Stay or Go 2020

Eagles Stay or Go: Breaking down the three specialists

Eagles Stay or Go: Breaking down the three specialists

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 their specialists: 

Jake Elliott

Roob: Elliott’s not going anywhere, but his late-season misses are a bit troubling. Elliott made his first 17 field goal attempts – only two longer than 43 yards – then missed four of his last nine (from 47, 49, 53 and 55 yards). They weren’t easy kicks, but league-wide in 2019 kickers were 54 percent from 53 to 55 yards. Elliott was 43 percent beyond 43 yards (3-for-7). The rest of the league was 66 percent beyond 43 yards. Elliott has been clutch, but his inconsistency is a tad concerning.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: In the regular season, Elliott was 22 of 26 and actually improved his career field goal percentage. And then in the playoffs, he made all all three of his field goal attempts in the loss to Seattle and is now 11-for-11 in his career in the playoffs. And the Eagles signed him to an extension during the season, so he's not going anywhere. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Elliott probably doesn't get enough appreciation from the fan base, but he isn't exactly elite, either. He's made a lot of huge, clutch kicks in three seasons, more than making up for the occasional game that's hinged on his misses. It's moot anyway, unless the 25-year-old suddenly becomes completely unreliable, because he just signed an extension. 

Verdict: Stays

Rick Lovato 

Roob: The dude can flat-out SNAP. Lovato made the Pro Bowl as a long snapper, joining Mike Bartrum and John Dorenbos as the Eagles’ third consecutive Pro Bowl long snapper. Hey, the Steelers have always had tremendous linebackers, the 49ers have a history of Hall of Fame quarterbacks, the Rams always have big-time receivers. The Eagles have great long snappers.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Good season for the long snapper. First, he signed a four-year extension and then he was named to the Pro Bowl. In the first year players voted on long-snappers, Lovato got the nod, which must mean he’s pretty good. I’ll defer to those guys. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: What can you really say about Lovato? No, I'm asking. The best compliment you can probably pay a long snapper is admitting you don't really notice his work -- it implies things are running smoothly. Anyway, he too signed an extension, and at 27, he could be around for awhile. 

Verdict: Stays

Cameron Johnston 

Roob: Johnston had another big year, averaging 46.4 yards per punt with a net of 42.3, which is 2nd-best in franchise history (behind Johnston in 2018) and very good for an outdoor punter in the Northeast, where weather conditions are often challenging. Johnston is the Eagles’ career record holder in punting average (47.2) and net average (42.5). His net average would be 12th-highest in NFL history if he had more attempts.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: He’s the only guy of the three specialists who didn’t get a contract extension. That might be coming. For now, he’s an exclusive rights free agents, which basically means as long as the Eagles want him back, he’ll be back. As far as his play, this season Johnson was ninth in the NFL in average (46.4), eighth in net average (42.3) and 13th in punts inside the 20 (28). He’s pretty good. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Eagles fans may realize it, but Johnston is quietly one of the better punters in the league, even if it hasn't produced any trips to the Pro Bowl just yet. Not sure what the hold up is on getting a new deal done. He's an exclusive rights free agent, so he's not going anywhere or anything. Still, the team should just lock him up for the long haul already.

Verdict: Stays

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Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Figuring out a crowded DE group

Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Figuring out a crowded DE group

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 defensive ends: 

Brandon Graham 

Roob: The Eagles are fortunate Graham, now 31 and 10 years into his career, is still playing at a high level. There were a few points in his career where it looked like B.G.’s days here were numbered, but he was the Eagles’ most consistent pass rusher this year and his 8 ½ sacks were the second-most of his career. He’s signed for a couple more years and if he keeps playing the way he did this year he’ll be here for both of them.

Verdict: Stays 

Dave: Another solid year for Graham in 2019. He’s over 30 now but is entering the second year of a three-year deal he signed last offseason. He’s never been a Pro Bowler and might never get there but he’s been consistently good and was good again last season. He’ll be back in 2020 and starting at LDE again. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: After a disappointing 2018, awarding Graham a big extension at 31 seemed like a questionable decision. He bounced back though, registering 8.5 sacks and finishing tied for ninth in the NFL with 15 tackles for loss. The new deal makes him difficult to move, but seeing as he's the club's best defensive end... 

Verdict: Stays

Derek Barnett

Roob: Three years in, we still don’t know exactly what we have in Derek Barnett. He had a career-high 6 ½ sacks and has 14 in three seasons. Not terrible production. Plays very hard. Great effort. Injured too often. Way too many penalties. Not a bad player but also not what you expect from the 14th pick in the draft. Barnett has been good and the Eagles need him to be better

Verdict: Stays

Dave: While Barnett had his best season in 2019, he hasn’t really lived up to being a first-round pick. He had an ankle injury that kept him out two games but managed to start 14 and had 6 1/2 sacks. He’s a tough player with a high motor who shows flashes of being a really good pass rusher. But the Eagles need more from him entering Year 4. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Some will say Barnett isn't living up to his status as the 14th-overall pick in 2017, and a penchant for dumb penalties isn't doing him any favors with fans. In reality though, he was off to a fast start in '18 with 2.5 sacks in four games prior to injury, and this season his 22 quarterback hits tied for 14th in the NFL to go with a respectable 6.5 sacks considering he missed two more games. Keep in mind, he only turns 24 this year, so if he can just stay healthy, there's a lot to build on here. 

Verdict: Stays

Vinny Curry 

Roob: Curry came out of nowhere to record four sacks the last month of the season and 5.0 overall, second-most of his career. He was really good down the stretch. He’s a free agent and not looking for a ton of money, he likes it here, and he’s played alongside B.G. and Fletcher Cox for most of the last decade. His future will depend on what the Eagles think of their younger pass rushers, like Shareef Miller, Josh Sweat, Genard Avery and Joe Ostman, along with Daeshon Hall, who tore his ACL late in the season. I’d keep him, but not sure there’s going to be room.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: I give a ton of credit to Curry for finishing the season as strong as he did. He had four sacks down the stretch and five on the season. He played a lot better than I ever expected, so maybe the Eagles try to bring him back. But if Howie Roseman is serious about getting younger and not hanging on to players for sentimental reasons, this would be an easy area to prove it. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: Curry's return to Philly got off to a slow start, but he turned it on late with 4.0 sacks in the final six games. A free agent, he would probably prefer to stick around -- the problem is he'll be 32 and the Eagles have quite a bit of young talent to work into the lineup. Not a fun decision for the front office, but an easy one.

Verdict: Goes

Josh Sweat 

Roob: Sweat was a decent rotational player and playing on a rookie 4th-round deal he’s cheap. Is he ready to be that 3rd DE behind Barnett and Graham? He played fewer snaps than Curry and by the end of the year he was playing significantly fewer snaps than Curry. Is he ready to become a more consistent, productive player? 

Verdict: Stays

Dave: We saw really good flashes from Sweat in Year 2 and I think the Eagles might actually have something there. He played in all 16 games and had 4.0 sacks and 10 QB hits. There’s a chance the Eagles could draft a defensive end but if they don’t, Sweat could be the third guy in the rotation next year. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Sweat's numbers -- 4.0 sacks, 10 quarterback hits, 7 tackles for loss -- were quite comparable to Curry's -- 5.0 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, 5 tackles for loss. The difference is Sweat is nine years younger and played almost twice as many snaps on special teams. Plus, he's still on his rookie contract. 

Verdict: Stays

Shareef Miller 

Roob: Miller never got on the field this year as a rookie 4th-round pick, and it’s tough to figure out where he fits in moving forward behind all the more experienced pass rushers on the roster. I don’t think he has a roster spot locked up. It’s going to be a big training camp for the Philly native.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: It was a redshirt rookie season for Miller. It wasn’t what he expected but I think the Eagles always had a minimal role in mind for him in his first season. Thinking back to training camp, there were some glimpses that he could be a good pass rusher. This will obviously be a big spring and summer for Miller but they invested in him and I think he sticks around. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Typically, it's a bad sign when a fourth-round pick can't get on the field at all -- Miller played two snaps all season. In this case, the redshirt year was expected. This can go one of two ways now. Maybe he can't play at all and gets cut out of training camp. If the Eagles' plan comes to fruition though, he may just crack the rotation in 2020. 

Verdict: Stays

Genard Avery

Roob: The Eagles brought Avery in for a reason, but he only played 33 snaps in nine games and didn’t even dress out for the Seahawks game. Avery does have two years left on his contract, and the Eagles gave up a 4th-round pick for him, so he’s not going anywhere. It’s just tough to figure out what his role is going to be.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Early returns on giving up a fourth-round pick for Avery weren’t good. He was even a healthy scratch in the playoff game. But he has two years left under contract and I can’t imagine the Eagles would give up on him so soon after parting with a draft pick to get him. And, like Roseman, I’m interested to see what he looks like with an offseason. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Avery was only on the field for 32 snaps after arriving from Cleveland, but Howie Roseman swears the trade was made for the future. Considering the kid basically had to learn to play a brand new position, the story checks out. He's 25 with sub-4.6 speed, so he's going to get a long look this offseason at the very least. 

Verdict: Stays

Daeshon Hall 

Roob: Hall had a big preseason and made the roster, then played sparingly – just 51 snaps on defense and 71 more on special teams. Then he tore his ACL on the last play of the regular season, so who knows when he’ll even be healthy. Considering the injury and all the other DEs on the roster I don’t see how he stays.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: It was tough to see Hall tear his ACL on the last play of the Giants game. He now faces a lengthy rehab with an uncertain future. He didn’t play very much this season after having a great preseason, so it’s hard to see the Eagles sticking with him. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Like many Eagles preseason darlings before, Hall couldn't convert August production into regular season playing time. Then tore his ACL in late December, making it unlikely he'll even be able to compete for a job. Of course, if he winds up on PUP to start 2020, he becomes an afterthought until November anyway. Here, but probably never reaches the field. 

Verdict: Stays

Joe Ostman 

Roob: Another tricky one. Ostman was having a strong preseason and looked like he had a shot at the 53 before he suffered a torn ACL during the open practice at the Linc. He’s got some skill, and his rehab seems to be going great, but is there a spot for him in this crowded group? You know what? I love Ostman’s effort and what he brings to the table so much I’m keeping him.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: The Eagles love Ostman and he was looking really good this summer before he tore his ACL. I think there’s a good chance the Eagles keep him around on the practice squad, but I’m not buying his chances to crack the 53-man roster just yet. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Ostman was making so much noise in OTAs and training camp, many observers believed he had a legit shot to crack the 53-man roster. Then he tore his ACL, ending his season. Undersized and not especially athletic to begin with (compared to his peers anyway), it's hard to envision his cracking a crowded field, one the Eagles may even add to in the draft. Practice squad material, maybe, but again, there are a lot of bodies here. 

Verdict: Goes

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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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