Eagles

The free agency day that saved the Eagles in 2016

The free agency day that saved the Eagles in 2016

After his year in exile, Howie Roseman was reinstated as Eagles general manager between Christmas and New Year’s Day of 2015 and inherited a mess of a team that didn’t have a quarterback or a coach, was stocked with Chip Kelly's overpaid veterans and was missing two all-time greats in DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy.

On Day 1 of free agency, four years ago this month, that all changed.

On March 9, 2016, less than 2 1/2 months after he was restored to power by Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, Roseman made a remarkable series of moves that turned the Eagles from a floundering team that hadn’t won a playoff game in eight years into a franchise that 23 months later won a Super Bowl.

It was the Day that Saved the Eagles.

Let’s take a look. And remember … this all happened in the span of one day.

TRADED KIKO ALONSO, BYRON MAXWELL AND THE 13TH PICK OVERALL TO THE DOLPHINS FOR THE 8TH OVERALL PICK: Roseman managed to accomplish three crucial things with one move. He somehow unloaded Kelly pickups Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell after one season while also moving up five spots in the first round. Kelly had given Maxwell a six-year, $63 million deal, but the former Seahawk - who was only 27 and should have been in his prime - was ineffective, disinterested and overmatched in his one year in Philadelphia. Alonso’s contract, which carried over from the Bills, wasn’t very big, but the trade did unload a mediocre linebacker from the roster in addition to a terrible cornerback. Maxwell lasted a year and two games with the Dolphins, returned briefly to the Seahawks, and was out of football before his 30th birthday. Alonso spent three years with Miami before signing with the Saints last year.

TRADED DEMARCO MURRAY AND A 4TH-ROUND PICK (114 OVERALL) TO THE TITANS FOR A 4TH-ROUND PICK (100 OVERALL): The Murray trade didn’t land the Eagles a premium draft pick, although it did move them up in the fourth round. But most importantly it shed Roseman of more over-paid dead weight. Kelly had signed Murray to a five-year, $40 million contract a year earlier after Murray had led the NFL with 1,845 rushing yards and 13 TDs and made first-team all-pro for the Cowboys. With the Eagles, he was terrible, with career lows of 3.6 yards and 702 yards and never seemed all too broken up about it. Murray was out of the league two years later at 29 years old.

SIGNED FREE AGENT GUARD BRANDON BROOKS: Roseman paid a lot for a guard who hadn't made a Pro Bowl in four years with the Texans, giving Brooks $40 million over five years, with $21 million guaranteed. Brooks has since established himself as one of the finest guards in the NFL, making the last three Pro Bowls - more than any guard in Eagles history - and earning a new four-year, $56.35 million contract last year with $30 million guaranteed. 

SIGNED FREE AGENT SAFETY RODNEY MCLEOD: Roseman went out on a limb signing 26-year-old Rodney McLeod, a safety who spent his first four seasons with the St. Louis Rams, to a five-year, $35 million deal with $17 million guaranteed that was eventually restructured to void the 2020 season. McLeod gave the Eagles some very solid play, although he missed most of 2018. He was very good in the Super Bowl season and in the Super Bowl itself. His eight INTs over the last four years are most by any Eagle. McLeod is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason but could return to the Eagles.

SIGNED FREE AGENT LINEBACKER NIGEL BRADHAM: Bradham’s original deal was two years, $7 million, and the former Buffalo Bill wound up being a bargain with a couple legit seasons in 2016 and 2017. Like McLeod, he’s now a free agent, but he was also very good down the stretch in 2017 and in the postseason. Bradham’s level of play declined a bit this past season, and the Eagles elected not to exercise his 2020 option year at $8 million. 

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: On April 20, eight days before the draft, Roseman packaged the No. 8 pick that he acquired from the Dolphins as part of the Alonso/Maxwell trade, the Eagles’ own 3rd-round pick and that 4th-round pick he acquired as part of the Murray trade along with a 2017 1st-round pick and 2018 2nd-round pick and shipped them all to the Browns for the No. 2 pick (and a 2017 4th-round pick the Eagles traded to the Vikings for a pick that became Donnel Pumphrey). With that pick, the Eagles drafted Carson Wentz, who has been dogged by injuries but has played at an exceptional level when healthy (97 TDs, 35 INTs, 64 percent completion percentage) and is one of the few established elite quarterbacks in the NFL under 30.

CONCLUSION: The Eagles unloaded Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso and DeMarco Murray and their contracts, signed three players who would become key figures on the Super Bowl team and began the chain of events that would eventually land Carson Wentz. Roseman managed to not only shed the roster of three Kelly acquisitions he had no use for and add three starters for the Super Bowl team, he set the wheels in motion to draft the franchise quarterback the Eagles had been missing since Donovan McNabb’s heyday. In one day, the Eagles went from a playoff also-ran with a roster top-heavy in over-priced, ineffective, disinterested veterans to a team that in less than two years would win the franchise’s first championship since 1960.

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DeSean Jackson says white teammates ‘stepped up’ with public statements

DeSean Jackson says white teammates ‘stepped up’ with public statements

Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz and Jason Kelce are among the group of Eagles who have released statements in the wake of George Floyd’s killing and subsequent protests around the country, using their platform to speak out against institutional racism and racial injustice. 

Speaking to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark on Tuesday, DeSean Jackson made it clear that he’s proud of his high-profile white teammates. 

They stepped up. They made their voice be heard,” Jackson said. “They used their platform, they used their resources, they used everything they could do to reach out and say I might not know what it feels like to be racially profiled, I might not know what it’s like to grow up in the inner communities and these areas that you guys face on a daily basis, where we’re scrutinized for the color of our skin. 

“They might not understand that, but they are stepping up to the plate and saying fair is fair and right is right and wrong is wrong. The stuff that we’ve been seeing is wrong. They don’t support that.

On Monday, during the Eagles’ virtual team meeting, Jackson gave such an impassioned speech about his own life and tribulations as a black man in the United States, that it motivated Kelce to speak up.

Kelce, one of the longest tenured players on the team, said he felt an obligation to post to social media after hearing Jackson’s message.  

“If I motivate him to step up and use his platform man, I appreciate that,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day, when I spoke, I spoke off of how I feel. I can’t change how my heart feels.” 

On Tuesday afternoon, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie released a statement of his own, saying he’s “repulsed” by racial injustice and vowing to use his platform to effect change. 

Lurie spoke to the entire team on Monday. His words and his statement meant a lot to Jackson. 

“You gotta think, the owners are billionaires. They have so much influence in the world,” Jackson said. “They have so much equity. They have so much power to where if they make a stance, the it’s gonna trickle down to the lower totem pole. I feel like a lot of times they go silent because it’s politics or they might lose this sponsor or they might look crazy in the light. But it’s like, none of that stuff can even come into your mind because we are dealing with people losing their lives. … 

“I feel like Jeffrey Lurie did a great job of speaking out and speaking up. Because I feel like if he does it, then you’re gonna have the rest of the other 31 owners and that’s going to trickle out to basketball owners, baseball owners. It has to be a trigger effect.”

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DeSean Jackson’s impassioned plea based on own experiences

DeSean Jackson’s impassioned plea based on own experiences

DeSean Jackson said he fears for his life every time he gets pulled over by police and said he understands the frustration the black community is experiencing today but also made an impassioned plea for unity and togetherness amid the violence, looting and hate.

In a powerful 30-minute interview with John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia, Jackson spoke bluntly about his own experiences with racism and his thoughts about how we as a country can move forward.

(Since I was) growing up as a kid, I can’t tell you anytime that I’m in the car and a police officer stops me or pulls me over how afraid I am that if I move wrong or I make a wrong gesture I might be shot and killed,” Jackson said. “It’s just built up so long of seeing senseless killings so it’s like every time I’m pulled over I’m afraid it might happen to me. And for me, I have three boys that I raised, and I can’t tell you how much I’m afraid for them to grow up in this world that we’re living in now. I have to protect them. I have to teach them on love and doing the right thing, but if you tell me that the people who are supposed to protect and serve us, they’re not serving and protecting us. I’ve seen a disturbing video where a lady was actually pulled over and she wasn’t African-American and the lady was frightened for her life. She was so scared. and the police officer was like, ‘You don’t have to worry about us killing you, we only kill black people.’

Just think being an African American person what that does to your mind. What that triggers. Every time you have an encounter. That’s why I’ve always felt the way I’ve felt that way about police. I can’t stand them. For so long we’ve always been messed with. If I’m driving a nice car and I get pulled over, for what? Excuse me, I’m not supposed to be driving this car? Oh, I look like I can’t afford this car? Why do I have to be profiled? … It’s crazy, man. I just feel bad for my kids they have to be raised in this era, man.

Jackson grew up in the Compton section of Los Angeles and said as bad as things were there, he’s even more scared now.

One hundred percent, man,” he said. “Growing up, police messed with us. Don’t get me wrong, they pulled you out of your car, they searched your car, they did all that stuff. But it’s a different fear I have now. The fear I had in the past was I have a chance of probably going to jail, I have a chance of them searching my car and planting some drugs or planting a gun. But now what I’m seeing is police killing. In the past five years or however many years it’s been, man, it’s hundreds and hundreds of killings. Senseless killings. I’m worried for my kids more than when I was growing up.

Jackson spoke about the high rate of crime and violence in black communities riddled by poverty, poor schools and chronic unemployment and how programs are needed to remedy the root of the problem.

“The opportunity is not there,” he said. “People are stuck in that zone that they’re in because we don’t have the opportunities. We don’t have our parents setting up mutual funds and money and investments for us so when we turn 18 we’re able to go out and start our own thing. We don’t have that. So that’s going to have people sitting in the hood and sitting in the corner store selling drugs and doing stuff and killing people because they have more than I have. It’s crazy. But that’s the issue that we’re dealing with. If we’re able to outreach and put programs in these (places) and develop a curriculum to help these kids out, you might not be able to save the whole world, but you might be able to save 100 lives, you might be able to save 200 lives. As long as you start somewhere. But right now we don’t have that.”

Jackson has always been active in the community, whether he was playing for the Eagles, Redskins or Buccaneers, and he said once he returns from Florida to Philadelphia he plans to be continue working to bring people together as much as possible.

“Don’t tear down the community,” he said. “Don’t destruct what we’ve built up so long to get to where we’re at now. Let’s figure out ways to come together, man. I just want to let everyone know I’m feeling the pain. I’m in pain. And were going to get through this. It might take time, but we’re going to get through it. Let’s do it together as one and everybody love. One love, one community, one race. We’re going to stick together for the better.”

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