Eagles

If Eagles want a veteran backup QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick makes sense

If Eagles want a veteran backup QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick makes sense

In a guest post on ESPN Insider, ProFootballFocus named one free agent every NFL team “must” sign this offseason. 

Their entry for the Eagles was somewhat surprising. They picked Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Yeah, the Eagles will have about $20 million in cap room and have needs at several positions, but PFF lists a 36-year-old journeyman quarterback as the top guy, which actually isn’t as crazy as it sounds. 

Here’s what PFF said: 

Fitzpatrick started the 2018 season in a magical way, earning 96-plus overall grades in each of the first two weeks. His gunslinger mentality paid off early, but his magic fizzled later in the season. However, he still did enough to earn an overall grade of 84.4, which ranked 10th out of 39 qualifying quarterbacks last season. When kept clean, Fitzpatrick completed 121 of 172 attempts for 1,824 yards, nine touchdowns, five interceptions and a passer rating of 110.2, ranking 10th in the NFL. Fitzpatrick is 36 and would merely be an insurance policy in case Carson Wentz gets injured again.

If the Eagles really are in the market for a veteran backup quarterback, they could do a lot worse than Ryan Fitzpatrick. 

The Eagles have been very high on Nate Sudfeld with their words and actions over the last couple years, but perhaps they’re not ready to simply make him Carson Wentz’s backup. Doug Pederson said last week that he wanted Sudfeld to compete for the backup job. If they sign a guy like Fitzpatrick, he's going to be the backup. Perhaps they want someone with a little more experience to back up a quarterback who hasn’t been able to finish both of the last two seasons. 

Sure, Fitz is 36 now, but had a pretty good season in 2018 and got off to a tremendous start in Tampa Bay. He showed he can be a really good quarterback for at least a small window, so he’d be a good option if Wentz were to ever go down. After a white-hot start, Fitz cooled down last season. He played in eight games (seven starts) and threw 17 touchdowns and 12 INTs. But in his first two games, Fitzpatrick was incredible. He threw for over 400 yards in each start to go along with eight touchdowns and one INT. That included his great performance against the Eagles in Week 2. 

One of the keys here is money. In the last two seasons, Fitzpatrick has been affordable. He made $3 million in 2017 and then made $3.3 million in 2018. After carrying Foles’ $13 million cap hit last season, a one-year deal for Fitzpatrick could be downright palatable. 

There are other options too. Guys like Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater are also available as free agents. But it’s hard to think they’d find a better locker room fit than Fitzpatrick. 

Fitz is a smart and affable guy — did you know he went to Harvard!? — who would immediately click with the Eagles’ locker room. I covered Fitzpatrick for a season back in 2014 and his teammates loved him. He’d be a good fit in that QB room with Wentz and Sudfeld. 

The Eagles have more pressing needs than backup quarterback, but if that’s the route they want to go, Fitzpatrick wouldn’t be a bad option for a year or two. 

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Eagles bringing back receiver Marcus Green

Eagles bringing back receiver Marcus Green

The Eagles are bringing back wide receiver Marcus Green, who spent last season on their practice squad, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

Green, 23, was among four Eagles released a week and a half ago. And now he’s coming back. NFL Network first reported the news.   

Green (5-8, 191) was a Falcons 6th-round pick out of Louisiana-Monroe last year. After he was waived at final cuts, Green joined the Eagles in early September and spent the entire 2019 season on the Birds’ practice squad. 

In four years at Louisiana-Monroe, Green caught 202 passes for 2,698 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also had 51 rushing attempts for 492 yards (9.6) and 1 touchdown. He also returned kicks and punts in college. He’s less of a pure receiver and more of a playmaker. 

With Green back, the Eagles have a full roster at 80, although that includes Brandon Brooks and Alshon Jeffery who are both on Active/PUP and are not healthy enough to practice. That 80 does not include Matt Leo who has an International exemption. 

Still, the Eagles are at the 80-man limit to keep them from going split-squad at practices. The Eagles are still in the Acclimatization Period of their collectively bargained training camp. They won’t hold non-padded practices until Aug. 12 and the first padded practice won’t be until Aug. 17. 

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Eagles' Fletcher Cox keeps getting better and it's scary

Eagles' Fletcher Cox keeps getting better and it's scary

He’s going into Year 9 now, he’s made five straight Pro Bowls, and he’s at the point now where some veterans just coast through the rest of their career and pile up the honors and pocket millions of dollars and are OK with just being OK.

Not Fletcher Cox.

This guy will never be content.

“I just want to get better at everything,” Cox said Wednesday.

There’s a lot to admire about Cox. The intensity he plays with. The way he attacks practice. The ferocious physical nature of his game that rubs off on the rest of the team. The team-first mentality that’s built into his personality.

And there’s an impossibly high standard he’s constantly trying to live up to, a standard that drives him no matter how many honors he gets, no matter how many sacks he records.

The great ones all share that trait. Whether it was Reggie White, Seth Joyner or Eric Allen, they all had that burning determination to be even better, that refusal to be content with where they’re at as players.

And that’s the company Cox is in. One of the best in Eagles history. 

If you’re a young player or any player really and you see the highest-paid or most-honored players working their ass off every day, you’re going to follow in line.

That's what leadership really is. Not all that rah-rah stuff. It's setting an example for the people around you.  

That’s why veterans who mail it in are so damaging to any team. 

Because young guys are always going to follow the lead of the established veterans, and if those guys are taking shortcuts and not fully committed, that’s when you get disasters like the 2011 Dream Team.

Cox was at work at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday, self-scouting, watching tape of himself, and that’s all he could think about.

The plays he didn’t make.

I was watching film yesterday, we were all in there, and I saw some things I can get better at, and I’ve got to work on those things during training camp,” he said. “I feel like if I can get off of blocks [better], there are three or four or five [more] sacks out there for me. When you look at it on tape, man, if I would have gotten off a second sooner it’s a sack. Just little things like that. But not only me getting better but the whole group getting better.

Think about Cox’s career.

He’s got 48 sacks in eight seasons despite dealing with constant double teams. And he stuffs the run as well as anybody in the game.

And for a lot of his years here, he’s been a one-man wrecking crew. 

The Eagles haven’t had a double-digit edge rusher since Cox was drafted, although Brandon Graham has been close a couple times. 

And the defensive tackles he’s played next to the most — Bennie Logan, Timmy Jernigan, Cullen Jenkins, Haloti Ngata, Beau Allen, Derek Landri and Isaac Sopoaga — have all been either average, injured, disappointing or washed up. 

He’s never had the benefit of elite talent around him. 

In fact, the only Pro Bowlers Cox has ever taken the field with here are Malcolm Jenkins in 2015, 2017 and 2018 and Connor Barwin in 2014.

Reggie had Jerome, Seth, Clyde, Byron Evans, Wes and Andre and Eric Allen around him.

Cox has carried this defense for almost a decade. 

And all he talks about is getting better.

Last year wasn’t Cox’s best year. He spent the offseason rehabbing the toe injury he suffered in the Saints playoff game and wasn’t really himself until the last month or so.

He still made his fifth straight Pro Bowl just because he’s that good.

But this offseason, he was able to get back to his normal offseason routine, and now he has a healthy Malik Jackson and newly acquired Javon Hargrave next to him, more interior talent than he’s ever seen.

If there is football this fall, the NFL is going to see a Hall of Fame talent wearing No. 91 for the Eagles.

A healthy, motivated, driven Fletcher Cox is scary news for opposing offenses. 

We're lucky to have him.

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