Ranking the Eagles' Free Agents

Ranking the Eagles' Free Agents

Believe it or not, the Eagles do have free agents besides DeSean Jackson. All together, 12 members of this season's club are slated for some form of free agency when the new league year begins on March 13. Some of them already have a foot out the door, while others we don't want to see the team live without. We break them all down here in this handy guide.

NO PRIORITY (AKA, GONERS)

12. Victor Abiamiri
A second-round pick out of Notre Dame in '07, Abiamiri missed each of the last two seasons with serious injuries, and has started just six games in his NFL career. They can't count on him to stay healthy, and he showed little even when he was on the field.

11. Ronnie Brown
You may recall the Eagles attempted to trade Brown to the Lions at the deadline, but the deal voided when they discovered Jerome Harrison had a brain tumor. Brown had fallen out of favor with the coaches after the backward-pass debacle, and his carries dried up in the midst of LeSean McCoy's breakout season.

10. Trevor Laws
Selected in the second round from ND one year after Abiamiri, Laws at least managed to stay on the field, but like Abiamiri, he never produced much. Laws had four sacks and an interception in 2010, career highs that teased he had finally arrived, but accomplished surprisingly little in Jim Washburn's wide nine this season.

9. Steve Smith
The Eagles never really needed Smith to begin with, and it didn't help he wasn't 100%. The offense could still use another situational target, but the front office would be better off finding a receiver who isn't recovering from major knee surgery.

LOW PRIORITY

8. Juqua Parker
After a surprisingly lengthy career in Philadelphia, Parker's playing time finally diminished last season. He could still serve as an effective situational pass rusher or fill-in, but with a pair of Pro Bowlers anchoring a group of young players, there simply doesn't appear to be room for him here any longer.

7. Owen Schmitt
You could make the case Schmitt should be a higher priority, only fullback isn't very prevalent in this offense. Regardless, he knows the system, and McCoy was effective running behind Schmitt in short yardage situations this season. There could be competition for his job, but Schmitt should at least be in the mix.

6. Vince Young
The vague idea Young could be back in Eagles green next season will undoubtedly annoy, but backup quarterback remains a question mark for this team. Is Mike Kafka ready to step into the role? Does a better option than VY become available in free agency? Young can't possibly have a firm grasp on the system yet, and probably isn't a perfect fit either way, but he's a year ahead of most of the other quarterbacks they could bring in, and he'll likely be around. Interesting dilemma that we'll be taking a closer look at in the coming weeks.

5. Antonio Dixon
Dixon is only listed as low priority because he is a restricted free agent. A solid run defender with a high ceiling, Dixon is coming off a torn triceps that ended his season in October. Due to his short track record, management should be able to tender Dixon at a level that prevents another team from swooping in for the steal.

HIGH PRIORITY

4. King Dunlap
All things being equal, keeping Dunlap could prove difficult. He has the size and athleticism scouts love, plus pro experience playing both tackle positions, as well as left guard. We've been critical of Dunlap in the past, but another team might view him as a potential starter. If not, you can never have too many offensive tackles on the roster, especially when they have his versatility.

3. Derek Landri
What a find. By the end of the season, Landri had become more than just some journeyman lineman -- he was a force. According to Pro Football Focus, Landri charted as the fourth-best defensive tackle in the league, and he was the fifth-most productive interior pass rusher with 18 hurries in 178 snaps. It seems he was a great fit for Washburn's scheme, so he should be interested in returning, unless somebody pays him to be an every-down player again.

2. Evan Mathis
Mathis might have come in at number one on this list, but chances are he will do everything under his own power to re-sign. Mathis had his best season as a pro, and spoke very highly of Howard Mudd and the organization, admitting he feels like his NFL career truly began in 2011. These things usually have a way of working themselves out, which is somewhat of a relief. Mathis played at a Pro-Bowl level, a big reason why the offensive line finally started to settle into a decent unit.

1. DeSean Jackson
It still feels like this offseason, the early portion anyway, boils down to what to do about DJacc. The consensus remains the Eagles will use the franchise tag, but as we discussed previously, what that means exactly is open to some interpretation. They need to decide before free agency opens though, in case they intend to pursue another receiver, because they can't fit both of their contracts. We feel Jackson will ultimately be back next season on the franchise dollar, but until it's official, anything can happen.

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons repeatedly emphasized at summer league he wanted to work on “everything” leading up to training camp.

As a point-forward who plays multiple positions, he has more than just one role to address this offseason. But what does “everything” entail? With a wide range of responsibilities on the court, Simmons is honing in on specific areas.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

Shooting
Simmons has been criticized for his reluctance to shoot. During his one season of college ball at LSU, he averaged 19.2 points off 11.7 field goal attempts per game (56 percent made). Over six summer league games (including both Utah and Las Vegas), Simmons took 22 field-goal attempts and shot 32.2 percent. He had less than 10 attempts in four of the games, and attempted 15 in the Sixers’ finale. Simmons attempted one three in summer league action.

While in Utah and Las Vegas, the Sixers encouraged Simmons to be more aggressive. At 6-foot-10, Simmons is able to get to the rim. Once there, many times he passes it off rather than finishing himself. The Sixers don’t expect Simmons to become a 30-point-per-game scorer, but he will be a key part of their offense.

“You always want him to be as good of a shooter as he can be,” Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said this earlier month. “It’s not going to be his strength. His strength is going to be passing, facilitating, playmaking. That’s going to be an added bonus, whatever the percentage or the number is.”

Dribbling
Simmons averaged 5.5 assists per game during summer league (second on the team by 0.3 dimes to T.J McConnell). Conversely, he committed 3.83 turnovers.

The Sixers signed two point guards this summer, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, and McConnell is returning from last season. Head coach Brett Brown said after the draft he does not plan to utilize Simmons as the primary one-guard right away as the 20-year-old learns the league. But early on, Simmons will have the rock in his hands plenty of times given his natural ball-handling abilities, especially when grabbing the rebound and running the fast break.

"I think it's the hardest position to play in the NBA,” Brown previously said. “I think to just give him the ball in that capacity is borderline cruel. He needs to feel NBA basketball. And maybe he evolves there." (See story)

Weight room
After college, Simmons put on 20 pounds from his training and entered the draft at 242 pounds. He stood out among the competition in summer league play with his NBA-ready stature. Simmons said he would like to get up to 246 or 247 pounds this offseason.

“Not too heavy,” he said.

With the size of a forward and the skills of a guard, the Sixers will be able to utilize Simmons to create mismatches both in the backcourt and at the hoop.

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

After scoring five first-inning runs on their way to a 7-5 win against the Braves on Thursday, Pete Mackanin decided not to tinker with the Phillies' lineup too much.

In fact, the only change will be at catcher. The struggling Cameron Rupp will get the start on Friday and bat sixth after Carlos Ruiz was behind the plate on Thursday. Rupp, who was one of the few bright spots for the offense in the first half, is just 5 for 31 since the All-Star break. On the season, Rupp is still batting .271 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs.

Aaron Altherr came off the DL with a bang, tallying three hits, including a two-run homer on Thursday. Mackanin has said Altherr will get a long look in right field and Thursday night was a glimpse of why. 

With Altherr's regular presence in the lineup, Cody Asche has been put on notice. After going on a tear from early June to early July, Asche is batting .094 (5 for 53) in his last 17 games. With Altherr and Odubel Herrera entrenched in right and center, Asche will have to get hot to stave off prospect Nick Williams, who seems to be finding his groove at Lehigh Valley.

Here is tonight's lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Cody Asche, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P

Temple football announces future series with Boston College and Duke

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Associated Press

Temple football announces future series with Boston College and Duke

Temple football starts its training camp next week, but the Owls have made another splash in the future scheduling department. This time, the opponents come from the ACC.

The program announced Friday it has agreed to future series with Boston College (2018 at BC and 2021 in Philadelphia) and Duke (2022 in Cameron, North Carolina and 2023 in Philadelphia). Temple also announced a game with Bucknell in Philadelphia in 2019 announced dates for previously confirmed future matchups with Maryland and Rutgers and 2017's season opener at Notre Dame.

The Boston College series is intriguing because it will be the renewal of an annual series from when the programs used to meet every year in Big East conference play. The Eagles hold a 28-7-2 all-time advantage over the Owls. Temple's last win against Boston College came in 1999 when the Owls earned a 24-14 victory. Of course, the matchup will be even juicier if former Temple head coach Steve Addazio is still leading Boston College in two years. But with the way the program floundered to a 3-9 record, earned just one win against an FCS program and went winless in ACC play last season and doesn't have a bright outlook this season, don't hold your breath that Addazio will be there.

The Owls have never met the Dukies on the gridiron.

Temple's non-conference slate this season includes home dates against Army (Sept. 2), Stony Brook (Sept. 10) and Charlotte (Sept. 24) and a visit to in-state rival Penn State (Sept. 17).

Friday's announcements come on the heels of an announcement earlier this month that confirmed Temple will play a three-game set with national powerhouse Oklahoma. That series is set to start in 2024.

Below is a list of dates for Temple's future games against non-conference opponents:
2017 – at Notre Dame - Sept. 2, vs. Villanova - Sept. 9, vs. UMass  - Sept. 16, at Army - Oct. 21
2018 – vs. Villanova -  Sept. 1, vs. Buffalo - Sept. 8, at Maryland - Sept. 15, at Boston College - Sept. 29
2019 – vs. Bucknell - Aug. 31, vs. Maryland - Sept. 14, at Buffalo - Sept. 21), vs. Army - Oct. 26
2020 – vs. Idaho - Sept. 12, vs. Rutgers - Sept. 19
2021 – at Rutgers - Sept. 4, vs. Boston College - Sept. 18
2022 – at Duke - Sept. 3, vs. Rutgers - Sept. 17
2023 – at Rutgers - Sept. 9, vs. Duke - Sept. 16
2024 - at Oklahoma - Aug. 31
2025 - vs. Oklahoma - Sept. 13
2028 - at Oklahoma - Sept. 2