Eagles

NFL Notes: Ravens TE Darren Waller suspended by league for 1 year

NFL Notes: Ravens TE Darren Waller suspended by league for 1 year

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens tight end Darren Waller has been suspended without pay for at least one year for violating the NFL substance abuse policy.

It's the second time Waller has been suspended by the NFL for substance abuse. He missed Baltimore's first four games last season.

The league and the Ravens did not disclose Friday the substance Waller used that led to his suspension.

After his first suspension, Waller acknowledged that used marijuana. He returned to catch 10 passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns.

The 24-year-old Waller is a former sixth-round pick with plenty of potential. The 6-foot-8, 255-pounder from Georgia Tech was expected to get plenty of playing time at a position that has become a trouble spot for the team.

Dennis Pitta appears headed for retirement after his third hip injury, Benjamin Wallace is returning from a torn Achilles tendon and Maxx Williams is coming back from knee surgery.

Raiders: OG Jackson reportedly agrees to 5-year extension
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders have locked up another member of their stellar 2014 draft class, agreeing to a five-year extension to keep guard Gabe Jackson under contract through the 2022 season.

A person familiar with the deal said Friday that it is worth $56 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal and its terms have not been announced. NFL Network first reported the deal that kicks in once Jackson's rookie contract expires after the 2017 season.

Jackson has been a key part of the Raiders offensive line since being drafted in the third round. He did not allow a sack in 628 pass block snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus, the best rate for any guard in the league.

Jackson was part of a transformative draft class in Oakland that was headlined by first-rounder Khalil Mack, who was the AP Defensive Player of the Year last season, and second-round franchise quarterback Derek Carr. After losing the first 10 games as rookies, those three have played a big role in a turnaround that led the Raiders to 12 wins last season and the franchise's first playoff berth since 2002.

Carr got rewarded last week for his play, signing a $125 million, five-year extension that also keeps him under contract through 2022.

Mack is under contract through 2018 because the Raiders exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie deal and will likely be in line for an extension next offseason.

The Raiders have invested heavily in their offensive line in recent years, especially in the interior. Oakland signed All-Pro guard Kelechi Osemele to a five-year, $58.5 million free agent deal last offseason and Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson got a five-year, $44.5 million deal the previous offseason.

Oakland also has a Pro Bowler at left tackle in Donald Penn and signed Marshall Newhouse this offseason in hopes that he would win the right tackle job.

The strong offensive line has been key to the Raiders recent success as the team allowed a league-low 18 sacks last season.

Steelers: Burns charged with driving with a suspended license
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns has been charged with driving with a suspended license.

A Miami Beach Police report says an officer pulled over Burns' Cadillac SUV in South Beach on Thursday for having an expired tag.

The report says the 22-year-old Burns failed to produce a driver's license, and was handcuffed and taken to a county jail.

Miami-Dade County court records show Burns hadn't paid hundreds of dollars in traffic tickets and failed to appear for a hearing.

The police report says Burns' SUV was impounded and the vehicle's tag was seized.

Jail records show Burns was released on bond Friday. It couldn't be determined if he had an attorney; the case wasn't yet listed in court records.

Burns was a first-round draft pick by the Steelers in 2016.

Eagle Eye: Eagles facing a unique situation with Darren Sproles

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Eagle Eye: Eagles facing a unique situation with Darren Sproles

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss Darren Sproles' upcoming retirement. Does it put the Eagles in an awkward position on game days? Why do players care so much about their ratings in Madden? Also, Barrett shares how he decided on his jersey numbers throughout his football career?

1:00 - Derrick is back! What did he do with his time off?
5:30 - Barrett spent time with his grandson ... who ate pancakes with ketchup.
10:00 - Darren Sproles says 2018 will be his final year.
15:00 - Why do players care so much about their Madden ratings?
19:30 - If you can script your career, how would you want to retire?
22:30 - How did Barrett decide on his jersey numbers?

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Howie Roseman using what he learned from Andy Reid

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Howie Roseman using what he learned from Andy Reid

One thing Andy Reid was spot on about during his long tenure with the Eagles was the importance of building around both lines. 

Big Red always made the offensive and defensive lines a priority, and during the Eagles’ stretch of deep playoff runs — from 2000 through 2009 — the O-line was anchored by guys like Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas, Jermane Mayberry and Todd Herremans and the D-line by Corey Simon, Trent Cole, Mike Patterson and Hugh Douglas.

During that 10-year stretch, the Eagles had the most wins in the NFC and the third-most wins in the NFL, and the one constant during that stretch was solid line play. 

Donovan McNabb was very good when healthy most of those seasons, and the Eagles always had good running backs and corners, but the heart of those teams was up front.

Just look at how Big Red drafted. Eight of his 11 first-round picks were linemen. After taking McNabb in 1999, all six of Reid's picks in the first half of the first round were linemen.

They obviously didn’t all work out, but Reid was committed to both lines, and Howie Roseman, then a young, rising personnel executive, was paying attention.

The Eagles have done a lot of things differently in the five years since Reid's final season here, but one thing Doug Pederson and Roseman believe in is building around the lines, and it sure paid off last year.

According to figures on salary cap website Spotrac, the Eagles in 2017 were the only team ranked among the top five in the NFL in both offensive line and defensive line spending.

And the only team that had a parade in February.

And they’re only going to spend more this year.

The Eagles will spend 22.36 percent of their 2018 cap money on the offensive line, fourth most in the league, and 28.84 percent to the defensive line, fifth most.

That’s more than half their 2018 payroll on the big guys up front.

The Jets — sixth in O-line spending, 10th in D-line — are the only other team in the top 10 in both.

Seven of the Eagles’ 10 highest-paid players last year were linemen, as are eight of their 13 projected highest-paid players in 2018.

And five of those guys — Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Vinny Curry and Jason Peters — are actually holdovers from the Reid era.

Think of them as Reid’s parting gifts to the 2017 championship team.

Creating a Super Bowl roster was a complicated process for Roseman, and to be able to make this sort of financial commitment to the two lines means you just don’t have much money left for everything else. 

The only way to make that work is to build with cheap labor elsewhere. 

And that means younger players on bargain-basement rookie contracts, cheap but productive quarterbacks and low-round picks and undrafted players with cheapo contracts excelling.

It means drafting well and making exceptional free-agent decisions without overspending.

It’s a crazy juggling act, and Roseman juggled all those things magnificentely last year.

In fact, according to Spotrac’s data, the two lines are the Eagles' only positional groups ranked even among the top 15 in the NFL.

The secondary and QB positions rank 16th in cap allocations, tight end 18th, running back 21st, wide receiver 27th, linebacker 31st and special teams 32nd.

These numbers are all based on the 53 highest-paid players currently under contract, so they will change slightly once the final roster is set, but they won’t change much.

The Eagles were very good in a lot of areas last year — really, in every area — but their offensive line was the best in football and the best in Eagles history, and the defensive line was easily one of the two- or three-best in football.

Everything the Eagles did, everything they accomplished, started up front.

Put Peters back on the O-line and add Haloti Ngata and Michael Bennett to the D-line with an increased role for Derek Barnett, and both lines could conceivably be even better this year.

It’s going to get harder for Roseman to keep paying the Eagles’ linemen the way he has. Once Carson Wentz signs his next contract, the Eagles’ entire salary cap balance will change. 

Those $25 million annual cap hits for one guy have a tendency to make roster decisions way more challenging.

So it will be tricky for the Eagles to re-sign Graham. He wants a fortune, and he deserves a fortune. 

But even if Roseman can’t get that done, Barnett has three more years on his rookie deal, and that’s the key to making this whole thing work. 

You can’t re-sign everybody, so if you want to remain elite, you have to draft well so you can replace the people you invariably lose.

You lose Patrick Robinson, you have Sidney Jones waiting. You lose LeGarrette Blount, there’s Corey Clement ready to go. You lose Mychal Kendricks, you hope a Nate Gerry can contribute. Trey Burton leaves, and Dallas Goedert is cheaper and better.

You get what you pay for. And the Eagles right now are paying for the best in the business.

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