Eagles Stay or Go Part 2: Connor Barwin to Terrence Brooks

Eagles Stay or Go Part 2: Connor Barwin to Terrence Brooks

In the second of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — Part 2 is Barwin to Brooks. 

Connor Barwin
Cap hit: $8.35M

Roob: Not only is Barwin a massive force in the community, he’s also the only guy on the team I can talk music with. Who else am I going to hang out with at a War on Drugs gig? And he’s really been a terrific Eagle. A Pro Bowler a couple years ago, a tremendous locker room guy, durable, dependable, productive. All that said, Barwin will go, and that’s what makes this such a tough business. Barwin just does not fit in this 4-3 defense, and at 30 years old and with an $8.35 million cap figure, it doesn’t make sense to keep him when releasing him will create only $600,000 in dead money. Barwin has said he’s open to taking a pay cut, and if the Eagles and Barwin can make the numbers work, I’m fine with keeping him around as a rotational guy with a far lower cap figure. Maybe he would be more productive in a second year in this defense. But otherwise, this really seems to be one of those cases where you have to put your emotions aside and do what’s best long-term. 

Verdict: GOES

Dave: We’re starting off today with a tough one. One of the toughest names we’ll encounter throughout this 12-day journey. If the Eagles just decided to cut Barwin, they would save $7.75 million. That’s a ton of money, especially for a team that could desperately use any cap space it can find. Barwin, for his part, has repeatedly made it known that he’d be willing to take a pay cut to rejoin the Eagles next year. I’m just not sure it makes sense, even with a pay cut. The Eagles have Vinny Curry making a ton of money waiting to play, and Barwin could fit better in a different defense. It’s not often a mayor of a city goes to bat for a player. That’s how much Barwin means to the community. But it just doesn’t make football sense or business sense to keep him, which is a shame.  

Verdict: GOES

Nigel Bradham
Cap hit: $4.25M

Roob: Bradham played fairly well this year, although his performance tailed off a bit in December. But he’s a guy you definitely want to keep around. Still young, contract not prohibitive. The only possible issue with Bradham is a potential NFL suspension following his two legal issues in Florida last year. But Bradham is solid at a position the Eagles have very little depth. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: If you can look past Bradham’s “dumbass” off-the-field incidents in his first year with the Eagles, he played pretty well. No, he’s not a Pro Bowler, but at the price of his two-year deal, he was a pretty good value. He played 97 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps in 2016. He led the team in combined tackles with 102 and had two sacks. He has just one year left on his contract, so it might actually be time to think about extending him once his legal issues are cleared up. 

Verdict: STAYS

Bryan Braman
Unrestricted free agent

Roob: Braman, an unrestricted free agent, is still a decent special teams player, although, at nearly 30 years old, not as productive as he once was. The problem is although he’s listed as a defensive end, he’s really not a defensive end except in a dire emergency. He really doesn't have a position. As a seven-year veteran, Braman’s minimum base salary would be fairly high next year — $900,000. If I were the Eagles, I’d replace Braman with a young outside linebacker — a late-round draft pick or undrafted rookie — who can play special teams at a high level but can also fill in on defense and is cheaper. 

Verdict: GOES

Dave: This is another tough one. Braman had a cap hit near $1 million in 2016, the last year of his contract. The big question here is, do the Eagles want to invest in an aging special teamer or try to replace him with someone younger and possibly cheaper? That said, Braman is a beast on special teams and the Eagles have put plenty of resources into their special teams units. I think they can figure something out. 

Verdict: STAYS

Brandon Brooks
Cap hit: $7.2M

Roob: As long as his stomach ailments are under control, Brooks isn’t going anywhere. He was solid in his first year as an Eagle ... when he was able to play. Hopefully, Brooks has put this all behind him, and he’s able to be there for his team at right guard for 16 games next year. Is Brooks worth $40 million over five years? Probably not. He’s above average, but not a superstar. But with that contract, he’ll be here at least through 2018. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: When Brooks has been on the field, he’s been really good. The Eagles put a lot of money into improving their guard positions from a disastrous 2015 and Brooks looks like the real deal. According to ProFootballFocus, Brooks was the fourth-best offensive guard in football. He allowed just one sack and two quarterback hits all year. 

Verdict: STAYS

Ron Brooks
Cap hit: $2.1M

Roob: Honestly, I still think Brooks is best as a special teamer with minimal responsibilities on defense. Jim Schwartz, who coached Brooks with the Bills, feels otherwise and believes Brooks can be a capable slot corner. So he’ll be here. I just would like to see the Eagles upgrade across the secondary. Including at the slot. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It’s easy to say get rid of all the corners and start over, but it’s not that easy to actually do. Brooks was actually having a pretty decent season before an injury ended his 2016 season early. If Nolan Carroll isn’t back, and if Leodis McKelvin gets cut (I think it’s likely), it would be smart for the Eagles to keep Brooks. He doesn’t cost a whole lot, and when he got hurt in 2016, it completely changed the defense because it forced Malcolm Jenkins into the slot. 

Verdict: STAYS

Terrence Brooks
Cap hit: $705K

Roob: His interception clinched the Eagles’ only real win the last month and a half of the season, but Brooks’ main role here will remain on special teams, and he’s very good. But then again, it’s not like the Eagles have a bunch of young safeties to develop, so maybe Brooks can find a bigger role given time to develop. Heck, he made one huge game-clinching play, and that's more than a lot of people on this team.  

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Brooks was once a third-round pick of the Ravens in 2014, so it’s probable that Joe Douglas had a role in drafting him. With the Eagles, he didn’t get to play defense for most of the year, relegated instead to a special teams role. He was very good in that role. With a full training camp, he’ll get to prove he can play on defense too. 

Verdict: STAYS

Thoughts on newest Eagles coach Marquand Manuel, LeSean McCoy's Hall of Fame case, more in Roob's 10 observations

Thoughts on newest Eagles coach Marquand Manuel, LeSean McCoy's Hall of Fame case, more in Roob's 10 observations

Thoughts on the Eagles’ new secondary coach, LeSean McCoy’s Hall of Fame case and an unbelievable stat about Lito Sheppard and Michael Lewis.

All that and so much more in this weekend’s edition of Roob’s random offseason Eagles observations! 

1. OK, it’s been 18 days since the Eagles fired Mike Groh, and they still don’t have an offensive coordinator. Senior Bowl week is over, the combine is only a few weeks away and free agency starts in less than two months. Of the 10 teams with an OC vacancy, the Eagles are the only one that hasn’t hired anybody. A couple thoughts: 1) Maybe the guy Doug Pederson is going to hire is already in place. Internal candidates Duce Staley and Press Taylor were both at the Senior Bowl practices. Maybe the Eagles are just waiting until the entire staff is complete to announce everything. I doubt it, but it’s possible. 2) Maybe Doug has decided not to hire an offensive coordinator and just do the job himself with his position coaches. I doubt that too, but it’s possible. 3) Otherwise, it has to be Jim Caldwell, right? As long as he’s healthy. By far the most impressive remaining outside candidate. Caldwell was QBs coach of the Colts when they won the Super Bowl and offensive coordinator of the Ravens when they won the Super Bowl. If Doug wants a veteran QB guru for the job, this is a no-brainer. Get it done.

2. I do like the Marquand Manuel hire. I like that he’s been a defensive coordinator on the NFL level, I like that he’s coached in a Super Bowl, I like that he played in the NFL for eight years and I like that he’s got a little background with Jim Schwartz — he played for Schwartz in Detroit in 2009 — but still brings a fresh voice to the coach’s room. He’s got his work cut out for him. Getting Sidney Jones on track is priority No. 1. But the Eagles’ secondary as a whole is going to look very different in 2020, and the Eagles needed a capable veteran voice to bring it all together and make it work. He looks like the guy to do it.

3. The last Eagles defensive players to make a Pro Bowl before their 25th birthday were Lewis and Sheppard in 2004. Since then, 94 defensive players league-wide have made a Pro Bowl before they turned 25. 

4. How many QBs would you rather have right now than Carson Wentz? First I’m going to eliminate anybody in their 30s — Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, all those guys. Who does that leave? You’d rather have Pat Mahomes than anybody, but beyond that? Lamar Jackson? Brilliant talent but I wonder how sustainable his style of play is. Dak Prescott? No thanks. Jimmy Garoppolo? Nope. Deshaun Watson? You can make a case, but I’d take Wentz. Jared Goff? Kyler Murray? Daniel Jones? Nah. The injuries are frustrating but no doubt in my mind that despite everything the Eagles have the right QB to build around. 

5. I wonder if the Super Bowl will be McCoy’s final game. He had a nice first half of the season and showed he has something left, but since Damien Williams’ emergence, he’s barely played and doesn’t even have a carry since mid-December. Shady’s a free agent after the Super Bowl and turns 32 this summer, an age where few running backs are still going. Shady’s the only player in NFL history with 11,000 rushing yards, a 4.5 rushing average and 500 catches. Hall of Famer if he retires now? Probably not quite. But one hell of a career.

6. Curious note about McCoy: He’s never had a carry in a postseason victory. The Eagles were 0-3 in the playoffs with McCoy in uniform and the Bills were 0-1. He didn’t have a carry in the Chiefs’ win over the Texans and was inactive for the win over the Titans. 

7. In Eagles history, Jordan Matthews has the most receiving yards after three seasons and Shady has the most rushing yards after three seasons. One of them will win a Super Bowl ring next Sunday. Both will probably be inactive.

8. Chiefs GM Brett Veach is a remarkable story. He grew up in Mt. Carmel, between Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre, starred at Mt. Carmel High School, played with Matt Nagy at Delaware and was on track to work in Delaware’s athletic department after college when he landed an internship with the Eagles in the summer of 2004. With his work ethic and uncanny eye for talent, he worked his way up the ladder. When Andy Reid asked him to find a wide receiver the Eagles could take in the second round in 2008, Veach recommended DeSean Jackson, even though he was coming off a poor season. When Reid was hired by the Chiefs in 2013, he brought Veach with him. In 2015, Veach was watching film of Texas Tech offensive lineman Le’Raven Clark and Tech’s unheralded QB kept jumping out at him, and Veach knew even then Mahomes was something special, and in 2017 they traded up for him. Mahomes is now the best QB in the NFL, an MVP and one win from a Super Bowl. In span of 10 years, Veach went from interning in the Eagles’ scouting office to drafting Pat Mahomes.  

9. This is kind of a strange one, but Boston Scott this year became only the seventh player in NFL history with 85 or fewer touches but at least five rushing TDs and 20 catches. The dude definitely made the most of his limited workload.

10. I used to think Harold Carmichael’s franchise record of 589 catches was untouchable. Only seven Eagles even reached 300 during the 30-year period from 1985 through 2015, and only Brian Westbrook got over 400. But Zach Ertz will go into 2020 just 64 catches behind Harold, and at his rate of 5.8 catches per game over the last five years he’ll pass him somewhere around Week 12 if he stays healthy. Harold will go into the Hall of Fame in September and have his most hallowed record broken in November. And knowing Harold, nobody will be happier for Ertz.

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Eagles have reportedly hired Marquand Manuel as the new secondary coach

Eagles have reportedly hired Marquand Manuel as the new secondary coach

Marquand Manuel is the Eagles’ new secondary coach, according to a tweet by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

The 40-year-old Manuel replaces Cory Undlin, who had served in that role since 2015, first under Chip Kelly and the last four years under Doug Pederson. Undlin was named Lions defensive coordinator two weeks ago.

Manuel and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz go back a ways. Manuel played for the Lions in 2009 when Schwartz was their head coach.

Manuel was not in the NFL this past year. He spent the previous four years under Dan Quinn with the Falcons, two years as secondary coach and two years as defensive coordinator before getting fired following the 2018 season.

The Falcons reached the Super Bowl in his second year in Atlanta, losing to the Patriots in Houston.

Before Atlanta, Manuel spent three years working under Quinn with the Seahawks, holding a variety of titles on the defensive staff.

Manuel, who played for Steve Spurrier at Florida, was the Bengals’ 6th-round pick in 2002 and spent eight years as a safety in the NFL with six different teams — the Bengals, Seahawks, Packers, Panthers, Broncos and Lions.

He played in 116 games, starting 58, with two interceptions and a pick-6 while he was with the Packers in 2006 off Jon Kitna of the Lions.

The Eagles also reportedly interviewed Browns defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker for the position.

The Eagles already have a safeties coach on the staff, former Eagle Tim Hauck. He was Pederson's teammate with the Eagles in 1999 and has been on Pederson's staff since 2016.

Quinn had this to say about Manuel on the Falcons’ web site back in 2018:

From the time I've met him from now, one thing that's cool to see that has stayed consistent is the energy and enthusiasm he has for players. He made the transition from player to coach really seamlessly because he knew the boundaries of coach, but he also stepped across to say, I can push you. That's not easy to do. He's always had mental quickness of a quarterback or someone who gets concepts really quickly. That transferred into this coaching fast. He can communicate concepts and ideas quickly to people on the run, in the moment, that's a really valuable asset as a coach.

The Eagles still have openings to replace the three assistant coaches Doug Pederson fired: offensive coordinator Mike Groh, wide receivers coach Carson Walch and defensive line coach Phillip Daniels.

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