stefen wisniewski

5 winners and losers from Eagles' spring practices

5 winners and losers from Eagles' spring practices

The Eagles wrapped up their three-day mandatory minicamp with a short indoor practice on Thursday and are now on a break until training camp in late July. 

In total, there were 13 practices this spring, 10 OTAs and three minicamp days. Of them, reporters were allowed to watch seven of them. I was at all seven, but this piece comes with the caveat that I was allowed to watch just over half of the team’s total practices this spring. 

I think by now you’ve realized that Carson Wentz is a big winner from the spring. Even without his play on the field, he got a huge contract extension with over $100 million in guaranteed money. And on the field, he’s been really good too. He’s looked so good, Howie Roseman joked he felt more pressure to get the deal done with every practice. Wentz, sans knee brace, looks healthy, he looks strong, he looks like the guy who had a near-MVP season two years ago. Wentz has been showing off his arm strength, touch and mobility over the last few weeks. He could be in line for a big season. 

Anyway, here are five other winners and losers from the last few weeks: 

Winners 

Dallas Goedert 

The Eagles don’t even consider Goedert to be a backup as he enters Year 2. They have two starting tight ends and are going to play in 12 personnel quite a bit this season. We started to see it last year, but in these camps, Goedert is always using his big body to separate the ball from defender. He’s a clear red-zone threat and will likely be used in that role again. Four of his 33 catches last year (12 percent) went for touchdowns. Expect more of that this year.  

JJ Arcega-Whiteside 

As the fourth receiver, I’m not sure how much Arcega-Whiteside is going to play as a rookie, but he will deserve snaps in the red zone. We’ve seen incredible body control from the second-round rookie this spring. It seems like every practice, we’ve seen him leap up and make spectacular grabs, using his basketball background and elite body control. He has been very impressive. 

Boston Scott 

The stout running back has looked good in these practices and has drawn comparisons to Darren Sproles. That might be a little premature, but it’s easy to see why. Scott is a short back with some cutting ability and ability to catch out of the backfield. Really, being a punt returner might be his best chance of making the roster as the Eagles’ fourth running back. 

Avonte Maddox 

Without Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, Maddox has gotten all first-team reps this spring, along with Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones. Honestly, all three have looked good, but I wanted to single out Maddox, who has thrived inside and outside. I found it interesting that at times this spring, he’s been playing outside in base and inside in nickel. I’m still not saying he absolutely has to be on the field as a starter, but he’s making a strong case. 

Andrew Sendejo 

Everyone was ready to cut Sendejo to save a compensatory pick and maybe that still happens, but I think he has a good shot of sticking around. He’s clearly the third safety and has consistently made plays all spring. I guess that’s to be expected for a well-rested 31-year-old veteran. When Malcolm Jenkins showed up for minicamp, it was Sendejo and not Tre Sullivan as the other starting safety in the absence of recovering Rodney McLeod. 

Losers 

Miles Sanders 

The rookie second-round running back participated in rookie minicamp but missed all 13 practices in OTAs and mandatory minicamp with a hamstring injury. It’s not the end of the world, but even Doug Pederson admitted “it hurts a little bit.” It’ll be up to Sanders to stay in the playbook and catch up quickly when training camp comes. 

Clayton Thorson

The rookie QB got off to a hot start, but really cooled off later this spring. There’s a lot going on for a rookie quarterback and maybe it just started to overwhelm him a little. He clearly has plenty of arm strength and his legs are better in person than on tape, but his accuracy hasn’t been great recently. All a part of the learning curve for a fifth-round rookie QB, I suppose.  

Cre'Von LeBlanc

It’s not that Strap hasn’t played well this spring; he actually has. But even without Darby and Mills, he still didn’t get any first-team reps. In the practices we’ve seen, all those reps went to Douglas, Jones and Maddox. LeBlanc played really well in the slot as a starter late last season, but he’s been relegated to the second team this spring. He’s the sixth CB on the roster.  

Shelton Gibson 

This time last year, Gibson had a tremendous offseason; haven’t seen that this year. I didn’t really notice Gibson too much all spring and then he got hurt, missing the last two days of camp with an undisclosed injury. Before the injury, guys like Arcega-Whiteside, Charles Johnson and Greg Ward were getting first-team reps over him. Gibson is a really good gunner on the punt team, but will that be enough to keep his roster spot? And, now, it looks like Mack Hollins will be back for training camp. 

Stefen Wisniewski

Wiz couldn’t find a starting job as a free agent so he returned as a backup here. Fine. But this spring, the Eagles have been using Halapoulivaati Vaitai as their first-team right guard in place of a recovering Brandon Brooks. And it seems like the Eagles are prepping Big V to play there this season if Brooks isn’t ready to go for the opener. Maybe this is just a case of the Eagles’ knowing what they have in Wiz, but it doesn’t seem great that he might not be the top backup guard.

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Eagles bring back veteran OL Stefen Wisniewski

Eagles bring back veteran OL Stefen Wisniewski

The Eagles are starting off Monday morning with a bit of good news: Stefen Wisniewski is back. 

The 30-year-old veteran guard/center tweeted on Monday morning a photo of him signing a new contract to return to the Eagles. The one-year deal can be worth up to $2 million with incentives, according to a league source. 

Not only is that a tremendous outfit, this is also a tremendous signing for the Eagles. Their biggest need this May was at interior offensive line and now they got back a guy who started in the Super Bowl for them a couple years ago. 

The Eagles on Monday morning announced the signings of Wisniewski and QB Cody Kessler. They released QB Luis Perez and RB Nico Evans.

Earlier this offseason, the Eagles declined to pick up Wiz’s option, a move that gave them $3 million in cap space and left $700,000 in dead money. It was one of the moves I questioned most this offseason because it left a void in depth at a key position. But now, the Eagles have righted that wrong and they've done it at a considerably cheaper price. 

It seemed like the Eagles wanted to give Wiz a chance to get a starting job elsewhere but when that job didn’t materialize, they welcomed him back. 

He’s never been shy about his desire to be a starter in the league, but Wiz will come back to the Eagles as a backup. Really, he’s proven to be a capable player in the NFL, so he should be viewed as a top backup linemen in the league. 

Since signing with the Eagles in 2016, Wiz has played in 46 games with 24 starts and he was the starting left guard for the Super Bowl run in 2017. Early in the 2018 season, he was benched for Isaac Seumalo. At the time, Wiz thought there were ulterior motives for that move and it was fair to wonder if there would be any bad blood that would prevent him from returning. Turns out there wasn’t. 

Without Wisniewski, the Eagles’ top interior lineman would have been unproven Matt Pryor. But now with Wiz back, he can be their top backup guard and center, so if Jason Kelce ever goes down, the Eagles won’t have to disrupt two positions on the line. And with Brandon Brooks’ returning from an Achilles injury, depth is certainly welcome. 

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Who's still left? Updating statuses for all Eagles' free agents

Who's still left? Updating statuses for all Eagles' free agents

The craziness of free agency has finally died down, so it’s time to take a breath and take stock of the Eagles’ free agents. 

So far, several Birds from the 2018 team have re-signed, others have signed elsewhere and plenty are still on the open market. 

Here’s a complete look: 

Brought back 

Brandon Graham: Graham never made it to free agency, signing a three-year, $40 million deal before the new league year. Just the first two years of the contract are guaranteed, but it was still a nice payday for the 30-year-old defensive end. 

Ronald Darby: He’s still rehabbing from a torn ACL, but Darby is back for the 2019 season to join a crowded cornerback room. His deal is reportedly worth $8.5 million. There’s some question as to whether or not he’ll be ready for the opener. 

Paul Worrilow: Worrilow didn’t make it to free agency either. The veteran linebacker was re-signed back in January. He tore his ACL early in OTAs, so he’s far along and could factor into the linebacker rotation. 

Nate Sudfeld: The Eagles slapped a second-round tender on the restricted free agent. It all but guarantees he’ll be back for 2019 at a salary just north of $3 million.  

Rick Lovato: The long snapper signed a one-year deal. He was an exclusive rights free agent. 

Jake Elliott: Ditto. Elliott signed a one-year deal too. 

Signed elsewhere 

Golden Tate: Tate talked a lot about wanting to win, but then cashed out with a four-year, $37.5 million deal to join the directionless Giants. He spent just half a season with the Birds, but will now see them twice per season for the next several years. 

Jordan Hicks: The Eagles would have welcomed Hicks back, but not with the deal he got. Hicks signed a four-year, $34 million contract to join the Arizona Cardinals. It includes $20 million guaranteed for the former third-round pick. 

Jordan Matthews: Matthews’ second stint as an Eagle came to a close when he agreed to a one-year deal with the 49ers. The Eagles brought back Nelson Agholor for $9.4 million and he will be their slot receiver. 

Nick Foles: The inevitable happened and Foles is no longer an Eagle. He got a huge four-year, $88 million contract with over $50 million guaranteed with the Jaguars. At least he left the NFC.  

Still available 

Jay Ajayi: He’s recovering from an ACL tear and had knee issues before the injury, but Ajayi might be a cheap option for 2019. We’ll see where he ends up, but the Eagles will at least know how his recovery is going.  

Haloti Ngata: The 35-year-old played better down the stretch, but he wasn’t worth the $3 million the Eagles paid him in 2018. Can’t imagine he’ll be back. 

Mike Wallace: For a while, I thought maybe Wallace would be back on a cheap deal. But after trading for DeSean Jackson, the Eagles have found their deep threat. 

D.J. Alexander: Alexander was a key special teams contributor when healthy, but he missed four games in 2018. He is a former special teams Pro Bowler, but the addition of L.J. Fort might not bode well for the 27-year-old’s chances to return. Still a chance, though. 

LaRoy Reynolds: Another special teams linebacker, at least Reynolds played limited snaps on defense in 2018. Wouldn’t be the worst thing to bring him back. 

Darren Sproles: Sproles is 35 now and his initial plan was to retire. We haven’t heard otherwise yet, but we know he was thinking about one more season. Doug Pederson said he would welcome Sproles back, but I wouldn’t count on that happening. 

Richard Rodgers: The Eagles might sign a veteran tight end to be their third behind Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, so Rodgers is still a possibility. But maybe the Eagles would be happy with Josh Perkins or Will Tye, who are already on the roster. 

Chance Warmack: The Eagles need depth on the interior of their line, but I don’t want to hear the collective groan from all Eagles fans if they bring Warmack back. 

Corey Graham: My guess is Graham finally retires. He was really close after the 2017 season and I think this time it sticks.  

Tim Jernigan: The Eagles didn’t pick up Jernigan’s option, a move that saved them $7 million in cap space. Perhaps they could bring him back on a cheaper deal, but Malik Jackson is definitely the new starter next to Fletcher Cox. 

Chris Maragos: A significant knee injury suffered in 2017 kept Maragos out all of last season and he needed another surgery late in the year. Heckuva career for an undrafted safety.  

Stefen Wisniewski: The Eagles declined Wiz’s option and will save $3 million because of it. He’s on the market and maybe he’ll find that starter job he’s been coveting since he arrived to Philadelphia.

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