Eagles

Which Eagle is next in line for a contract extension?

Which Eagle is next in line for a contract extension?

If you thought Fletcher Cox restructuring his contract meant the Eagles are preparing to trade for Le'Veon Bell, don't get your hopes up just yet. The money the organization saved is more likely to be used to extend players who are already on the roster, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

But who might that be on an underachieving team with a 2-3 record?

Glad you asked. Obviously, a new deal for Carson Wentz is around the corner, but NFL rules prohibit him from signing a new deal until 2019. The fact that the Eagles did this with Cox now strongly suggests the front office is already pursuing an extension with one or multiple of the following players:

DE Brandon Graham

With a lone sack and just three quarterback hits through five games, Graham is off to a quiet start in 2018. Barring a rapid turnaround, it's safe to say he's not getting paid like one of the top defensive players in the league with that level production and a 31st birthday coming up.

Yet Graham's five tackles for loss are good for the clubhouse lead, so he's active, while his work ethic and leadership are second to no one. This is the type of player smart teams try to keep and reward, even if he is a little past his prime. The real question might be whether Graham is willing to settle for the Eagles' best offer now, or is he betting on himself with free agency looming in March?

CB Ronald Darby

Fans may not be thrilled by Darby's inconsistent performance, but I'm not sure the Eagles see things the same. Coaches laud his work ethic, and you simply can't teach sub-4.4 speed — oh, and he turns only 25 in January.

It's true Darby has endured rough games during his brief Philly tenure. It's equally true some of his critics seem to want perfection. He's probably never going to be a shutdown corner or great tackler. However, he possesses shutdown tools, is more physical than he gets credit for and mostly does a nice job. Don't be shocked if the Eagles move to keep this impending free agent from reaching the market.

LB Jordan Hicks

For my money, Hicks is the most obvious candidate of the bunch. The 26-year-old is in the final year of his rookie contract and has shown no signs of slowing down after last season's ruptured Achilles tendon. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Hicks is on track for a career year — his 1.5 sacks are already a personal best — and he's currently ninth in the NFL with 32 tackles. Injuries shortened two of his first three seasons in the league, but he's a big-time playmaker when healthy. Not a chance in hell he's making it to free agency in March.

WR Nelson Agholor

Though Agholor is under contract for 2019, the Eagles probably aren't going to pay him $9.4 million next season. A standard long-term extension is probably in order — structured to lower the 25-year-old's base pay in '19 and 2020, while allowing him to earn the bigger money on the back end of the deal. That being said, it's unclear whether the Cox restructuring was necessary to accomplish this end.

40-year-old Josh McCown was getting ready to play WR on Monday night

40-year-old Josh McCown was getting ready to play WR on Monday night

The Eagles entered Monday night’s game with just three healthy wide receivers and after Alshon Jeffery and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside got hurt, they were down to just one. 

So who would have been the next guy in? 

Well, 40-year-old quarterback Josh McCown was getting ready. 

“I was ready to go,” McCown told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark. “We had the helmet ready to go. The equipment guys were all over it. Had the radio-less helmet because you can’t have two green dots on the field at the same time.” 

McCown didn’t end up playing in Monday’s 23-17 overtime win. The Eagles got by with what they had, which meant playing third tight end Josh Perkins in several different spots. 

But the oldest player on the roster was ready. 

“We were ready to roll,” he said. “Shoot, I’d get in there and go. Obviously, as a quarterback, you know the offense. I guess it was like 12 years ago in Foxboro I had to go in and do it.”

That game McCown was talking about was on Dec. 3, 2006. That was the last time he caught a pass in an NFL game. 

In that game, McCown caught two passes for 15 yards from Lions quarterback Jon Kitna in a 28-21 loss to the Patriots. He also caught a 31-yard pass but it was brought back on an offensive pass interference call that he claimed was “a little suspect.” 

“Hopefully, I don’t get retroactively fined,” McCown said late Monday night, 13 years after the call. 

Is there a statute of limitations on that? 

Anyway, the fact that a 40-year-old McCown was even preparing to enter a game as a receiver is telling. First, about the injuries at that position. And, second, about the poor decision to go into a game with just three healthy receivers. 

Doug Pederson said the Eagles were hoping to have Nelson Agholor for the game, but he came in questionable and was inactive. 

At least they had McCown. 

“I’m not quite the option that J.J. (Arcega-Whiteside) is or Greg (Ward), obviously, but again, we were kind of up against it a little bit,” McCown said. “Just being able to have a contingency plan was the main thing. I was ready to roll.”

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Carson Wentz rallies Eagles past Giants throwing to ... who???

Carson Wentz rallies Eagles past Giants throwing to ... who???

It was Carson Wentz’s best stretch of football this year and it occurred under some of the most unusual circumstances you can imagine.

Tight ends playing receiver. Slot receivers playing outside. Practice squad guys in key roles.

A week after the Eagles blew a 14-point second-half lead to one two-win team, they rallied back from a 14-point second-half deficit against another two-win team.

And Wentz, after another slow start, finally looked like his old self.

Wentz not only rallied the Eagles back after they trailed by 14 points with two minutes left in the third quarter, he did it while throwing to Boston Scott, Greg Ward, Josh Perkins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside – none of whom were even playing a month ago – as well as Zach Ertz.

It is not easy,” Ertz said. “As a quarterback, chemistry, trust and timing is the No. 1 thing, and he’s putting a lot of trust in guys that he does not have a lot of reps with, and I think that speaks volumes of him. Being able to go out there, and it doesn’t really matter who is out there, NFC East opponent, down 17-3, and play his best football in that second half all year? I am extremely proud of him tonight with the way he led us.

Wentz threw for 350 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ critical 23-17 overtime win over the Giants at the Linc.

But look at his numbers on the Eagles’ five drives during their late comeback: 21-for-28 for 226 yards with two TD passes to Ertz, including the game-winner in overtime.

You go into the game with three receivers and now you’ve got Greg Ward usually in the slot and he’s out there playing (outside)," Wentz said. "You’ve got guys moving around. For me, I’ve got no choice but to trust these guys. Some of these routes I’ve never even repped before in those situations, but they stepped up and made plays. They did a great job.

This was vintage Wentz. But it couldn’t have happened without guys making plays around him.

And it's been a while since we've seen that.

With Nelson Agholor out, Alshon Jeffery leaving with an early injury and Mack Hollins and Jordan Matthews long gone, Wentz had to rally the Eagles back from 17-3 with guys he’s barely practiced with.

With a shot at the playoffs at stake.

Just keep believing,” Wentz said. “Keep believing and it’s time to make a decision how this is going to define us. Obviously, we knew it was not our first half. That was a rough one and that was an ugly one. We just said, ‘Keep believing and keep staying together.’ Defense was going to take care of their piece, which they did. And we were able to do enough offensively to get this win.

Wentz has had his issues this year, and he had his issues in the first half Monday night.

But it’s amazing how much better he looks when guys are actually catching footballs for him.

This was the first time the Eagles have come back from a 14-point halftime deficit since the 2014 opener, when they beat the Jaguars 34-17 after trailing 17-0.

Before that? Giants in 2010 at the Meadowlands. You might remember a DeSean Jackson punt return as time expired?

In all, the Eagles were 2-45 in their last 47 games when they trailed by at least 14 points at halftime.

Wentz was asked how big it was for him to win his first overtime game and engineer a rally from 14 down at halftime for the first time in his career.

This is huge for this whole team,” he said. “To come in after halftime, to be where we were, and obviously knowing that our backs were against the wall, season on the line-type of thing, for guys to just stay tough and stay together late in the game … and get the win and drive down to score right away? It’s huge for me personally and for this entire team.

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