Eagles

Ready or not, Cody Kessler is Eagles' backup quarterback

Ready or not, Cody Kessler is Eagles' backup quarterback

His first snap in an Eagles uniform, Cody Kessler got sacked, hit late by blitzing Titans linebacker Nigel Harris and suffered a pretty good bruise on his arm.

It was downhill from there.

Kessler, a former third-round pick of the Browns who signed with the Eagles in May, became the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback when Nate Sudfeld broke his wrist late in the second quarter of the Eagles’ preseason opener against the Titans at the Linc Thursday night.

It’s a precarious situation for the Eagles, who expect Sudfeld to be out in the six- to eight-week range.

Kessler’s Eagles debut was a dismal one. He went 3 for 6 for 12 yards with a long gain of six yards to Wendell Smallwood.

He was on the field for 12 plays that netted 18 yards. 

It wasn’t ideal circumstances — he came in cold when Sudfeld got hurt and he was out there with backup receivers and linemen — but you would like to see more from your No. 2 QB.

It’s just nice to get those first live game reps out of the way,” Kessler said. “The first play they brought cover-zero on me so it was kind of an introduction to playing here, which is nice, but it’s something to build off of, something to learn from. I made some good reads and some stuff I could have fixed. Missed a ball to Wendell there on the side, but that’s kind of just part of it.

Kessler hasn’t been awful when he’s had to play for the Browns and Jaguars.

The big thing he’s missing is time in this offense. So he has a month to get as comfortable as possible, and the Eagles will accelerate that process starting immediately.

(My comfort level) is obviously nowhere near where those guys who have been here three years are,” Kessler said. “But it’s getting there. The biggest part of that is repetition. And that’s something that you get with each practice day in and day out. Whether it’s mental reps, watching Carson or physically being on the field or extra film room.

Head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles have no intention of bringing in a quarterback, which makes sense.

Anybody they bring in at this point — 30 days before opening day — would be so far behind that they probably wouldn’t be able to function until after Sudfeld gets back.

We are comfortable with Cody,” Pederson said. “He's a veteran guy. He's started games in the National Football League. He's shown us he's been able to hand the playbook and incrementally getting better every day. He gets out there and takes reps. Looking forward, we're not there yet, but he's been in that role before, so he's accustomed to being a backup, if that's the case.

Kessler has played in the NFL — more than Sudfeld, actually. He has a respectable 83.7 passer rating in 17 games with the Browns and Jaguars and has completed 64 percent of his 349 passes. 

So he shouldn’t be a complete disaster if he has to play. 

That’s part of the NFL,” he said. “You hate to see it, and these guys are family and guys you’ve worked with and been through so much with and they’re your brothers. But it’s the next-man mentality and that’s the mindset I’m taking into it. I’m going to lean on Nate a lot, I know he’ll be there, and Carson, but for me, it’s something you’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities and make the most of them. But I feel for Nate.

Kessler’s practice reps will increase dramatically starting Saturday, and he’ll play a ton the rest of the preseason, starting with a game Thursday night against his former team, the Jaguars, in Jacksonville on Thursday night.

Wentz has to stay healthy. He has to.

But if he doesn’t? For now, Kessler is the next man up. And judging from what we've seen so far, that's a scary thought.

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Andy Reid has jokes about a crucial lesson he learned from Eagles tenure

Andy Reid has jokes about a crucial lesson he learned from Eagles tenure

Andy Reid is working on defending his first Super Bowl title, if the NFL does in fact hold a full 2020 regular season this fall, but he still has time for a few one-liners.

Reid conducted an offseason conference call with reporters on Thursday, and he made a few typical Reid jokes (we'll get to those in a minute) and stopped, for a second, for a quick remark about his time with the Eagles.

You see, Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins is due to cost $21 million against the Chiefs' cap space this year, a number the team would obviously like to be smaller.

Reid was asked if the team had any progress in contract restructuring talks with Watkins, but according to Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star, good ol' Big Red is staying far away from personnel matters:

During the end of Reid's time with the Eagles, he had final say over most personnel decisions. Reid said years ago that he wasn't focusing enough on coaching in those years, which he feels ultimately cost him his job here in Philly, a sentiment his successor Chip Kelly can probably share. (The difference being, of course, that Reid was at least a good coach.)

Now, with a Super Bowl title in tow and years of distance from his firing, Reid is happy to joke about his past mistakes. Good on you, Big Red.

For anyone wondering, Reid hasn't changed too much else of what makes him a lovable NFL figure. This week, he was grinding tape:

And he gave this classic Reid answer to a question about how he's dealing with social distancing mandates during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic:

Yep, Andy is still Andy.

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How much cap space do the Eagles really have?

How much cap space do the Eagles really have?

A detailed look at the Eagles’ cap figures really provides a fascinating look at how Howie Roseman likes to build a roster.

Now that we have detailed — and accurate —contract information about all 66 players the Eagles have under contract, let’s take a look at some of the trends that jump out.

The basics: The Eagles as of Thursday morning had $27,869,777 in cap space under their adjusted 2020 cap figure of $222,776,734, which includes a carryover from 2019 of $21,484,051. The Eagles have 66 players under contract, but only their 51 highest cap figures count against their cap. From that, approximately $9 million will be set aside to cover rookie wages. Roseman likes to keep at least $15 million in cap space going into the season, so they are right where he likes to be.

What Howie learned from Big Red: From the day he got here, Andy Reid preached the importance of both lines, and Howie and Doug Pederson both believe in that philosophy. The Eagles offensive and defensive linemen have a combined cap figure of about $86.4 million, or nearly 40 percent of their total cap allocation. That's the 4th-highest combined o-line / d-line figure in the league (behind the Chiefs, Colts and Raiders).

The new guys: The Eagles have signed nine players this offseason — five defensive backs, two defensive tackles, a linebacker and a quarterback — and they have a combined 2020 cap liability of just $20,831,875, and the highest cap figure of the bunch is Darius Slay's $4.3 million. It’s rare to be this active in free agency without using up a ton more cap space.

Cheap-o linebackers: All six linebackers under contract have cap figures under $900,000, and their cap figures average $773,661. According to Spotrac, only the Bengals have a lower composite cap figure for their linebackers (and they only have four under contract).

What's important to Howie? The Eagles currently have 19 players with cap figures of at least $2 million, and 15 of them are linemen, receivers or corners.

Looking down the road: The Eagles have 36 players signed through 2021 but only 14 through 2022 and only six through 2023.

Bargain basement: The projected 2020 starters with the lowest cap figures are Nate Gerry ($825,000) and Miles Sander ($1.2 million). If either T.J. Edwards or Jatavis Brown starts at inside backer, they're also under a million.

Dead money: The Eagles have over $15 million in dead money in 2020, most of it coming from voiding the Malcolm Jenkins, Nigel Bradham and Ronald Darby contracts. Those three count over $14 million against the Eagles’ 2020 cap. When a team adds dummy years to a contract to pro-rate the initial signing bonus over more years and lessen the initial cap hit, they pay on the back end when they release that player because the remaining pro-rated bonus amounts accelerate into the next year’s cap.

Here are the 2020 cap figures for everybody the Eagles currently have under contract:

Quarterbacks [$21,345,065]

$18,656,536: Carson Wentz
$2,000,000: Nate Sudfeld
$688,529: Kyle Lauletta

Running Backs [$2,619,351]

$1,218,234: Miles Sanders
$750,000: Boston Scott
$651,117: Elijah Holyfield

Wide Receivers [$30,112,831]

$15,686,205: Alshon Jeffery
$8,609,000: DeSean Jackson
$1,125,278: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
$750,000: Shelton Gibson
$750,000: Robert Davis
$697,348: Jordan Mailata
$675,000: Deontay Burnett
$675,000: River Carcraft
$675,000: Greg Ward
$610,000: Marcus Green
$610,000: Marken Michel

Tight Ends [$15,665,395]

$12,481,500:Zach Ertz
$1,533,895:Dallas Goedert
$825,000: Alex Ellis
$825,000: Josh Perkins

Offensive Linemen [$38,798,277]

$15,686,205: Lane Johnson
$7,790,632: Brandon Brooks
$7,414,000: Jason Kelce
$2,811,730: Andre Dillard
$2,326,000: Isaac Seumalo
$783,196: Matt Pryor
$697,348: Jordan Mailata
$679,166: Nate Herbig
$610,000: Keegan Render

Defensive Ends [$13,514,947]

$6,288,000: Brandon Graham
$4,088,951: Derek Barnett
$898,398: Josh Sweat
$825,000: Daeshon Hall
$797,098: Shareef Miller
$617,500: Joe Ostman

Defensive Tackles [$34,068,000]

$22,847,000: Fletcher Cox
$4,661,000: Malik Jackson
$3,450,000: Javonte Hargrave
$1,010,000: Hassan Ridgeway
$750,000: Bruce Hector
$675,000: Albert Huggins Jr.
$675,000: Anthony Rush

Linebackers [$4,641,666]

$887,500: Jatavis Brown
$825,000: Nate Gerry
$825,000: Duke Riley
$750,000: Genard Avery
$679,166: T.J. Edwards
$675,000: Alex Singleton

Safeties [$5,334,375]

$2,350,000: Rodney McLeod
$1,484,375: Will Parks
$825,000: Rudy Ford
$675,000: Marcus Epps

Cornerbacks [$16,110,730]

$4,300,000: Darius Slay
$4,000,000: Jalen Mills
$2,309,572: Rasul Douglas
$1,953,658: Sidney Jones
$1,100,000: Cre’von LeBlanc
$1,097,500: Avonte Maddox
$1,350,000: Nickell Robey-Coleman
$775,000: Trevor Williams
$750,000: Craig James
$750,000 Tremon Smith

Specialists [$4,476,000]

$2,629,000: Jake Elliott
$1,097,500: Rick Lovato
$750,000: Cameron Johnston

Dead Money [$15,471,695]

$6,111,000: Malcolm Jenkins
$5,302,500: Nigel Bradham
$2,800,000: Ronald Darby
$583,334: L.J. Fort
$205,776: Clayton Thorson
$158,917: Mack Hollins
$150,000: Richard Rodgers
$64,312: Shelton Gibson
$47,353: Jordan Matthews
$16,667: Aua Opeta
$6,667: DeAndre Thompkins
$6,667: Kevin Wilkins
$5,000: Joey Alfieri
$3,334: Ryan Bates
$3,334: Keegan Render
$3,334: Anthony Rush
$2,500: Alex Singleton
$1,000: Jay Liggins

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