Eagles

Possible kicker options for Eagles to replace injured Caleb Sturgis

Possible kicker options for Eagles to replace injured Caleb Sturgis

Word broke Monday after Doug Pederson’s press conference that kicker Caleb Sturgis is expected to miss several weeks with a quad strain in his plant leg.

The Eagles signed Sturgis on Sept. 28, 2015 following a season-ending injury to Cody Parkey and he's been a solid addition ever since, eventually beating out Parkey for the job. With the Eagles, Sturgis has converted 56 of 66 field goal attempts — with a long of 55 yards — and 66 of 70 extra points.

There were 14 NFL kickers cut by NFL teams this preseason. Here’s a look at all 14 and who could be available for the Birds:

Mike Meyer — Meyer was waived by the Falcons and has been a member of two practice squads, in 2015 and 2017, but has yet to play in in NFL game.

Roberto Aguayo — A highly-publicized second-round selection by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2016, Aguayo was waived by both the Bucs and the Bears within a month. The three-time All-American for Florida State has gone 22 for 31 in his NFL career.

Jake Elliott — A fifth-round pick this season by the Cincinnati Bengals out of the University of Memphis, Elliott lost the job to veteran kicker Randy Bullock out of camp. The 2015 All-American connected on 21 of 26 field goals for the Tigers in 2016 and hit a program-record 81 during his career.

Cody Parkey — The former Eagles kicker, who was waived by the Cleveland Browns, has been signed by the Miami Dolphins. He's not available. 

Nick Novak — Novak is the most experienced kicker on the list. Since 2005, Novak has appeared in 111 NFL games with five different teams and has made 82.8 percent of his career attempts. Novak went 35 for 41 with a long of 53 yards for the Houston Texans in 2016 but was waived in favor of Ka'imi Fairbairn.

Sam Ficken — Known for kicking at Penn State, Ficken was waived by the Kansas City Chiefs in early September. He has not appeared in an NFL game.

Josh Lambo — Lambo caught on with the San Diego Chargers for two seasons before losing out to Younghoe Koo during camp. Lambo has connected on 52 of 64 kicks during his two-year career.

Travis Coons — Coons was a member of the Cleveland Browns for two seasons in 2014-15. He has connected on 28 of 32 field goals, with a long of only 47 yards. He tried out for the Los Angeles Rams this season and was waived in early September.

Marshall Koehn — Koehn made 77.8 percent of his kicks in college. He was a member of the Dolphins' practice squad in 2016 and was waived by the Minnesota Vikings in early September.

Mike Nugent — Drafted in the second round after a standout career at Ohio State in 2005, Nugent has played in 153 NFL games for the Bengals, Buccaneers and New York Jets. He has made 80.8 percent of his kicks lifetime, but struggled the past three seasons, finishing below 80 percent in two of them with Cincinnati.

Ross Martin — Martin is Duke's leader in field goals made (78) and highest field goal percentage (89.3 percent). He spent last season on the Jets' practice squad and did not make the team out of camp this season.

Giorgio Tavecchio — Tavecchio was released by the Oakland Raiders out of camp but was added to the 53-man roster when Sebastian Janikowski went down with an injury. In Week 1, he became the first player in league history to hit two 50-plus yard field goals ​in his NFL debut.

Nick Rose — Rose was released by the Falcons in 2016 and again by the San Francisco 49ers in early September. He has not appeared in an NFL game.

Zach Hocker — Drafted in the seventh round in 2014 out of the University of Arkansas, Hocker signed a four-year deal with the Washington Redskins but was released during final roster cuts before the 2014 season. He has since kicked 14 field goals in the NFL, connecting on 10 of them, but hasn’t appeared in a game since 2015. He was waived by the Buccaneers in September.

How Eagles helped Nigel Bradham by cutting him now

How Eagles helped Nigel Bradham by cutting him now

The Eagles formally released linebacker Nigel Bradham on Wednesday, one day after it was initially reported that the team had decided not to exercise his $8 million contract option and a month before they had to.

Bradham’s contract requires the Eagles to decide by the last day of the 2019 league year — in this case March 18 — whether to extend his deal by a year and pay him $8 million in base salary for 2020 or not exercise the option, allowing him to become a free agent.

But by releasing him on Wednesday — a full four weeks before they were required to — the Eagles give Bradham the opportunity to begin talking to teams and potentially negotiating a new contract before the start of free agency, which is also March 18.

Now that he’s no longer the Eagles’ property, he’s an unrestricted free agent a month before all the other linebackers hit the market.

It's a courtesy that gives him a head start on the mid-March free agency frenzy.

The Eagles and Bradham renegotiated his contract in March of 2018, and that renegotiation ran through 2022 but gave the Eagles an escape clause in the form of option years after the 2019, 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Because there’s no remaining guaranteed money in Bradham’s deal, the cap ramifications are no different if they release him now or formally decline his option next month. 

Bradham will count about $5.3 million in dead money under the Eagles’ 2020 cap, according to Spotrac, instead of the $9 million he would have counted if the Eagles’ kept him.

Bradham, who turns 31 in September, spent four years with the Eagles and started 64 of a possible 70 games, including the postseason.

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NFL trade rumors: Why Stefon Diggs makes sense for the Eagles

NFL trade rumors: Why Stefon Diggs makes sense for the Eagles

On Tuesday night, receiver Stefon Diggs sent the internet into a tizzy when he apparently erased any mention of the Vikings from his Instagram account. 

We’re taking a bit of a leap here (gotta love 2020) but if this is Diggs’ somehow voicing his frustration with the Vikings it wouldn’t be the first time. And it would also basically be a Bat Signal to the other 31 NFL teams: “Come and get me!” 

The Eagles should. 

It’s funny. Before all those rumors began to swirl on Tuesday night, I was on NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Quick Slants and was asked for one potential trade target for the Birds. The name I gave was Diggs. He made sense even before this. While there’s no guarantee the Vikings trade him, it’s worth finding out. 

If you haven’t noticed, the Eagles are in desperate need of help at receiver. It’s why about 85 percent of mock drafts have them taking one in the first round of the draft in a couple months. But any player they pick in the draft is an unknown. Diggs is not. 

There are three big reasons why Diggs should be attractive to the Eagles: 

1. He just turned 26 back in November

The Eagles are committed to getting younger this offseason and getting Diggs now would kind of be like signing a free agent after his rookie deal. The Eagles have been getting older but Diggs would help them get younger. No, he’s not a 21-year-old anymore but he is arguably entering his prime. 

2. Diggs is already one of the best receivers in the NFL

Despite his targets dropping from 149 in 2018 to 94 in 2019 (ostensibly one of the reasons for his displeasure), Diggs still managed to have more receiving yards this past season. Since the 2016 season, Diggs has 313 catches, 3,903 yards and 26 touchdowns. There are just six players in the league with better stats in those four seasons: DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Travis Kelce and Michael Thomas. 

What has been impressive about Diggs is that he’s been successful in different ways. After averaging 10.0 yards per catch in 2018, he averaged 17.9 (a career high) in 2019 and was a tremendous deep threat. Just three players in the NFL had a higher yards-per-catch average in 2019. 

The Eagles certainly saw what he can do. In Week 6 against the Birds, he had his best game of the 2019 season. He caught seven passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns. That was the only time this season he was targeted over 10 times in a game. 

3. Diggs is relatively cost-controlled for another four seasons

While trading for Diggs will cost draft equity (we’ll get to that soon), his salary will be cheaper than that of a free agent of the same caliber because he’s already locked up. While multiple teams will out-bid each other for free agents and end up over-paying, Diggs has a contract that runs through the 2023 season and it’s a very reasonable contract. By the end of it, there’s a very good chance he’ll be extremely underpaid. Even though he just signed the five-year extension in the summer of 2018, he’s already just the 13th highest-paid NFL receiver in terms of APY, according to OverTheCap. 

Check out his base salaries for the remainder of the contract: 

2020: $10.9M
2021: $11.4M
2022: $11.4M
2023: $11.4M

No, that’s not exactly cheap like a rookie contract would be but it’s very manageable. And once the new CBA is eventually worked out, those prices will probably look even better. And there are some performance escalators written in, but if Diggs hits them, both sides would be happy. 

So what will it take? 

This is the big question. I think we all agree that Diggs is a good player and the Eagles would love to have him. But what would they have to give up in a trade? 

Well, the Vikings are going to start any negotiation with a first-round pick at minimum. They should. All those reasons I listed above are reasons why they should have teams lining up for Diggs. It’ll be interesting to see just how bad things really are between Diggs and the Vikings, though. There was definitely frustration during the 2019 season but he finished out the year. Is it bad enough that it’s an untenable situation? If so, then the Vikings would lose some leverage. 

If it’s a second-round pick, this is an easier conversation. The real question is whether or not the Eagles would be willing to give up a first-round pick. I kind of doubt they’d be willing to but you can make a real case for it. It’s easy to say the Eagles should just focus on the draft and take one of the many talented options with the 21st pick but there’s no guarantee they’ll hit. In fact, their history picking receivers, especially in the last decade, shouldn’t instill much confidence. They have drafted four Day 1 or Day 2 receivers since 2010: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. 

None of them ever became what Diggs is right now. And there’s a good chance any player taken at 21 won’t become what he is either. 

Maybe GM Howie Roseman and the Eagles will be worried about Diggs’ fit in the building; after all, he has created enough drama in Minnesota to bring all of this up in the first place. Would that eventually happen here? Hard to say. This isn’t a no-brainer but it’s worth a call or two. 

Pick up the phone, Howie. 

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