Eagles mailbag: Biggest concern, roster battles, kicker fight!

Eagles mailbag: Biggest concern, roster battles, kicker fight!

Training camp isn't that far away. Really — it isn't. 

In fact, the Eagles kick off this year's camp in less than a month, so before you know it, football will be back in Philadelphia. 

Earlier this week, I took another shot at a 53-man roster projection, knowing full well it's way too early to try. But I had some fun. 

And I asked for questions and you good people, even in the middle of summer, came through. So I'll try my best to answer them: 

There are plenty of roster questions about this Eagles football team. To put it bluntly, they're just not very talented at some positions and they lack playmakers. But really, the biggest question is about the head coach. Doug Pederson might end up being a great coach. He might end up being Andy Reid 2.0 and take the team to multiple championships and a Super Bowl. Heck, maybe he'll even win the big game. 

But for now, it's fair to wonder if Pederson will even be a decent coach. It's not that he can't be, it's that we don't have a ton of evidence to support the idea that he will be. The Eagles scoffed at the question during his introductory press conference, but it sure seemed like Pederson wasn't their first choice and there weren't exactly many teams lining up to interview him. He's an offensive coach who has been in the shadow of another offensive coach during all of his years coaching in the NFL -- that's another worry. 

I actually think Pederson is off to a pretty good start. He had some unique situations -- Fletcher Cox, Sam Bradford, Darren Sproles -- this offseaon, and he handled all of them well. Players seem to like him. Heck, everyone seems to like him. He's a nice guy, which helps because players want to play for him. But how will he handle game situations, when -- as he says -- the bullets are flying? We'll have to see. For now, though, it's a serious concern. 

As far as starter positions go, I think the wide receivers are going to be fun to watch in training camp. There are several guys who could end up being starters. And it might sound boring, but the kicker battle will probably be pretty close. Right now, I think Caleb Sturgis might have a slight (very slight) edge. 

But the biggest logjam of players is probably at cornerback. No, the team doesn't have top-flight guys, but it does have plenty of young talent there. Guys like JaCorey Shepherd, Jaylen Watkins, Jalen Mills, Aaron Grymes, Randall Evans and Denzel Rice will all be trying to stick at the bottom of the roster. 

Hmmm, a literal kicker battle. Well, let's look at the tale of the tape: 

Caleb Sturgis: 5-9, 192 pounds, 26 years old, has five siblings

Cody Parkey: 6-0, 193 pounds, 24 years old, played LB and OL growing up

Sturgis had five siblings and his brother is an MLS soccer player, so there's a good chance he got in some fights as a youngin. But Parkey, in the media guide, said he played LB and OL and was actually a chubby kid. 

Verdict: I have no idea who would win, but if a kicker fight broke out at training camp, I'd smile a mile wide. 

Where did the Eagles’ Super Bowl roster disappear to?

Where did the Eagles’ Super Bowl roster disappear to?

With Nigel Bradham now gone, there are only eight starters left on the Eagles’ roster from their Super Bowl triumph just 24 months ago.

And that number could continue to dwindle, depending on what the Eagles do with Alshon Jeffery, whether Jason Kelce returns for a 10th season and whether Malcolm Jenkins gets a new deal or plays under his current one.

The only other starters from the Super Bowl under contract for 2020 are Zach Ertz, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson on offense and Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham on defense.

There are three other guys under contract (or who the Eagles hold exclusive negotiating rights for) who played offense or defense in the Super Bowl: Corey Clement, Isaac Seumalo and Derrick Barnett.

And five others played only on special teams in Super Bowl LI vs. the Patriots: Nate Gerry, Jake Elliott, Rasul Douglas, Rick Lovato and Shelton Gibson.

Of the Eagles’ eight inactives on Super Bowl Sunday, only Sidney Jones remains under contract.

And of the eight players who finished the year on Injured Reserve, only Carson Wentz is still here.

In all, only 17 players remain under contract with the Eagles of the 61 who finished the 2017 season either on the active roster or Injured Reserve.

The Eagles do have exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents until the legal tampering period begins on March 16.

But as far as players under contract? Some 72 percent of the Super Bowl roster is gone.  

Of those 44 players, 11 are currently free agents, 15 spent 2019 on other teams, 7 formally retired and another 8 haven’t announced their retirement but weren’t on a roster when 2019 ended, two are in the XFL and one is a restricted free agent. 

Interesting to note that the Patriots' figure is similar. They have seven starters remaining under contract -- which doesn't include Tom Brady -- and a total of 16 players left from their 2017 Super Bowl roster.

Here’s a quick look at the 61 Eagles who were with the team on Super Bowl Sunday and where they are now:

Under contract for 2020 [15]: Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Malcolm Jenkins, Isaac Seumalo, Derrick Barnett, Nate Gerry, Jake Elliott, Rasul Douglas, Rick Lovato, Carson Wentz.

With other teams at end of 2019 [15]: Stefen Wisniewski [Chiefs], Nick Foles [Jaguars], Mychal Kendricks [Seahawks], Trey Burton [Bears], Mack Hollins [Dolphins], Patrick Robinson [Falcons], Beau Allen [Buccaneers], Jaylen Watkins [Chargers], Najee Goode [Jaguars], Kenjon Barner [Falcons], Marcus Johnson [Colts], Wendell Smallwood [Redskins], Stephen Means [Falcons], Jordan Hicks [Cards] and Joe Walker [Cards].

Unrestricted free agents [11]: Nelson Agholor, Halapouliivaati Vaitai, Vinny Curry, Tim Jernigan, Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nigel Bradham, Nate Sudfeld, Jason Peters.

Retired [7]: Torrey Smith, Brent Celek, Corey Graham, Chris Long, Donnie Jones, Darren Sproles, Chris Maragos

Not with a team at end of 2019 [8]: Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, Chance Warmack, Dannel Ellerbe, Will Beatty, Destiny Vaeao, Caleb Sturgis

Playing in the XFL [2]: Donnel Pumphrey, Elijah Qualls

Restricted free agent [1]: Corey Clement.

Right of first refusal free agent [1]: Shelton Gibson

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Nigel Bradham says goodbye to Eagles fans

Nigel Bradham says goodbye to Eagles fans

The Eagles officially released veteran linebacker Nigel Bradham on Wednesday and a day later, the 30-year-old said goodbye to Eagles fans and his former teammates. 

After spending his first four seasons in Buffalo, Bradham spent the last four years in Philadelphia and helped the Eagles reach the ultimate peak when they beat the Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII. 

There’s still an outside chance that Bradham could return to the Eagles if he tests a lukewarm market and the Eagles are agreeable. I’m told he’s not closing the door on that possibility. But it seems very likely Bradham has played his final game in an Eagles uniform. 

The Eagles have prioritized getting younger and faster this offseason and bringing back Bradham wouldn’t help in either area. 

Bradham is originally from Florida but it’s clear that Philadelphia means a lot to him. On locker cleanout day, he and I talked about his four years with the Eagles and in the city. 

I enjoy Philly, man, the city, the atmosphere, everything this team does, organization-wise, what we believe in. Just being resilient. I really feel like it matches my play style. Just tough mentally and physically, battle through anything, not backing down from anything. Those type of characteristics, I feel like I have a lot of them. Being put in any situation at any position, things like that. When you’re in those situations, it’s a nice place to be, to call home.

Instead of just declining his contract option, which would have made him a free agent on March 18, the Eagles released him on Wednesday to give him a jump on finding a new team. A nice parting gesture. 

In his four years with the Eagles, Bradham played and started in 58 games (more than he played in Buffalo). He also played and started in six playoff games, including Super Bowl LII, when he had seven tackles and a QB hit. 

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