Eagles

Jeff Lurie explains why Eagles decided to free Nick Foles

Jeff Lurie explains why Eagles decided to free Nick Foles

PHOENIX — During Jeffrey Lurie’s nearly 38-minute session with reporters on Tuesday evening at the annual league meetings, the Eagles’ owner showed the most emotion when talking about Nick Foles. 

As he began to speak, his eyes started to well up just enough that at least a few reporters in front of him took notice. After all, this is Nick Foles we’re talking about. 

“Nick, as you all know, exceptional person,” Lurie said. “There’s no understating it. Exceptional person. It was hard. We went through every alternative we could think of as an organization on how to proceed here. Really, in the end, I think, Nick really did want to have a team to take control of and be the guy.”

The Eagles could have slapped a franchise tag on Foles. They could have done that and then tried to ship him off to a team of their choosing instead of letting him become an unrestricted free agent. Lurie, on Tuesday, said it wouldn’t have been right to franchise Foles. 

Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman at the combine on Feb. 27 (two weeks before the new league year) announced the Eagles’ intentions to let Foles hit free agency. 

Lurie was asked about his role in that decision and the timing of it: 

Certainly, Howie and I had long discussions about it. We thought the sooner we do it, the better because we wanted to give Nick every opportunity to be in the best possible situation and not have a team worry that we were potentially going to keep him and not have the opportunity to start, because there aren’t that many opportunities. We were also, to be honest about it, hoping that he would not end up with the Giants or the Redskins. That was part of it. We were very confident he was going to play for Jacksonville. 

That last part is pretty interesting. While Lurie and the Eagles clearly wanted to do right by Foles, I wonder what would have happened if one of the teams in the division became the front-runner to land Foles. Would they then have been more likely to franchise tag Foles and then pick his destination for him? 

That, of course, wasn’t the case. By the end of that week in Indy, the rest of the NFL world figured out what the Eagles already knew: Foles was going to Jacksonville. 

Lurie said he vouched for Foles to other teams, who asked him: “What’s Nick like?” and “Can he be dynamic for anyone but you?” 

Maybe in an alternate universe, Foles could have stayed in Philadelphia as the Eagles’ franchise quarterback. But in this universe, the Eagles have Carson Wentz and seem completely committed to signing him to a mega contract that will alter the future of the franchise.

But it sounds like Nick is welcome back for a visit any time. 

“He’s a legend in Philadelphia, he will always be,” Lurie said. “He will be a part of our family forever.”

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Eagles 2019 training camp battles: Replacing Jordan Hicks at linebacker

Eagles 2019 training camp battles: Replacing Jordan Hicks at linebacker

As we near the start of the Eagles’ 2019 training camp, we’re taking a closer look at some key position battles to watch this summer. We already looked at cornerback and running back.            

Up today: Linebacker 

Names to know 

Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Zach Brown, Nate Gerry, L.J. Fort, Paul Worrilow, T.J. Edwards, Alex Singleton, Joey Alfieri 

What to watch 

While he struggled to stay healthy over his four years in Philadelphia, Jordan Hicks was an effective player when he was on the field. After Hicks bolted in free agency, taking a big deal from the Arizona Cardinals, the Eagles will need to replace him. 

That starts with Bradham, who will be the linebacker who never leaves the field in 2019. He’ll be out there in the Eagles’ base defense, nickel defense and dime defense. It’s a role he took over in Hicks’ absence anyway. Bradham is recovering from injury, but he expects to be ready for training camp. 

The front-runners to be the other two starting linebackers should be Grugier-Hill and free-agent pickup Brown. Grugier-Hill started the first 10 games of his career last season and did a nice job. I think there’s probably even more untapped potential. Brown, meanwhile, is a former Pro Bowler and spent the last two years in Washington. He’s a seven-year vet with 74 starts under his belt. He fell out of favor in Washington some and was released this offseason, a move that saved Washington a bunch of cap money. Brown has been a good player, but KGH is probably better in coverage. 

We’ll see which of those two stays on the field more. One of them will be a part-time player in the team’s base package. While there are technically three starting linebackers in their base package, the Eagles spend around 75 percent of their time in nickel. 

After those three, it’s a competition to make the roster. Gerry seems to be an often-forgotten player, but he knows the defense (he’s been here since 2017) and is the type of hybrid player the Eagles like in this NFL. Fort was brought in as a special teamer with upside; he’ll be on the roster for teams and likely as a backup. 

Worrilow came back from an ACL tear, but missed some time this spring. Edwards and Alfieri are two talented UDFAs and Singleton was a star in the CFL. One of those rookies could be a practice squad fit. 

One of the players from the paragraph above could make the team, but it depends on how many linebackers the Eagles keep. They kept five on their initial 53-man last year, but Bradham didn’t count because he was suspended. They kept six to start 2017 and kept just four after 2016’s training camp. 

Prediction 

Bradham doesn’t leave the field this year; that’s not much of a shocker. But I think Grugier-Hill ends up playing more than Brown. I think he’s better suited for playing nickel downs. The Eagles will keep five or six linebackers: Bradham, KGH, Brown, Fort, Gerry and maybe either Worrilow or Edwards. 

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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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