Eagles

Despite unusual offseason, Eagles rookies say they're 'like brothers already'

Despite unusual offseason, Eagles rookies say they're 'like brothers already'

The workouts might have been virtual, but the friendships couldn't be any more real.

For the large cast of Eagles rookies, it's been an unprecedented offseason, with virtual meetings, solo workouts, communication via social media and tons of group texting.

It hasn't stopped this rookie class from growing very close very quickly.

"These guys that I came in with are special," K'Von Wallace said Tuesday. "We're like brothers already."

There are 22 rookies on the Eagles' current 82-man roster, and that includes 10 on defense and five defensive backs.

Wallace, the highly-regarded rookie 4th-round safety from Clemson, said Wednesday that the pandemic and the limited amount of face-to-face time the rookies have had together hasn't kept them from bonding.

"We're going great," he said. "Just being consistent with it, every single day. Even with or without coach, we're meeting virtually, we're talking about the playbook, we're talking about how we can backpedal better, we're talking about how we can better high-point the ball, better use a technique, just small things like that."

The Eagles made four rookies available for Zoom calls in the past few days – Wallace, Jalen Hurts, Jalen Reagor and Davion Taylor – and all four came across as remarkably serious-minded, mature, focused and driven during an incredibly difficult time.

"We stay connected every single day, just meeting and getting that playbook down pat, going over plays that we just did the prior day or going over formations or plays that we’re going (over) then next day," Wallace said. "Just being consistent with that and being intent on what we’re putting on tape and intent on what we learn and how we learn best. That's also what I've picked up as well."

That’s big for rookies. Learning how to learn. 

"I've noticed that I'm a big virtual learner and I like to see it and be active in it, and there's other guys that can just hear it and articulate it, and they're teaching me how they learn and that's also helping me," he said. 

"It's a brotherhood. Just teaching each other how to become better. Better person, better player.”

One thing that sticks out about all the rookies we talked to on Tuesday and Wednesday is that none of them are using the pandemic and the limitations it’s put on them as an excuse.

They all sounded as determined to learn the offense, the defense, special teams, to the best of their ability, no matter what roadblocks are in their way.

"It's going to be a challenge," Wallace said. "It was going to be a challenge regardless. Rookies, it's always been hard. It was hard for me as a freshman back at Clemson. There's always going to be challenges that you have to overcome, and this is just another obstacle in my life that I'm going to overcome, and I just can't wait to get to work."

Can they play? Who knows. We might not know for a few years. 

But they all came across very impressively. And if first impressions mean anything, they're off to a pretty good start.

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Eagle Eye podcast: Appreciating Fletcher Cox’s prime

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Eagle Eye podcast: Appreciating Fletcher Cox’s prime

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro get together after the NFL’s opt-out period is over. 

The Eagles had just one player opt out of the 2020 season. Exploring more questions about having a season and Doug Pederson’s role as a virtual coach. 

Is it really a good year to be an undrafted free agent? Plus, takeaways from interviews with Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills and Fletcher Cox. 

  • (0:29) — Deadline passes with only 1 Eagle known to be opting out.
  • (12:23) — Doug Pederson is still leading the team... virtually.
  • (18:06) — Good year for undrafted free agents?
  • (25:31) — Takeaways from zoom interviews with Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod, and Fletcher Cox.
  • (42:48) — Shady signs with Tampa Bay.

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Deadline passes with only 1 Eagle known to be opting out

Deadline passes with only 1 Eagle known to be opting out

The NFL’s opt-out deadline passed Thursday afternoon with no word of any additional Eagles electing to skip the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns.

As of 4 p.m. EST, only wide receiver Marquis Goodwin had announced he’s opting out. 

The Eagles acquired Goodwin in a draft-day trade with the 49ers, and while he wasn’t expected to be a starter his 140 career receptions are second-most among the Eagles’ healthy receivers.

League-wide, it appears 66 players opted out. 

With most teams carrying 80 players on the roster, that represents about 2 1/2 percent of NFL players.

In the NFC East, the Giants and Cowboys lost three apiece and Washington lost two. 

Teams losing the most players are the Patriots [8], Browns [5] and the Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Giants, Jaguars, Jets, Lions and Raiders [3 each].

Three teams appear to have no opt-outs: The Chargers, Falcons and Steelers. The Eagles are among nine teams to lose one player. Ten teams had two opt-outs.

Players who opt out who have been determined by the NFL to be at risk because of a specific pre-existing condition receive a $350,000 stipend from the league and receive a year of pension credit toward free agency and benefits. 

Those who are considered not at risk receive $150,000 that is essentially an advance on their 2021 salary and they do not accrue a year of pension credit. If players in this category don’t make a roster next year, they must return the money.

Goodwin, who is considered not at risk, had 962 yards for the 49ers in 2017 but has just 35 catches for 581 yards the last two years. 

Several Eagles starters who were made available to the Philly media over the past week said they talked about opting out with family members before electing not to.

I think everyone in the back of their mind was wondering, ‘What does this look like for me safety-wise, what does this look like for my family safety-wise?’ Carson Wentz said. “And I was no different. I think, definitely, the health and safety of my family definitely is different than I think a lot of guys that are maybe single and don’t have wives or kids and those things, and you definitely have to take all those factors in. You never know how this is going to fully unfold, but I feel safe here and it was something that my wife and I talked a lot about and prayed a lot about, and we feel good with our decision but at the same time completely respect the guys that did decide to opt out for personal reasons, family reasons, health reasons. Like Marquis Goodwin, I fully respect his decision. Obviously I’m bummed I’m not going to be able to play with him but fully respect those guys’ decisions.

Rodney McLeod echoed Wentz: “It was a conversation I had with my wife, but I think looking at all the protocols that were put into place here we felt confident that this is probably one of the safer environments you could be in between these walls. Marquis Goodwin had to do what was best for his family and I understand that and we support him fully for that decision.”

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More on the Eagles