Eagles

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. 

Quarterback

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.

Linebacker

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.

Specialists

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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Popular former Eagles special teams player Chris Maragos announces his retirement

Popular former Eagles special teams player Chris Maragos announces his retirement

After missing all of last season and recently undergoing a third surgery for a significant knee injury suffered in 2017, former Eagles special teams captain Chris Maragos officially announced his retirement on Tuesday afternoon.

Maragos, 32, suffered a torn PCL on Oct. 12, 2017, and hasn’t played since. The Eagles officially released him in February.

Here is the announcement from Maragos:

Unfortunately, his time in the NFL was cut short by the injury against the Panthers in Week 6 of 2017. But he had a pretty good and improbable career.

After a couple years at Western Michigan, Maragos transferred to Wisconsin to continue his college career as a wide receiver. But in 2008, Badgers then-head coach Bret Bielema watched a play in which Maragos tracked down a defensive back after an interception and moved him to defense immediately and it stuck. Maragos played defensive back for his final two college seasons.

After going undrafted in 2010, Maragos played three games with the 49ers before carving out a role with the Seahawks for three seasons, from 2011-13. He joined the Eagles in 2014 and almost immediately became a difference maker on special teams and eventually became a special teams captain. For part of his time in Philly, he even had a significant role on defense, but he’ll be remembered for his contributions on special teams.

During his NFL career, Maragos played in 99 games (53 with the Eagles) with three starts. He was a part of two Super Bowl winners. Even though he was on the shelf with his knee injury by the time the Eagles played in Super Bowl LII, he was an important part of that team. He was one of the leaders of the injured group that included Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles.

Even last season, Maragos was still around the team, offering a veteran voice for some younger players.

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How important will deep threat DeSean Jackson be for Eagles in 2019 season?

How important will deep threat DeSean Jackson be for Eagles in 2019 season?

In DeSean Jackson, the Eagles have a legitimate deep threat. 

The 32-year-old led the NFL in yards per reception last season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 18.9 and now, he's back in the city where he began his career.

How important will Jackson be for the Eagles this year?

With training camp approaching, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss Jackson's role and how integral he might be in the video above.

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