Asomugha tops list of Eagles who could be cut

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Asomugha tops list of Eagles who could be cut

They have about a million decisions to make. None bigger than what to do with Nnamdi Asomugha.
 
As the offseason heats up with the Combine this week in Indianapolis, free agency a few weeks away and the draft in two months, the Eagles must determine if Asomugha, the one-time dazzling All-Pro corner with the Raiders, is salvageable.
 
Asomugha was inconsistent in 2011 in his first year with the Eagles but downright awful this past season.

He’s due $15 million in base salary in 2013, and if the Eagles release him, they’ll owe him the $4 million guaranteed portion of his base salary.

Asomugha’s $15 million salary cap figure in 2013 is not just the highest on the team, it represents more than 10 percent of the Eagles’ total projected available cap space this coming season.

Combine his astronomical salary and cap figure with his woeful play on the field, and it’s impossible to imagine the Eagles keeping Asomugha, who is also due $12 million each in 2014 and 2015.
 
If they release him, they’ll eat only the $4 million guaranteed portion of his base salary and take a $4 million cap hit. It’s a lot of money but considering the Eagles’ vast amount of cap space, not prohibitive.
 
If Asomugha’s play was even adequate, the Eagles could ask Asomugha to cut his pay to return. But Asomugha really represents everything that went wrong with this team last year, and it’s tough to come up any realistic scenario in which he stays.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, asked Tuesday about Asomugha, hardly gave him a ringing endorsement.
 
The question: Was signing Asomugha a mistake?
 
Roseman: “We were 4-12 last year, so there were a lot of mistakes that were made, and we’re very disappointed about the results.
 
“We want to make sure that going forward that we have the right fits for our scheme and fitting into our culture for every player on the team.
 
“At the same, we want to make sure we communicate with all our players and talk to them about their role when it’s appropriate.”

Which sure seems to be a nicer way of saying: “He stinks, but we haven’t told him we’re cutting him yet.”

Asomugha isn’t the only veteran Eagle in danger of getting cut.

Veteran defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins is due a $1.5 million roster bonus on March 17. He’s due $4.5 million in base salary, with $1.5 million of it guaranteed. So if the Eagles release him, they’d spend $1.5 million to save another $1.5 million.

Evan Mathis is due a $1 million roster bonus on March 24, but he was the Eagles’ offensive MVP last year and it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t fit into new head coach Chip Kelly’s plans.
 
Nate Allen is an interesting name. He’s due a $709,000 roster bonus next month to go with a modest $642,000 base salary, $575,000 of which is guaranteed. Not much of a savings. Do the Eagles consider him salvageable? We’ll find out soon.

One other oddity regarding the Eagles’ 2013 payroll: 2011 Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin, released during the 2012 season, has a $900,000 cap figure thanks to an accelerated portion of his original signing bonus.
 
Babin, now with the Jaguars actually has the 18th-highest 2013 cap figure on the team.

Thanks to their $23,046,035 in unspent 2012 payroll, the Eagles have a projected adjusted salary cap of about $145 million, since the unadjusted cap figure is expected to be about $122 million.

The players they currently have under contract have a combined 2013 cap hit of $126,680,602, although that number is certain to come down as the Eagles trim the roster in the coming weeks.
 
The Eagles’ 10-richest 2013 contracts add up to $68,316,625 against the cap, or nearly half their available cap space.

The list below illustrates the gap between the haves and the relative have-nots in the NFL. The Eagles have 14 players with a cap figure of $2.3 million or higher but only three between $768,000 and $2.3 million.
 
Here’s a look at the 2013 cap figures of everybody currently on the Eagles’ roster (with the exception of Dennis Dixon and Ed Wang, whose contracts are not yet available. Also: If a player is listed twice, it’s because he signed two separate contracts last year with the Ealges):
 
Nnamdi Asomugha        $15,000,000    
Jason Peters                   $11,042,000    
DeSean Jackson             $9,000,000      
Cullen Jenkins               $5,600,000      
Trent Cole                     $5,350,000      
LeSean McCoy               $4,940,625      
Jeremy Maclin                $4,553,000      
Brent Celek                    $4,531,000      
Todd Herremans            $4,300,000      
Evan Mathis                   $4,000,000      
Mike Patterson               $3,000,000      
Brandon Graham             $2,957,500      
Jason Avant                    $2,710,000      
Fletcher Cox                   $2,327,545
Nate Allen                      $1,242,000      
Mychal Kendricks           $1,010,101      
Mat McBriar                    $920,000         
*Jason Babin                   $900,000
Vinny Curry                    $768,598
Curtis Marsh                  $760,880         
Clay Harbor                    $743,225
Antonio Dixon                $735,000
Allen Barbre                    $720,000
Trent Edwards                 $715,000
Evan Moore                      $715,000
Riley Cooper                    $672,871
Casey Matthews               $663,716
Alex Henery                     $660,027         
Nick Foles                        $655,880         
Jamar Chaney                   $645,064         
Kurt Coleman                   $640,842         
Everette Brown                  $630,000         
Brandon Hughes               $630,000         
Nick Miller                        $630,000         
Dion Lewis                        $602,220         
Matt Kopa                          $588,333
Brandon Boykin                  $581,367
Jason Kelce                        $579,358         
*Jaiquawn Jarrett                $558,636
Dennis Kelly                       $527,220         
Phillip Hunt                        $511,668         
Bryce Brown                        $492,720         
Damaris Johnson                $485,000
Chris Polk                           $483,333         
Ronnie Cameron                 $480,000
Marcus Dowtin                   $480,000         
Stanley Havili                     $480,000         
Chris Hawkins                    $480,000         
Uchechukwu Igwenagu       $480,000
Trevard Lindley                   $480,000         
Marvin McNutt                    $480,000         
Nate Menkin                       $480,000         
Ryan Rau                             $480,000
Dallas Reynolds                  $480,000         
Chris McCoy                        $412,500         
Derek Carrier                       $405,000         
B.J. Cunningham                  $405,000         
Ron Johnson                        $405,000         
Matt Reynolds                      $405,000
*Keenan Clayton                  $116,698
*Mike Kafka                          $116,698         
*Marvin McNutt                    $74,172           
*Jordan Ford                         $8,334
*Uchechukwu Igwenagu       $7,334
*Charles Henry                     $5,834
*Brett Brackett                      $3,334
*Cliff Harris                          $3,334
*Tevita Finau                        $1,334
*Matt Camilli                        $667    
*Alfred McCullough              $667    
 
* -- Player Released

Last night's Union game against Orlando was pretty crazy

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Last night's Union game against Orlando was pretty crazy

When the Union played in Orlando last year, the game was a relatively dull scoreless draw.

And for most of Wednesday’s game between the two teams in the same venue, it looked like history was going to repeat itself.

That’s when the Kaká hit the fan.

Here’s a quick recap of all the craziness that happened in the second half of the if-you-turned-away-you-probably-missed-something2-2 draw:

  • Tranquillo Barnetta, inspired by a story I wrote about him a day earlier, scored his second goal this season -- both of which have come against Orlando

  • Warren Creavalle was taken down from behind in the box but no penalty kick was given and no red card was shown, leading head coach Jim Curtin to call the sequence “embarrassing”

  • Orlando City responded with two rapid-fire semi-controversial goals, scoring the first after Philly goalie Andre Blake was wiped out and the second on a shot Blake appeared to make the save on but the ref ruled was in (where’s goal-line technology when you need it??)

  • Ken Tribbett, the pride of Drexel, scored his first MLS goal after early collecting his first MLS assist -- after only being called into the game because of an injury to Josh Yaro

  • Orlando’s David Mateos was shown a straight red card in the final minute but Barnetta couldn’t convert a close-range free kick to win it

  • Fabinho killed a guy with a trident

To think all but one of those things happened in one half is pretty wild -- and that doesn’t even factor in several other cards, calls, no-calls and a pretty cool set piece the Union ran.


Oh, and almost lost in all the commotion, was the fact that Andre Blake gave us another memorable moment in a season full of them when he saved a first-half penalty kick from freaking Kaká.


In the end, Curtin couldn’t get over some of the refereeing decisions, particularly the no-call on Creavalle -- which, as you can see, was in fact quite bad.


Still, the fact that the Union escaped a tough place like Orlando despite the ref and while playing without three of their top playmakers (Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueria and Ilsinho) is quite a nice achievement that you would never have seen with past Philly teams.

It also moved their unbeaten streak to six heading into Saturday’s showdown between the first-place team in the East (your Philadelphia Union) and the first-place team in the West (the Colorado Rapids) -- who you might recall were two of the worst teams in MLS last season.

See ya in the rockies.

Opportunity with Eagles, talk with Le'Veon Bell has Kenjon Barner hungry

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Opportunity with Eagles, talk with Le'Veon Bell has Kenjon Barner hungry

Kenjon Barner is hungry, literally and figuratively.

After spending 2014 on the Eagles' practice squad and getting just 37 offensive touches in a crowded backfield last season, the running back is looking to carve out a bigger role with the Birds in 2016. DeMarco Murray is gone, and with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles away from the team earlier this week at practice, it was Barner getting the first-team reps. 

Mathews missed Tuesday's practice with an illness, and Sproles hasn't reported to the Eagles' voluntary workouts, which become mandatory from June 7-9.

So Barner, the 27-year-old RB Chip Kelly coached in college and traded for prior to the 2014 season, has had some opportunities to impress new head coach Doug Pederson. And Barner wants to make clear that despite his Oregon ties — he's one of three remaining players from Oregon that Kelly brought to the Eagles, along with Josh Huff and Taylor Hart — he's not only here because of the coach he outlasted.

"It's a great opportunity," Barner said, "just a fresh start. Go out there and continue to show what you can do, continue to make plays and constantly have your name in the coaches' minds.

"For anybody who says, 'Oh, that's Chip Kelly's guy,' no, I'm a football player. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't a football player. I wouldn't have gotten drafted if I wasn't a football player.

"It's not a chip on my shoulder. Yes I went to Oregon, yes I played under Chip, I love Chip to death, but I'm a football player. I create my own lane. I'm not gonna let anybody place me in a box and tell me what I am."

At 5-9/195, Barner doesn't fit perfectly into the box of a classic bell cow back. He's more of a Sproles-lite, a shifty back who can catch passes out of the backfield. He showed that last preseason, when he rushed 13 times for 91 yards and a touchdown and also caught four passes for 72 yards, including a 50-yarder.

That kind of backfield versatility is necessary in the offense Pederson brings over from the Chiefs, the offense Andy Reid ran for many years here. In Kansas City, Pederson and Reid utilized their running backs often in the passing game, just as they did with the Eagles. Even when Jamaal Charles went down for the year after five games last season, that trend continued with Charcandrick West catching 20 passes and DeAnthony Thomas getting some grabs out of the backfield.

"I fit whatever role they want me to fit," Barner said. "Whether it's catching balls out of the backfield or whatever it is. Jamaal Charles is a great back and if I can do half of what he's done throughout his career I'd be lucky."

Barner has patiently waited three years for this kind of opportunity. Mathews and Sproles are expected to be the Eagles' top-two ball-carriers, but both are getting older and neither is an every-down back, Mathews because of all the injuries and Sproles because he's more of a situational matchup nightmare. So even with the addition of fifth-round pick Wendell Smallwood, there should be some opportunities for Barner, who has done all he can to further his own development.

"Just older, more mature, more professional than I've been in the past," Barner said. "Understanding the offense, really going home and studying, really knowing what my responsibility is.

"For me, man, it's just about being mature, growing. I feel like if you're not growing, what are you doing? You constantly have to grow, have to evolve, not only physically but mentally. That's kind of where I'm at.

"I did take it seriously last year, but having the opportunity to go through what I've been through, go home and be with my family, have guys like (Chris) Maragos, I talk to him on a daily basis about football, about life. Sproles constantly being in my ear still — he may not be here but he's still in my ear. It's a lot of things coming together."

One change Barner made this offseason was to his diet. It came from a conversation with the NFL's best all-around running back, Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell.

"I had a talk with Le'Veon Bell back in January," Barner said. "I spoke with him and we were just talking about eating. I'm the type of guy that if I see somebody and I see a change in them and I see it's positive, I have no problem telling you, 'I like what you're doing, tell me how you did it.' I reached out to him because I've been seeing pictures of him and I've seen his body change. We came in the draft together and he's always been a big guy, but he hasn't been that cut, that ripped. So I reached out to him like, 'Yo, what did you do, what's your diet, what have you been taking, what are you doing and what are you not doing?' Just really trying to pick his brain. 

"I'm trying to be great. And if I see you doing something that's pushing you to the next level I'm gonna ask you how you did it. 

"I'm not gonna say I've been perfect. I'm just really big on sweets, I have a sweet tooth like no other and I can thank my dad for that — growing up he always had candy and snacks by his bed so I would always sneak in his room and eat them. That's the hardest thing, that's like my kryptonite."

Sweets weren't a part of the Chip Kelly regimen, that's for sure. But with the coach who brought Barner to the Eagles now in San Francisco, it's more on the players to keep themselves on track, both in the kitchen and with their sleep schedule.

"It's different, a lot slower, obviously," Barner said of practices under Pederson. "Is that good? I mean, you don't get as tired. But you're not in as good of shape as you were in Chip's offense. Chip's offense, you have to be in tip-top shape. So we're still getting there, still certain times when we're tired, times when you shouldn't be tired. So you have to do a lot of the conditioning on your own outside of here.

"Today, [Pederson] asked us who's getting eight hours of sleep. Everybody cares about it because you want your players to be at their best and you can't be at your best if you're not getting enough sleep, (but they're) two completely different people."

Let the bidding begin for Mike Trout, whom Angels must move at some point

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Let the bidding begin for Mike Trout, whom Angels must move at some point

Yes, the Angels are going to trade Mike Trout.

It may not happen this year or even next year, but eventually Angels GM Billy Eppler will accept the reality of the bleak future ahead for his franchise. Albert Pujols, who has five years and $140 million remaining on his contract after this season, has taken the baton from Ryan Howard for the worst contract in baseball. Good luck getting out of that deal. Other than the increasingly rare Pujols hot streak, they have nobody equipped to protect Trout in the lineup. 

The starting rotation has been patched together, with both Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney going down with elbow injuries early this season. Unless one of those guys comes back healthy, there isn’t a No. 1 or No. 2 starter on the roster. Theoretically, the Angels will have money to spend on the free-agent market with both C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver coming off the books after the season. But with Andrew Cashner and Jeremy Hellickson the likely headliners on the pitching market, a quick fix for the rotation seems unlikely. 

The 2017 free-agent market for hitters isn’t much better. Should Yoenis Cespedes opt out of his contract with the Mets, he could provide a potent presence behind Trout, but there will be stiff competition for his services and he’ll be in line for a massive payday. 

Toronto’s once-dynamic duo of Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista should be available, but both appear to be trending downward. Giving either player a long-term deal is a risky investment at best. 

Building around the young players in the organization isn’t a viable option. By all accounts, the Angels have the worst farm system in baseball. You can check out those rankings here or here. This is a franchise in dire need of an infusion of young talent. 

We’ve seen the Phillies in a similar situation with Cole Hamels. Once there was no way forward to win with him, the only reasonable option was to trade him. Even the most ardent Hamels supporters have to admit now that moving him made sense.  

Yes, Trout is only 24 years old and is the best all-around player in baseball. The Angels should certainly explore every possible option to build a winner around the South Jersey native, who is in the second season of a six-year deal that will pay him $119 million from 2017 through 2020. But the franchise is trending in the wrong direction. If they cannot honestly see a path to contending with him, they should look to move him and jump-start a rebuild. There will be no shortage of suitors. 

So ignore the notion that you never trade an “inner-circle Hall of Famer,” which Trout certainly is on track to become. He is signed through 2019 and the clock is ticking. 

Let the bidding begin.