


Lost: Donnie Jones, Caleb Sturges, Chris Maragos, Bryan Braman

Added: Jake Elliott replaced Sturges early in 2017, and both he and Cameron Johnston have proven to be a sound kicking combo. Maragos and Braman were both valuable special teamers, but the Eagles have plenty of young linebackers and defensive backs who’ve been able to replace them.

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Alshon vs. Thrash in Roob's 10 Observations!

Alshon vs. Thrash in Roob's 10 Observations!

Alshon Jeffery vs. James Thrash, Henry Ruggs’ 40 time, the Gin Blossoms and Mark Duper all found their way into this weekend’s edition of Roob’s 10 Random Offseason Eagles Observations.

I’m guessing that’s never happened before!

ALSHON VS. JAMES THRASH: Forget all the Carson stuff. Forget about the injuries and the terrible body language and the awful contract and the dropped passes that turned into Nick Foles interceptions in the Super Bowl and the playoff loss to the Saints. Let’s just focus on production, and Alshon Jeffery in three seasons in an Eagles uniform has 165 catches, 2,122 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Let’s do a little comparison of three WRs. These are averages based on their years when they were regulars on the Eagles:

Todd Pinkston: 44 catches, 659 yards, 15.0 ypc, 4.0 TDs

James Thrash: 55 catches, 675 yards, 12.4 ypc, 5.0 TDs

Alshon Jeffery: 55 catches, 707 yards, 12.9 ypc, 6 TDs

Jeffery did have a big 2017 postseason, but for the most part he’s been a pedestrian receiver since he’s been here. He’s the 14th-highest-paid WR in the NFL, but since 2017 he’s 37th among WRs in yards per game (54).

He’s an underachieving, overpaid, injury-prone 30-year-old James Thrash clone. Howie’s gotta find an exit strategy.

HOW FAST WILL HE RUN? I’ve never been a huge Combine fan, but I'll be glued to the TV Thursday when the wide receivers run the 40. How fast can Henry Ruggs go? In a way, Eagles fans should hope he doesn’t put up a 4.23 or something absurd because that might move him up too high for the Eagles to even trade up for. But I just want to see this kid run. It’s been a long time since one player made so much sense for the Eagles.

GET THIS MAN A CONTRACT: Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson are both scheduled to speak at the Combine on Tuesday, and it will be the first time we’ve heard from them in about six weeks, since Doug assured us that Mike Groh and Carson Walch weren’t getting fired. I’m most interested to hear what Howie has to say about Malcolm Jenkins. The Eagles need to resolve this situation quickly because the last thing they need this offsaeson is a growing impasse between the franchise and one of their best players and the drama and distraction it would bring. Jenkins deserves a new deal. They have the money. Get it done.

NICK AND DENNIS: It’s hilarious to me that the two players the Eagles took in the 2012 draft who’ve caught postseason touchdown passes are Nick Foles and Dennis Kelly.

WHO'S AFTER MILES AND DALLAS? I was going to make a list of the top 5 Eagles 25 or younger but after I jotted down Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert I got stuck. Who else would you put on that list? Derek Barnett? Nate Gerry? Jake Elliott? Avonte Maddox? Boston Scott? Greg Ward? Cre’von LeBlanc? Andre Dillard? Sidney Jones?

I guess I’d go:

1. Miles Sanders

2. Dallas Goedert

3. Derek Barnett

4. Avonte Maddox

5. Jake Elliott

MARK DUPER'S BRIEF EAGLES CAREER: History has forgotten it, but Mark Duper was briefly with the Eagles during 1993 training camp. You won’t find it mentioned on his Wikipedia page or his Pro Football Reference page. None of his on-line bios mention it. But after spending 1982 through 1992 with the Dolphins – he was a three-time Pro Bowler and had four 1,000-yard seasons – Duper signed in the summer of 1993 with the Bengals. It didn’t go well. They released him a couple weeks into training camp. Rich Kotite, desperate for more old broken-down players who couldn’t play anymore, immediately signed the 34-year-old Duper. He arrived at training camp in West Chester late in the day on Aug. 19, and a group of us grabbed him walking into the dining hall:

“The biggest mistake I ever made was going to the Bengals,” he said, adding, “I feel like I still have a few good years of football left.”

Turned out he didn’t even have a few weeks of football left. Duper was 34, which made him a typical Rich Kotite favorite. Not surprisingly, he couldn’t run anymore. We saw it in his first practice. The Eagles released him a couple weeks later, and he never played football again.

FOUND OUT ABOUT YOU: Anybody remember when the Gin Blossoms played the Eagles’ 2004 pep rally in the Headhouse Plaza outside the Linc? It was Sept. 9, 2004, three days before the 2004 Super Bowl season began. Did you know that gig was the first time several songs from their next record, Major Lodge Victory, were ever played live? And the next night the entire band was at the TLA on South Street to see the late, great Tommy Keene, a long-time Gin Blossoms collaborator, open for Guided by Voices?

1-FOR-62: The Eagles have selected 62 defensive players in their last 14 drafts, and one has gone to a Pro Bowl. Fletcher Cox, naturally. The rest of the league has drafted 171 Pro Bowl defensive players over the last 14 years.

BEING GREG LEWIS: How about Greg Lewis’s career. As a player, he made little impact in his five years with the Eagles – he averaged just 25 catches and 339 yards per season – but he caught a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl on what may have been the best pass Donovan McNabb ever threw. Then he goes to Minnesota in 2009, playing for Brad Childress, and in his first game with the Vikings makes that insane miracle 32-yard TD catch in the back of the end zone with 2 seconds left against the 49ers that wins him a freaking ESPY for Play of the Year. Then he becomes Eagles WRs coach in 2016 and gets fired after one year. Then he goes to the Chiefs in the same role and wins a Super Bowl.

WHAT ABOUT THIS GUY? So maybe there’s hope for Carson Walch, too!

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Four reasons the NFL's CBA proposal is bad for the players

Four reasons the NFL's CBA proposal is bad for the players

If you're a football fan, you've probably read about ongoing negotiations on a new CBA between the NFLPA, which the union representing the players, and management council, which represents the 32 NFL owners.

The NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season, but negotiations have been ongoing this offseason.

The NFLPA executive committee voted 6-5 to not recommend the current proposal to the members, so negotiations continue.

The complete proposal hasn’t been made available to the public, but enough details have leaked over the last two days to get some sense of what’s included.

The NFLPA released this fact sheet outlining key points in the CBA proposal.

And there are a lot of positives for the players. It expands pension eligibility and improves insurance benefits for retired players and raises minimum salaries, eases drug testing and reduces fines.

All good.

But there are plenty of red flags, enough that numerous high-profile players have been tweeting against the proposal.

Here are four reasons the deal as currently proposed is a bad one for the players:

1. The proposal calls for a 17-game regular-season schedule while also calling for an increase in player revenue from the current 47 to 48.5 percent. That’s about a 3.1 percent revenue increase for a 6.3 increase in games played. How is that fair? The owners are going to be raking in massive TV revenue increases, especially with the expanded playoff schedule, but the players won’t be receiving an equivalent share of that money.

2.  All players under contract when the league goes to a 17-game schedule — presumably in 2021 — will be paid only $250,000 more for that 17th game game. So anybody with a base salary over $4.25 million in 2021 will essentially be taking a pay cut. The Eagles have 10 players with 2021 base salaries of at least $5 million. Carson Wentz is on the books at $15.4 million. That’s $905,882 per week based on a 17-week schedule. So his weekly salary would go down to $869,440. That’s a $36,000 pay CUT per week. He’ll essentially be making less money per week. Now multiple that pay cut by several hundred players. The NFL will be raking in billions more dollars by increasing the regular season from 256 games to 272 - and eventually more with expansion - and increasing the postseason from 11 games to 13. While essentially asking the players to earn less per week.
3.  The proposal does shorten the preseason from four games to three, but there is apparently no second bye week included. So the players are being asked to play 17 regular-season games in an 18-week span in an era where the NFL loves blabbing about player safety. Add to that the likelihood of increased international travel and the wear and tear that takes on a player as the league explores more and more international games. This is just pure greed on the NFL’s part. It’s clear that everything the league says about player safety is just lip service if they are so desperate to add a 17th regular-season game in an era with increased focus on concussions, injuries and player health after football.  

4. The NFL is way too eager to get a deal done now when the current CBA doesn’t expire for another year. It definitely benefits both sides to have a deal hammered out and guarantee labor peace for a decade. But you just get the feeling the owners want to get this done before the NFLPA really has a chance to digest the full proposal and its long-term financial implications for the players. The owners over the last few days have embarked on a carefully strategized PR campaign to make this proposal seem like a good one for the players and try to rush a vote through before everybody knew what the implications were. Nobody wants a strike. Nobody wants a lockout. But the players are what makes the league work. Without them there is no NFL. They deserve more than what this CBA proposal calls for.

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