Eagles

Top pending free agents from NFC East

Top pending free agents from NFC East

By now, you know which Eagles are set to become free agents on March 13 (see story), but do you know how they stack up against the other pending free agents in the division? 

The Eagles are set to lose some pretty significant pieces compared to the rest of the division. 

With less than a month until the start of free agency, here’s a look at the top 10 free agents from the NFC East: 

1. DeMarcus Lawrence, DE, Cowboys 

Lawrence isn’t just the top pending free agent in the NFC East, he might be the top free agent in the NFL. It’s either him or Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney. Lawrence won’t turn 27 until April 28 and he’s already turned into a perennial Pro Bowler. His career got off to a relatively slow start, but his last two seasons have been great. In the last two years, Lawrence has had 25 sacks. Just three players in the NFL (Aaron Donald, Chandler Jones, Ryan Kerrigan) have had more in that span. Lawrence has also been very good against the run and has had 29 TFLs in the last two years. The Cowboys can’t afford to let him go. 

2. Nick Foles, QB, Eagles 

After the Eagles picked up his option year and then Foles immediately told the Eagles he’d pay back $2 million to buy his freedom, the former Super Bowl MVP is set to become an unrestricted free agent. The Eagles could prevent that by slapping a franchise tag on him, but if they don’t, he’ll be free to choose his next team when he becomes a free agent on March 13. (The tagging window is from Feb. 19 through March 5.) There probably aren’t a ton of landing spots left for Foles, but a couple of them might be in the division. Jacksonville and Miami make some sense too. 

3. Landon Collins, S, Giants 

Collins just finished out his rookie contract as a second-round pick and has been a Pro Bowler his last three years. He hasn’t stayed at his All-Pro level from 2016, when he was on the short list to be the Defensive Player of the Year, but he’s still been pretty damn good. The Giants probably can’t afford to let him walk, so if they can’t get a long-term deal, they’ll probably have to slap a tag on him. 

4. Brandon Graham, DE, Eagles 

BG is 30 now and is coming off a season where he had just four sacks, but he’ll still be a highly sought-after free agent. The former first-round pick has played all nine of his NFL seasons in Philly, but will likely get to test the free agent waters. Graham isn’t the top DE in this free agent market, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get a big deal. 

5. Preston Smith, LB, Redskins 

The former second-round pick hasn’t lived up to his potential with 24 1/2 sacks in four seasons, but he’s just 26 and has been a pretty big part of Washington’s defense. Washington probably still has some hope that Smith has room to grow. 

6. Golden Tate, WR, Eagles 

He came over from Detroit halfway through the season and the Eagles struggled to get him involved. Eventually, Tate did make a game-winning catch in the playoff game against Chicago, but is that enough for the Eagles to want to re-sign him? A YAC master, Tate will be 31 by the start of next season and had gone over 1,000 yards in three of his four previous seasons before 2018. 

7. Ronald Darby, CB, Eagles 

Darby tore his ACL against the Cowboys in November and is still recovering, which might delay his signing. In two seasons with the Eagles, he’s had two pretty significant injuries; the dislocated ankle in 2017 and the ACL tear in 2018. But when he’s been on the field, he’s been pretty good. The problem might be that the Eagles now seem to have some depth at corner. Maybe they still try to bring him back. 

8. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Redskins

Washington traded a fourth-round pick to the Packers at the deadline to bring in Clinton-Dix, who then played nine games with the Skins. He was a Pro Bowler in 2016, but has had an up and down career overall. But after releasing D.J. Swearinger, it might be important for Washington to keep Clinton-Dix. 

9. Jordan Hicks, LB, Eagles 

Because of his injury history, Hicks is one of the hardest free agents to figure out. When he’s on the field, he’s been a really productive player, but he has also missed 21 games over his first four years because of injury and that doesn’t include missing the Super Bowl run in 2017 after tearing his Achilles. 

10. Cole Beasley, WR, Cowboys 

It’s hard to believe, but Beasley just finished his seventh NFL season. He’s been unhappy with his usage in Dallas, which could mean he’ll be ready to get out of town. In 2018, he had 65 catches for 672 yards and three touchdowns. His best season came in 2016, when he caught 75 passes for 833 yards and five touchdowns. 

Notable mentions: David Irving, DT, Cowboys; Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins; Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles; Russell Shepard, WR, Giants

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Malcolm Jenkins to Drew Brees: 'Sometimes you should shut the f--- up'

Malcolm Jenkins to Drew Brees: 'Sometimes you should shut the f--- up'

Drew Brees said Wednesday he still feels kneeling during the national anthem is "disrespectful," as protestors across the nation speak out about institutional racism.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback said in 2016 that he "wholeheartedly" disagreed with then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the anthem as a way to protest racism in the U.S. and in the country's police system.

On Wednesday, Brees returned to those words amid displays from citizens, including fellow athletes, across the country.

Many, including former Eagles safety and Brees' current teammate Malcolm Jenkins, believe Brees is missing the point of the current national conversation.

Jenkins posted a lengthy response to Brees' comments on his Instagram in a video, which he later deleted. 

Here's what Jenkins said in the now-deleted video:

Quite frankly I'm hurt, and I'm not okay. I saw Drew Brees' comments, and they were extremely disappointing, extremely self-centered, and just shows a complete lack of awareness or care for the plight of teammates, your peers, and your countrymen. For you to talk about the reasons why you respect the flag, and the national anthem, because your grandfathers both served and fought for this country, shows that you're so unaware of the history of my grandfather, and others whose grandparents fought for this country in those same wars. 

And when they came back to this country, they didn't get a hero's welcome. They were met with violence for wearing that uniform. The same people who put their lives on the line for you, and your ancestors, came back to this country and were treated less than men, or beaten up and snatched off of buses for wearing their uniforms. Cut out of society and marginalized, even though they put their lives on the line for you. So to assume that, because you have a perspective about the flag and what it means to you, and the national anthem, and that everybody else should have the same mentality - it's just completely unaware that my grandfather's experience is way different than yours.

And so I'm somebody who protested during the national anthem. Not against the national anthem, but against police brutality, and the systemic racism that is plaguing our country. And if you can't see - now, in 2020, with the whole nation on fire and people screaming for equality and that this is enough - and you can't, with the same vigor that you like to denounce the protest during the national anthem, denounce the murder of George Floyd, denounce the murder of Breonna Taylor, denounce the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, denounce systematic racism, commit yourself to making this country better without criticizing those who have exhausted every single resource they have to make this country better, and this country has not stepped up to the plate. You have not stepped up to the plate. To stay silent when your peers are screaming from the mountaintops that we need help, our communities are under siege, and we need help. What you're telling us is, 'Don't ask for help that way. Ask for it a different way. I can't listen when you ask that way.' 

We're done asking, Drew. People who share your sentiments, who express those and push them throughout the world, the airwaves, are the problem. And it's unfortunate, because I considered you a friend, I looked up to you as somebody I had a great deal of respect for, but sometimes you should shut the f**k up.

Jenkins said he deleted the video because he "knew it [would] be more about the headlines".

After Jenkins deleted the first video, he uploaded a second, different video. Here's what he said:

I promise you this... the onslaught of s**t that we have to deal with is f***ing crazy right now. Drew Brees, if you don't understand how hurtful, how insensitive your comments are, you are part of the problem. To think that, because your grandfathers served in this country and you have a great respect for the flag, that everybody else should have the same ideals and thoughts that you do is ridiculous. And it shows that you don't know history. Because when our grandfathers fought for this country, and served, and they came back, they didn't come back to a hero's welcome. They came back and got attacked for wearing their uniforms. They came back to people, to racism, to complete violence. 

And then here we are in 2020, with the whole country on fire, everybody witnessing a black man being murdered at the hands of the police, just in cold blood, for everybody to see, the whole country's on fire, and the first thing you do is criticize one's peaceful protest? That was years ago, when we were trying to signal a sign for help, signal for our allies, for our white brothers and sisters, the people we considered to be friends, to get involved. It was ignored, and here we are, now, with the world on fire, and you still first continue to criticize how we peacefully protest, because it doesn't fit in what you do? And your beliefs? Without ever acknowledging the fact that a man was murdered at the hands of police in front of us all, and it's been continuing for centuries. That the same brothers that you break the huddle down with before every game, the same guys that you bleed with and go into battle with every single day, go home to communities that have been decimated. 

Drew, unfortunately you're somebody who doesn't understand their privelege. You don't understand the potential you have to actually be an advocate for the people that you call brothers. You don't understand the history, and why people like me, people of my skin color, whose grandfathers fought for this country, who served, and I still protested not against the national anthem but against what was happening in America, what the fabric of this country stands for. If you don't understand that other people experience something totally different, then when you talk about being the brotherhood, and all this other bulls**t, it's just lip service, or it's only on the field. Because when we step off this field and I take my helmet off, I'm a black man walking around America, and I'm telling you - I'm dealing with these things. My communities are dealing with these things. And your response to me is, 'Don't talk about that here. This is not the place.' Drew - where is the place, Drew?

I'm disappointed, I'm hurt, because while the world tells you that you're not worthy, that your life doesn't matter, the last place you want to hear it from are the guys that you go to war with, and that you consider to be allies and to be your friends. Even though we're teammates, I can't let this slide.

Both times, Jenkins also included this caption with his posts:

I’m tired...

As I was trying to muster up the energy and find the words to address Drew Brees’s comments I recorded this video. Before I could post it, Drew reached out to me to discuss his point of view.

All in all, I’m still posting this video because it’s important for anyone who wants to consider themself an ally to know how these words and actions affect those who you want to help. Drew’s words during his interview were extremely painful to hear and I hope he rectifies them with real action.

Here's how Brees had explained his stance in an interview with Yahoo! Finance:

I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America, or our country. 

Let me just tell you what I see, what I feel, when the national anthem is played, and when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army, and one in the Marine Corps. Both risking their lives to protect our country, and to try and make our country, and this world, a better place. So every time I stand with my hand over my heart, looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that's what I think about. 

And in many cases, it brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed - not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the 60s, and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point. 

And is everything right with our country right now? No, it's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do, by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we all can do better, and that we are all part of the solution.

 

Brees' comments have drawn blowback from many others in the sports world, including other Philly athletes. 

Eagles cornerback Darius Slay voiced his displeasure:

Sixers forward Tobias Harris expressed his displeasure:

Eagles safety Jalen Mills weighed in:

Eagles running back Miles Sanders retweeted this tweet from Titans wideout A.J. Brown:

Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas retweeted this tweet from Lions safety Jayron Kearse:

Sixers forward Mike Scott retweeted this tweet from Bleacher Report's Taylor Rooks:

Former Eagles running back Jordan Howard also chimed in:

Brees' comments come after a number of prominent white athletes, including Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, have tried to use their voices and platforms to lift up the voices and experiences of black people in the United States who are tired of not being heard and understood.

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Why Eagles will miss joint practices this summer

Why Eagles will miss joint practices this summer

We learned two things on Tuesday night about the NFL’s restrictions for training camps this summer:

One is that NFL teams will reportedly be required to stay at their own facilities this summer. That won’t be a big deal for the Eagles who haven’t held training camp at Lehigh University since 2012. 

But the other probably will affect them. 

Based on a memo sent by commissioner Roger Goodell to all 32 teams on Tuesday night, joint practices will be prohibited this year. 

While this decree makes sense when we’re talking about limiting exposure during the COVID-19 age, it could throw a wrinkle in the Eagles’ summer plans. While we don’t know for sure that the Birds were going to hold joint practices, we do know Doug Pederson is quite fond of them. 

The Eagles practiced with the Dolphins in 2017 and the Ravens in 2019. The only reason they didn’t have joint practices in 2018 was because the schedule didn’t work out. 

And this year, an obvious joint practice opponent would have been the Patriots, who come to Philly for Week 3 of the preseason. The Patriots held joint practices from 2012-17 and held joint practices with two teams last summer. They practiced with the Eagles in 2013. 

The Patriots open their 2020 preseason schedule with the Lions and head coach Matt Patricia, their former defensive coordinator. They also held joint practices with the Lions last year too, so perhaps the Patriots would have practiced with them. But they could have held double joint practices again this year if allowed. 

The Eagles also open their preseason against Frank Reich’s Colts and then go to Miami for Week 2. They obviously have a history with Reich and they held joint practices with the Dolphins a few years ago. So there were plenty of options this summer. 

But you can forget all that. 

So what will change now that we know the Eagles can’t hold joint practices? 

Well, they’re probably going to have to play a little harder during the preseason, especially in the third preseason game. Historically, that third preseason game has been the dress rehearsal game. But last year, Pederson got a lot of that work in during the joint practices with the Ravens.

Pederson said coaches could actually evaluate better in joint practices than they could during preseason games. 

"Yeah, because in practice sometimes you don't get all the situations in a game that you'd like to see your players in," Pederson said last summer. "So practices, I can set practices up that way. I can set them up hard. I can set them up where we're in pads, or going live, whatever it might be that we can really get a true evaluation of a player.

"The only real change from a game to a practice is in a game you don't get to do it over. At least in a practice setting, if we make a mistake, we can line up and do it again, and so we can correct that mistake right away.  In preseason games, we can't do that. We get a little bit better evaluation in practice in that case."

Another element the Eagles will miss from joint practices is the break in monotony. It gets old facing your teammates in practice for five to six weeks and going against another team can provide a boost. 

For now, the Eagles are fully planning to begin their training camp at the NovaCare Complex in late July. They have held their entire offseason program virtually. Pederson has previously said the Eagles will need a full training camp to prepare for an on-time start to the 2020 season.

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