Eagles

NFL Notes: Panthers sign DT Kawann Short to 5-year, $80 million extension

NFL Notes: Panthers sign DT Kawann Short to 5-year, $80 million extension

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers have signed Kawann Short to a five-year contract extension, keeping the defensive tackle with the team through the 2021 season.

A person familiar with the deal says the extension is worth $80 million. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the team doesn't release financial terms of contracts.

Carolina had placed the franchise tag on the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Short earlier this offseason.

The 28-year-old Short has started 41 games in four seasons with the Panthers, including 32 in the past two seasons.

He had 55 tackles in each of the past two seasons, and combined for 17 sacks -- 11 of those coming in 2015 when he helped the Panthers reach the Super Bowl (see full story).

- The Associated Press

Titans: Veteran CB Jason McCourty released
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans have released cornerback Jason McCourty after eight seasons with the franchise, and a few days after the veteran shared the news himself on social media.

The Titans announced the move Monday, the first day of the team's offseason program.

General manager Jon Robinson said in a statement he respects McCourty and what he has done for the franchise in his eight seasons as a true professional. Robinson says they talked about having him return for the final season of his contract but could not agree on the right solution.

McCourty was due $7 million for the final season of his contract. The three-time captain started 90 games and had 13 interceptions in his tenure as a sixth-round pick out of Rutgers in 2009.

-The Associated Press

Bucs: WR Mike Evans has option picked up
No surprise here. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have picked up the fifth-year option on WR Mike Evans' contract and are hoping to work out a long-term deal, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Evans has quickly become one of the top receivers in the league in his early career, racking up 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2016. Evans has over 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first three seasons.

The favorite target of Jameis Winston will have some help next year, with DeSean Jackson now manning the other side of the field.

- CSNPhilly.com

Colts: Luck offers no timetable for return from surgery
INDIANAPOLIS -- Andrew Luck isn't sure when he'll start throwing again and won't set a timetable for his return from shoulder surgery.

The Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback isn't expected to do much -- if any -- work during the team's offseason workouts.

Players and coaches held their first official team activities Monday at the team complex, and for the first time Luck acknowledged that his injury problems began during a Week 3 contest at Tennessee in 2015.

He missed nine games that season with an assortment of injuries, including a lacerated kidney. After the season, Luck said he decided to undergo rehab rather than opt for surgery. But after aggravating the injury several times last season, he decided to have surgery.

The Associated Press

Roob's 10 observations: The bottom line about Carson Wentz, running back situation, more

Roob's 10 observations: The bottom line about Carson Wentz, running back situation, more

The Eagles' season is over, but it's not the end of Roob's 10 random Eagles observations.

The plan at running back, Jason Peters' future, some surprising Tom Brady stats — it's all here!

1. How bad was Wentz this year? 
I keep hearing how bad Carson Wentz was this season, and while I agree he was inconsistent at times and generally too slow to get started, the bottom line is that even hampered by a knee that wasn’t 100 percent and a broken bone in his back he still had a higher passer rating than Jared Goff, Andrew Luck, Tom Brady, Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers. He played 11 games and was very good in nine of them, mediocre in one of them (Indianapolis) and terrible in one of them (New Orleans). Look for yourself at his season game-by-game. You’ll be surprised. There’s no doubt in my mind that with a full, healthy offseason he’ll be a top-5 QB in the NFL next year.

2. The plan at running back 
We’ve talked a lot the last week about the Eagles’ running back situation, and I wrote about it a few days ago. I feel strongly that the Eagles need to attack running back with one of their second-round picks, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t welcome a free agent as well. Honestly, I think the Eagles could use one of each. As far as I’m concerned, everybody currently on the roster with the exception of Corey Clement starts out fighting for a roster spot. They need to completely make over the position. Not one defensive coordinator in the NFL sat in a meeting this year and said, “Hey, we have to account for the Eagles’ running backs.” They need weapons.

3. Figuring out which free agents to keep 
It’s interesting when you look at the list of the Eagles’ 17 free agents that there’s not one they have to bring back. There’s a few you’d like back, a few who may be back simply because they’re hurt and have nowhere else to go and a few who you wouldn’t mind back if the price is right. But there’s not one who the Eagles are desperate to keep. Even Brandon Graham, as much as most of us love him, is a 31-year-old defensive end who had 4 ½ sacks last year. What this does is give the Eagles a ton of leverage. They don’t have to overpay to keep anybody. They can set a price, and if that guy wants more, they can move on. It’s a real position of strength.

4. The curious case of Jordan Hicks
Jordan Hicks is one of the more intriguing of those 17 free agents. He’s only 27, and we’ve all seen what kind of player he can be when he’s healthy. He actually had his best game of the year against the Saints last Sunday. But he can’t stay on the field. If he had stayed healthy this year he would have been a pretty sought-after linebacker in free agency. But nobody is giving him much of a bonus considering he’s now missed significant time in three of his four NFL seasons — 21 of a possible 64 games in his career. I sure wouldn’t get into a bidding war for a guy that misses a third of his team’s games. But if nobody else wants him and you can bring him back at minimum wage or close to it? I’d do it in a second because the ability is there.

5. With the 25th pick in the draft, the Eagles take ... 
I’ll be shocked if the Eagles don’t go defensive line in the first round.

6. One for the fire Jim Schwartz crowd
Take a look at the Eagles’ five playoff opponents the last two years and how many points they averaged during the regular season and how many they scored against the Eagles:

2017 Falcons — Averaged 22.1, scored 10
2017 Vikings — Averaged 23.9, scored 7
2017 Patriots — Averaged 28.6, scored 33
2018 Bears — Averaged 26.3, scored 15
2018 Saints — Averaged 31.5, scored 20

Four of the five scored at least 10 points fewer than their season average, and they averaged 9 ½ points fewer per game against Schwartz’s defense than during the regular season. The one team that increased was led by the greatest QB ever.

Jim Johnson is the greatest defensive coordinator in Eagles history, and his units allowed 16.7 points per game in the playoffs, which from 2000 through 2008 was 4.4 points per game below the NFL average of 21.1.

Schwartz’s defenses have allowed 17.0 points per game in the playoffs in an era where the scoring average is 22.5, so that’s 5.5 points per game below the average.

7. Some surprising Tom Brady stats 
Check out Tom Brady’s history in road playoff games:

• He’s thrown just eight TDs with eight INTs and completed 57 percent of his passes in seven career road games.

• He’s lost his last three road playoff games and hasn’t won on the road in the postseason since 2006, when the Patriots beat the Chargers 24-21 in San Diego.

• He’s lost his last three road AFC Championship Games and hasn’t won a conference title game on the road since 2004 in Pittsburgh.

• Mark Sanchez has more career road playoff wins than Brady. David Garrard has a higher road postseason passer rating. Dononvan McNabb has more road playoff touchdowns.

• Brady’s career postseason passer rating is 93.1 in Foxboro, where he’s 20-3. At neutral sites, it’s 98.0 and he’s 5-3. On the road, it’s 75.9, and he’s 3-4.

8. Pondering Jason Peters' future 
The more I think about it, the more convinced I am Jason Peters will be back at left tackle next year. Peters, who turns 37 next week, did leave some games early this year, but he also played 973 snaps — 80 percent of all the Eagles’ offensive snaps this year. When he was out there he was solid, and although it’s not ideal, I’ll take Peters 80 percent of the time over anybody else. The Eagles would save about $5.1 million in cap space by releasing him, but Peters’  2019 salary — $7.75 million — is middle of the pack for left tackles and certainly not prohibitive. Big V isn’t the answer. Jordan Mailata is a year away. It’s easy to say the Eagles should move on from him. It’s a lot harder to explain how.

9. On Alshon Jeffery and the interception
I was thinking about the Saints playoff game and what the Eagles’ chances would have been if Alshon Jeffery had caught that pass. It would have probably given the Eagles a 3rd-and-5 at the Saints’ 22-yard-line. The Eagles were 7-for-17 this year on 3rd-and-5, which is 41 percent, and they were also 1-for-2 on 4th-and-5. So they basically had two 50 percent chances to convert, which is a 75 percent shot. Now, what if they had a 1st-and-10 on the opposing 20? That happened six times this year, and the Eagles scored three TDs and three field goals on those drives. Of course they wouldn’t have attempted a field goal this time, and they kicked the field goals on 4th-and-8, 4th-and-13 and 4th-and-15, so I’m going to say it’s a 50 percent proposition to score a touchdown with a 1st-and-10 on the opposing 20. Factor in that the Saints were 23rd in the NFL in red-zone defense and Foles’ career red-zone numbers — 41 TDs, 5 INTs — and my entirely non-scientific conclusion is that, if converting a 3rd-and-5 with two chances is a 75 percent chance and then getting seven points from 20 yards out is a 50 percent chance, the Eagles had about a 38 percent chance to win if Jeffery caught the ball. It would have been fun to watch Nick Foles try, but the odds were against the Eagles even if he caught it.

10. Predictions 
I’m going with both home teams today. Chiefs 37, Patriots 33, and Saints 31, Rams 27.

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Source: Eagles do right by Nick Foles, give him $1 million bonus

Source: Eagles do right by Nick Foles, give him $1 million bonus

The Eagles are doing right by Nick Foles at least one more time. 

Remember when Foles got knocked out of the Eagles’ Week 17 game against the Redskins and finished just a few snaps shy of reaching a $1 million bonus? 

Well, the Eagles gave it to him anyway. 

A league source confirmed an ESPN report Saturday that the Eagles dished out the $1 million to Foles despite him coming a few snaps shy of earning it naturally. 

Thanks to getting knocked out of that Washington game, Foles finished the regular season with 357 offensive snaps out of 1,092 — 32.629 percent. He needed to get to 33 percent to earn that bonus. Normally in these cases, there’s no rounding up. 

This is not a normal case. 

Because after Foles left the Week 17 game, he came back the next week and led the Eagles to a win over the Bears in Chicago in the wild-card round and played the following week in the divisional round. In the last two years, Foles has a 4-1 record in the playoffs for the Birds. 

This is a nice gesture but it doesn’t change anything about Foles’ future. The Eagles are still tying themselves to Carson Wentz long term, which means it’s still likely Foles will be moving on, either as a free agent or through a trade. We explored all those possibilities here.

During the Eagles’ year-end press conference earlier this week, I asked Howie Roseman about how much they have to factor in Foles’ thoughts and feelings when making a decision: 

It’s always gotta be what’s best for our football team and the Philadelphia Eagles. We gotta make decisions based on that. But there’s also a respect factor for guys that have done a lot for us and have been a part of it. We try to factor that in as well. The bottom line is we gotta do what’s best for our football team to win games going forward.

It seems like we’re seeing some of that respect factor with the move to give Foles the $1 million he fell just short of earning naturally. In the Eagles’ eyes, he clearly deserves this bump, sort of like how he deserved a new contract before the 2018 season after his postseason heroics. 

The Eagles have to do what’s best for the team, but they don’t want to burn any bridges with a Super Bowl hero along the way either.

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