Eagles

JJ Arcega-Whiteside talks trade rumors, injuries, and Carson Wentz relationship

JJ Arcega-Whiteside talks trade rumors, injuries, and Carson Wentz relationship

JJ Arcega-Whiteside had a rocky transition to the NFL in 2019, never meshing in Doug Pederson's offense. The rookie caught just 10 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown, not what you're looking for from a second-round pick.

With the Eagles overhauling the wide receiver position, his place in the team's future isn't exactly clear.

In a new interview with Spanish football podcast 100 Yardas, Arcega-Whiteside sat down for a lengthy interview in which he touched on, among other things, his rookie year and what the future holds.

I've transcribed a few interesting answers from the hour-plus interview below.

On his own injury struggles

Arcega-Whiteside talked about his, and the entire wide receiver room's, battles with injuries at multiple points in the interview, including this wild answer about needing help to go to the bathroom in the morning becaus he was so banged-up:

JJAW: Las lesiones fue el problema más grande. Porque yo estaba lesionado y las lesiones de todos los demás, porque yo también tenía algunas de lesiones, pero no tan mal con los otros. Aun así, cada mañana tenía que pedir a alguien que me ayudara a ir al baño, así de mal estaba.

INTERVIEWER: ¿En serio?

JJAW: Si, me costaba andar.

Arcega-Whiteside said he needed help because he couldn't walk, which sounds rough, and even though he was active for all 16 regular season games in 2019, it sounds like the physical nature of the league threw Arcega-Whiteside for a loop.

His relationship with Wentz

Arcega-Whiteside was asked about his relationship with Carson Wentz, after the two appeared to struggle to get on the same page for most of the season.

Estamos bien. Hemos estado hablando todo este tiempo. Él ha tenido una hija hace poco. Me ha estado dando consejos sobre perros. Estamos bien.

Pero sí, todo este tiempo ha sido difícil para mí y difícil también para él, porque él tiene sus jugadores, con los que ha estado jugando los últimos años, los All-Stars, los Pro Bowlers, luego las lesiones y yo también lesionado. Es difícil confiar en cualquier otro, si yo hubiera sido él también habría estado mirando a Zach Ertz y Dallas todo el tiempo.

Arcega-Whiteside says, because of injuries and inconsistency, it was tough to form on-field trust with Wentz. So he understood why Wentz threw to guys like Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, and he would've as well.

Trade rumors, and his happiness in Philadelphia

Arcega-Whiteside was asked about a number of trade rumors that swirled during the season - some, the interviewers admitted, were ideas from blogs rather than sourced reports - and whether he's happy in Philadelphia:

INTERVIEWER: ¿Tú estás contento en Filadelfia?

JJAW: Sí. Yo no he hablado con ningún equipo porque no funciona así. Me acuerdo de que después de algunos partidos de la preseason había equipos preguntando por mí. Pero claro, yo había firmado con Filadelfia.

Eso fue bueno, todavía hay interés, creo, pero por ahora estoy en Filadelfia. Me encanta la ciudad, la gente, son los fans más agresivos del mundo, en cualquier que deporte.

Arcega-Whiteside says that he remembers, after his productive preseason games last year, teams were asking about his availability, but he likes being in Philadelphia and loves the fans, who he thinks are the most aggressive in the world, in any sport.

With Jalen Reagor and Marquise Goodwin now in the fold, DeSean Jackson back healthy, and Alshon Jeffery possibly returning for another season, Arcega-Whiteside will have to make some serious strides in Year Two if he expects to have a more productive 2020.

We'll see.

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What George Kittle’s landmark contract means for Zach Ertz and Eagles

What George Kittle’s landmark contract means for Zach Ertz and Eagles

George Kittle didn’t just reset the tight end market on Thursday. He obliterated it. 

And you can bet Zach Ertz is taking note. 

The 49ers and Kittle just agreed to a groundbreaking contract for the All-Pro tight end that comes with an average of $15 million per season. 

Ertz, 29, is still under contract through the 2021 season but is also in line for a contract extension of his own. And while you might not think he deserves as much money as Kittle or even Travis Kelce (who is also in line for an extension), Ertz might think so. 

Check out what Ertz said about the comparisons to Kittle and Kelce last week: 

I do consider myself in that upper echelon of guys, in that same tier with all those guys,” Ertz said last Friday. “I don’t mean any disrespect, but I think a lot of guys in this building feel the same way about me. I’m never in the business of comparing people. I think all three of us are at the top of our games, and I think we’re all perfect in the offense that we play in, honestly. I think we all have unique skill sets. We’re all very different, with some similarities. But overall I don’t think my game is any less than any of their games.

We’ll eventually find out if the front office agrees with him. Because the Eagles are going to face a really critical decision soon regarding Ertz. And the existence of Dallas Goedert only adds more layers to this situation. 

Ertz, 29, signed an extension in 2016 that gave him an average per year of $8.5 million. While he might not get to the $15 APY that Kittle just got, he’s going to aim to be in that area. That’s the natural progression of contracts in the NFL. My guess is he gets in the $11-13 million per season range, which is still a really big investment on a player who will likely be over 30 when that deal happens. 

For a long time, the market for tight ends has been really stagnant. The Jimmy Graham $10 million APY had been the benchmark until Austin Hooper passed that with a $10.5 APY this offseason. Now, Kittle has demolished that. 

It’s also worth noting that NFL Network’s Mike Silver reported earlier this offseason that Ertz actually turned down a deal during the 2019 season that was more lucrative than the deal Hooper signed. That should give you an idea of Ertz’s mindset. (But it was the right decision; let Kittle or Kelce reset the market.) 

There’s no questioning what Ertz has meant to the Eagles offense. He’s been their leading receiver in each of the last four seasons and this is the guy who caught the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl! He’s in the middle of an absolutely tremendous career. 

Ertz last week emphasized his desire to play for the Eagles for his entire career. But it’s never that simple. 

Remember, Goedert is still just 25, he has two more years left on his rookie contract and is already a top 10 tight end in the NFL. And while Ertz has put up incredible — like Hall of Fame — receiving numbers, Goedert is definitely a more well-rounded player. Heck, ProFootballFocus actually ranked Goedert ahead of Ertz for the 2020 season.

The one thing that seems clear is that it’s going to be really hard to keep both talented tight ends long-term. 

If the Eagles want to keep Ertz, they’re going to have to give him a huge contract. This Kittle deal just created some framework and a potential obstacle. 

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Doug Pederson hints at big role for Greg Ward Jr. with Eagles this season  

Doug Pederson hints at big role for Greg Ward Jr. with Eagles this season  

Greg Ward Jr. became a great story for the Eagles last season, when he began the year on the practice squad and ended up being their best receiver down the stretch. 

But is he more than a good story? 

Doug Pederson seems to think so. 

The one thing now as he goes into this season, he's in that rotation, in that starting mix for us,” Pederson said on a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday. “It's just a matter of him embracing every day, getting better. Being a former quarterback, he understands our offense. Being in our offense, he knows the concepts and the routes. He and Carson (Wentz) have a really good feel for one another.

“I think for him now it's just a matter of continuing to get better each and every day and putting in the work. We expect some really big things from Greg. He can also be a leader. He can be a leader of that group. Him and DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, these guys, they can be leaders now and mentors to these young players.

In one year’s time, Ward has gone from practice squad player to being a leader in a wide receiver room that includes three draft picks, an undrafted rookie and a second-year draft pick. 

Ward, 25, is technically in Year 4 of his NFL career but he didn’t get a chance to play until the 2019 season and even then he didn’t play until November. 

Ward finished last season with 28 catches for 254 yards and a game-winning touchdown in a huge contest against Washington. 

Maybe Ward will never become a star player in the NFL, but he’s sure-handed, dependable and earned the trust of his quarterback and coaching staff last season. 

If you look at the Eagles’ group of receivers, Ward is probably the top candidate to win the slot job. DeSean Jackson is going to be the starting Z receiver and at the X the Eagles have Alshon Jeffery and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Rookie 1st-round pick Jalen Reagor is learning both outside spots. 

Eventually, could Reagor play in the slot? Absolutely. In fact, I’d love to see him in there because he’d bring an explosiveness to the position that Ward probably can’t offer. 

But Ward is going to play a lot in 2020. He’s going to have a chance to become more than a great story. 

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