Jason Peters

Compiling most beloved Eagles team of last 20 years

Compiling most beloved Eagles team of last 20 years

It’s Valentine’s Day, so let’s get a little lovey-dovey with the Eagles. 

Looking back at the last 20 years, I wanted to put together an Eagles team with the most beloved players of the generation. I went back to the 1999 season, the first under Andy Reid for this list. So when you’re frantically searching for Reggie White or Randall, that’s why they’re not there. 

Now, a lot of the time, it’s pretty simple: The best player is the most loved by fans. But that’s not always the case. 

Here’s a look at the team I put together. If you have an addition or subtraction, leave it below: 

QB: Nick Foles 
It’s amazing to think that Foles nearly retired a couple years before he led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl win and took home the MVP trophy. But since he did that, he’s going to be a legend in this town forever. Many still think Donovan McNabb is the greatest QB in team history, but he was never universally loved the way Foles is right now. And I expect Carson Wentz to be a great quarterback, but it’s hard to imagine this love affair between city and player ever being duplicated. 

RB: Brian Westbrook 
This was a tough one because LeSean McCoy is the best running back in franchise history, but that’s not what this list is. When we talk about the most-beloved players, Westbrook is atop the list. He had a tremendous career as an undersized back out of Villanova, which only helped fans fall in love with him. 

WR: Alshon Jeffery 
No, Alshon hasn’t been here for long, but he helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl and played all of that season with a torn rotator cuff. He also consistently told everyone they were going to win. It became clear how much fans love him when after Alshon dropped a ball in these last playoffs, many of them rushed to his defense. T.O. is probably the most talented receiver we’ve had in town over the last 20 years, but he was as divisive as he was great. 

WR: Rotating cast of training camp guys 
This is kind of a cop out, but I wasn’t going to go through this list without a nod to the annual love affair with a relatively unknown wide receiver. From Na Brown to Paul Turner to Rasheed Bailey, these guys become huge stories in August, but never really have much of an impact when the games matter. 

TE: Brent Celek 
Zach Ertz is the better player, but everyone loves Celek. He missed just one game in 11 seasons and retired a champion. He sort of embodied that blue collar work ethic we all want from our athletes in this city. 

FB: Leonard Weaver 
Big Weave really only played one season with the Eagles before an ACL injury ended his career, but it was a great year. He was an All-Pro, but more importantly, he immediately connected with fans. Hard to be a fan favorite in one season, but Weaver did that. 

LT: Jason Peters 
This came down to Tra Thomas or Peters, but I gave the nod to JP. Although plenty of fans were frustrated by Peters’ nagging injuries this past season, the period of time when he became The Bodyguard was pretty cool. How many offensive linemen get fans to wear t-shirts with their nicknames? 

LG: Evan Mathis 
Things got contentious between Mathis and the organization at the end of his run, but he was a Pro Bowl left guard and was a really affable guy. For fans on Twitter, Mathis became a must follow for his jokes and wit. 

C: Jason Kelce
Yeah, he happens to be the best center in the NFL, but even if he wasn’t, he’s on this list. We all saw the speech. 

RG: Brandon Brooks 
I thought about giving this spot to Todd Herremans, who played a bunch of different positions, but I have to give the edge to Brooks, who is a part of the Super Bowl team and immediately became accepted in Philly. For those of you on Twitter, you’ll remember when Brooks got to town and slowly learned about Broad Street and Wawa. 

RT: Jon Runyan 
If Runyan played anywhere else, Eagles fans would have probably hated him. And it’s pretty funny he’s in charge of rule enforcement in the NFL because he didn’t have a pristine reputation. But he was a tough dude and played nine seasons with the Eagles and didn’t miss a game. 

DE: Hugh Douglas 
He didn’t have a particularly long career in Philly, but Hugh was jolly and funny and definitely connected with the fanbase. It should come as no surprise that Douglas has been working in sports media since his career ended in 2005. 

DT: Hollis Thomas 
Tank spent 10 seasons with the Eagles and parlayed his popularity into a career with WIP in his post-football days. 

DT: Fletcher Cox
It actually feels like Cox’s popularity hasn’t quite caught up to his level of play. Because he’s an All-Pro, one of the best defensive players in the league and it still feels like he’s not as beloved as other players. But if he keeps playing like this, fans are gonna love him forever. 

DE: Trent Cole
The lasting image of Cole in Philly will be his archery sack celebration that we saw plenty of times during his career with the Eagles. 

LB: Jeremiah Trotter 
The Axe Man! Trotter became a Pro Bowl linebacker, went to Washington for two years and then came back and became a Pro Bowler again. Then after one year in Tampa Bay, he came back for one more season. That’s three different stints with the Eagles and he was a fan favorite for a decade. 

LB: DeMeco Ryans 
Mufasa came in before Andy Reid’s last year and then became a favorite during the Chip Kelly seasons. The Eagles released him after the 2015 season, ending his NFL career, but he was a bright spot on a defense without a ton. 

LB: Connor Barwin 
I’m cheating a little bit because Barwin was an edge rusher in a 3-4 and then played DE in 2016, but he needs to be on this list. Few athletes go to a new town and immediately immerse themselves as quickly as Barwin did. He’s still raising money for parks in the city. 

CB: Troy Vincent 
Vincent came to the Eagles in 1996, but from 1999-2003 he was a Pro Bowler. He was so good for so long. He’s arguably the best free agent pickup in franchise history. 

CB: Sheldon Brown 
Lito Sheppard and Asante Samuel were better players, but Brown was known to get a huge hit here or there. His hit on Reggie Bush will always be remembered. 

S: Malcolm Jenkins 
I didn’t know whether or not to put Jenkins on this list because he was slightly divisive for a while simply because of his anthem protests; some people simply want their football players to play football. But I’m not leaving him off because of that. When we look back at Jenkins in 10 years, he’ll be thought of as one of the greatest players in franchise history and a guy who helped bring a Super Bowl to Philly. 

S: Brian Dawkins 
I don’t think I need to say much here. We get it. 

K: David Akers
Not exactly a ton of competition. Maybe Jake Elliott will eventually overtake him, but he’s got a long way to go. 

LS: Jon Dorenbos
Dorenbos has to be the most beloved long snapper in NFL history. He’s already well on his way to an impressive post-NFL gig and has been wowing again on America’s Got Talent. How many fan bases even know the name of their long snapper? 

P: Donnie Jones 
He’s the best punter in franchise history, but he was also a really likable guy too. Jones never took himself too seriously. 

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An updated look at Eagles’ salary cap situation and possible cap casualties

An updated look at Eagles’ salary cap situation and possible cap casualties

As we get closer to the start of the new league year, which begins at 4 p.m. on March 13, it’s a good time to take a closer look at the Eagles’ salary cap situation and some moves they could make to create more space. 

First, it’s important to know the 2019 salary cap hasn’t yet been officially set, but it’s estimated to be around $191 million. The Eagles will carry over around $6 million in cap space from the 2018 season, so their adjusted cap will be around $197 million. 

For now, according to OverTheCap, the Eagles have around $210 million tied up with their top 51 players, which is what counts toward their salary cap figure. As you can see, the Eagles are obviously set to be over the cap, but they won’t be that way for long once Nick Foles comes off the books. 

The Eagles exercised the option year on his contract, but Foles immediately told them he’d buy his way to free agency for $2 million. It’s a confusing contract, but know the Eagles will be cap compliant if Foles simply walks as a free agent. 

But if the Eagles really want to try some tag-and-trade scenario, things get even trickier. In that event, if Foles signs the tag, they would need to make sure around $25 million is cleared for Foles. Because even if they trade him, the Eagles still need to fit that salary under the cap by the start of the league year. They can’t trade him unless he’s officially on the team at 4 p.m. on March 13. 

So here’s a closer look at some work that’s already been done and some that might be yet to come: 

Nick Foles
We already said it, but it’s worth repeating. If Foles simply walks, it will clear up around $20 million with his salary. It would be awfully tough for the Eagles to create the necessary $25 million in space to possibly trade Foles, but not impossible. It is, however, just one of many hurdles on that route. 

Rodney McLeod
The Eagles’ safety, who is coming off an ACL tear, was set to have a cap hit of over $9.9 million, which simply wasn’t going to work. That’s why McLeod agreed to a restructure a couple weeks ago that took his cap hit from $9.9 million to $4.8 million. That’s a cap savings of over $5 million. Howie Roseman is good at this stuff. 

Jason Peters
The Eagles’ aging offensive tackle is set to have a cap hit of just over $13 million in 2019. The Eagles could simply cut him to save over $10 million in cap space, but then who’s playing left tackle? They could also simply ask him to take a pay cut, but not sure he’d sign up for that. And since he’s 37 years old, an extension to spread out that cap hit probably doesn’t make a ton of sense either. It’s a high cap number for an aging and often banged-up player, but the Eagles might not have a ton of better options. 

Nelson Agholor 
Agholor is set to play the 2019 season on his fifth-year option, which is a one year worth $9.387 million that’s not guaranteed. So the Eagles could move on from him and save that much money. But I still think Agholor is a great candidate for an extension. The Eagles could alleviate a big portion of his cap hit and lock up one of their better offensive playmakers for the next few seasons. I think it’s safe to say they don’t want him to be counting for over $9 million in 2019. 

Tim Jernigan 
For the 2019 season, Jernigan is set to have a cap hit of $13 million and I’ll put it at 0 percent he plays next season with a cap hit that high. It just can’t happen. His injury last year ended up removing all the guaranteed money (aside from signing bonus) from his contract. Because of that, he has no leverage. If he’s back next season, it’ll be for an extremely discounted price. Otherwise, he’s gone. The Eagles would have to absorb $6 million in dead money for his prorated bonuses but would save $7 million in cap space by cutting him. 

Stefen Wisniewski 
Wiz is set to have a cap hit of $3.7 million in 2019, which originally made me think of him as a possible cut, but the injury to Brandon Brooks changed all that. The Eagles could save $3 million in cap space by cutting Wisniewski, but they might very well need him to start at right guard early in the season if Brooks isn’t back. 

Jason Kelce 
While it seems like Kelce is leaning toward returning for another season, he has at least thought about retirement and I wonder if it has something to do with his contract. He’s set to make $6.5 million in 2019 but it’s all non-guaranteed money. The Eagles could cut him with zero penalty in 2019 or 2020. He’s 31 now, but Kelce is arguably the best center in the league and should be another candidate for a contract extension. 

Michael Bennett 
He might be 33, but Bennett ended up having a really good 2018 season and was probably the Eagles’ best defensive end. They’ll really need him to return, especially if Brandon Graham doesn’t come back. In 2019, Bennett will count for $7.2 million in cap space and will count for $8 million in space for 2020. All of that is non-guaranteed. Not sure about an extension because of his age, but if they don’t want to move on from him this offseason, that remains a possibility this time next year. 

Chris Long 
The Eagles would probably like to have Long back for next season, but he’s in the part of his career where he contemplates retirement every offseason. He is set to have a cap hit of $5.6 million, so if he retires, the Eagles would save some space. But they might just as well want to have him on the team for that price.

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Eagles Mailbag: Still confident Carson Wentz will return to form?

Eagles Mailbag: Still confident Carson Wentz will return to form?

The Phillies, Sixers and Flyers have taken headlines recently, but before you know it, everyone’s focus will be back on football and the Eagles. That’s the way it always goes. 

And you guys still care. 

I got a ton of questions in the mailbag (thanks as always), so let’s get into the first batch today: 

My confidence in Carson Wentz as a player has never really wavered. No, he didn’t look like an MVP in 2018, but he wasn’t that far removed from a really serious knee injury. Remember, it was an ACL and an LCL tear. Even Wentz admitted these injuries can take two years to fully heal. And even with that and then dealing with the back fracture, he still threw for 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2018. He actually had a higher passer rating in 2018! I have no doubts in Wentz as a player. We all saw what he was capable of during the 2017 season and I fully expect him to get back to that level. I think he’ll win an MVP in this league. I think he’ll win a Super Bowl. 

The only real question is the other one you asked. Can he stay healthy? We don’t really know. I think he can, but there’s no doubt there’s at least some reason for concern about his durability. The key, for me, is this: When you look at his injuries, they haven’t been soft tissue injuries. If he kept hurting his hamstrings or groins or calves, I could see a common thread. But Wentz’s injuries have been breaks and impact injuries. As long as he protects himself and limits contact, I think he can stay healthy, like when he played all 16 games in his rookie season. 

I’ll start this by saying I think the Eagles don’t move on from Jason Peters this season. Yes, he has a big salary and he struggled to stay healthy in 2018, but I don’t think the other options are as enticing. 

As for moving Lane Johnson to left tackle, I suppose that’s an option, but I think it was telling that they didn’t do that for the second half of the 2017 season when Peters went down. They like Johnson at right tackle; it’s where he’s become a Pro Bowler and where he faces some of the top edge rushers in the NFL. I think there’s a very good chance they draft an offensive tackle with one of their first three picks. Bringing in a tackle in free agency is a little harder because teams aren’t normally willing to let them walk, so to get one, you have to overpay. Think Nate Solder with the Giants. It’s possible, but more cost effective to draft one. 

I know the Eagles think quite a bit of Nate Sudfeld and Washington should be kicking itself for letting him walk out of the building to come to Philly. I thought the Eagles showed how much they liked Sudfeld when they allowed him to be their backup quarterback for the entire Super Bowl run in 2017. Sure, there wouldn’t have been much time to catch another guy up, but if the Eagles didn’t feel comfortable with him then, they would have made a move. At every checkpoint, the Eagles have shown how much they like Sudfeld. They brought him over from Washington, promoted him to the active roster to avoid a poaching and then let him be the backup through Wentz’s injuries. I think he’ll be the backup in 2019. 

As for the second part of that, I do think it would be a good year to bring in a developmental quarterback. Doug Pederson once said he would like to draft quarterbacks often and keep developing them. This is a perfect year to do so. The top two are going to be Wentz and Sudfeld, but the Eagles have three sixth-round picks. I think a QB would be good use for one of them. The guy in that range I like is Boise State QB Brett Rypien.  

Oh! I’m good. Thanks! 

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