chris maragos

Eagles mailbag — Top priority, surprise cuts, Jeffery's shoulder

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Eagles mailbag — Top priority, surprise cuts, Jeffery's shoulder

More questions and answers today. This has been an Eagles mailbag marathon this week. 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

And here's today: 

There are a few. Howie Roseman obviously has to figure out a way to get the team under the salary cap by the time the new league year starts on March 14. But there are ways to do that and he's really good at it. 

The biggest thing I think the Eagles need to figure out is how to keep Nigel Bradham. Of all their pending free agents, he's the one who is most important to bring back. I'm not sure what it will cost and the Eagles obviously don't have a ton of room to work with, but this is worth getting done, especially as Jordan Hicks returns from that Achilles tear. 

Bradham's performance in 2017 after Hicks went down was really important to the team's success. He's still 28, so he'll be able to play at a high level through another contract. But this is really his first shot (and maybe his only) to sign a big deal, so the Eagles can't expect him to offer a discount. 

I'm not listing Torrey Smith, Brent Celek or Vinny Curry here because we know those guys make a lot of money and I'm not sure how surprised anyone would really be if one or more of them is released. 

A couple surprise names might be Chris Maragos and Chance Warmack. For clarity, I think both will be on the team, but if the Eagles cut Maragos, they'd save $1.5 million and Warmack would save them a little over a million. But Maragos is still a great special teams player and Warmack is still their top backup guard. 

It'll be a little tight. Jeffery is expected to need about six months to fully recover. I wouldn't expect to see much of him in training camp or in the preseason. So the Eagles might not have Carson Wentz throw a pass to Jeffery again until — at the earliest — Week 1. That's a little troubling. But if I had to bet, I'd bet that Jeffery is ready for the opener. After all, he just played an entire season with a torn rotator cuff. 

Eagles Stay or Go — Vocal leader and key special teamers

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Eagles Stay or Go — Vocal leader and key special teamers

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Chris Long
Roob:
 It didn't take long for Long to make an impact on his new team, both on the field and off. Long was a vocal leader and impact-making third defensive end for the Super Bowl champs, not to mention very active along with close friend Malcolm Jenkins in various social causes in the community and also back in Charlottesville, Va. Long is under contract for one more year with a relatively modest $2.35 million cap hit. Great guy to have around.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It turns out Long was right. The Eagles' 4-3 defense did suit him pretty well. At 32 years old, Long played 48 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps, had five sacks and four forced fumbles. Four forced fumbles! That's the most FF any Eagle has had since Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham both did it in 2014. Long really seemed to fit the team and the city. It was a good signing. He does have a cap number over $2.3 million this upcoming season, so there might be a decision to make. But he still has value. 

Verdict: STAYS

Rick Lovato 
Roob: Lovato quietly had a very steady year as the Eagles' first long snapper not named Jon Dorenbos since Mike Bartrum. The 25-year-old Central Jersey native had brief stints with the Bears, Packers and Redskins before replacing an injured Dorenbos briefly in 2016. Lovato and Dorenbos both got Super Bowl rings this year, which must not happen too often. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: One of the big upsets of last summer was Lovato's beating out Dorenbos for the long snapper job. Everyone thought Dorenbos was going to come back from his wrist injury and coast, but Lovato beat him out before the Eagles decided to try to move Dorenbos to the Saints. Lovato had a fine season. He's not going back to his family's sandwich shop yet. 

Verdict: STAYS

Chris Maragos
Roob: 
Kind of a tricky one. You know the Eagles like to stay young on special teams, and Maragos, now 31, is really a player without a position, although he can play safety in an emergency. If Maragos is healthy coming off the season-ending knee injury he suffered against the Panthers, he'll get a shot in camp. But the Eagles could save $1.5 million under the cap by releasing him. It would be tough to see him go, but my guess is the Eagles will get younger and cheaper and try to develop a young backup safety who can also play on special teams.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Maragos is coming off a serious injury, but would the Eagles consider cutting him once he's healthy? Well, you could make that case. Maragos has a cap number of $2 million this season and the team could save $1.5 in cap room by cutting him. It might be a decent idea, but they're not going to cut him until he's healthy and by that point, Howie Roseman will have already worked his magic to get the Eagles under the cap. And Maragos is a big part of the team. It meant so much to him to be named one of the captains last year and he still made his presence felt even after he couldn't play. He has at least one year left in Philly. 

Verdict: STAYS 

Eagles' championship offers a strong life lesson

Eagles' championship offers a strong life lesson

I still remember pretty vividly the first day most people thought the Eagles were dead. It was a Tuesday morning, the day after the Eagles' 34-24 win over Washington at home on Monday Night Football. 

Sure, the Eagles had moved to 6-1 on the season but after already losing Chris Maragos and Darren Sproles, they suffered two even bigger blows. Middle linebacker Jordan Hicks and left tackle Jason Peters, who were both carted off against Washington, were done for the season. 

"We still have a lot of football left," Doug Pederson said on Oct. 24. "We still have a game this Sunday and the season's not over." 

Of course, Pederson ended up being right. The Eagles weren't dead. They continued to win, continued to get stronger. But he had to rally his team again a couple months later when it lost Carson Wentz to a torn ACL. 

Again, a lot of people thought the Eagles were dead. They weren't.

No matter how it happened, the Eagles' first Super Bowl championship was going to be something memorable. But looking back at it, the way they won it made it even more special. The fact that they overcame multiple losses that would have killed most teams makes it incredible. 

Owner Jeff Lurie realized it too. 

And in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, Lurie actually agreed that it would be special to win a championship with this specific team. 

"It would," he said at Super Bowl media night, six days before Super Bowl LII. "It would mean everything to win no matter what. But to win this way, I just think it would be a great message to the world that it's not always on paper. You can overcome so much and succeed in life. 

"This is the most resilient group of human beings I've ever watched or been a part of. I feel like that's a quality that really is incredible to have." 

As hokey as it sounds, Lurie's insight is worth remembering. What the Eagles overcame leaves a pretty incredible message of resilience. 

Of course, this all gets back to the underdog mentality and the masks and Jason Kelce's impassioned speech on the steps of the art museum. The Eagles used the idea that others were counting them out as fuel. They relished in the idea of doing something most deemed impossible. Maybe that made it all possible. 

But thinking about the talent they had on the sideline during Super Bowl LII — Sproles, Maragos, Peters, Hicks and Wentz — it's hard to not come away impressed that a team missing that many key players was able to take down one of the most impressive dynasties in NFL history. 

The fact that the Eagles were able to do it without those players probably has them thinking about getting those guys back for another run next year. That seems pretty possible; they'll get most of them back. 

But this specific team grew incredibly close and it's not hard to figure out why. Aside from natural chemistry, there's something about going through adversity that helps people grow closer. This team will never be the same, as many players began to note toward the end of the season. Some players will leave, while new guys will infiltrate the locker room. 

At least once they get those Super Bowl rings, they'll have them forever. And every time they look down and see it shining back at them, it'll serve as a reminder. The same reminder Eagles fans will get every time they think about their Super Bowl-winning team: It's possible to overcome so much. And if you do, the reward will be even sweeter.