Don't expect Eagles to land impact safety in draft

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Don't expect Eagles to land impact safety in draft

It’s a deep draft. That’s what Howie Roseman said on Thursday when he met with the media at the NovaCare Complex.

Roseman mentioned wide receivers as a particularly strong group. That thinking dovetails with the opinions of some draft experts who believe the wideout class is solid this year. But what other positions are deep as the draft approaches?

“I think offensive tackles are strong,” Roseman said. “Certainly up top, it’s a really good group. We always look a year ahead. We try to look at the quality. We knew that last year. We just thought Lane [Johnson], when we were picking, is a really unique guy for us, for the fit. I think the corners have some interesting guys in terms of height, length. Those are good groups. But we thought the middle of last year’s draft was really good and we thought we could get some value in that group. Every draft, it’s who you pick.”

Wide receivers. Offensive tackles. Corners. You might have noticed which position of constant concern to the Eagles and their fans that Roseman didn’t mention. If you’re among those who have pined for a quality safety since the Birds bid adieu (that’s a word of French origin that means “get out”) to Brian Dawkins, you’re probably going to be disappointed by the way this draft plays out at that position. Put another, simpler way: Don’t expect the Eagles to land a safety that will anchor their defensive backfield for the next decade.

For an organization that doesn’t often reveal its inner thought process -- particularly when it pertains to the draft -- Roseman was remarkably candid about the safeties that are available.

“When you talk about the safety class, I don’t think it’s a good group overall,” Roseman said. “I think that you’re talking about a drop-off, certainly, when you get into Saturday.”

Uh-oh. If there’s a drop-off after the first three rounds, that doesn’t portend a positive development for people who are desperate -- or at least hopeful -- that the Eagles will come away with a safety of note from this draft. Roseman, by the way, isn’t alone. The general sentiment seems to be that this year’s safeties aren’t so good.

And here’s something else you might not be thrilled with: To hear Roseman tell it, the Eagles are pretty pleased with the safeties currently on the roster. When you’re done screaming or hyperventilating into an Eagles-branded tote bag, consider what Roseman said in support of his guys.

“But when we look at our safety group -- obviously we signed Malcolm [Jenkins],” Roseman said. “Malcolm’s ability to fit into this defense and be a quarterback back there for our defense.”

OK. Maybe you wanted the Eagles to land T.J. Ward or Jairus Byrd this offseason. They didn’t. They went with Jenkins. That they like a guy they signed in free agency and openly support him isn’t surprising. But Roseman’s encouraging words and positive reinforcement weren’t limited to Jenkins. Which is the part that might bug you. Might want to grab that hyperventilation bag again.

“Earl [Wolff] and Nate [Allen], we’re excited about their ability to take a jump,” Roseman continued. “When we talk about athletic tools and what’s in their body, Nate is 6-2, 215, and he’s finally in the same system for a second year. You’ve got to be able to play fast. You’ve got to be able to not think. It’s very hard on a safety going through all those system changes, especially a young player who -- he was a quarterback in high school -- didn’t grow up playing the position.

“And then Earl as a rookie, I thought did a really good job before he got hurt. You talk about a guy who’s 215 pounds and runs a 4.4 [40-yard dash]. Unbelievable work ethic. Off the charts. We’re excited about those guys. ... That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t add if it’s the best player, but at the same time we expect those guys to take a jump.”

The math here is pretty simple. A thin draft class, plus the guys they have in house, equals probable disappointment for those of you who hope the Eagles will draft a quality safety.

Eagles pick up compensatory fourth-round pick from Browns

Eagles pick up compensatory fourth-round pick from Browns

The NFL announced the list of compensatory picks for the 2017 draft and the Eagles weren't awarded any.

They're still going to get one, though. 

Thanks to the trade with the Browns to move up to No. 2 in last year's draft, the Eagles got back a conditional fifth-round pick that has now turned into a fourth. 

Basically, if the Browns received a fourth-round compensatory pick, the Eagles would get it. The Browns were awarded two (Nos. 139 and 142), so the Eagles get one. According to a league source, the Eagles will get No. 139 overall, the higher of the two.  

This is the first year teams are allowed to trade compensatory picks. The Bengals, Browns, Broncos and Chiefs were each awarded four compensatory picks. The highest compensatory pick awarded this year belongs to Miami at No. 97 in the third round. 

The Eagles still don't know where they'll pick in the first round -- either No. 14 or 15. That will be determined by a coin flip next week at the combine in Indianapolis. They have eight draft picks in total.

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

This isn't a big surprise, but Jason Peters will be back with the Eagles -- big salary and all -- for the 2017 season.

While the Eagles approached the veteran left tackle about his contract in January, Peters has not restructured his deal, according to a league source. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Thursday morning reported that Peters will be back next season on his normal contract. 

Yes, Peters is expensive in 2017. His base salary after hitting another Pro Bowl escalator written into his contract is up to $10.45 million for next season (plus a $250K workout bonus), which comes with a big cap hit of $11.7 million. That cap hit is the highest on the team, but not outlandish for a high-caliber left tackle. 

The Eagles could have very well cut Peters and moved on. It would have saved them significant cap space to use elsewhere. They just wouldn't have found any player more valuable to pay with that money. 

Peters, 35, is still their best option to protect Carson Wentz's blind side. He made his ninth Pro Bowl in 2016 after playing all 16 games. The team hasn't been shy about wanting him back and Peters toward the end of the season said he wanted to return for another year. 

"We certainly want to have him back," Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said of Peters in early January.

“I love him. I want him on the team,” head coach Doug Pederson said with two games remaining this past season. “I don’t want him to go anywhere."

With Peters back, it means Lane Johnson's eventual trip to left tackle will be held off for another year. Eventually, he'll take over that spot … just not right now. 

During the season, Peters opened up about his future, saying he hopes Wentz can be the guy who finally gets him a Super Bowl ring (see story).