Stefan Wisniewski

Eagles failed trying to duplicate Super Bowl blueprint

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Eagles failed trying to duplicate Super Bowl blueprint

When you look at the Eagles’ Super Bowl roster, it’s remarkable how much of an impact older veteran acquisitions made on that team.

They were Band-Aids, but they were really, really good Band-Aids who all wound up riding a float up Broad Street.

Most were only here briefly. Most were near the end of their careers. Most are out of the league already or playing minor roles with their new team.

But they contributed in a huge way to the Eagles’ first championship in 57 years.

During the three-week period from March 10 to April 4 of 2017, the Eagles acquired Nick Foles, Stefen Wisniewski, Chris Long, Torrey Smith, Patrick Robinson and Tim Jernigan. LeGarrette Blount arrived in May, Corey Graham and Ronald Darby in August, Jay Ajayi in late October.

It’s no secret the Eagles’ drafting has been uneven since 2014. And uneven is putting it nicely.

But general manager Howie Roseman and the Eagles’ pro personnel department nailed those veteran acquisitions. The impact those guys made was enormous. 

Foles was Super Bowl MVP. Wiz started at left guard. Long was one of the team’s best pass rushers and locker room leaders. Robinson held down the slot and made one of the biggest plays of the postseason. Smith gave the offense a dimension of speed and was huge in the playoffs. Blount and Ajayi led the NFL’s No. 3 rushing offense. Graham and Darby were key parts of a top-10 secondary. Jernigan was a force in the middle.

Without those guys? There is no Super Bowl. There is no 41-33. There is no parade. 

The Eagles cut ties in some way, shape or form with every one of those guys, although they did bring back three of them — two of whom are still here.

Ajayi, Blount, Graham, Long and Smith are all out of football, although Ajayi hopes to play again.

Robinson is back with the Saints but is barely playing. Foles is hurt in Jacksonville. The Eagles brought Jernigan and Darby back this offseason, but both have been hurt and neither has been productive since 2017. Wisniewski came back for a bit but was released and is now with the Chiefs.

But the poor drafting has continued. The Eagles have drafted one Pro Bowler since the Lane Johnson / Zach Ertz draft in 2013, and that’s Carson Wentz, who didn’t even play in the Super Bowl.

The Eagles this past offseason again tried to use the Super Bowl blueprint, stockpiling free agents to offset the lack of homegrown talent.

The results have been dramatically different.

Consider these names: Paul Worrilow, Malik Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Vinny Curry, Zach Brown, Blake Countess, Orlando Scandrick, Cody Kessler, Johnathan Cyprien, Charles Johnson, Andre Sendejo and L.J. Fort. Along with Wisniewski, Jernigan and Darby.

Brown, Countess, Kessler, Cyprien, Johnson, Fort, Worrilow and Wisniewski are gone. Scandrick was released, then brought back out of necessity. Malik Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Darby and Jernigan have all been hurt. Curry and Sendejo are here but haven’t exactly made a big impact.

Jordan Howard has been fine and Hassan Ridgeway is eating up a lot of snaps at defensive tackle with Jernigan and Malik Jackson out. 

You can’t totally blame the front office for injuries, but when you rely on a 32-year-old as your speed receiver and he gets hurt, or when you rely on oft-injured guys like Darby and Jernigan and they get hurt, it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Some of these failed moves didn’t cost the Eagles a penny. Most of them did.

But the bottom line is the Eagles’ pro scouting evaluations this year have been nowhere near what we saw two years ago, and it's reflected in their record.

Instead of forming the nucleus of a Super Bowl champion, this year’s crop so far has done very little on a 3-3 team struggling to find its way.

Let’s take a look at the Eagles’ Veteran Class of 2019.

Zach Brown: The Eagles paid Brown a guaranteed $1.4 million and made him a starting linebacker. He was released on Monday. The full $1.4 million counts against their cap.

Blake Countess: The Eagles claimed their former draft pick on waivers in May and released him in August. He counts $180,000 against their cap.

Vinny Curry: The Eagles’ one-time second-round pick returned after a year in Tampa. He counts $2.1875 million against this year’s cap.

Johnathan Cyprien: The Eagles signed Cyprien early in training camp and traded him to the Falcons a few weeks ago for Duke Riley. He counts $151,764 against the cap.

Ronald Darby: Darby was a free agent when the Eagles re-signed him to a one-year contract. He played two games before getting hurt again. He’s only played in 23 of a possible 43 games since coming here. He counts $2.825 million against the cap.

L.J. Fort.: The Eagles released Fort after the Packers game, and he signed with the Ravens, where he’s now starting for the NFL’s No. 6 defense. He counts $1.335 million against the cap.

DeSean Jackson: Jackson had a huge opener against the Redskins but got hurt a few snaps into the Week 2 game in Atlanta and hasn’t played since. The Eagles do expect him back soon, but he's been ruled out for Sunday. He counts $3.164 million against the cap.

Malik Jackson: Suffered a season-ending injury just 32 snaps into the season. He’s signed through 2021 but will be 30 in January coming off a season-ending foot injury. Cap figure is $2.8 million.

Tim Jernigan: Hasn’t played since the Atlanta game but is expected back at some point. Cap figure is $1.25 million, but he still also counts $6 million in dead money from when the Eagles declined his contract option in March.

Charles Johnson: CJ2 had caught 670 balls for 834 yards for the Vikings, but he ultimately made less of an impact than CJ1 and didn’t survive training camp. Minimal cap hit of $50,000 in dead money.

Cody Kessler: He was supposed to compete with Nate Sudfeld for the No. 2 QB job. Turns out he can’t throw a football. Counts $127,058 against the Eagles’ cap.

Orlando Scandrick: Eagles released the veteran cornerback as part of final cuts then re-signed him two weeks ago. He counts $787,647 against the cap. Because his initial deal didn’t have a bonus, he doesn’t have any dead money counting against the Eagles’ cap.

Andre Sendejo: The veteran safety is a favorite of the coaches, but he’s made more of an impact injuring his teammates than anywhere else. He has a $1.3 million cap hit.

Stefen Wisniewski: Wiz’s first go-around with the Eagles ended with a Super Bowl ring. His second ended with $958,334 in dead money.

Paul Worrilow: After missing all of last year, Worrilow rejoined the Eagles in January but was released in August with lingering knee issues. He did work out for the Eagles recently so he could be back. Because his 2019 contract didn’t have a signing bonus, he doesn’t count against the Eagles’ cap.

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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 Injury Update: Lane Johnson now questionable vs. Giants

Eagles Injury Update: Lane Johnson now questionable vs. Giants

Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson has been downgraded to questionable for tonight’s game against the Giants in North Jersey. 

Johnson was limited in practice Monday and Tuesday, but initially wasn’t listed as questionable, so it looked like he was going to play. Now, that is apparently up in the air. 

According to NFL Network, Johnson has a high-ankle sprain and called it an “uphill battle” for him to play. 

If Johnson can’t play, Halapoulivaati Vaitai would start in his place at right tackle and then the Eagles have to hope Jason Peters (quad) is able to play the whole game. A few times this year, Peters has had to leave a game and Big V has come in for him. 

If Big V starts at right tackle and Peters goes out, the Eagles are going to really have to shuffle the line because they don’t really have another backup who can play tackle because Isaac Seumalo is starting. So unless they want to get Matt Pryor or Jordan Mailata their first game action at left tackle on the fly, they’d need to shuffle. It’s likely Big V would go to left tackle, Seumalo would go to right and Stefen Wisniewski would be inserted back at left guard. That’s changing three spots on the line during a game. Not ideal. 

As a reminder, the following five players were already ruled out for this game: Darren Sproles (hamstring), Haloti Ngata (calf), Corey Graham (hamstring), Nate Gerry (knee, ankle), D.J. Alexander (quad). 

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