Eagles

Stay or Go — Will both Grahams return?

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Stay or Go — Will both Grahams return?

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Nathan Gerry
Roob
: Gerry, a fifth-round pick last year, seems to be a decent late-round linebacker prospect. He was a core special teamer — his 180 snaps were sixth-most on the team — on a roster where the linebackers are generally older guys (with the exception of oft-injured Jordan Hicks). A roster spot will be there for the taking if Gerry has a good training camp, especially with Trey Burton likely to leave and Corey Clement’s role on offense expected to grow.

Verdict: STAYS — as a special teamer

Dave: As a rookie, Gerry switched from safety to linebacker but didn't get a chance to play much on defense. He did find a role on special teams. He played in 10 regular-season games and every postseason game, including Super Bowl LII.

Verdict: STAYS

Shelton Gibson
Roob
: Gibson, a fifth-round pick last year, got only 17 snaps on offense and caught just two passes for 11 yards. He’ll be invited back to camp, but for once, the Eagles have depth at wide receiver, and young guys like Mack Hollins and Johnson are well ahead of Gibson in the Eagles' eyes. Even if Torrey Smith doesn't return, Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery and Hollins have spots locked up. Gibson's lack of special teams value will play a role.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: After a mostly terrible training camp, Gibson was inactive for the first 10 games of the 2017 season before playing a small role on special teams down the stretch. He still hasn't shown his potential as a fifth-round speed receiver, but he'll get another chance. 

Verdict: STAYS

Najee Goode
Roob
: Goode was one of those underrated players that every Super Bowl team seems to have but nobody talks about. He's a terrific special teamer — he was third behind Kamu Grugier-Hill and Burton with 294 special teams snaps — got 200 snaps at linebacker and held his own defensively. Goode is a free agent, and you can probably keep him at minimum wage.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Since 2013, Goode has appeared in 61 Eagles games. Not the best linebacker but a solid special teamer. Goode was on a one-year deal in 2017 so he's an unrestricted free agent-to-be. At 28, he isn't a viable option on defense, but I never thought he'd be here this long. 

Verdict: STAYS

Brandon Graham
Roob
: Graham has another year left on his deal. He’s now one of the NFL's top outside pass rushers with a career-high 9½ sacks this year and his first Pro Bowl honors. But he turns 30 this spring, and Derek Barnett is under contract with modest cap figures through 2020. The team can't afford to keep both Graham and Vinny Curry. Graham is obviously the superior player, but how difficult will it be for the Eagles to keep him? I expect he’ll look for a long-term deal in the $12-13 million per year range. He'll get it. I'm just not sure where.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: The Eagles didn't give Graham a new contract last offseason but they added some incentives to the last two years of his deal. As their most disruptive pass rusher, his strip-sack on Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII was the biggest play of the game. The Eagles have to decide if they're going to break the bank but for now, he'll be a huge part of the 2018 season. 

Verdict: STAYS

Corey Graham
Roob
: Corey Graham is another one of those one-year contract veterans who made a big impact this season both on defense and special teams. He’ll turn 33 before camp opens but is in tremendous shape. He's played in 171 of a possible 176 games in his 11-year career and shows no sign of dropping off. Graham is also a terrific natural leader who was extremely vocal during the Super Bowl run. The Eagles don't really have any young safeties knocking on the door, so as long as Graham is willing to accept another cap-friendly contract, I don't see a reason not to re-sign him.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Signing Graham was one of the best moves Howie Roseman pulled off last summer. Having a quality third safety freed up Malcolm Jenkins to slide into the slot when needed and allowed the Eagles to use a smaller lineup in their dime package. Graham is a free agent and the Eagles might try to go younger, but they should think about bringing him back.

Verdict: STAYS

Mic'd up Mike Trout shouts out Eagles during All-Star Game, will try to make season opener

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USA Today Images

Mic'd up Mike Trout shouts out Eagles during All-Star Game, will try to make season opener

Who's a bigger Philly sports fan than Mike Trout?

While mic'd up during the second inning of the All-Star Game Tuesday night, Trout was congratulated by Joe Buck for the Eagles' Super Bowl win and Trout beamed instantly.

He even shouted out Zach Ertz and Carson Wentz by name, hoping they were watching.

Trout's Angels are actually off the night of the Eagles' season opener, Sept. 6 against the Falcons.

Would he be able to make it to the game? 

Asked Monday by NBC 10 Eagles producer Rob Kuestner, Trout said he hasn't decided yet but will try to swing it.

It would be a tough arrangement because the Angels are in Texas the night before and in Chicago the night after. But we're talking here about a season-ticket holding superfan to whom money is no object. Seems like a night he'd have a tough time missing.

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These criticisms of Alshon Jeffery should make you laugh

These criticisms of Alshon Jeffery should make you laugh

There was an interesting series of tweets regarding Alshon Jeffery Tuesday morning from Chris Raybon, who hosts a gambling show called “I’ll Take That Bet” on ESPN+ and also writes often about fantasy sports.

Raybon’s general point was that Jeffery has underachieved the last few years, that he's not a true No. 1 receiver and that his numbers have declined since his four-game suspension in 2016 for a positive PED test.

Raybon’s tweets were all factually accurate, but they bothered me. For a few reasons.

First of all, Raybon tweeted that Jeffery has gone 30 straight games without a 100-yard game.

Then he tweeted that Jeffery hasn’t had a 100-yard game since his PED suspension.

And he pointed out correctly that Jeffery’s catches and yards have gone down each year over the last three seasons, although his notion that Jeffery’s nine touchdowns last year “masked” a decline in production is kind of bizarre. Isn’t scoring touchdowns the whole idea of playing football?

The first most basic error Raybon makes is equating 100-yard games to success. Since when do we measure a receiver’s value by 100-yard games? 

Eagles receivers had a total of three 100-yard games all last year — Zach Ertz vs. the Bears, Nelson Agholor vs. the Seahawks and Torrey Smith vs. the Rams.

That really held the team back, didn't it.

It’s called being balanced.

The Eagles still had the No. 3 scoring offense in the NFL, went 13-3 and won a Super Bowl. They had one QB make the Pro Bowl and another one named Super Bowl MVP. I would argue that the lack of 100-yard receivers made the Eagles more unpredictable, more dangerous, more difficult to defend. 

If you want to make the point that it doesn’t make sense to draft any Eagles receiver in fantasy because the Eagles are so balanced offensively, that’s fine.

But trying to make a case that Jeffery underachieved or is overpaid or overrated because his yards were spread out fairly evenly throughout the season instead of in groups of 100 yards is just silly.

The fact that Jeffery didn’t have any 100-yard games is irrelevant. That was never the goal. Including the postseason, he had 60 or more yards nine times, and only 11 wide receivers league-wide had more games with 60 or more yards. 

I’d rather have a guy catch 60 yards week in and week out than have 100 here and nine there. And if we're simply measuring fantasy value, how do you argue with 12 touchdowns — nine in the regular season and three more in the playoffs?

Only DeAndre Hopkins had more (13).

But here’s what really bothered me. 

None of Raybon’s tweets addressed Jeffery’s terrific production in the postseason.

Playing with a torn rotator cuff injury that required offseason surgery, Jeffery had 12 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns in wins over the Falcons, Vikings and Patriots.

Only 11 other players in NFL history have had 200 receiving yards and three TDs in a postseason playing for a Super Bowl champion. Guys like Rice, Fitz, Swann and Boldin.

In 19 games, Jeffery had 69 catches, 1,008 yards and 12 TDs.

Here's a list of players in Eagles history with 60 catches, 1,000 yards and 12 TDs in a season: McDonald, Carmichael, Quick, Owens, Jeffery.

Guess they all stink.

Jeffery was such a big-play guy in the postseason. He had a 53-yard touchdown catch against the Vikings. You know what other receivers have had 50-yard TD catches against the Vikings’ vaunted defense the last two years?

Yeah. Nobody.

He had 73 yards in the Super Bowl, for crying out loud, including a high-flying miracle 34-yard touchdown that gave the Eagles the lead in the first quarter and pretty much showed the world that the Patriots were in for a battle in Minneapolis on Feb. 4.

You know what other receivers have had TD catches longer than 30 yards against the Patriots in the playoffs the last four years?

Yeah. Nobody.

Jeffery last year had 18 first-down catches on third down in the regular season, and only eight receivers in the league had more. He had four more in the playoffs.

If you’re looking for a guy to clean up in fantasy football with meaningless stats, stay away from Jeffery.

If you’re looking for big catches at big moments, if you’re looking for an unselfish team leader who never complained when the ball didn’t come his way, if you’re looking for a champion, Jeffery's your guy.

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