When Howie Roseman promises a youth movement, he keeps his word.
Doesn’t matter how many Pro Bowls you’ve made, how beloved you are in this city, how much you’ve meant over the years to the franchise.
Already, the Eagles have cut ties with three of their six-oldest 2019 starters: 38-year-old Jason Peters, 32-year-old Malcolm Jenkins and 30-year-old Nigel Bradham.
In all, the Eagles had 13 players on the roster who were 30 or older at the end of the regular season, and only four of them remain - DeSean Jackson, Jason Kelce, Brandon Graham and Brandon Brooks.
According to Spotrac, the Eagles had the 3rd-oldest roster in the NFL on opening day last year. As of today, they’re 11th-youngest.
It’s not easy saying goodbye to legends like Peters or Jenkins. It’s not easy trusting young, untested players like T.J. Edwards or Andre Dillard.
But Roseman has been around long enough to know that old, slow teams get hurt, and old slow teams don’t win.
“You have to let young players play,” Roseman said in January.
So here we are in the midst of a transformation whose real purpose is to accelerate the dismantling of a team that won the Super Bowl.
This is risky stuff. Peters can still play. We know Malcolm can still play. Bradham is fine. All three have declined to some extent but you can win with all three.
Maybe for another year.
But Howie is playing the long game here, and that means tear it apart, leave a handful of essential older veterans and go young as much as possible.
He had to do it.
Roseman was adamant when the season ended that the Eagles had to get younger, and these moves, along with Darren Sproles’ retirement and the likely departure via free agency of Vinny Curry, for better or for worse, have certainly made the Eagles a significantly younger team.
The youth movement really started during this past season, when the Eagles unloaded unproductive veterans like 32-year-old Andrew Sendejo and 30-year-old Zach Brown in midstream.
Take a look at the first week of the offseason:
29 … Darius Slay
29 … Rodney McLeod
27 … Javon Hargrave
26 … Nate Sudfeld
26 … Jatavis Brown
25 … Will Parks
25 … Hassan Ridgeway
25 … Jalen Mills
26.5 … AVERAGE
38 … Jason Peters
32 … Malcolm Jenkins
30 … Nigel Bradham
26 … Halapoulivaati Vaitai
26 … Nelson Agholor
25 … Kamu Grugier-Hill
25 … Jordan Howard
28.9 … AVERAGE
Obviously, the Eagles didn’t let guys like Agholor, Howard and Vaitai go because of their age, but there’s definitely a clear pattern here.
And if you want to look into the future … Kelce is 32, Graham is 31 and Zach Ertz is 29, and are all signed through 2022. They’re all legends around here, but how long will Howie keep them around?
As we sit here today, the Eagles have an inexperienced rookie in line to replace Peters, a converted cornerback in line to replace Jenkins and either an undrafted pro who averaged seven snaps per game as a rookie or a new acquisition who played 92 defensive snaps all last year in line to replace Bradham.
Miles Sanders is a budding star. Dallas Goedert is a top-10 tight end. Carson Wentz is an elite QB when healthy. But they’re the only players under 28 on the roster who you would say are among the top 15 in the league at their position. Maybe Isaac Seumalo is a top-15 left guard.
So there’s still a lot of work to do here.
The reality is that the easy part of a youth movement is getting rid of older players.
The tough part is replacing them, and Roseman has a ways to go in that area.
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