Nigel Bradham wants to be back with Eagles but it’s not that simple

Nigel Bradham wants to be back with Eagles but it’s not that simple

As the Eagles cleaned out their lockers on Monday, there was a feeling of uncertainty in the air.

“Not for me,” said Nigel Bradham while removing items from his locker after his fourth season in Philadelphia.

The 30-year-old linebacker seemed to be more confident about his return to Philadelphia in 2020 than I was. After all, the Eagles will have until the end of the league year (March 17) to either pick up or decline his option and it would be pretty surprising if they picked it up.

But Bradham still expects to be back next season.

“Yeah, I don’t see why not,” Bradham said. “I think I had a pretty good season. I think I played well. I had a couple injuries but that’s nothing I can control. That's how it goes. I know this game is crazy, there’s a lot of decisions to be made. You just never know. I feel like I got confidence. Why wouldn’t I have confidence? Done a lot of things here, a lot of great plays, just gotta keep it going, man.”

Before last season, Bradham signed a five-year, $40 million deal but those figures weren’t real. The Eagles gave themselves plenty of outs.

And the Eagles have team options for Bradham in the next three seasons. If the Eagles pick up the option for 2020, Bradham would have a base salary of $8 million next year. Bradham has been an important piece of the Eagles’ defense but it would probably be hard to justify keeping him at that price tag.

So, let’s say the Eagles decline the option.

Would Bradham be willing to give his agent Drew Rosenhaus the go ahead to work with the Eagles and figure out a different contract?

He didn’t rule that out.

“It depends on what’s right,” Bradham said. “Obviously, I feel like I’m going into a good situation. I just take it from there. I don’t really have a say on what should be done or what should not be done.”

The Bills drafted Bradham out of Florida State in the fourth round back in 2012, but he has now played the same amount of seasons and more games with the Eagles, who brought him in back in 2016. During his four years in Philly, Bradham has played and started 58 regular-season games and all six playoff games, including Super Bowl LII, during that span.

For the Florida native, Philadelphia feels like home now.

I enjoy Philly, man, the city, the atmosphere, everything this team does, organization-wise, what we believe in. Just being resilient. I really feel like it matches my play style. Just tough mentally and physically, battle through anything, not backing down from anything. Those type of characteristics, I feel like I have a lot of them. Being put in any situation at any position, things like that. When you’re in those situations, it’s a nice place to be, to call home.

During his years with the Eagles, he’s also had his fair share of off-the-field incidents. There was the battery charge in 2016 and then the time he forgot he had a handgun in his backpack at the airport in Miami. But his production on the field has helped the Eagles tolerate those incidents. Since his arrival, Bradham leads the team in combined tackles with 348. He also has 21 TFLs, five sacks and 11 QB hits.

And there’s no player who knows Jim Schwartz’s defense as well as Bradham. Since Bradham played for Schwartz in Buffalo in 2014, he just finished his fifth season in this defense. That knowledge allows the Eagles to move him around and play him at different positions.

During the first four years of his career, Bradham had four different defensive coordinators. So he’s quite enjoyed getting to settle into a defense during his time with the Eagles. We’ll have to see if Schwartz is back in 2020 — he could get the Browns’ head coaching job — but if he is, Bradham would like to join him.

“First time I ever had a coordinator for that long,” Bradham said. “I think it’s a nice thing, obviously, because I’ve been in both situations. Just take that into consideration. It’s a blessing to have that. I remember having to learn a new defense every year.”

If Bradham has his way, he won’t have to learn another one next year.

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Eagle Eye podcast: The biggest news from the combine

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Eagle Eye podcast: The biggest news from the combine

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank is joined by Dave Zangaro from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to go over the biggest storylines of the day. 

Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Tuesday about a wide range of topics. 

Will Jason Peters return? Have the Eagles changed their free agent philosophy? And what will the coaching staff really look like in 2020? 

• One more year of Jason Peters? 
• Eagles might change free agency approach
• More details about the coaching structure
• The rise of Press Taylor 
• What will Rich Scangarello do?  
• Breaking down Duce Staley’s role in the organization 

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Eagles leave open possibility that Jason Peters returns in 2020

Eagles leave open possibility that Jason Peters returns in 2020

INDIANAPOLIS — Jason Peters is 38 years old, will become a free agent in less than a month and the Eagles already drafted his replacement in the first round a little less than a year ago.

This seems pretty simple, right?

Yet, as Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Tuesday at the NFL’s Scouting Combine, neither man was ready to say the team is moving on.

“I think as it pertains to all of our free agents, it’s important that we keep an open mind with everyone and try to figure out as we get more information,” Roseman said.

“A big part of this week is accumulating information. That’s what we do here. Obviously, when you’re talking about Jason Peters, you’re talking about a Hall of Fame player, a Hall of Fame person, someone that’s very special to us and played at a really high level last year. We’ll go through all those decisions this week.”

Pederson gave less of a politician answer.

“Heck yeah,” Pederson said when asked if he wants Peters back next season.

So that leads us to this: Is there really a chance the Eagles would re-sign a 38-year-old left tackle instead of playing a first-round pick they traded up to get less than a year ago?

It seems crazy.

Coming into Tuesday, I thought there was a chance Roseman would get to the podium and use the forum as a chance to make a statement about Peters. I thought, maybe, he would get up there and tell us all that the Eagles were planning to let Peters hit the free agent market, thank him for his time and give a vote of confidence to Andre Dillard as the left tackle of the future.

That didn’t happen.

In fact, Roseman and Pederson actually invited more speculation and I walked away thinking there’s actually a chance they try to bring back Peters for next season, even though it sounds pretty crazy.

Maybe they just haven’t talked to Peters yet. That’s possible. In a case like this, if the Eagles want to move on, they wouldn’t want to do anything to disrespect a guy who has been here a decade and will likely end up in Canton. Even Roseman admitted that it’s important to treat guys of this magnitude a little differently.

“There’s no question,” Roseman said. “When you talk about guys who are historic players in the National Football League, guys who are going into the Hall of Fame, guys who are going into the Eagles Hall of Fame, those guys are special people and special players and you don’t have a lot of those during the course of your career.

“So you try to make decisions first that are best for the football team and at the same time have respect and appreciation for what guys have done and what guys have done going forward and have been a part of your organization for a long time.”

Peters played the 2019 season on a renegotiated one-year deal that he signed in March. And while Peters didn’t play at an All Pro level last year, he was still pretty good.

But throughout last season, it seemed like the Eagles were going to let Peters play and groom Dillard. And, sure, Dillard struggled at right tackle in his one start at the position, but acquitted himself quite well at left tackle when Peters missed a three-game stretch.

On Tuesday, I asked Pederson about the possibility that bringing back Peters could stunt Dillard’s long-term development. I mean, what would it say about a first-round rookie if the Eagles didn’t start him in Year 2 and instead re-signed a 38-year old to play in front of him?

“Andre is the guy we selected,” Pederson said. “He was our top pick a year ago. We feel like he has a bright future. Again, this is where that fine line comes in. We have to have some difficult conversations, not only for us internally but with the players.”

Pederson said his feelings about wanting Peters back are similar to the way he felt about Darren Sproles. Well, the Eagles brought Sproles back in 2018 and 2019 and he got hurt both seasons. It seems like a cautionary tale.

And unlike Sproles, who was a rotational player, if Peters returns, he’ll be the starting left tackle.

“It is that simple when it comes down to it,” Pederson said. “It’s either JP or it’s Andre and those are decisions we have to make.”

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