Through 2020, no team in better shape than Eagles

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Through 2020, no team in better shape than Eagles

The Eagles are in awfully good shape this year, sitting at 10-2 with four games left. Just as importantly, they’re in pretty good for the future, as well. 

In fact, you can make a case that they’re better positioned for the future than any other NFL team.

Thank Howie Roseman for that.

With Alshon Jeffery signing a four-year contract extension last weekend, the Eagles now have 19 players under contract through the 2020 season. That means at least three more years with the current nucleus that's been so impressive so far this year.

No other NFL team has more players signed for the next three years. The Browns and Redskins are close. Both have 18 players signed or with a team option through 2020, but both also have very serious quarterback questions. 

The Browns haven’t been settled at quarterback since the days of Bernie Kosar, and the Redskins still don’t have Kirk Cousins under contract beyond this season. Carson Wentz is under contract through only 2019 under the terms of his four-year rookie deal, but it’s only a matter of time before Roseman has him locked up long-term.

The Eagles also have 32 players signed through 2019 and 44 through next year.

Among those signed through 2020 are the hearts of both lines: Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks on the O-line; and Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Vinny Curry, Chris Long and Derek Barnett on the D-line.

Also locked up for at least the next three years behind this season are key guys such as Jeffery (2021), Zach Ertz (2021), Malcolm Jenkins (2020), Rodney McLeod (2020), Sidney Jones (2020) and Rasul Douglas (2020).

Since his return from Chip Kelly exile nearly two years ago now, Roseman has done a masterful job of navigating through salary cap challenges to re-sign key players to long-term deals while trading away undervalued assets to clear cap space.

Right now, the only starters due to hit free agency after this season are LeGarrette Blount, Patrick Robinson and Nigel Bradham. Blount and Robinson have both been very good, but both are in their 30s and play positions where the Eagles are very deep, so the Eagles could certainly move on from both. 

Bradham, now in his second year here, most likely will be one of the Eagles' top offseason priorities.

Also up are guys like Trey Burton, Kenjon Barner, Corey Graham, Jaylen Watkins and Beau Allen. That group falls into the category of contributors the Eagles value but who are ultimately replaceable depending on their contract demands.

Kicker Caleb Sturgis, who has been very good since replacing Cody Parkey, is also up but Doug Pederson has already said the team plans to let him go via free agency and retain Jake Elliott.

Darren Sproles, who has spent the last few days with the team in Los Angeles, is also scheduled to become a free agent. That's a complicated situation because as popular and productive as he's been, he's 34, he's currently rehabbing, and he plays a position that's very crowded right now.

The Eagles currently have just over $5 million available under their adjusted 2017 cap figure of $174,933,869, according to Spotrac.com, which tracks NFL salaries, contracts and cap figures.  

They're also already over their projected 2018 and 2019 cap figures, according to Spotrac. So there's no question they'll have some difficult decisions looming over the next couple offseasons.

This is why it's so important to draft well. When you're forced to cut ties with proven veterans because of cap issues, you need younger players to capably replace them.

That all sounds alarming, but Roseman has proven to be adept at juggling contracts, restructuring deals and shuffling the roster to create cap space, and the addition of Joe Douglas to the scouting department seems to have made a difference when it comes to talent evaluation and acquisition.

Here's a look at the Eagles' current roster and how long each player is signed for:
Signed through 2017 (14)
Trey Burton
Darren Sproles*
LeGarrette Blount
Kenjon Barner
Chance Warmack
Beau Allen
Nigel Bradham
Najee Goode
Dannell Ellerbe
Nate Gerry
Corey Graham
Patrick Robinson
Jaylen Watkins
Caleb Sturgis*

Signed through 2018 (12)
Nate Sudfeld 
Nelson Agholor
Marcus Johnson
Jay Ajayi
Brent Celek
Brandon Graham
Destiny Vaeao 
Ronald Darby
Rick Lovato
Jake Elliott
Steven Means 
Jordan Hicks*

Signed through through 2019 (13)
Carson Wentz  
Wendell Smallwood
Corey Clement
Jason Peters*
Stefen Wisniewski
Isaac Seumalo
Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Mychal Kendricks
Kamu Grugier-Hill
Joe Walker
Jalen Mills
Donnie Jones
Chris Maragos*

Signed through through 2020 (12)
Mack Hollins
Shelton Gibson
Brandon Brooks
Jason Kelce

Vinny Curry
Elijah Qualls
Malcolm Jenkins
Rodney McLeod
Sidney Jones
Rasul Douglas
Nick Foles (club option in 2019 and 2020)
Donnel Pumphrey*

Signed through through 2021 (6)
Alshon Jeffery
Zach Ertz
Lane Johnson
Tim Jernigan
Chris Long
Derek Barnett (club option in 2021)

Signed through through 2022 (1)
Fletcher Cox

*Injured reserve

When do players know their football days are over?

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When do players know their football days are over?

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss Father's Day weekend. What kind of basketball parent is Barrett? The guys give their 53-man roster after spring practices. Tom Brady says he can feel his playing days are getting numbered. When do players first start realizing that the end is near and what makes that reality most difficult? Also, how should the Giants handle Odell Beckham Jr.'s contract situation?

"I think that Saquon [Barkley] is going to be better than [Ezekiel] Elliott." — Barrett Brooks.

1:00 - What kind of basketball parent is Barrett?
3:00 - Father's Day weekend recap.
5:00 - Eagles' 53-man roster after spring practices.
15:30 - Tom Brady tells Oprah the end is near ... when do players start seeing that reality?
20:00 - The hardest part about having to say goodbye to football.
23:00 - Odell Beckham Jr.'s contract situation.

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

The Eagles were just a few days away from the Super Bowl and there was a clear indication of just how loose the team really was. 

On Feb. 1, Carson Wentz tweeted out a photo proving it. 

So, what’s the point of this? Why show a photo that Wentz sent out from an escape room well over four months ago?

Well, because it was a little glimpse into the future. Because the five guys in that photo are going to be the five guys in the Eagles’ quarterback room this season. 

Along with Wentz, Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld, the other two are Press Taylor (sitting) and Spencer Phillips. This offseason, after John DeFilippo left Philadelphia to take the offensive coordinator job in Minnesota, the Eagles promoted Taylor to take his position as quarterbacks coach and then promoted Phillips to take Taylor’s spot as the assistant quarterbacks coach. 

It was probably a no-brainer. 

And it’s crazy to think, but just a year after the Eagles blocked DeFilippo from leaving the organization, DeFilippo has left … and the Eagles are going to be just fine. 

At the time, before the 2017 season, it made sense to block DeFilippo. He was seemingly integral to the development of a young Wentz and he certainly deserves plenty of credit for the big jump in Wentz’s play last season. But now, without him, the Eagles are going to keep a finely-tuned machine running. And they’re going to do it with a very young and very promising coach. 

Taylor is just 30 years old, which seems incredibly young for a coach who is supposed to lead the most important position room for the Eagles and possibly the most important position room in the entire league. He’s just one year older than Foles. 

He might be young, but Taylor is uniquely positioned to handle this responsibility. And aside from his football acumen — which has been touted by his superiors — it’s his relationship with the players in the room that made him such a no-brainer replacement for DeFilippo. 

“I feel really close (to Wentz, Foles and Sudfeld),” Taylor said last week. “I know what makes them tick going into it. And then we all had our own relationships. Obviously, I wasn’t their quarterbacks coach at the time, but I was in the room, sat through those conversations, had my own conversations out on the practice field. I feel like I know the things they like, the things they didn’t like. And then was able to learn from the other guys, the other coaches in the room.”

After the Super Bowl, Taylor is probably best known in the city for bringing the Philly Special to the Eagles. In his position last year, it was his job to mine gadget plays from around the league and found that play being used by the Bears the season before (see story). And that’s great. But all the stuff we don’t know about last year is what’s going to make the most difference for the Eagles this season. 

Taylor has been with the Eagles since 2013, when Chip Kelly brought him to town. And then Doug Pederson was smart enough (and without ego) to keep Taylor in 2016. The brother of Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Press has quickly worked his way up the ladder. 

Last week, Wentz was asked if the team wanted his opinion before promoting Taylor. 

“I think it was pretty much known how we felt about Press beforehand,” Wentz said. “We’ve seen Press behind the scenes the last couple years and how hard he works. A lot of guys have a ton of respect for him as a person and as a coach. I know that’s where I sit. So far, it’s been great. He understands the game extremely well. We’re very like-minded, both on and off the field. The relationship I have with him personally and the relationship he has with all the quarterbacks has been tremendous so far.”

The relationship between Taylor and the QBs is so important. Relationships for this entire coaching staff are so important. Really, that’s what has made Pederson so special. He has that “emotional intelligence” and understands how to deal with his players. 

Taylor seems to have that too. And really, that’s why the Eagles’ QB room won’t miss a beat. 

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