Eagles

Nigel Bradham's 1-game suspension is tough but it could've been much worse

Nigel Bradham's 1-game suspension is tough but it could've been much worse

Nigel Bradham was relieved when he learned the NFL had suspended him for one game.

Relieved?

Yup. Because it could have been a lot worse.

Bradham, the Eagles’ starting outside linebacker, will miss the 2018 opener against the Falcons for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
 
Initially, his suspension was six games.

“When I heard six back after OTAs (in June), I was devastated,” Bradham said after practice Thursday. “I was devastated, for sure. That was way too harsh for something that wasn’t that big. That’s almost half the season.

“That came out of nowhere. So I feel like I’m fortunate. It sucks that I’ll miss that one game, but I’m happy it’s not more than one game.”

Bradham was arrested two years ago Friday on an assault charge at a Miami Beach hotel.

Two months later, he was arrested after forgetting he had a gun — a loaded gun — as he went through security at Miami International Airport.

Legally, both cases have been resolved.

Bradham completed a deferred prosecution program in the hotel assault case. Authorities simply dropped charges in the airport incident because Bradham had a concealed weapons permit and simply forgot he had the gun with him.

But in late June, the NFL announced that Bradham, who played extremely well for the Super Bowl champs last year, would be suspended, presumably because of the assault charge.

Bradham said the NFL Players Association and his personal lawyer worked together to appeal the original six-game suspension.

“We had to send documentation, everything about the case,” Bradham said. “They investigated it and that’s when it was reduced. 

"Went six games to four to two to one.

“But it’s good that at least the process worked and they saw what kind of person I am. They pretty much decided to do just one game because something did happen.

“I can’t act like it didn’t happen because it did happen. It’s just a situation that was two years ago. It does suck.”

Bradham, 28, is beginning his third year with the Eagles and his seventh NFL season.

He’s been a model citizen since the summer of 2016, which certainly helped when it came time for the NFL to rule on his appeal.

“It sucks, but my thing is control what I can control and that’s just, continue to stay focused on my task and come out here every day trying to focus on me and getting better and becoming a great player,” he said.

“I want that to be in the past. It’s been so long. So for the suspension to happen now … it’s kind of redundant. But after this, there’s nothing else. It’s over.

“The important thing is that I grew from it. I learned a lot. I learned a lot from every standpoint of being a person. I learned you’ve got to have a strong mind and just have a strong mind and get through it.”

The Eagles, already thin at linebacker, released Mychal Kendricks and lost Paul Worrilow for the season.

Imagine if they didn’t have Bradham for six games?

Fortunately, they won’t have to worry about it.

What’s sad is that Bradham believes he won’t be allowed in the stadium for the opener Sept. 6 at the Linc.

“I definitely obviously want to see the banner put up in the stadium so I’ll miss that, which is a chance of a lifetime. You don’t get too many opportunities like that,” he said.

“But it’s the league policy. I’m just happy it wasn’t worse. I’m just happy that it’ll all be over with after (the opener) and I can just focus on football.”

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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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