'Us-against-the-world mentality' oozing from Eagles

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'Us-against-the-world mentality' oozing from Eagles

The wins keep piling up. And the doubters keep piling on.
Lose your star quarterback, your MVP candidate, and that's bound to happen. Certainly the Eagles' Super Bowl chances took a significant hit when Carson Wentz walked off the field in Los Angeles with a torn ACL.
Still … the Eagles have the best record in the NFL. They locked up the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs Monday night at the Linc, where they're 13-2 over the last two years — the best home record in the league since opening day 2016.
Win a home game and they're in the NFC Championship Game. Win two and they're in the Super Bowl.
"For us to even have success, we have to have that us-against-the-world mentality," Malcolm Jenkins said. "And I think it's so important for us to lock up that home-field advantage because now all of the teams that they want to talk about being frontrunners and favorites to win have to come through us.
"And if you ask anybody in this locker room, 'Do we think that we can win a game against anybody in the Linc on any given Sunday,' I think that answer would be yes, especially with the NFC Championship Game or the Super Bowl being on the line.
"Winning a home game … I’d take those odds."
Things haven't come easily for the Eagles lately. After winning nine straight games by an average of 17 points, they've lost to the Seahawks and scuffled to beat the Rams, Giants and Raiders, all in games that were in the balance in the final minutes.
But they've won them.
Overall, they've won nine straight home games, the longest active home winning streak in the NFL and fourth-longest home winning streak in franchise history.
"We're going to be facing good teams (in the playoffs), but I like to think we're a good team ourselves," Corey Graham said.
"I think people underestimate what we're able to accomplish. We've got 13 wins for a reason. Everybody's thinking just because we play somebody good that we're going to be down and out, that we can't win, but you don't win 13 games by mistake. We're a good team too and they're going to have to come here and play."
It's easy to get so focused on the Eagles' issues that you lose sight of the big picture.
And the Eagles have found ways to win three straight games, all with Nick Foles either starting or entering the game with the Eagles trailing.

No playoff-bound team has a longer winning streak. Only the 49ers have a longer winning streak leaguewide, winning four straight to go from 1-10 to 5-10.
Winning ugly is still winning.
"We need to be playing the best football at the end of the year," Zach Ertz said. "Any team in the NFL this time of the year wants to be peaking. I think we have a lot of good players on this team, and we have guys with a lot of pride that are going to figure this thing out.
"We have three weeks until we play a playoff game, so there’s time to improve and time to get better. That is all we are focused on.
“We have to play a complete game. I wouldn’t say we have to do anything crazy. Last week, the offense played great and the defense didn’t play great. This week, the offense played horribly and the defense played great. We just have to put it all together. It’s not panic mode by any means.”
After a meaningless game this weekend against the Cowboys at the Linc, the Eagles will sit out wild-card weekend before opening the playoffs the weekend of Jan. 13-14 at the Linc.
"We've played great at the Linc so far and not to have to travel anywhere and you're talking about winning one home game and we're in the NFC Championship Game," Jenkins said.
"That's all we're guaranteed right now, but if we were able to advance farther than that, everything has to come through the Linc, and that's a good place to be. We think our fan base can bring a little bit of an advantage, so we're excited to be home."

Eagles hoping no-risk, high-reward veteran signings can rekindle past success

Eagles hoping no-risk, high-reward veteran signings can rekindle past success

When you’re in salary cap hell, you have to be creative when building a roster.

And one tactic Howie Roseman used when putting together the Eagles team that begins training camp Thursday is signing a handful of no-risk, high-reward guys.

Players trying to revive their careers. Players trying to reclaim past glory. Players running out of chances.

These are no-risk, high-reward guys. They could become contributors, but if it doesn’t work out? The Eagles can release them before the season with modest or no cap ramifications.

When you’re in salary cap hell, you can’t sign all the free agents you want. So you sign the free agents that you can. And you do that by signing players nobody else wants. Guys with no leverage.

One tool Roseman likes to use is the NFL’s minimum-salary benefit, which gives teams some salary cap relief when they sign veteran players to certain deals.

The minimum-salary benefit can be used only for veterans with at least four years of experience who sign one-year minimum-wage deals with combined bonuses equalling $90,000 or less. 

Here’s a look at four of these no-risk, high-reward players the Eagles added this offseason.

Markus Wheaton

The Eagles signed Wheaton to a one-year deal with a $790,000 base salary (sixth-year minimum) with a $45,000 signing bonus, a $45,000 workout bonus but a cap number of $720,000, thanks to the minimum-salary benefit.

If the Eagles release Wheaton before the season, he would count just $90,000 against the cap, the value of his two bonuses.

Wheaton is only 27 and should be in his prime but has done nearly nothing the last two seasons after two very good years.

In 2014 and 2015, he combined for 97 catches for 1,393 yards, seven touchdowns and a 14.4 average. He had seven catches of 40 yards or more during those two years. Pretty good production.

But the last two years, Wheaton had just seven catches for 102 yards and one TD for the Steelers and Bears.

If he’s healthy and can be even half the player he was in 2014 and 2015, he could really help as a fourth receiver.

Matt Jones

The Eagles signed Jones to a two-year, $1.51 million deal that includes base salaries of $705,000 this year and $805,000 next year with no bonus money, which means no dead cap money if he’s released.

Even though Jones’ deal is not subject to the minimum-salary benefit, his base salaries of $705,000 and $805,000 are minimum wage for a third-year veteran in 2018 and a fourth-year vet in 2019.

Jones was one of the NFL’s best running backs the first half of 2016. Through seven games, he had 460 yards and a 4.6 average with three TDs. In a mid-October win over the Eagles at FedEx Field, he ran for 135 yards, the most rushing yards against the Eagles the last two years.

But he hurt his knee and never got his job back, then was released before last season. He resurfaced with the Colts but had only five carries all year.

Jones is only 25 and is a good enough receiver that he caught 19 passes for 304 yards and a TD as a rookie reserve.

With LeGarrette Blount gone, Jay Ajayi on a pitch count because of chronic knee soreness, Corey Clement’s role still undefined and Darren Sproles likely to be limited on offense at 35 years old, Jones will have a chance to work his way into the mix.

And if it doesn’t work out? No cap hit.

Richard Rodgers

The Eagles signed Rodgers to a one-year, $880,000 contract that includes a $790,000 base salary, a $45,000 signing bonus, a $45,000 workout bonus and a $720,000 cap figure, courtesy of the minimum-salary benefit rule.

If the Eagles release him, he’ll count $245,000 in dead money, the amount of guaranteed money in his one-year deal.

As recently as 2015, Rodgers caught 58 passes for 510 yards and eight touchdowns, which ranked him 12th among all NFL tight ends in catches and fifth in TDs. But he dropped to 30 catches in 2016 and just 12 last year.

Rodgers is only 26 and should be in his prime, but he’s reached only 30 yards twice in his last 31 games.

With Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, the Eagles have a potent 1-2 punch, but if Rodgers can regain his form of 2015, it would give Doug Pederson even more options in a ridiculously talented array of skill players.

LaRoy Reynolds

The Eagles signed Reynolds to a one-year, $880,000 contract that includes a $790,000 base salary, a $90,000 roster bonus and a reduced $720,000 cap figure.

Because there’s nothing guaranteed in his contract, the Eagles would not absorb any dead money under the cap if they release him before the season.

Reynolds, now with his fourth team in four years, has played in 68 games with seven starts. He’s only 27 and is considered an above-average special teamer and adequate depth linebacker.

The Eagles have some big question marks at linebacker, with Paul Worrilow (Reynolds’ former teammate) out for the year, Mychal Kendricks now with the Browns, Nigel Bradham suspended for the opener and Jordan Hicks able to finish one of his first three seasons.

Reynolds will have a chance to work into that mix. If not? No harm done.

More on the Eagles

Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

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Eagle Eye: When does a contract negotiation become a problem?

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, John Clark and Barrett Brooks are pumped for the start of training camp. Following MLB Commissioner's comments on Mike Trout's marketability, the guys discuss if it's on the player or the league to market an athlete? The Falcons said they will not give Julio Jones a new contract. At what point does a public contract negotiation become a distraction in the locker room?

1:00 - Guys are excited for the start of training camp.
4:45 - Is it on a player or a league to market an athlete?
11:00 - When does a Julio Jones contract situation become a locker room distraction?
18:00 - When money starts dividing a locker room.

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