Sooner than expected, Eagles need Andre Dillard with Cowboys up next

Sooner than expected, Eagles need Andre Dillard with Cowboys up next

When Eagles left tackle Andre Dillard makes his first NFL start in Dallas this Sunday night, the rookie won’t merely face off against a disruptive Cowboys pass rush.

Keeping quarterback Carson Wentz upright will be as much about the mental aspect of the game as it is performance for Dillard.

“I was nervous as hell,” Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson said reminiscing about his own professional debut.

With Jason Peters described as "week to week" with a knee injury, Eagles coach Doug Pederson all but confirmed Dillard will be taking the place of a future Hall of Famer in Dallas. It’s a spot most expected the first-round draft pick would find himself at some point this season, as Peters missed time in three of the last four seasons.

Still, Dillard isn’t exactly being eased into the league, squaring off against Pro Bowl defensive end tandems in back-to-back games. Last week, the 24-year-old saw Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter in Minnesota, and this week, it will be DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn.

First-round pick or not, any notion Dillard will have the position mastered is unrealistic.

“You’re going to make mistakes,” Johnson said, “but those games you’re going to grow from, so the more he plays, the better he’s going to be.”

Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks estimated it can take an offensive lineman a full year in the NFL to get completely comfortable in the job.

“A lot of times with good O-linemen or higher picks, in college you can just be better than somebody,” Brooks said. “In the pros, everybody’s good, everybody’s fast, everybody’s strong.

“Technique and knowing what you have to do becomes so critical all the time, so a solid year to learn the playbook, learn to be a professional, learn to play offensive line.”

Dillard doesn’t have a year. He’s probably not going to feel completely comfortable on the field 100 percent of the time. The 22nd overall selection, only months removed from being a student-athlete, is being tossed into the fire against veterans in peak physical condition.

And yet, this exact situation is the reason Dillard is here.

“That's why we drafted him,” Pederson said. “We have total confidence in Andre.

“I go back and think about what [Halapoulivaati Vaitai] did his first start [in 2016]. Wasn't perfect. I think about what Andre did last week in Minneapolis. It wasn't perfect. He'll learn from it and get better.”

Assessments of Dillard’s first extended action against the Vikings vary. According to Pro Football Focus, his nine pressures allowed were the most by any offensive lineman in Week 6 — and he played only 72 percent of the snaps.

A closer look at the tape showed Dillard also shined at times despite some difficult assignments (see story). Playing behind Peters, he also hasn’t had the benefit of a ton practice reps since training camp ended.

“I thought he did a great job,” Wentz said. “It’s a tough task to come off the bench cold like that, and not just come in and play a game but against a really good defensive end, a couple of them. I have nothing but confidence in him to protect my blindside.”

Dillard won’t have that excuse this week, and Dallas will no doubt be ready for him too and attempt to confuse the rookie protector with different looks.

Then it isn’t simply a matter of keeping either Lawrence or Quinn at bay. Dillard’s preparation, the mental aspect of the game, becomes key.

“Probably the biggest thing for a young guy is when they stand still right in front of you, it’s no problem,” Brooks said. “It’s exactly the way it’s drawn up on the sheet.

“All of a sudden, guys start moving, safeties coming down, blitzes — now you’ve gotta kinda think on the fly, and if you get it wrong, somebody might get hurt.”

It’s a lot to put on Dillard’s plate, but Brooks has been there. He began his career as a backup with the Houston Texans, lining up occasionally as an extra tight end or in the backfield. Then in Week 10, he was pressed into action as a starter, and his first assignment? All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Brooks knows all about the pressure of not wanting to let down teammates, of fan expectations, of not wanting to mess up. He knows from experience it’s not going to be perfect on Sunday — but believes Dillard has the mindset to succeed.

“The dude just cares,” Brooks said. “He wants to be great. When things don’t go well, it bothers him. I would rather see that than something not go well and it doesn’t bother you, because then I’m concerned.

“Just the passion and want-to stands out to me, especially from a younger guy. He’s always trying to perfect his craft, he’s always trying to chase perfection.”

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The highest-paid Eagles in history at every position

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The highest-paid Eagles in history at every position

NFL contracts aren’t always what they appear to be.

In fact, they rarely are.

The initial contract numbers get the big headlines. As in … “Eagles sign DeMarco Murray to five-year, $40 million deal."

A year later, Murray is gone after earning $9 million and the contract disappears. 

There are two fundamental numbers when it comes to NFL contracts: How much they’re worth and how much they truly pay.

So when we set out to list the most lucrative contracts in Eagles history at each position, we figured we’d do it two ways:

1. We’ll list the most lucrative contracts at each position based on the initial total potential value of the deal.
2. We’ll also list the most actual cash Eagles players have earned on a single contract, regardless of its length and what the original value was.

Contract numbers are from NFLPA records, Spotrac and OverTheCap. All contracts are rounded to $10,000.

Make sure you’re sitting down. Some of these deals are hard to believe!


The biggest announced contract: Carson Wentz — Four years, $128 million (2019-2022)
Wentz did make just over $17 million this past year, but the big money (relatively) doesn’t start until this coming season, when he’s scheduled to pocket nearly $40 million. Interesting to note that the previous largest announced Eagles QB contract was Michael Vick’s five-year, $80 million deal from 2011, from which he earned $32.5 million in two years.

The real biggest contract: Donovan McNabb — Seven years, $51.69 million (2002-2008) 
The highest-paid quarterback in Eagles history is actually still Donovan McNabb. His 2002 deal was worth $70 million over nine years, and he played seven of those seasons and earned over $50 million before finally getting a restructure after the 2007 season.

Running back 

The biggest announced contract: DeMarco Murray — Five years, $40 million (2015-2019)
Murray only made it through one year of that blockbuster deal, pocketing $9.02 million before the Eagles shipped him to the Titans.

Ther real biggest contract: LeSean McCoy — Three years, $20.48 million (2012-2014)
McCoy is still the highest-paid running back in Eagles history. He got a five-year, $45 million deal in 2012 and made it through the first three years of the deal for just over $20 million before Chip Kelly got rid of him.

Wide receiver 

The bigger announced contract: Alshon Jeffery — Four years, $52 million (2017-2020)
The real biggest contract: Alshon Jeffery — Three years, $35.65 million (2017-2019)

Jeffery's 2017 deal is both the biggest contract in Eagles history and the biggest real contract. Jeffery so far has made over $35 million of the $52 million the original deal called for.

But interestingly, Terrell Owens' 2004 deal isn’t far behind. T.O.’s restructure was worth $48.93 million over seven years, although he only made $11.58 million before getting kicked off the team midway through the 2005 season. DeSean Jackson’s 2012 contract was worth an announced $47 million over five years, but he only earned $18 million of that before Kelly dumped him.

Tight end 

The biggest announced contract: Zach Ertz — Five years, $42.5 million (2016-2021)
The real biggest contract: Zach Ertz — Four years, $31.92 million (2016-2019)

You’d think the Eagles and Ertz would like to work out a new deal, but he’s already made more than any tight end in Eagles history.

The previous high was Brent Celek’s six-year, $29.25 million deal from 2009. Celek wound up playing five years of that deal, earning $21.596 million.


The biggest announced contract: Brandon Brooks — Five years, $56.35 million (2016-2020)
Believe it or not, Brooks’ first Eagles contract — the one he signed when he first got here in 2016 — barely beats out Shawn Andrews’ 2004 deal as the most lucrative. Andrews signed a seven-year, $41.79 million contract and played four years of it, earning $20.58 million. 

The real biggest contract: Brandon Brooks — Three years, $25.750 million (2016-2018)
Brooks has played three years of that previous contract, earning $25.75 million before signing a new five-year, $56.35 million deal last year. He’s “only” earned $9 million so far on his current contract.


The biggest announced contract: Jason Kelce — Six years, $37.5 million (2014-2019)
The real biggest contract: Jason Kelce — Three years, $24.5 million (2014-2018)

Kelce has still made slightly more on his previous contract — $25.64 million over five years — than he’s made on his current deal ($25.5 million over three years), but that will change on opening day. Whenever that is.

Offensive tackle 

The biggest announced contract: Lane Johnson — Four years, $72 million (2019-2025)
So far, Johnson has played only one year on his current deal, earning $14.10 million last year.

The real biggest contract: Tra Thomas — Six years, $29.6 million (2000-2005)
Thomas still claims the most lucrative contract for an offensive tackle in Eagles history, having played the entire six years of the deal he signed 20 years ago — before the 2000 season. Johnson is just behind him, having earned $29.08 million over the first three years of his previous deal, and Jason Peters isn’t far back with $28.87 million on the first three years of his 2014 contract.

Defensive tackle 

The biggest announced contract: Fletcher Cox — Seven years, $102.6 million (2016-2022)
The real biggest contract: Fletcher Cox — Four years, $63.4 million (2016-2019)

Nobody is close to Cox, who’s already earned nearly $65 million on the first four years of his record-setting deal, which he signed in 2016.

Defensive end 

The biggest announced contract Trent Cole — Four years, $48.525 million (2012-2015)
The largest announced contract belongs to Cole but Vinny Curry is just behind with a five-year, $47.25 million deal back in 2016.

The real biggest contract: Brandon Graham — 4 years, $26.78 million (2015-2018)
Cole earned $21 million over two years of that deal he signed in 2012, and Curry earned $18 million over two years. The most money an Eagles defensive end has actually made on one contract is the $26.78 million that Graham made over the four years of his 2015 deal. 

Outside linebacker 

The biggest announced contract: Mychal Kendricks — Four years, $29 million (2015-2018)
The real biggest contract: Mychal Kendricks, Three years, $17.033302 million (2015-2017)

As we all know, the Eagles haven’t devoted a lot of resources to linebackers, but Kendricks did earn some decent money from 2015 through 2017, the first three years of that four-year contract.

Inside linebacker 

The biggest announced contract: Nigel Bradham — Five years, $40 million (2018-2022)
Bradham only earned $11.691176 million over two years of that $40 million contract before the Eagles cut ties with him after last season.

The real biggest contract: DeMeco Ryans — Three years, $18.5 million (2012-2014)
The most money an Eagles inside linebacker made on a single contract is from a contract he didn’t even sign with the Eagles. Ryans signed a six-year, $46.8 million contract with the Texans in 2010, then was traded to the Eagles after two years. He then earned $18 ½ million over the next three years.


The biggest announced contract: Byron Maxwell — Six years, $63 million (2015-2020)
Although Nnamdi Asomugha’s five-year, $60 million deal was worth slightly more per year, Maxwell’s six-year, $63 million contract was the most expensive cornerback deal the Eagles ever wrote. Asomugha pocketed $21 million for two years of his deal and Maxwell $13.52 million for just one year’s work. Darius Slay’s restructure is worth $50.05 million over three years in new money, and before he’s played a snap he’s already earned $13 million on that deal.

The real biggest contract: Asante Samuel — Four years, $37.4 million (2008-2011)
Back in 2008, the Eagles signed Samuel to a six-year, $59.475 million contract, and he played the first four years of that deal, totaling over $37 million.  


The biggest announced contract: Malcolm Jenkins — Four years, $32.95 million (2016-2019)
The real biggest contract: Malcolm Jenkins — Four years, $32.95 million (2016-2019)

It might be a while until anybody tops Jenkins' last deal.


The biggest announced contract: Jake Elliott — Five years, $19.3081 million (2019-2023)
Elliottt won’t start realizing the big money until this coming season. So despite that $19 million number, he’s not the highest-paid Eagles kicker … yet.

The real biggest contract: David Akers — Five years, $8.79 million (2005-2008)
Yep, Akers is still the highest-paid Eagles kicker ever, even though he hasn’t been here in a decade. He played four of the five years on that deal, earning about $6.55 million.


The biggest announced contract: Donnie Jones — Three years, $5.5 million (2016-2018)
The real biggest contract: Donnie Jones — Two years, $4 million (2016-2017)

Jones still has highest-paid honors, but only until — presumably — the Eagles sign Cameron Johnston to his next contract. 

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Howie Roseman's 5 worst trades as Eagles GM

Howie Roseman's 5 worst trades as Eagles GM

Last week, we took a look at Howie Roseman’s five best trades, so today we’re looking at the other side. 

To be fair, when I came up with these lists, the good one was much longer than the bad. In general, Roseman is pretty good when it comes to trades. But they can’t all be hits. 

As a reminder, we’re looking at the following years: 2010-14, 2016-now. Chip Kelly was in control during 2015. 

Here’s my ranking of Roseman’s five worst trades: 

5. Trading for Golden Tate 
During the 2018 season, the Eagles needed a boost so Roseman pulled off a trade to get Tate from the Detroit Lions in exchange for a 2019 third-round pick. While the Eagles eventually got back a fourth-round compensatory pick to soften the blow, the acquisition of Tate never really worked out. 

Sure, you can point at the touchdown catch in the Double Doink playoff game in Chicago as a reason why this trade was actually a success … but let’s be real. This trade didn’t work out the way the Eagles were hoping. In the final eight games of the 2018 regular season, Tate caught 30 passes for 278 yards and 1 touchdown. He signed with the rival Giants in 2019. 

The lasting memory of this trade will probably be the unfortunate words from then-offensive coordinator Mike Groh, who admitted it had been “challenging to integrate” Tate into the offense during the season. 

4. Dion Lewis for Emmanuel Acho 
In April of 2013, the Eagles dealt Lewis to Cleveland for Acho. While Lewis never played for the Browns because of injury, he eventually resurfaced with the Patriots in 2015 and showed off some of the talent the Eagles initially saw in him during the 2011 draft. 

He has never become a star, but from 2015-2019, Lewis has played in 62 games for the Patriots and Titans and has averaged 4.3 yards per carry. He has 2,139 rushing yards, 1,260 receiving yards and 17 total touchdowns during those seasons. 

Acho played two seasons for the Eagles and a total of 20 games with two starts. He became a special teams contributor for those Chip Kelly teams but played a total of 288 defensive snaps. 

3. Joe Mays for J.J. Arrington  
The Eagles drafted Mays in the sixth round of the 2008 draft but the linebacker played in just 13 games in 2008 and 2009 before the Eagles shipped him to Denver in July of 2010 for Arrington or a conditional draft pick. 

Arrington missed the entire 2009 season after microfracture knee surgery. He didn’t make the Eagles that year (he never played in the NFL again), so the Birds got back a 2012 sixth-round pick they ended up using on Marvin McNutt. 

While Arrington never played an NFL game again, Mays from that point on in his career played 65 games with 37 starts for the Broncos, Texans, Chiefs and Chargers. 

2. Stealing DGB from the Titans 
At the time, it seemed liked the Eagles fleeced the Titans by getting Dorial Green-Beckham for reserve offensive lineman Dennis Kelly. Turns out, it was the other way around. Sometimes if it seems too good to be true … 

The Eagles pulled off this trade in August of 2016 and upon first glance it was a major steal. Just a year earlier, the Titans took DGB in the second round and he had a really good rookie year statistically. In 2015, he caught 32 passes for 549 yards (17.2) and 4 touchdowns. 

At 6-5, 225 pounds, he was the ultimate size/speed guy with the potential to be a great player. But it became clear pretty soon after that trade that DGB wasn’t destined for greatness. He was a friendly guy but immature and didn’t seem to want it. He played that 2016 season with the Eagles, catching 36 passes for 392 yards and 2 touchdowns on talent alone, but the Eagles cut him the following June. 

Since then, Green-Beckham has been out of the league and has been dealing with some legal issues. He’s become a cautionary tale of wasted talent. 

Meanwhile, Kelly has played in 58 games (16 starts) for the Titans and got a three-year extension before last season. 

1. Dealing Chris Clemons for Darryl Tapp 
One of Roseman’s first trades ended up being his worst. In March of 2010, the Eagles traded Chris Clemons and a fourth-round pick to get Darryl Tapp from the Seahawks. Tapp was about three years younger than Clemons, who was longer and lankier. Before the trade, here were their career stats: 

Tapp: 4 seasons, 32 starts, 18 sacks 
Clemons: 5 seasons, 3 starts, 20 sacks 

So you can see why the Eagles made this trade. They thought they were getting a potential starting defensive end who was already better and had more upside in their defense. But they ended up losing pretty big. 

Here’s what they did with their new teams: 

Tapp: 3 seasons in Philly, 3 starts, 6 sacks 
Clemons: 4 seasons in Seattle, 59 starts, 38 sacks 

In his first three years in Seattle, Clemons ended up having 11, 11 and 11.5 sacks and started every game for the Seahawks; during that span, he was sixth in the NFL in sacks. Tapp was a role player in Philly. 

Honorable mentions: Trading away Sheldon Brown and Chris Gocong, trading away Asante Samuel for a seventh-rounder, trading away Eric Rowe for a fourth-rounder.

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