Andrew Kulp

Eagles Stay or Go 2020: What’s after Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert?

Eagles Stay or Go 2020: What’s after Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert?

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp bring back Stay or Go with the 2020 version, trying to figure out the future of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Today, we’ll look at tight ends:

Zach Ertz

Roob: Ertz just turned 29 and is already 13th in NFL history in catches by a tight end. And he only needs 22 catches to reach the top 10. He’s an all-time great already, and he’s got a lot of football to go. And Ertz finally put to rest the myth that he’s not tough enough by playing in the Seattle playoff game 14 days after suffering a broken rib and lacerated kidney.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Ertz has consistently been one of the best tight ends in the NFL for the last several seasons and is putting up numbers that might one day get him to Canton. This will be an important offseason for tight ends; it’s time for one of them to re-set that market because they’ve been underpaid for a long time. Ertz is just a great and consistent player and one of the most important pieces of the Eagles’ offense and he’s under contract. A long-term extension makes sense but the next one is gonna need to be a big one.

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: It was interesting hearing Ertz express some doubt about his future in Philadelphia. Fans like to bandy his name about as a possible trade chip, when in reality, he's a focal point of the offense. Then again, 2021 is the final year of his contract, which means 2020 is the time to start negotiating — especially since he's not getting any younger — and where will those talks go? The Eagles appreciate what Ertz brings on and off the field, but he's approaching 30 and starting to rack up a lot of mileage. It's hard to imagine the situation getting too messy, and the three-time Pro Bowler will probably play this year without a new deal. If the right offer came along though, the front office actually might jump on it.

Verdict: Stays

Dallas Goedert

Roob: Despite playing in Ertz’s shadow, Goedert is legitimately a top-10 tight end in his own right. He was 9th in the NFL in catches among tight ends this year and including the playoffs the only TEs with more catches since Week 5 are Travis Kelce, Ertz and George Kittle. You may have heard the Eagles like to play a lot of 12 personnel. With Ertz and Goedert, they can do it as well as anybody.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: After a slow start (five catches in four weeks), Goedert ended up having a big season. He had 58 catches for 607 yards and five touchdowns. His 58 catches ranked him ninth in the NFL. The Eagles committed to 12 personnel (two tight ends) this season and it worked, especially because the receiver position was a mess. Will it be their base personnel group going forward? Probably not. But they still need to find ways to get Goedert on the field.

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: As is customary with young players, specifically high draft picks, a lot of people were sleeping on Goedert's contributions midway through his second season. Until everything was said and done though, the second-year player ranked among the top 10 tight ends in the NFL in catches (9th), yards (10th) and touchdowns (t-7th). Not bad at all considering he's technically the No. 2 tight end. So what's the problem?

Verdict: Stays

Richard Rodgers

Roob: The Eagles re-signed Rodgers when Ertz got hurt in the Giants game, but that was just as an emergency in case everybody else got hurt. Rodgers is six years into his career, and he’s caught as many as 58 passes in a season. He’s smart, knows the offense, keeps himself in shape. But if he has a future in the NFL it’ll be somewhere else.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: At the end of the season, Rodgers got a few paychecks from the Eagles. He should be back in camp but he has struggled to stay healthy, so they probably can’t rely on him. He has a shot but …

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: Keep his number in the Rolodex in case of emergency, but Rodgers has not been able to stay healthy the last two seasons. You don't need much from a third tight end. Availability is one of the primary traits.

Verdict: Goes

Josh Perkins

Roob: The Eagles were lucky they had Perkins, who’s able to give them reps at wide receiver or tight end as needed. And he did help out, mainly in the second Giants game, when he caught four passes for 50 yards, including that crazy 29-yard TD from Carson Wentz. But he’s not fast enough to consistently play receiver and he’s not a good enough blocker to get consistent tight end reps. He’s a gamer, but he really doesn’t have a position.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: I give credit to Perkins, who came in this season and made some plays down the stretch after being called up from the practice squad. The problem here is that the last two seasons, the Eagles have needed Perkins because of his ability as a wide receiver. If they solidify that position — and they need to — Perkins isn’t as important.

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: Three times in the last two seasons, Perkins recorded at least 4 catches and 37 yards -- and he's barely played. He's got great measurables at 6-foot-3, 223 pounds with 4.6 speed, and is even a significant special teams contributor. Really nice prospect. The trouble is he's a free agent. The Eagles should try to keep him, otherwise they'll just have to replace him. Seeing as he spent most of the year on the practice squad, there shouldn't be that much of a clamoring for his services.

Verdict: Stays

Alex Ellis

Roob: Ellis had two stints on the 53-man roster and two stints on the practice squad, but the sum total of his season was six snaps on offense and 62 on special teams. Ellis had a nice preseason, and I would expect him to be back for training camp again this coming summer. Whether he can actually make the roster out of camp and help during the regular season remains to be seen.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: I really liked what I saw from Ellis, who was actually a late arrival to training camp last summer. He was the first tight end to be promoted from the practice squad this past season. The good thing about Ellis is that he offers blocking ability too, which is important in a possible third tight end. The Eagles could even use him as a fullback in certain situations. I like his potential with a full offseason here.

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Ellis bounced between the Eagles' roster, practice squad an unemployment in 2019, and has been bouncing around the league since 2016. He has three career catches and worn five different uniforms. Pretty sure he's out of practice squad eligibility, too. He's only back if Perkins is out. Even then, you probably draft somebody.

Verdict: Goes

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Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Is it time to move on from a legend?

Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Is it time to move on from a legend?

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp bring back Stay or Go with the 2020 version, trying to figure out the future of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Today, we’ll look at offensive tackles: 

Jason Peters 

Roob: It’s time. He’s one of the greatest Eagles of all-time, but it’s time. Peters is still a pretty good left tackle, but he’s not what he used to be, Andre Dillard is here for a reason, he looks ready, and at some point you just have to make the decision to move on. It’s going to be weird seeing an Eagles team without J.P. He’s been here so long he blocked for Vince Young. But it’s time to turn the page, and I think the Eagles understand that now.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: It was a great run for Peters, who arrived in 2009 thanks to what was probably the best trade in franchise history. Peters had years of dominance, making seven of his nine Pro Bowls with the Eagles. But he’s turning 38 later this month and even though he played fairly well in 2019, the Eagles drafted Andre Dillard for a reason. Peters is a free agent and as tough as it might be for the organization, it’s time for them to let him leave. I just wouldn’t want to be the one who has to tell him. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: After seven Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro selections and 11 seasons with the Eagles, it's easy to get sentimental about a player. Peters is a surefire Hall of Famer. Hell, he's still probably better than at least half the left tackles in the league. Unfortunately, he may not be better than the left tackle the club drafted last April. We won't know until the change is made, but it's time to find out rather than pin the hopes on a 38-year-old oft-injured free agent-to-be. 

Verdict: Goes

Lane Johnson 

Roob: It was a tough year for Johnson, who missed the first Seahawks game with a concussion and then missed the last four games of the season with a knee injury. It was the first time in Johnson’s seven-year career he’s missed multiple games because of injury. Johnson turns 30 this spring, and he’s still an elite right tackle when he’s healthy, and there’s no reason to expect anything less from him. The Eagles really need him to stay healthy.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: The Eagles missed Johnson down the stretch of last season. Simply put: They’re a much better team with him on the field. The Eagles think he’s the best right tackle in the NFL and gave him a huge contract extension during the season to keep him in Philly through the 2025 season. He’s the only player on the roster signed through 2025. He’s not going anywhere for a while. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: There's nothing not to like about Johnson. He'll be 30, still in the meat of an offensive lineman's prime. He's arguably the best right tackle in the NFL and a leader. His brand new contract extension does squeeze the Eagles for a cap hit just south of $16 million in 2020, but when healthy, the two-time Pro Bowler is worth every penny. Plus, if the Eagles win another Super Bowl, he'll probably get everybody beer again. 

Verdict: Stays

Andre Dillard 

Roob: It’s kind of weird that Dillard was so bad at right tackle after holding his own at left tackle. He didn’t seem to have a great attitude about trying to play on the right side – it’s like trying to write with your left hand and all that – and that’s a concern. You want a guy to embrace any challenge and dive in head-first. Dillard has the physical tools in the world, he’s still got to prove he can handle the mental challenges that come with the job. 

Verdict: Stays

Dave: The rookie started three games at left tackle and acquitted himself quite well. Playing on the right side was a disaster and wasn’t a good sign, but that’s not why they drafted him. I expect him to be the starter at left tackle in 2020. He still has to answer plenty of questions but he’ll have to do it on game days. He needs to play in 2020. If he works out, the Eagles could have three waves of incredible stability at left tackle with Tra Thomas, Peters and then Dillard.  

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: The kid took some lumps, especially in his lone start at right tackle, where he was benched at halftime. Dillard showed promise at his natural position on the left though, and the only way he's ever going to take the next step is to play. They're literally going to give Peters the boot for this kid, so yeah, he'll be here for a little while. 

Verdict: Stays

Halapoulivaati Vaitai 

Roob: Big V is an unrestricted free agent, and while he’s never been a full-time starter in his four years here he’s really been a valuable sixth o-lineman who could back up both guard and tackle spots. Vaitai started 20 games at various spots here and was the Super Bowl left tackle, so he’s got a decent body of work after an inauspicious start back in 2016. The Eagles would love to have him back, but somebody is going to give Big V a lot of money.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: As a fifth-round pick back in 2016, the Eagles got a lot of use out of Big V in the last four years. He played in 52 games with 20 starts and started four more games in the playoffs, including at left tackle in Super Bowl LII. He’s not a top-tier guy but he’s solid and versatile and he’s been a solid player for the Eagles. They’d probably like to have him back. But even average tackles get paid in this league and he might get near-starter money elsewhere. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Big V is a largely competent swing tackle who's at his best when given a full week to prepare to play rather than coming off the bench cold, and even then he's is good for one or two massive blunders per game. And in the NFL, where tackles are at a premium, that's probably good enough to get paid this offseason. Vaitai is a free agent and could very well be starting somewhere in 2020 – it just won't be here. 

Verdict: Goes

Jordan Mailata 

Roob: Assuming Big V and Peters leave via free agency, Mailata could very well become the backup at both tackle spots. Mailata will be going into his third year, and that’s about when you expect to see results from this sort of long-term project. He’s still young. At 22, he’s two years younger than Dillard but this will be a big training camp for him. He’s still never played in a regular-season NFL game, but he should be in the mix for a role this coming season.

Verdict: Stays 

Dave: This is tough because we’re two years into the Mailata experiment and he still hasn’t played in a game that counts. But I haven’t seen anything to change my opinion that he can play the game and the Eagles always knew this was a long-term project. And, by the way, he’s still just 22. The Eagles might try to bring Big V back or sign a different veteran; if not, Mailata could be the swing tackle next season. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Two years into the rugby-player-turned-American-footballer experiment, we're no closer to knowing whether Mailata belongs on an NFL field. That was likely the plan all along, though looking at this list of players, he currently projects as not just the top backup – he's the only backup on the roster. The 6-foot-8, 346-pound Australian showed there's a lot of pure physical ability to work with in preseason action, and he's only 22 and on a cheap rookie deal, so the Eagles probably owe it to themselves to see this thing through now. But, man, it's a little scary to think he might be one injury away from starting in 2020. 

Verdict: Stays

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Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Figuring out Eagles’ running back rotation in 2020

Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Figuring out Eagles’ running back rotation in 2020

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp bring back Stay or Go with the 2020 version, trying to figure out the future of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Today, we’ll look at running backs: 

Miles Sanders

Roob: It was a truly historic rookie season for Sanders, who became only the fifth rookie in NFL history with 700 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards and a 4.5 rushing average. And he did it despite averaging only 10.6 touches in the Eagles’ first eight games. After that? He averaged close to 100 scrimmage yards per game. Tough, fast, explosive, elusive. Big things ahead for this kid. Going to be fun to watch.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: It took Sanders a few games to get going but once he did, he improved throughout the rest of his rookie season. And when Jordan Howard went down, he proved to me that he can be a feature back in the NFL. Based on what I saw in 2019, I have no doubt that the Eagles nailed this pick. Sanders is a do-it-all back who can be a Pro Bowl player. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: The most impressive part about Sanders' rookie season is how much and how quickly he improved. Seven games into his career, he was averaging 3.3 yards per rushing attempt and there were people ready to write him off. Over the Eagles' last 10, he averaged 5.1 and looked like a legit RB1. 

Verdict: Stays

Jordan Howard

Roob: I really like Howard’s game, but I just don’t see where he fits in with Sanders and Boston Scott projecting to major roles. Howard has a different skill set, but even if his value on the free agency market is low because of his injury, do the Eagles still want to pay him a couple million bucks to be the third back? Does he even want to be here for whatever carries are leftover after Sanders and Scott get theirs? I don’t see it.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: There was a period this past season where Howard was playing at a very high level. In fact, in his final two starts (and significant action) of the season, he carried the ball 42 times for 178 yards and two touchdowns. But he suffered a stinger that pretty much ended his season. He seems open to the idea of a return, but it would be as a complementary player to Sanders. That would work but I’d imagine it would be better for Howard to find a job where he can be the main back. If he can’t, then sure, bring him back. I think he finds that gig elsewhere. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: If the Eagles can keep Howard — meaning another team doesn't give him a crazy payday — they should. He's only 25, rushed for over 900 yards in each of his first three seasons with 24 touchdowns and was looking very much like the No. 1 back prior to the shoulder injury, averaging 4.4 yards per carry with six TDs. He doesn't need to be that here thanks to Sanders' ascension, but if Howard gets away, the Eagles will just need to replace him with another dependable ball carrier. So, ideally he'll be back, though he could easily find a better offer and situation elsewhere. 

Verdict: Stays

Darren Sproles 

Roob: This time Darren Sproles really is retiring, after playing just 15 games over the last three seasons. Incredible career: More than 8,000 scrimmage yards, seven punt return touchdowns, 2014 NFL punt return leader, three-time Pro Bowler (all in his 30s). An electrifying player for a long time. And every time Scott makes a big play next year we’ll think of Sproles. 

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Sproles already announced his retirement so I’ll just use this space to say how fun it was to watch him for the last several years of his career. Forget the fact that the Eagles held on too long and remember why they wanted to: No one worked harder than Sproles, no one was a better example for young players, no one was more respected. Even if he never makes it to the Hall of Fame, he goes down as an all-time great player who played more seasons with the Eagles than any other team and made his only three Pro Bowls as an Eagle. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Seeing as he's retiring, the decision would seem to be out of the Eagles' hands. But, no, this time the organization should not try to change his mind.

Verdict: Goes

Boston Scott 

Roob: An amazing find, Scott jumped off the practice squad and quickly piled up 449 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns in just 85 touches late in the season. Scott went from an emergency fill-in to a big piece of the future. He and Sanders give the Eagles two tough, powerful, fast and versatile backs and give Doug Pederson the chance to be a lot more creative as a play caller.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: I was admittedly skeptical when Scott initially found success in December but now I’m sold. He deserves a spot in the running back rotation in 2020 as a complementary piece next to Sanders. He’s shifty, can catch and is a fun change-of-pace guy. He’s earned the right to be back next season. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Scott filled Sproles' role in the Eagles' offense seamlessly, compiling 398 yards of total offense and four touchdowns over the final five games. There's definitely a place for him in the NFL, and he's under contract for next year, so that's one old-timer the front office doesn't need to worry about replacing. 

Verdict: Stays

Corey Clement 

Roob: It’s been an unfortunate couple years of injuries for the former Super Bowl star, but I wouldn’t write him off just yet. Clement is still only 25 and he’s still a good, inexpensive option to be that third running back behind Sanders and Scott. If he can stay healthy, he’d be a perfect fit. 

Verdict: Stays

Dave: This is a tough one because Clement didn’t have a role in 2019 and then landed on IR for the second straight season. This guy was a Super Bowl hero but can’t seem to stay healthy. This time, he needed shoulder surgery, so at least he’s another year removed from the knee injury. My head is telling me it’s time for the Eagles to move on but I’m going with my gut here. I think Clement still has something left and has a chance to make the roster if Howard isn’t back. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: That's back-to-back seasons Clement was unable to stay healthy after an impressive rookie year, which is something the Eagles definitely will look at. He's also a restricted free agent, so there's no risk in bringing him back. Granted, he'll be competing for a roster spot as the fourth running back, though even then, his special teams prowess gives him a shot. 

Verdict: Stays

Elijah Holyfield 

Roob: Holyfield, son of former world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, joined the Eagles just before the playoffs but didn’t get on the field and has never actually played in an NFL game. He’s got a limited skill set but he's a good tough inside runner and should get a long look in training camp. I can see him spending time on the practice squad next year and getting a shot at the 53 at some point, but I don't expect him to ever have a major role.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: There’s a reason the Eagles brought in Holyfield late in the season and didn’t play him. They wanted him for the future. So he’ll be in training camp with a chance to make the roster and maybe he does. But I want to at least see him in a few practices first. For now, I think he ends up on the 2020 practice squad and not on the 53-man roster. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: If Howard bolts, it could certainly give a powerful prospect like Holyfield more of an opportunity. Then again, the departure would likely prompt the Eagles to use a draft pick on a runner, too. Maybe he can crack the practice squad, but it's tough to project right now.

Verdict: Goes



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