Eagles

NFL, players association have yet to answer one big COVID-19 safety question

NFL, players association have yet to answer one big COVID-19 safety question

The 2020 NFL season is scheduled to begin in just over two months, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it will begin on time, and what the league will look like throughout the fall, remains extremely unclear.

Success will rely largely on answering big, important safety questions in order to keep the league's players safe. According to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, one of the biggest questions remains... unanswered.

Smith chatted with USA Today's Mackenzie Salmon on Monday, and explained where the NFL and NFLPA stand in terms of reckoning with this unorthodox season:

If you wanted to create the perfect sport for the transmission of a virus, it would be football. So how do you deal with the fact that someone's going to test positive, that person is going to have had a tremendous amount of contact with other people on his team? And for the most part, everyone who tests positive will likely be asymptomatic. 

So our thinking, it seems to me, has to be focused on, 'How do you test regularly?' And hopefully the saliva test will come online fairly soon, we will be able to test more frequently, there will be a faster turnaround time. 

But in Week 4, if five people on one team test positive on a Wednesday, and five people test positive on another team on a Wednesday, and those two teams are supposed to play on Sunday - even engaging in what we'd want to do, a 48-hour or 72-hour time period of two negative tests, you're at a point where, okay, five to 10 people may not be able to play on Sunday. Then what?

Here's where we are right now: we haven't agreed on what happens.

It's good that both the league and the NFLPA are treating these kinds outbreaks as "when" situations, not "if" situations. Earlier this month, ESPN reported roughly 10 teams across the league reported at least one positive COVID-19 test - and that's before 3,072 active players participate in hand-to-hand activity for three straight hours on 17 consecutive weekends.

It's not good that both parties have yet to answer what seems to be the most fundamental question facing the 2020 NFL season: what to do in case of a mass outbreak? 

That is basically the only question that matters right now.

Earlier this month, reports surfaced of possibly expanding teams' practice squads in order to bolster the number of players available in the event of a sizable outbreak.

The two sides have 45 days until the first scheduled preseason game to figure out a plan for sizable team outbreaks. It sounds like plenty of time, but we said that about negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA until those talks overran numerous deadlines. 

The NFL season is scheduled to begin Sept. 10. We'll see if that's what actually happens.

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Eagle Eye podcast: There goes half of the NFL preseason

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Eagle Eye podcast: There goes half of the NFL preseason

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast presented by Mercedes Benz of Fort Washington, West Chester and Atlantic City, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro react to reports about the NFL’s cutting the preseason in half. 

If rosters are reduced before training camp because of COVID-19, which players will be the first to go? The guys try to figure it out. 

And, would Doug Pederson really quarantine a quarterback in 2020, just in case? 

Recapping Nos. 10-5 on our list of most important Eagles. And Roob highlights some of the best and worst running back performances in team history. 

  • (2:03) — The NFL will shorten the preseason from four games to two.
  • (10:06) — Report of the NFL cutting down the size of rosters.
  • (22:22) — The idea of quarantining a quarterback to keep them healthy and available
  • (30:31) — Most important Eagles of 2020, 10-5.
  • (42:17) — The top 10 worst performances ever by Eagles running backs.
     

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NFL Rumors: George Kittle's rumored extension price is good news for Eagles

NFL Rumors: George Kittle's rumored extension price is good news for Eagles

Football's tight end position has changed considerably in the last decade. In 2020 we have a ton of game-changing pass catchers at the position.

Which means it's time for tight ends to start getting paid more, and soon.

One of the players leading the tight end revolution has been the Eagles' Zach Ertz, who is under contract through 2021 but will likely want an extension sooner. His next contract (in Philly, or elsewhere) will be influenced by contracts for 49ers tight end George Kittle and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. 

And now, we have some idea of what those deals could look like. 

Kittle has been looking for a huge contract, given his clear value in the passing game, but according to a report this week, it looks like the number will be a bit lower than some estimations.

Per The Athletic:

I recently spoke with someone in the know who said he thought Kittle ultimately would land a contract worth $13 million a year. That’s not the spectacular deal some were envisioning for the 49ers’ indispensable man, but it would still set the pace for all tight ends.

It's not mind-blowing money, but it would mark the richest contract for a tight end in NFL history. Right now, 14 wide receivers have a higher average annual salary higher than $13 million.

Does that mean an Ertz extension will land around the same place? And can the Eagles afford that? Let's investigate.

Here's a quick look at their respective numbers from last season:

Kittle: 85 receptions, 1053 yards, 5 TD

Ertz: 88 receptions, 916 yards, 6 TD

Ertz, who turns 30 this season, has reached three straight Pro Bowls and has been the Eagles' most relaible target during the Carson Wentz era. He's not getting younger, but he's still an elite tight end.

Kittle, who turns 27 this season, has reached two straight Pro Bowls, was named First Team All-Pro in 2019, and was the best receiving threat on a 49ers team that reached the Super Bowl.

The numbers put Ertz right around Kittle's neighborhood, but being three years older - and a potentially reduced role in the Eagles' offense with better wide receivers - could make it hard to argue he deserves an equal deal. 

I'd imagine, if the Eagles want to keep him around, he'll land a little lower than Kittle, but higher than Austin Hooper, who landed a four-year deal averaging $10.5 million earlier this year.

(Considering what Dallas Goedert has shown in his first two seasons, I wouldn't extend Ertz, but that's a conversation for another day.)

In any case, Ertz is still one of the most important members of the 2020 Eagles team, as NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro explained Thursday:

One main reason Ertz has been so important to the Eagles is because they haven’t had consistent play at the receiver position. He’s been the offense’s best and most consistent weapon in the last several seasons. In fact, he’s led the team in receiving for each of the last four years. 

While the Eagles have added some new receivers this offseason, my best guess is that as long as Ertz stays healthy, he’ll lead the team in receptions again in 2020.

And then we'll see what happens.

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