There’s no debate that the Eagles are one of the NFL’s older teams. The debate is just how much that matters.
According to Spotrac, the Eagles have the NFL’s ninth-oldest roster, which in itself shouldn’t be alarming.
But examining their roster, it’s easy to see that other than Carson Wentz, there are no elite players under the age of 28.
There are some solid pros, like Nelson Agholor, Ronald Darby and Kamu Grugier-Hill.
There are several who’ve shown a world of potential, like Avonte Maddox, Dallas Goedert and Derek Barnett.
And there are some intriguing prospects, like Jordan Mailata, Josh Sweat and Matt Pryor.
But elite players?
There were 67 Pro Bowlers league-wide in 2018 who are 27 and under, none of them Eagles. Really, no Eagle under 28 was close.
The Eagles’ best players – from Fletcher Cox to Malcolm Jenkins to Jason Kelce to Jason Peters to Alshon Jeffery to Zach Ertz to Lane Johnson to Brandon Brooks to Nigel Bradham – are all in their NFL prime, which is 28 to 32.
Agholor, Rasul Douglas, Maddox and Isaac Seumalo are the only players under 28 who started both playoff games last year. And of that group, only Agholor started all year.
All of this isn’t a problem for 2019. And it isn’t a problem for 2020. And it might never be a problem.
But it sure seems like the Eagles need to string together a nice run of productive drafts to replenish the roster with young talent.
They have a tremendous opportunity to start that process next week with three of the draft’s first 57 picks – the first time they’ve had three of the first 57 picks since 1994 (when they took Bernard Williams, Charlie Garner, Bruce Walker).
The notion that this is a crucial draft for the Eagles because of their aging roster, lack of elite young talent and three early picks was bounced off executive vice president of football operations on Tuesday.
Fair to say he bristled.
His answer was fascinating and revealed a good deal regarding his feelings about the way the current roster is set up and the future of the team.
I would have a different perspective on that question. If I would have said to anyone in this room or anyone in our building that we’re going to have to trade a couple of second-round picks and third-round picks to get a franchise quarterback for the next decade, to win a world championship, to win four playoff games the last two years, I don’t know who wouldn’t sign up for that. I’m very proud of what we’ve done. I watch a lot of other team-building in a lot of different sports and I saw another GM being interviewed and he talked about, ‘I would do anything to win one world championship and sacrifice things,’ and when I look at it, we haven’t sacrificed our future to do that. What we’ve done as a group, as a staff, and the success we’ve had, I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I’m very proud of what we’ve done.
So I think we have a lot of talent on this team, I think our roster is really good. I think there’s (value) to getting younger, but to get younger just for the sake of getting younger doesn’t make a lot of sense to us. We’re looking for good players, and we have a lot of good players. We have a lot of players under long-term contracts., a lot of our core players are under long-term contract that are true Eagles, so I think the way we built this team makes a lot of sense, and I don’t think there’s any undue pressure on the picks that we have right now. We understand that the draft is a crapshoot and we’re not going to go 7-for-7 on picks.
So I think that at the end of the day we’re going to stick to our process. We’re going to be right more than we’re going to be wrong, but we have a good process and we have a good team and we’re going to continue to do that going forward and make sure we have a team that we’re proud of and the city is proud of.
Roseman mentioned that the Eagles this offseason acquired running back Jordan Howard, a 24-year-old former Pro Bowler who has the third-most rushing yards in the NFL since he entered the league in 2016.
But Howard, like a lot of the Eagles’ young players, isn’t signed beyond this year.
Any way you look at it, this draft is a huge opportunity for the Eagles to acquire some young, low-cost playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Whether or not it’s imperative remains open to debate.
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