Will the Eagles' Trash Be Another Team's Gold?

Will the Eagles' Trash Be Another Team's Gold?

When the report came in on Tuesday that the Eagles would not sign any of their own free agents, there was a little surprise in The700Level ranks. On one hand, the front office not-so-stealthily replaced practically every one of them in the draft in April, but after all, they have 15 unrestricted players. None of them will be back?

We're still not completely sold it will wind up that way, but the next question was what exactly is the organization losing? Plenty of teams have real good players and even bona fide stars leaving town. That's probably not the case in Philly. After the jump, we broke the departing players into groups, and examined whether any of them will be missed, or if perhaps the Birds are making a big mistake in letting some of this talent go.

Who Cares?
Antoine Harris, Bobby McCray, Reggie Wells

None of these guys made a measurable impact for the Birds, and most fans probably didn't even know who they were or that they were on the team to begin with. I would say they will soon fade into obscurity, but it seems they already have.

Won't Be Missed
Nick Cole, Omar Gaither, Dimitri Patterson, Ernie Sims

Where do we begin? Let's go with Patterson, who was exposed for what he is last season: a journeyman special teamer. Sims is what many suspected he was when he arrived, which is a replacement level player, and the once promising career of Gaither looks to have been derailed once and for all by a Lisfranc sprain in '09. Cole has had multiple opportunities, but never broke through, and became expendable after a decent season at center from Mike McGlynn.

Replaced
David Akers, Quintin Mikell

As was previously mentioned, Akers and Mikell were both essentially gone after the NFL Draft. Say what you want about the decision to trust rookies with key jobs at strong safety and kicker, but Mikell wasn't worth the $7 million/year the Rams gave him, and Akers is aging and has come up small in some big games in recent years. The Eagles should get on fine without them.

No Longer Necessary
Jerome Harrison, Ellis Hobbs, Max Jean-Gilles

A lot of people were really interested in Harrison staying, but believed he would look for a starting job. I don't think that's the problem at all, seeing as he likely won't find that line of work anyway. Sure, Harrison would prefer to be more involved, but the real reason he won't be back is he lacks value to the Birds. They didn't utilize him more because he is soft in pass protection, so they would rather move on and try to develop somebody who can get help in that area.

Jean-Gilles is the prototypical mid-round lineman for the Eagles, who bides his time as a reserve then goes on to become a roughly average starter for some below-.500 club. He could be a serviceable backup, but obviously Danny Watkins is expected to hold down the right guard spot.

Hobbs can't be counted on after sustaining a serious neck injury, and once the Eagles acquire another corner, that player will join Asante Samuel, Joselio Hanson, Trevard Lindley, and rookie Curtis Marsh in a suddenly crowded defensive backfield.

Have Value
Stewart Bradley, Akeem Jordan, Sav Rocca

We're still not prepared to write off these guys, at least not two of them. Jordan makes the list because he was the team's top contributor on special teams last season, and he has defensive experience as well. While it would make sense to bring him back, the Eagles often let this type of player walk, like Tracy White a couple years ago.

We would not be as quick to let Bradley leave town though. As has been noted several times and from many different outlets, the linebacker corps is extremely green if Stew B departs. Granted he did not have a very good season coming off of an ACL tear in 2010, but there is still a chance he can be an effective linebacker in the NFL. Once Bradley has tested the market and finds there aren't many front offices willing to offer an oft-injured player long term contracts, maybe the Eagles will bring him back after all.

On the other hand, after first theorizing Rocca could be brought back, we wonder if the Eagles won't cut ties with their punter of three seasons. While last year was his best, showing he has improved and can be more consistent, he's also old (37) and likely wants to be paid fairly well for being merely a punter. Plenty of time for minds to change, but don't be surprised if they give the undrafted, Ray Guy Award winner Chas Henry a real shot to win the job.

In the end, do the Eagles truly require the services of any of these players? A case could be built for Bradley, but that's about it. It's not often they lose a quality, young player to free agency, so obviously we're not talking about anybody they weren't prepared to part with.

Flyers and Brayden Schenn to go to arbitration

Flyers and Brayden Schenn to go to arbitration

Barring an 11th-hour settlement, the Flyers will go to arbitration on Monday against swing forward Brayden Schenn.
 
The hearing is slated for 9 a.m.
 
The two sides are more than $1 million apart with no progress having been made over this past weekend.
 
“We will probably go to arbitration,” Don Meehan, the agent for Schenn, said Sunday.
 
Flyers general manager Ron Hextall seemed to concur.
 
“I’m not overly optimistic,” he said about avoiding arbitration.
 
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto filed last summer but signed without going to a hearing.
 
The 24-year-old Schenn is the highest-profile Flyer to get this far without signing since John LeClair back in 2000. He received $7 million — the highest one-year award ever.
 
By filing on July 5, Meehan assured his client will get a contract. The Flyers’ qualified Schenn, who earned $2.75 million last season, on June 30.
 
He is a restricted free agent, who could earn close to $5 million a season on his next deal. And that’s the sticky part.
 
Sources said the Flyers offered a two-year deal that would pay Schenn $4.25 million this coming season and $4.369 million in 2017-18 (see story). That’s an AAV of $4.30 million.
 
Meehan wants $5.50 million, which is excessively high given Schenn’s seven-year career thus far.
 
At the same time, if you look at the some of the RFA signings this summer, as Meehan surely has, the comparable numbers would suggest Schenn is worth slightly more than what the Flyers have offered.
 
Two examples here: New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri, a 25-year-old right wing, signed a five-year deal earlier this month worth $23.25 million. His AAV is $4.65 million. That’s the correct ballpark for Schenn.
 
Schenn had his most productive year last season with career-highs in goals (26), assists (33) and points (59) while proving he can play the wing on Claude Giroux’s line with Wayne Simmonds on the right side.
 
Palmieri had career-highs as well in goals (30), assists (27) and points (57).
 
Problem is, the other end of the spectrum, where Jaden Schwartz of the St. Louis Blues sits.
 
The 24-year-old center recently signed a five-year, $26.5 million deal as an RFA with an AAV of $5.35 million. That’s far higher than Hextall wants to go with Schenn at this point.
 
A fractured ankle and subsequent surgery ruined Schwartz’ past season (33 games played), but Blues’ general manager Doug Armstrong looked at what Schwartz accomplished two years ago — career-highs with 28 goals, 35 assists and 63 points – and used that as a barometer for the future.
 
That deal hurts the Flyers here with Schenn.
 
Hextall’s offer suggests the Flyers want Schenn to prove he’s a $5 million player, which means show the Flyers 30 goals and 70 points this season.
 
Schenn finished second in goals to Simmonds (32) and third in points behind Giroux (67) and Simmonds (60) last season.
 
The arbitrator should be able to locate a fair medium. Expect Meehan to ask for a one-year award only.

The 38 Eagles who will take the field Monday at training camp

The 38 Eagles who will take the field Monday at training camp

As training camp kicks off Monday morning, 38 Eagles will be in attendance: quarterbacks, rookies and select vets. 

All four quarterbacks will be on the field when practice kicks off at 8:40 a.m., but most of those 38 are rookies. The rest of the team will report to camp on Wednesday, followed by Thursday's full-team practice in the afternoon. 

It's not hard to figure out why some of the select vets are in camp early. Cody Parkey, Nolan Carroll and JaCorey Shepherd are all veterans coming off of injuries. 

This is also the first time we will see rookies Isaac Seumalo, Aziz Shittu and Byron Marshall, who were all at rookie camp, but missed OTAs because of the NCAA graduation rule. 

Here's the full list of 38 who will be on the field Monday morning: 

K Cody Parkey
QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson
QB Sam Bradford
QB Chase Daniel
QB Carson Wentz
WR Hunter Sharp
CB Nolan Carroll
S Nick Perry
RB Wendell Smallwood
S Blake Countess
CB Jalen Mills
RB Cedric O'Neal
CB JaCorey Shepherd
CB C.J. Smith
CB Aaron Grymes
RB Byron Marshall
CB Randall Evans
LB Myke Tavarres
LB Don Cherry
LS John DePalma
LB Quentin Gause
DE Alex McCalister
LB Travis Long
LB Joe Walker
DT Aziz Shittu
C Bruce Johnson
G Dillon Gordon
T Halapoulivaati Vaitai
G Isaac Seumalo
G Malcolm Bunche
DT Connor Wujciak
DT Destiny Vaeao
G Darrell Greene
WR Paul Turner
TE M.J. McFarland
WR Marcus Johnson
WR Cayleb Jones
WR Xavier Rush

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.