It’s time to say goodbye to the Super Bowl champs. Time to say hello to an uncertain future.
When Howie Roseman said last week that one of his weaknesses is that he gets too attached to players, you can understand where he’s coming from.
Heck, who didn’t get attached to the Super Bowl champs?
That 2017 Eagles team took the city on a ride none of us will ever forget.
But it’s time to move on. It’s past time.
And the only way the Eagles will ever get to another Super Bowl is if they put that team to rest and build a new one.
That’s what this offseason is all about.
Roseman spent 2018 and 2019 trying to take the 2017 nucleus and tweak it, trying to recapture that 2017 magic.
And honestly, it made sense. The Eagles didn’t have enough draft picks to rebuild the roster the right way — just four picks in the first three rounds over the last two years coming off the disastrous 2017 draft.
Some of the moves didn’t make sense – another year of Nelson Agholor at $9.4 million, Ronald Darby at $6 ½ million, Jason Peters at $6 million, bringing back Darren Sproles, guaranteeing Alshon Jeffery.
But it was Roseman trying to squeeze as much as possible out of the Super Bowl roster without the benefit of a ton of draft picks.
Trying to win off the Super Bowl momentum.
And it worked, to an extent. The Eagles did reach the playoffs the last two years. But the whole thing was trending in the wrong direction. We all saw it. The roster got older, more injury-prone, and so many of those Super Bowl heroes just weren’t the same players as they were in 2017.
Now there’s 10 draft picks waiting in April, a boatload of cap space and a real chance to reshape the roster.
Taking into account compensatory picks as projected by Over the Cap, the Eagles should have their own 1st- and 2nd-round picks, two 3rd-round picks, three 4th-rounders, two 5ths and a 6th.
All of this means that by the time the Eagles make their final cuts on Sept. 5, 2020, it’s conceivable there could be as few as eight position players on next year’s roster who were part of the 2017 Super Bowl run.
The actual number will be closer to 12 or 15, but it’ll still be a far cry from this past year, when the Eagles gave that Super Bowl LII nucleus one last shot.
Some 30 players who played here in 2017 spent at least some time on the 53-man roster this year. They didn’t all play in the Super Bowl, but they were part of that team, part of that run.
Let’s look at that group and their chances of coming back:
DEFINITELY NOT BACK: Darren Sproles, Jay Ajayi, Nelson Agholor
PROBABLY NOT BACK: Ronald Darby, Jason Peters, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Kamu Grugier-Hill
JURY IS OUT: Jalen Mills, Nigel Bradham, Rodney McLeod, Rasul Douglas, Alshon Jeffery, Nate Sudfeld, Corey Clement, Tim Jernigan, Vinny Curry
PROBABLY BACK: Jason Kelce, Malcolm Jenkins, Sidney Jones, Nate Gerry
DEFINITELY BACK: Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Carson Wentz, Isaac Seumalo, Brandon Brooks, Rick Lovato, Derek Barnett, Jake Elliott
We only put Kelce and Jenkins in the “probably back” category since Kelce at this point in his life ponders retirement every offseason and because of Jenkins’ contract situation.
Roseman spoke about all this Wednesday, and NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Dave Zangaro wrote about it:
When we look at our team from 2017 to 2019, we knew that we had one team - really, a team that we were basically going to stick with,” he said. “We didn't have a lot of resources in terms of draft picks. That's on me. We made trades for some veteran players to go win. We stick to that. We're glad of those decisions. But going forward we need to infuse youth in this team.
It's tough moving on from veterans who’ve meant so much to this franchise, veterans who had a role in the Eagles’ greatest triumph of the last 50 years, veterans who rode a float up Broad Street while close to a million fans stood and cheered.
It’s even harder replacing them.
And that’s the challenge now. If you look at that group of players the Eagles are certain or likely to move on from, it includes a bunch of former Pro Bowlers, some long-time starters and a few all-time Eagle greats.
All Roseman and his crew have to do now is find a bunch of new legends to replace them.
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