Actual News to Report As NFL Nears Trade Deadline

Actual News to Report As NFL Nears Trade Deadline

The days and hours leading up to the NFL trade deadline typically have not been very exciting through the years, but multiple teams have already tested the waters in 2011, and the Eagles could be next.

Last week the Seahawks traded LB Aaron Curry -- their fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft -- to Oakland, while in just the past 24 hours the Raiders have also acquired QB Carson Palmer from Cincinnati, and the Broncos shipped Brandon Lloyd to St. Louis. We're very curious how that will impact the Pro Bowl receiver's fantasy numbers, btw.

So far the Eagles have stayed out of the fray, but there are reports indicating some type of deal could get done before 4 p.m. today.

Naturally, Asante Samuel is on the block. Many thought he could become collateral damage following the off-season additions of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha, but he survived the summer and continues to man his left corner. Samuel is owed a lot of money over the upcoming two seasons, and likely will want a new contract to boot.

However, there should be no rush to ship him away. DRC hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire so far, and the picks that would come back in the exchange should still be on the table this spring. Samuel takes a lot of criticism due to his style of play, but he is without question one of the top cornerbacks in the game, and if the Birds are serious about making a run, they need to keep him for the time being.

Juqua Parker could also be on his way out, as Brandon Graham is finally expected to return from off-season microfracture surgery. The Eagles entered the season with five ends on the roster, but with Graham eligible to return from the Physically Unable to Perform list after Week 6, it's created a bit of a logjam.

Parker is the oldest member of the group, and will be a free agent at the end of the season, so we wouldn't expect to see him back anyway. The front office invested a ton in Graham, trading up to number 13 overall last season, so they probably feel compelled to get him on the field and see if he can return to his promising form.

Though rare, the Eagles are no stranger to deadline deals. In 2009, the defense struggled to replace Stewart Bradley at middle linebacker after he went out with an ACL during training camp. They sent Brandon Gibson, a rookie wide receiver from the sixth round, and a late pick to the Rams for LB Will Witherspoon. Witherspoon only made a couple starts at MIKE, briefly becoming part of the linebacker carousel before jumping outside.

Citing a large base salary in 2010, the team opted to dump Witherspoon after the season in a veteran house-cleaning project. Gibson has yet to materialize as anything more than a replacement level player, so the organization didn't really lose in the deal, but it is a good reminder of why mid-season trades in the NFL are both difficult and unusual.

After 'soul searching,' Jaylen Watkins in line for major role with Eagles

After 'soul searching,' Jaylen Watkins in line for major role with Eagles

Every morning on his way to work, Jaylen Watkins drives down Broad Street toward the NovaCare Complex and thinks back to his three months on the Bills' practice squad.

The former fourth-round pick out of Florida in 2014 joined the Bills' practice squad after the Eagles cut him last Sept. 5 in what he has previously referred to as a “humbling” experience.

“I try to never forget that moment because it was definitely a soul-searching moment,” Watkins said on Wednesday. “Anyone who is released or fired from their job, you have to do some soul-searching.

“Every day that I drive down Broad Street, I think about Buffalo and how far I’ve come and just not wanting to be on a practice squad again. Nothing’s wrong with the practice squad, but my goal is to be on the 53 and making contributions to the team.”

Watkins isn’t just on the Eagles’ 53 after rejoining them late in 2015. For the rest of the 2016 season, he’s also expected to have a major role.

After Ron Brooks was lost for the season when he tore his quad tendon against the Vikings, Malcolm Jenkins is the Eagles’ new slot cornerback. That means that Watkins, 23, will be the second safety on the field in the team’s nickel package.

That meant that he played 46 snaps against the Vikings after Brooks went out. And with how much teams pass in the current NFL, he’ll probably play a considerable amount the rest of the season.

“It’s something that I’ve been waiting for and I’ve just been patient,” Watkins said. “I’ve been waiting for this experience, so I’m just excited. This week was amazing for me. ... It was good for me this past week to be in the game plan and putting yourself in position that this could possibly be me on the first play of the game.”

Jenkins has said multiple times that he enjoys playing as the slot corner, but until Brooks went down, the team thought it was better off with him staying at safety.

With the secondary shuffle, what’s different with Watkins at safety instead of Jenkins?

“Nothing really man,” the Eagles’ other starting safety, Rodney McLeod, said. “It’s been a next-man-up mentality this whole year. ... Guys have a lot of experience back there. I don’t think we’re going to miss a beat. It’s obviously an unfortunate situation with Ron playing great. But Jenkins is ready and so is (Jalen) Mills and Watkins.”

Watkins was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round in 2014 and played just four games as a rookie before he was cut at the start of his sophomore season. He spent three months in Buffalo, where his younger brother Sammy is a star receiver.

When Jim Schwartz became the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, Watkins was moved to safety. He quickly asserted himself as the first option off the bench at that position.

And just like McLeod and Jenkins, he’s a safety with a history and knowledge of every position in the secondary.

“He’s kind of our Tyrann Mathieu a little bit as far as being able to play safety, being able to play nickel, being able to play corner, being able to play all those positions,” cornerback Nolan Carroll said. “A swiss-army knife if you want to call it that. For him, it’s just about continuing to get reps, continuing to be confident.”

Jenkins, McLeod and Watkins are so interchangeable, Watkins joked that sometimes they get confused because they forget which position they’re playing. According to McLeod, there haven’t been any communication issues between him at Watkins when Jenkins moves down into his role as the nickel corner.

Watkins still thinks about his time in Buffalo, but he also thinks he’s a much better player now than he was before he went there.

“Just more confident player, I would say,” Watkins said. “My coaches believe in me. My teammates believe in me. Now, I’m just confident and relaxed when I go out and play, making plays, doing what I did in college. I think I’m a much better player than before.”

Carson Wentz falls far behind Elliott, Prescott in Rookie of Year odds

Carson Wentz falls far behind Elliott, Prescott in Rookie of Year odds

Carson Wentz's Rookie of the Year odds took a hit, the Eagles' Super Bowl odds shortened and the Vikings' lengthened after Sunday's 21-10 win.

The Eagles are 33/1 to win it all, a week after being listed by Bovada at 50/1. The Vikings, meanwhile, went from 7/1 to 9/1. They still have the third-shortest Super Bowl odds in the NFL and are two spots ahead of the Cowboys (14/1). 

Wentz, who had his worst statistical game against Minnesota, is now 9/1 to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, according to Bovada. Last Wednesday, he was 6/1.

Wentz trails Cowboys studs Ezekiel Elliott (2/5) and Dak Prescott (11/5) on that leaderboard.

As far as this week, Wentz is favored to throw for more yards than Prescott. Wentz is 5/7 to outgain Prescott through the air in Week 8, while Prescott is 1/1 to outgain Wentz.

Elliott's over/under rushing total against the Eagles is 99.5. He's rushed for 130-plus yards in each of his last four games, and the odds are 3/1 that he'll reach that number again this week. 

The Eagles have allowed just one 100-yard rusher this season, Washington's Matt Jones (16 for 135).

Elliott is also now on pace to break Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record. Dickerson had 1,808 in 1983; Elliott is on pace for 1,875. Will Elliott break that 33-year-old mark? A "yes" bet pays 2/1; a "no" bet pays 1/3.