Eagles to evaluate Jamaal Charles -- as they do every free agent

Eagles to evaluate Jamaal Charles -- as they do every free agent

INDIANAPOLIS -- Doug Pederson probably didn't mean to, but he threw some more kindling on the fire Wednesday.

Veteran Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles was recently released and the Eagles have a need for more running back depth, so plenty of folks over the last couple days have connected the dots about a possible reunion between Pederson and Charles in Philly.

For his part, Pederson didn't shoot down the possibility.

"Yeah, I've got history with him in Kansas City for three years," Pederson said at the combine on Wednesday afternoon. "I think he's a tremendous running back. It's something that we'll evaluate now. We'll grade him, just like we do every free agent and every person that's released and see where he can fit into our offense."

The Eagles will likely have a void at the running back position going into the 2017 season. Ryan Mathews is under contract, but suffered a serious injury late last year and still seems a likely candidate to be cut. Kenjon Barner is a restricted free agent and is unlikely to return.

Meanwhile, Darren Sproles will be back for one more season, Pederson confirmed on Wednesday, and Wendell Smallwood will enter his second year. Those are the only two guaranteed; after that the Eagles have a couple more unproven players.

So maybe it would make some sense for the Eagles to bring in a proven vet who knows the offense and who won't be a liability in pass protection.

When healthy, Charles has been one of the most productive running backs in the league when he's on the field.

But -- and of course there's a but -- he hasn't been on the field all that often and he's now 30 years old. Since his last Pro Bowl and 1,000-yard season in 2013, the injury-plagued running back has played in just eight games over the last two years. In 2016, he played in just three games and had 12 carries.

Howie Roseman and Pederson spent a good portion of their media sessions on Wednesday talking about building for the future around Carson Wentz with younger players (see story). Charles wouldn't seem to fit that mold, but there are bound to be exceptions.

Howie Roseman: Eagles find value in dwindling free agent market

Howie Roseman: Eagles find value in dwindling free agent market

PHOENIX -- After the 2016 NFL season ended, Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said the Eagles were done signing expensive free agent Band-Aids. 

Then on Tuesday, the team brought in DE Chris Long and CB Patrick Robinson on two- and one-year deals, respectively. 

Don't they look an awful lot like Band-Aids? 

"I think we're at the stage in free agency, where we're constantly looking at values," Roseman said on Tuesday at the owners' meetings in Arizona. "Talk about this guy and what he brings to the table on and off the field. I understand when we talked in January, we said no Band-Aids, but from our perspective, there are opportunities to get value in free agency, certainly at this time of year and we're looking for ways to improve our football team. 

"We are trying to build this for the long time, but at the same time, when we see opportunities to improve our football team and the competition level and the depth, we're going to take those opportunities."

Roseman spoke at the Biltmore Hotel on Tuesday after the team agreed to terms with Long, just an hour and a half before the team announced the deal with Robinson. 

But the explanation would have likely been the same after. The Eagles thought they found value in these two guys and didn't need to spend a ton to fill some immediate (and desperate) needs. And signing a 32-year-old Long and a 29-year-old Robinson shouldn't change the team's outlook as it heads into the draft in April. 

"I wouldn't say it gives us any more freedom, per se," Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas said. "To touch on what Howie said, Chris gives us another pass rusher. We need as many pass-rushers as we can, especially in this division. I still think we're still going to look at best player available in the draft at the end of the day." 

While Roseman spoke before the team officially announced the deal with Robinson, he alluded to the possibility that the team wasn't yet finished with the dwindling free agent market. 

"We're value shopping for sure," he said. "Every day, Joe (Douglas) and his staff are going over the list and re-watching guys, seeing if there's opportunities to improve our football team. If there are and we can go into the draft without even having more pressure on that, we're going to look to do that. Do I think we're going to go out and sign three or four more players in free agency? I don't, but there a couple guys we're looking at, at this stage, that we're surprised are still available. 

"We understand where we are financially and understand that we have the opportunity we take on these guys matches where we are from a cap perspective. But we gotta look at any ways to improve our football team as we go into the draft and add competition so that we're having a position of strength as we get to August." 

The Eagles have been in a tight salary cap situation all offseason -- even with the release of Connor Barwin and his big contract -- so these moves won't make it any easier. And it brings the likelihood that the team will need to continue to be creative while trying to manage its cap number. 

According to the NFLPA, the Eagles came into the day with just under $3 million in cap room before picking up two more players. The numbers don't quite seem to add up, but Roseman is a wizard when it comes to manipulating the salary cap. 

"Oh, it's challenging right now, there's no question about it," Roseman said about the Eagles' cap situation. "And our conversations are 'what is this guy going to add? And can we rationalize the situation we're in?' Connor's a big loss to our football team. … But when we were able to get a guy that brings a lot of the same qualities on and off the field and things that we value, we thought it made us better. Not only now, but the legacy he could have going forward with the players on our team."

When Long posted on Instagram to announce that he wouldn't be returning to the Patriots, he said, "I'm thankful for my role this year, but as a competitor, I'm itching to do what I do best." So it would appear he had his mind set on finding a starting job. In Philly, it seems more likely he'll be a rotational player but will still play a decent amount. 

In 2016, Long actually played 65 percent of the Patriots' snaps during the regular season, but those numbers dwindled until he played just 15 snaps in the Super Bowl win. 

"I think that our conversations with Chris have been about we have young players at that position," Roseman said. "He's very excited to come aboard and help contribute and no promises have been given. At the same time, we have high expectations, certainly with [Brandon Graham], Vinny (Curry) leading that group. Marcus (Smith), his second year in the system. Steven Means, Alex McCalister. We're always going to prioritize the lines, so I think this is another step to show that our actions are in conjunction with our words."

Eagles sign former 1st-round CB Patrick Robinson to 1-year deal

Eagles sign former 1st-round CB Patrick Robinson to 1-year deal

PHOENIX -- A couple short hours after the Eagles brought in defensive end Chris Long, the team has reached a contract agreement with veteran corner Patrick Robinson. 

In doing so, the Eagles added much-needed depth to their two biggest positions of need. 

Robinson, now 29, was the 32nd overall pick in 2010 out of Florida State, but has never had more than four interceptions in a season. 

He spent the first five seasons of his career with the Saints before going to the Chargers for a year and the Colts last season. In 81 career games (49 starts), Robinson has 10 interceptions. Robinson's two best seasons came in 2011-12 with the Saints, when he played in 31 games, had seven interceptions and 33 passes defensed. 

Even with the signing, the Eagles are still particularly thin at cornerback heading into the draft. And this signing should not change the team's mindset when the draft begins in April. Two starting corners from a year ago, Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin, are no longer on the team. The Eagles cut McKelvin and let Carroll walk in free agency. So even with Robinson, there's work to do. 

The good news for the Eagles is that this draft class is considered to be incredibly deep for defensive backs. In fact, several NFL personnel folks have said this is as deep as they've ever seen for defensive backs. 

The corners on the roster now are Robinson, Ron Brooks, Jalen Mills, C.J. Smith, Dwayne Gratz, Aaron Grymes and Mitchell White. From the players currently on the roster, Mills, Brooks and Robinson are the most likely to see significant playing time in 2017.