Eagles' early signings fit Howie Roseman's plan


Eagles' early signings fit Howie Roseman's plan

Howie Roseman told the truth. He cautioned about expecting the Eagles to splurge on Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward. He insisted free agency would be a patch-filling tool, not a foundation-building mechanism. He spoke on the virtues of rewarding those from within the NovaCare as opposed to outside.

His moves so far reflected those tenets.

Roseman, the Eagles’ general manager, continued the refurbishing of the 2014 Eagles on Tuesday by landing the proven safety they desperately needed in Malcolm Jenkins and re-signing punter Donnie Jones. On Wednesday morning, he added safety/special teams maven Chris Maragos.

Jenkins fills an immediate void and will start right away. Jones was a key component of last year’s worst-to-first team under coach Chip Kelly. Maragos can replace Colt Anderson and has upside the team likes.

None of the additions were considered premier players at their position on the open market, and the Eagles didn’t have to stretch their wallet to haul them in. Jenkins signed a three-year deal worth $16.5 million, with $8.5 guaranteed. Jones is back on a three-year deal worth $5.5 million. Maragos’ three-year deal can max out at $5.3 million.

It used to be an annual occurrence on the first day of free agency, the Eagles' making a big announcement about a major free-agent haul, from Jevon Kearse to Asante Samuel to Nnamdi Asomugha. But for the past two seasons Roseman has let other teams win the first-day free agency championship. 

The Bucs and Bears made big splashes within minutes of the 4 p.m. start of the league year and the Saints gave a stunning $54 million to Byrd, but the Eagles had already made their most significant transactions in the preceding 10 days, when they extended the contracts of center Jason Kelce and left tackle Jason Peters and re-signing potential free agents Riley Cooper, Jeremy Maclin and Cedric Thornton.

By not blowing a cash cow on Day 1, as Roseman hinted that he wouldn’t do, the Eagles have enough funds to continue upgrading as free agency goes on, when the market settles and bloated price tags lose some weight.

And that’s good, because Roseman still has some work that remains.

Upgrades to the pass rush and kicking game can also come at the right price, much like Connor Barwin joined last offseason after the first-day signing flurry had subsided. If they’re seeking a mid-level receiver to replace Jason Avant, the Birds will have plenty to choose from. 

And, of course, there’s Darrelle Revis, the All-Pro cornerback whom the Eagles were connected to in an ESPN report Tuesday morning. Revis is expected to be released Wednesday if the Bucs can’t trade him.

It just doesn’t seem like the Eagles are done.

There wasn’t much buzz Tuesday around Mike Neal, the versatile outside linebacker from Green Bay whom the Birds could use, or around Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka, another potential upgrade over what the Eagles currently have.

Whatever sculpting remains for Roseman in the coming days, he has the cap flexibility to chisel away judiciously after passing on the market’s top commodities and going the economical route that he believes is the best formula for building an annual contender.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Jenkins isn’t a franchise-changing safety and doesn’t come off an overly thrilling 2013, but he’s an upgrade for an Eagles defense that sorely lacked durable, consistent safety play last year.

Jenkins can slide right into the starting spot next to second-year pro Earl Wolff, and his contract is structured in a way that won’t preclude Roseman from drafting another safety early if he’s the best player available when they pick.

It would have been hard for Roseman to make more enhancements for this year and have an eye on extensions for Nick Foles, Brandon Boykin, Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks next offseason if he had succumbed to the temptations of Byrd, who claimed $54 million from the Saints, with a staggering $28 million guaranteed.

Maybe Jenkins didn’t produce that statistics that warranted his 14th overall selection in 2009, but the market this year went batty compared to last year’s modest free-agent opener, so Jenkins probably would have commanded way more coin if he had anywhere near the 22 interceptions Byrd has since 2009.

Donte Whitner, another former Ohio State safety, went home to Cleveland for $7 million per year. Perhaps the Browns misread his birth date and thought he was 18, not 28. Denver gave Ward  just under $6 million per year and one-year Panthers wonder Mike Mitchell secured a five-year $25 million contract from the Steelers.

The thriftier spending on Jenkins falls in line with Roseman’s belief that winning free agency doesn’t equate to winning Super Bowls.

Time will tell if he’s right.

Eagles Injury Update: Logan, Ron Brooks, McKelvin questionable

Eagles Injury Update: Logan, Ron Brooks, McKelvin questionable

Bennie Logan will miss practice again on Friday, but after sitting all week, will still be listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Vikings.

While it seems unlikely Logan will be able to play, head coach Doug Pederson said the starting defensive tackle will be a game-time decision.

“The chance to possibly work him ouct game day and just see where he’s at,” Pederson said. “It’s groin strain, so we just have to be careful with it and be smart with it and how we handle him.” 

If Logan can’t play, reserve Beau Allen would get just his third career start. 

“I’ll tell you, Beau was honestly one of the bright spots last week,” Pederson said. 

Along with Logan, Ron Brooks (calf), Leodis McKelvin (hamstring) and Mychal Kendricks (ribs) will also be listed as questionable, according to Pederson. 

Pederson said Allen Barbre (ankle), Jason Kelce (foot), Jordan Matthews (knee tendinitis), Rodney McLeod (shoulder) and Marcus Smith (groin) should all be fine for Sunday’s game. 

McKelvin missed last week with the same hamstring that kept him out for Weeks 2 and 3 and forced him to leave the Lions game early. He has practiced in full all week. 

If Brooks, who was limited on Thursday, can’t play, the Eagles would be without their slot corner. That means Malcolm Jenkins would play the slot in the nickel package and Jaylen Watkins could come on the field as a safety.

While Kelce should be OK for the game, he did miss Wednesday’s practice with plantar fasciitis in his foot. 

Will that bother Kelce for the rest of the season? 

“It’s just a nagging deal,” Pederson said. “It’s kind of a sore … Again, I don’t know much about it. You can refer to it as a stone bruise, whatever you want to refer to it as. I talked to him yesterday. He was fine yesterday. We’ll just manage him and make sure he’s getting treatment and the proper medication and everything to try to keep it to a minimum.”

Gunn's bullet points: Logan's injury, battle in the trenches and more

Gunn's bullet points: Logan's injury, battle in the trenches and more

Derrick Gunn give his take on a few keys to the Eagles-Vikings game on Sunday.

• Losing Bennie Logan (groin injury) for this game is huge. He doesn't get a lot of notoriety for the dirty work he does in the trenches, but he helps Fletcher Cox get that push up the middle.

• Keep a close eye on the matchup between Jason Kelce and Vikings DT Linval Joseph. Kelce has been overmatched by bigger, athletic guys and Joseph at 6-4, 330 pounds is one of the best in the business.

• In his first three years as an Eagle, Connor Barwin had 26½ sacks as an outside linebacker, including a career-best 14½ in 2014. Through five games this season, Barwin, now a defensive end, has just one. Fatigue might be a factor. He has played more snaps than any other Eagles defensive lineman (79 percent). Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz says reducing Barwin's playing time might keep him fresher and stronger in fourth quarters.

• WR Dorial Green-Beckham was on the field for 81 percent of the Eagles' plays vs. Washington last week. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich feels DGB is ready for an expanded role.

• Darren Sproles usually wins matchups against LBs, but that might not be the case against the Vikings. Mychal Kendricks' younger brother, Eric, has been a solid, playmaking LB for Minnesota and he has the speed to keep up with Sproles.

• I've said it once and I'll say it again: Get Kenjon Barner more touches in the run game. Barner has the fewest carries among the Eagles' four running backs but the best yards-per-carry average at 5.8.