Stay or Go 2019

NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles' safeties

NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles' safeties

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp continue the 2019 edition of Stay or Go, trying to figure out the future of the Eagles. 

Today, they look at the safeties. 

Malcolm Jenkins

Roob: After five seasons, three Pro Bowls, zero missed games, a Super Bowl and half a decade of leadership, it’s safe to say Malcolm Jenkins is an all-time great Eagle. Definitely headed for the Eagles Hall of Fame. This may have been his best year as he held it down as the only constant in a chaotic secondary. Hope he finishes his career here.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: It’s hard to imagine where the Eagles would be without Jenkins. He plays every snap, he plays multiple positions, he was the veteran force on a secondary that was decimated by injuries. He’s one of the most important players on the team. It’s hard to overstate how important he is. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: The heart and soul of the Eagles’ defense, Jenkins played every snap this season. He’s indispensable, both on the field and as a locker room leader. And in case anybody feels different about Jenkins at 31, trade or release only creates about $2 million in savings.

Verdict: Stays

Rodney McLeod

Roob: This is one of the tougher calls of the offseason. McLeod is really solid and forms a great safety tandem with Malcolm Jenkins. And he’s only 28. But he’s coming off a season-ending injury, he’s got that $7.5 million salary and $9.9 million cap hit and the Eagles need cap space. Will they cut ties with him? Bring him back at a lower salary? It’s going to be tempting to move Avonte Maddox to safety, cut ties with McLeod and clear much-needed cap room. Tough call. 

Verdict: Goes

Dave: This is a tough one because McLeod’s cap hit is over $9 million in 2019 and that’s a lot for a player coming off an ACL tear. But I think he and the Eagles can figure something out to keep him around. Losing him last season was a big loss. He’s still just 28 and has some good football ahead of him. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: McLeod is somebody fans might’ve taken for granted prior to this season, but you saw what a mess the secondary became after he went down in the third game. He provides a lot of stability on the back end. The Eagles only save $5 million or roughly half of McLeod’s cap hit in the event of his trade or release, so knowing what we do now, I would be real hesitant to move on. 

Verdict: Stays

Corey Graham

Roob: Graham played way more than he could have imagined when he re-upped with the Eagles a week into training camp. There was 4th-and-15 against the Titans, but as the year went on he played better. But Graham turns 34 before training camp starts and has 12 years in the books. I think he calls it a career.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: He was pretty close to retiring after the 2017 season but decided to come back and eventually played well in 2018 after that 4th-and-15 in Tennessee. But he made it pretty clear throughout the season that he wasn’t going to play much longer. I think he retires. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: Was solid as the Eagles’ third safety in 2017, looked like a 33-year-old defensive back in 2018. Graham simply doesn’t possess the range he used to, and the diminished athleticism got him into trouble a few times last season. He’s a free agent, and I imagine headed for retirement unless another team is in really dire straits. Avonte Maddox is the new third safety.

Verdict: Goes

Deiondre’ Hall

Roob: Hall barely played on defense — six snaps all year — but was a core special teamer for Dave Fipp and is under contract at minimum-wage $720,000 in 2019, so unless the Eagles draft a safety to play that fourth safety/special teams role — which is certainly possible — I’d expect Hall to be back next year simply because of his special teams ability.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: It was telling that even when the Eagles needed help at safety, they refused to play Hall. But he’s a big special teams guy and you need to have a few of them. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Played only six snaps on defense, which is kind of incredible given all the injuries in the secondary. But Hall became a major contributor on special teams as the year went on, which is apparently what the Eagles were hoping when they traded a seventh-round pick to the Bears in September. He’s under contract and inexpensive for one more year.

Verdict: Stays

Tre Sullivan

Roob: Sullivan went from the practice squad to barely playing to a key rotational d-back during the course of the season, and by the postseason was playing at a high level and getting than 60 percent of the defensive snaps while continuing to take a huge load on special teams. He really showed tremendous improvement as the year went on. These are the kind of guys you need on the roster — talented and cheap ($570,000 salary next year).

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Kind of a crazy season for Sullivan. He made the initial 53, but then lost his job when Hall came off suspension. But by the end of the season, he was back on the 53 and contributing on defense. The Eagles probably need some more help at this position, but either way, I think Sullivan has the inside track on a roster spot. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Sullivan was on the field quite a bit during the Eagles’ stretch run — surprising considering some of the bonehead plays he made earlier. Yet, by the end, he seemed to be doing a decent enough job. If nothing else, Sullivan will enter his second NFL season as a cheap backup with regular season and playoff game experience.

Verdict: Stays

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NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles' cornerbacks

NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles' cornerbacks

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp continue the 2019 edition of Stay or Go, trying to figure out the future of the Eagles. 

Today, we’ll look at cornerbacks. 

Jalen Mills

Roob: Mills is in the unusual spot of having to fight for a job a year after being a starter on a Super Bowl team. There are several reasonable scenarios where Mills won’t get his starting job back. Even if Maddox moves to safety, it’s possible to imagine Jones and Douglas outside and LeBlanc in the slot. But Mills is a tough, physical, experienced corner on a rookie seventh-round contract (cheap). At worst he’ll be a backup.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: That foot injury happened before the bye week and it apparently kept getting worse. As much as fans ripped Mills earlier in the season, he’s a Jim Schwartz favorite. It’s amazing to think he’s entering the fourth year of his rookie contract in 2019. As a seventh-round pick, he’s still making peanuts. Even if he loses his starting job, which I don’t see, he’s back. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Fans love to get on Mills’ case, but if you look around the league, he really isn’t bad. The Eagles have certainly shown a bunch of confidence in the guy. Now, I think Mills’ starting job is up for grabs after an injury-shortened season opened the door to competition, and if he’s the odd man out, an August trade might make sense with free agency looming. Until then at least, he’ll be in the mix.

Verdict: Stays

Ronald Darby

Roob: There’s no denying Darby’s skill. He’s only 25 and is going to have a fine career. But he’s also played only 17 games the last two years, and I don’t see the Eagles getting into a bidding war over an oft-injured free agent corner when they have an abundance of talented corners under contract. If Darby’s price keeps falling, go for it. Otherwise, I don’t see it happening.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Darby is one of the injured Eagles coming off an injury who it would make sense to re-sign. So if he doesn’t get a deal elsewhere and wants to come back, by all means if it’s cheap enough. But will the other young corners on the roster and with the chance the Eagles add a draft pick, I’m not confident he’ll be back. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: I never got the sense Darby’s departure was automatic. Yet, similar to Mills, his injury created opportunities for others to shine. The difference? Darby is a free agent. The Eagles no longer appear to need him, especially coming off of a torn ACL. Only 25 with a pretty good body of work, he should fetch some decent coin on a prove-it deal somewhere else.

Verdict: Goes

Sidney Jones

Roob: I still don’t know what the Eagles have in Jones, who we just haven’t seen healthy enough for long enough to get an idea what kind of player he is. My thing about Sidney is he’s 22 years old, he was considered a first-round prospect this time two years ago and it’s way too early to dismiss him. He’s going to be one of the most scrutinized guys in camp next summer. Excited to see what he can do.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: I wrote about it during the season, but it still holds true. Anyone who is calling Jones a bust seriously needs to pump the brakes. He was a second-round pick for a reason and missed his rookie season with that Achilles tear. Then he had a hamstring injury. He’s been hurt for what was really his rookie season. And I thought he actually played well in the nickel spot early in the year. Give the kid a chance. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: People need to realize this was essentially Jones’ rookie season. He played one game in 2017 after rehabbing all year from a ruptured Achilles tendon. Expectations are high, but the kid doesn’t need to be on a Hall of Fame trajectory after 10 games. Although the continuous stream of injuries is becoming concerning, Jones is turning 22. His critics should chill.

Verdict: Stays

Cre’Von LeBlanc

Roob: What a remarkable story. Went from the scrap heap to the practice squad to playing at such a high level in the by the end of the season that Pro Football Focus had him as the highest-rated corner in the entire postseason. LeBlanc really took ownership of the slot for the Eagles, and I don’t see him giving it up any time soon.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: LeBlanc was a revelation during the 2018 season. He was claimed off waivers from the Bears and played so well down the stretch, I think the nickel corner job ought to be his to lose. He’s making $720,000 for 2019, which is a huge bargain. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Not sure the last time we’ve seen a player come from total obscurity and absolutely lock down a job in such a short amount of time. LeBlanc was plucked off waivers in November, and by the end of the season, there was pretty much no question he’s going to be the slot corner in 2019.

Verdict: Stays

Avonte Maddox

Roob: Like Douglas and LeBlanc, Maddox just kept getting better and better each week. He had a tough postseason, but you could definitely see the ability wherever he played — outside corner, slot, safety. For a 22-year-old fourth-round rookie, his confidence and production were remarkable. There’s a spot for him somewhere next year. The only question is where.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: He started to get picked on a little in the playoffs, but Maddox had a tremendous rookie season. He played well at three positions as a fourth-round pick and the Eagles desperately needed him. He’s back for Year 2 in 2019. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Guessing the Maddox hype train lost some steam after hitting a rough patch down the stretch. Still, strong rookie season. A fourth-round pick once imagined as a pure slot guy, Maddox performed well on the outside, as well as at safety where he might wind up carving out a niche next year in a surprisingly crowded secondary.

Verdict: Stays

Rasul Douglas

Roob: If you asked me two months ago I would have thought Douglas didn’t fit into the Eagles’ plans. He was struggling, he couldn’t get on the field and you really wondered if the Eagles had wasted a third-round pick. But Douglas blossomed the second half of the season and looking at it now, I’ve got him penciled in as one of my outside starters next year.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: When the Eagles’ secondary was in disarray, it was Douglas who stepped in and provided some stability. Heading into Year 3, he’s earned the right to battle for a starting cornerback job in 2019. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Tired of hearing about Douglas moving to safety. For one, I’m not sure it’s a fit. More importantly, he’s a decent corner. Douglas looked horrendous when he was first inserted into the lineup last season, but by the end, he was the Eagles’ most reliable cover man outside the numbers. Finished the regular season with a team-high three interceptions and was fourth with 57 tackles — he only started seven games!

Verdict: Stays

Josh Hawkins

Roob: Hawkins was put in a very tough position in the playoff game against the Saints, forced to play significant snaps just a month after joining the Eagles’ practice squad and a week after being activated. Drew Brees went right after him, and the results weren’t pretty. I’d still expect the Eagles to give Hawkins a look during the summer. We’ve seen so many other young corners come so far under Cory Undlin Hawkins will get every chance to do the same. But he’s facing an uphill battle.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: I almost felt bad for Hawkins in the divisional round game. He got thrown out there and didn’t really have a chance. He should be back in camp, but I think it’s going to be tough for him to make the roster. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Not even looking at Hawkins on his own merit, the Eagles are actually deep at cornerback. If somebody is cracking this group, it’s probably not the guy who showed up in December and, when pressed into action against the Saints, was completely out of his depth.

Verdict: Goes 

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NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles’ receivers

NFL free agency 2019: A comprehensive look at Eagles’ receivers

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp continue the 2019 edition of Stay or Go, trying to figure out the future of the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Today, they’ll look at wide receiver. 

Alshon Jeffery

Roob: Although his season ended with one of the most disappointing plays of his career, Jeffery’s value is tremendous and goes way beyond his numbers. He plays hurt, makes big plays, gets into the end zone (15 TDs the last two years) and he’s proved himself to be a big-time playoff receiver (23-for-364-3 the last two postseasons). That $14.725 million cap figure is sizeable — ninth-highest among wide outs in 2019 — but Jeffery has shown he’s worth it.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: In back-to-back seasons, Jeffery has played through a torn rotator cuff and fractured ribs. He’s a gamer and even though the numbers aren’t mind-blowing, he’s consistently very good and the Eagles’ best receiver. He has a cap hit of over $14 million this season, but he’s not going anywhere. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Jeffery has always been great at the highlight-reel catches. In 2018, he was reliable too, hauling in 70.7 percent of targets — 18th among wideouts and 10 percent better than his career high. Jeffery also finished the regular season with more receptions and receiving yards than the previous year despite playing three fewer games. Forget the Saints game. He’ll be 29 and still one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL.

Verdict: Stays

Mike Wallace

Roob: Wallace had an unimpressive preseason, didn’t catch a pass in his first two regular-season games in an Eagles uniform and then suffered a season-ending injury. He’ll be 33 when training camp begins next summer, and I just don’t see the Eagles bringing back a 33-year-old free agent receiver. They need to get younger and faster here. Wallace made sense for a look-see last year but that ship has sailed.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Wallace wasn’t just supposed to be a replacement for Torrey Smith, he was supposed to be an upgrade. He never got that chance. He’s 32 and is coming off a serious injury, but I kind of have a feeling he’s a candidate for a prove-it deal. He seemed to like it here, the Eagles still need speed and they won’t have a lot of money to spend for it. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Impossible to evaluate Wallace, who played in two games before suffering a season-ending fractured fibula. His lone catch came in the preseason, and all his game action was with Nick Foles under center rather than Carson Wentz. Who can say whether he was a fit or not? That’s a problem. The Eagles need a vertical threat, but should let Wallace, 32, walk in free agency for the sake of getting younger.

Verdict: Goes

Golden Tate

Roob: I didn’t think there was a chance Tate would be back considering what the Eagles have at the position, considering the kind of contract he’ll probably be looking for and considering the modest production they got from him after the late-October trade. Then the Eagles fired WR coach Gunter Brewer, and it makes me wonder if Tate’s limited production and Brewer’s departure were related. If so, maybe Tate’s back.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Tate has been vocal about wanting to stay in Philly, but if the Eagles need to decide between him and Nelson Agholor, they’ve got to go with the younger player. There wasn’t enough production or even an understanding of how to properly use Tate. Also, I think Tate is going to be too expensive for them and it’s probably best to move on. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: Remember when the Eagles traded a third-round pick for this guy? Well, he finished with 37 catches, 342 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games (including postseason) — and now he’s a free agent. Tate is an outstanding possession receiver, and I imagine some receiver-needy team can outspend the Eagles to acquire his skill set. So, nice trade.

Verdict: Goes

Nelson Agholor

Roob: I’m not sure what to make of Nelly. He had an odd year. Had a lot of big plays but the final numbers weren’t where I thought they’d be. He’s only 25 and I still feel like he’s a weapon, but that $9.387 million salary is imposing. It would make him one of the 25 highest-paid WRs in the NFL next year. The Eagles could get out of it even though they already exercised his option. Curious situation. Going with the gut feeling here.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: He’s under contract on a fifth-year option year that will pay him over $9 million in 2019, but I’d seriously consider an extension for Agholor. Sure, his production was kind of up and down in 2018, but I still think he’s a player worth signing and he can be really good if they keep him in the slot. They could also alleviate some of that cap hit with a long-term deal. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: No way the Eagles are paying Agholor $9.3 million in 2019. However, an extension might be mutually beneficial. The club gets a lower cap hit this year and next, Agholor gets some security and a chance to earn bigger paydays in 2021 and beyond. Seems wise after two straight years over 60 catches and 700 yards, plus the fact that he’s under contract means both sides have a reason to work it out.

Verdict: Stays

Jordan Matthews

Roob: Matthews quietly made a nice impact after rejoining the Eagles early in the season, with 20 catches for 300 yards and a couple TDs plus a 37-yard TD in the playoff loss to the Saints. That’s tremendous production considering his $697,059 cap figure. If Matthews is willing to take another bargain-basement contract, I’m happy to bring him back.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Matthews came back and really contributed down the stretch for the Eagles. But the problem is still pretty clear. He’s best suited for the slot and that’s where Agholor plays. Perhaps he could be a depth player, but those spots are normally reserved for guys who chip in on special teams. He’s one of Carson Wentz’s best friends, but I’m not sure that’s enough. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: For better or worse, Matthews is a guy Wentz trusts — with Foles at the helm, he didn’t have a catch in three of five games. That rapport matters, especially for a young quarterback trying to rebuild his confidence. Matthews played well enough to get some calls after the big-name free agents sign, but he’d probably stick around if the Eagles make an offer.

Verdict: Stays

Shelton Gibson

Roob: Gibson had a 48-yard catch against the Vikings in Week 5 and then played 12 more snaps all year and even saw his special teams snaps gradually drop (112 first half of the year, 39 the second half). Which speaks volumes about how the Eagles feel about Gibson, their fifth-round pick last year. I thought Gibson would be a factor this year, but it’s tough to imagine him playing a role with this team moving forward.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: He turned himself into a pretty good gunner on the punt team, but I’m not sure that’s enough to keep him around. He hasn’t been able to produce offensively, even when the Eagles desperately needed a deep threat this season. It’ll probably depend on what happens in the draft. For now, I have him losing his spot, but that could change if no one gets drafted. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Not a good sign Gibson didn’t get a shot before the Eagles signed Matthews off the street mid-season, or over DeAndre Carter who isn’t even here anymore. The former fifth-round draft pick’s role even diminished on special teams as the year progressed. Not sure what happened here. Doesn’t matter. Gibson has clearly fallen out of favor.

Verdict: Goes

Mack Hollins

Roob: What we all thought was a minor injury — and what Hollins said was a minor injury — wound up costing Hollins his entire second NFL season. He didn’t play a snap. I do know Hollins when healthy is a very good special teamer, so I’d think he’ll likely be back at a minimum in that role. But I could also see the Eagles drafting a receiver or two, which could put Hollins’ roster spot in jeopardy.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: I’m assuming Hollins is still alive because I haven’t actually seen him in months. The IR disappearing act of Hollins in 2018 will go down as the Area 51 in the Eagles’ 2018 season. If he can get healthy, he’s at least a really good special teams player on his rookie contract. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: It may feel like Hollins is no longer in the Eagles’ plans after a lost season, but if he can get healthy, he’s got a spot. The 25-year-old was a major special teams contributor as a rookie, not to mention flashed some potential at receiver. Hollins could even be the deep threat this team so desperately needs.

Verdict: Stays

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