On verge of Super Bowl, Eric Rowe responds to Eagles, Roseman

On verge of Super Bowl, Eric Rowe responds to Eagles, Roseman

The Eagles' season ended a few weeks ago with a 7-9 record. 

In a couple weeks, Eric Rowe might be playing in the Super Bowl. 

Rowe, of course, was the Eagles' second-round pick in 2015 and went on to have a promising rookie season. But in 2016, the change of head coaches brought a new defensive coordinator and a new scheme, which Rowe apparently didn't fit. So a few days before the season began, he was dealt to the New England Patriots, where he has become a big part of their defense. 

In his after-the-season press conference on Jan. 4, Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was asked about the trade and gave a somewhat curious answer. He said the team made the move because the front office had already determined they were not going to give Rowe an extension, even though he wouldn't have been eligible for two more seasons. 

If that sounded weird to Eagles fans, they weren't alone. It sounded weird to Rowe too, when the Wilmington News Journal's Martin Frank caught up with him this week. 

“That’s a long time away," Rowe said. "If that’s the reason, that’s really, really weird. You know, it’s whatever. If he thinks that, then I guess that’s what it was. They’re thinking way down the line.” 

Rowe, 24, ended up starting seven games during this regular season for New England but played just 43 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps. If Rowe played 50 percent of defensive snaps in 2016 or if he does it in 2017, the fourth-round pick the Eagles get back in the trade will turn into a third-rounder, so there's still a chance next year. 

While a third-round pick wouldn't be bad, the Eagles gave up on a young, talented corner just a year after drafting him because he didn't fit what they wanted to do. 

Shortly after the trade, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz called Rowe a good cover corner but cited the development of Jalen Mills as a reason why Rowe became expendable. Schwartz said he appreciated Rowe, but the personnel staff "decided to use him as an asset, and as coaches, we just deal with that and keep playing." 

It was pretty clear during training camp that Rowe had fallen out of favor with the Eagles. He was buried behind Mills and others on the depth chart, so maybe the trade was the best thing for him.

"That was frustrating, just kind of like thinking, 'What am I doing wrong?'" Rowe said to the Wilmington News Journal. "Yeah, I made mistakes, but everybody makes mistakes. I'm not making bad mistakes. I'm making plays. Why am I sliding down? That was frustrating times. I would just go home and my girlfriend's there, and I'm telling her all this stuff. I'd tell my parents, and they're like, 'Just keep your head up, just keep working because you never know. Then boom, the trade comes up." 

And now he might get a chance to play in the Super Bowl, while the Eagles desperately need to fix their cornerback position before next season. 

Eagles' top 5 players under 25 years old

Eagles' top 5 players under 25 years old

Recently, ProFootballFocus came out with a list of the top 25 players under 25 years of age. 

The Eagles didn't crack it. 

While the Giants had two players (Odell Beckham Jr. at 1 and Landon Collins at 5) and the Cowboys had three (Ezekiel Elliott at 12, Dak Prescott at 15 and Byron Jones at 25), the Eagles had zero. Not one. 

So that got us thinking: Who are the Eagles' best young players? Here are their top five under 25: 

1. Carson Wentz (24)
The No. 2 overall pick had a pretty good rookie season, especially because he didn't become the starter until there was a week left before the regular season. He ended up completing 379 of 607 passing attempts (62 percent) for 3,782 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He set multiple Eagles rookie records and finished with the fourth-most passing yards in a single season in franchise history. He also completed more passes than any Eagle or any rookie in history. 

Sure, his season had its ups and downs. After having a passer rating of over 100 in three of his first four games, Wentz didn't break the 100 mark again during the season. While there were some really shaky moments during the season, he pulled out of it and even led the Eagles on a game-winning drive. He's the future of the franchise; it's all riding on him. 

2. Jordan Hicks (24)
Through his first two seasons, the 2015 third-round pick has been a dynamic playmaker. He just always seems to be around the ball. In 2016, he led the NFL in interceptions by a linebacker with five. He's the first NFL linebacker to have 11 takeaways in his first 24 career games since Hall of Famer Jack Ham did it in 1971-72. Pretty good company. 

After the final game of the season, Malcolm Jenkins said he thinks Hicks will become one of the top linebackers in the NFL. Hicks is certainly on his way when it comes to making big plays. And he's definitely been a Cowboy-killer early in his career. 

The one area Hicks really needs to improve is in the run game. The pec injury that ended his rookie season didn't allow him to strength train as much he would have liked last offseason, so that's the goal this time around: get stronger to be better against the run. 

3. Jordan Matthews (24)
In his first three seasons, Matthews has caught 225 passes for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns. There are seven players in NFL history who have done that. The other six are Beckham, A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, Larry Fitzgerald and Randy Moss. 

And Matthews has been consistent, too. He has at least 65 catches and 800 yards in each of his first three seasons. He's one of just five players in NFL history to do that. The others are Beckham, Evans, Green and Moss. 

So, no, Matthews hasn't risen to the level of a superstar; maybe he never will. He still hasn't had a 1,000-yard season, but he's been a very good player and he's the best of the bunch of receivers the Eagles have. 

4. Isaac Seumalo (23)
The third-round pick would have spent his rookie season on the bench had there been no Lane Johnson suspension or other injuries. But Seumalo ended up playing in nine games and starting four. He played six different positions this season: right tackle, right guard, left guard, left tackle, fullback and tight end. The only position he didn't play was center, which might be his most natural spot. 

There's a really good chance Seumalo is a starter in 2017 at either left guard or center if the team decides to part ways with Jason Kelce.

Seumalo was the first offensive lineman the Eagles drafted since Johnson in 2013 and then two rounds later, they drafted another in Halapoulivaati Vaitai. He could have very well taken this spot on the list as well. 

5. Jalen Mills (22)
ProFootballFocus ranked Mills as the absolute worst cornerback in the entire NFL. That's a ranking many Eagles fans vehemently disagreed with. It's one defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz would very likely disagree with as well. No, Mills' rookie season wasn't great. There were plenty of struggles. But he's a confident and aggressive player who had good moments, too. 

As a seventh-round pick, he probably wasn't expected to play a huge role on the defense, but he did. He rose up the depth chart in training camp and then warranted playing time and forced a rotation during the season. Maybe his lack of top-end speed will prevent him from becoming a good NFL player, but if he can overcome it, he'll stick. 

Honorable mentions: Vaitai (23), Wendell Smallwood (22), Marcus Smith (24), Dorial Green-Beckham (23), Destiny Vaeao (23), Nelson Agholor (23). 

Eagles sign former third-round guard Dallas Thomas

Eagles sign former third-round guard Dallas Thomas

The Eagles have signed former Dolphins offensive guard Dallas Thomas to a reserve/futures contract. 

Thomas, 27, was drafted by the Dolphins in the third round (No. 77) out of Tennessee in 2013 and was with them until this past season.  

In his four-year career, Thomas has played in 37 games with 26 starts. He started nine games in 2014 and started all 16 games at left guard in 2015. 

Thomas (6-5, 315 pounds) and 2014 third-rounder Billy Turner were both released in October after a poor showing against the Titans. While Thomas was the team's starter at left guard in 2015, rookie Laremy Tunsil took over that position with the Dolphins in 2016. 

In 2015, when Thomas started all 16 games at left guard, he was ranked as the worst guard in football by ProFootballFocus. He gave up 10 sacks, 10 QB hits and 36 QB hurries.