Eagles FA rumor tracker: Alshon Jeffery leaning toward Eagles

Eagles FA rumor tracker: Alshon Jeffery leaning toward Eagles

The NFL's legal tampering period began at noon on Tuesday, so we're in the thick of it now. (Even though plenty of illegal tampering has been going on for months.)

Free agency starts on Thursday at 4 p.m. and the Eagles have just around $6.19 million in cap space to work with (as of Thursday morning).

3:59 p.m. Thursday -- Top CB staying put

One of the top cornerbacks set to hit the market won't. Along with A.J. Bouye, Dre Kirkpatrick was the top guy on the free agent corner list. 

3:35 p.m. Thursday -- Vikings in on Jeffery 

The Eagles have some more competition to land Alshon Jeffery, who will become a free agent in less than a half hour. 

2:14 p.m. Thursday -- Leaning this way 

The Eagles have Torrey Smith, but a big receiver on the other side would be ideal. And Alshon Jeffery is a big receiver. 

This would take some fancy cap manuevering from Howie Roseman, but that's what he's good at. And Jeffery is the top target on the free agent market. The 27-year-old caught 52 passes for 821 yards and two touchdowns in 2016. He's two years removed from his last 1,000-yard season. 

1:46 p.m. Thursday -- Help on O-line

Stefen Wisniewski was with the Eagles on a one-year deal in 2016. He ended up playing in all 16 games and starting six. But he made it clear throughout the season that he wanted a full-time starting gig. 

So perhaps if Wisniewski can't find that starting job elsewhere, he could be back as a backup or possible replacement for Jason Kelce. 

11:44 a.m. Thursday -- Not done yet 

The Eagles already locked up Torrey Smith, but it looks like they're still looking for more help at receiver. Based on last season, they can use all the help they get. 

Wheaton is a former third-round pick who played just three games in 2016 before his season ended with a shoulder injury. Wheaton's best season came in 2015, when he caught 44 passes for 749 yards and five touchdowns. 

11:15 a.m. Thursday -- Eagles, Colts after Alshon Jeffery

Moments after the Eagles agreed to a three-year deal with speedy WR Torrey Smith, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that the Eagles and Colts are making a "strong push" for Alshon Jeffery.

Jeffery is the top wide receiver on the free-agent market and a much different player than Smith. They could complement each other nicely, with Jeffery offering size and red-zone effectiveness and Smith giving Wentz a much-needed deep threat.

10:13 a.m. Thursday -- Let's get weird 

It looks like things are really getting going now. The Eagles have reportedly been talking about a trade for Cooks, but a new suitor has emerged. The Patriots are bringing in Stephon Gilmore, so maybe Butler has become disposable. Either way, another team in the mix for Cooks can't help the Eagles. 

9:32 a.m. Thursday -- Britt to Browns

Remember when Kenny Britt was going to sign with the Eagles? Good times. 

The Browns came into Thursday with $98 million in cap space, so money isn't the problem with them. As of Wednesday, there were reports that Britt was going to be an Eagle. Heck, people even saw him in Atlantic City!

It looks like the Browns didn't have any trouble tossing some money around. 

8:57 a.m. Thursday -- Gilmore to Patriots

The New England Patriots are poised to add one of the top free-agent cornerbacks, Stephon Gilmore. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the former Buffalo Bill is headed to New England, "barring any final snags."

Gilmore's connection to the Eagles would have been defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Gilmore was in Buffalo for Schwartz's only year as the Bills' DC. We've seen that connection bring in players like Nigel Bradham and Ron Brooks. Looks like it wasn't enough to bring in Gilmore. 

8:57 a.m. Thursday -- Bouye leaving Texans

A few years ago, A.J. Bouye was an undrafted free agent from UCF. Now, he's about to break the bank. Although it might not be with the Eagles. 

Staying in the AFC South makes sense for one reason: money. The Jaguars started the day with $73 million cap room. The Titans had $61M and the Colts had $54M. 

8:46 a.m. Thursday -- DeSean to Tampa

So much for the DeSean Jackson reunion. Looks like DeSean is forgoing the trip back to Philly and taking a big pay day in Tampa. 

Now Ian Rapoport of NFL.com and ESPN's Adam Schefter are both reporting that Jackson will sign with the Bucs. Tampa had $58 million in cap space. 

9:15 p.m. -- Britt expected to sign with Eagles; DeSean to Tampa Bay

After losing out on Kenny Stills, the Eagles may have found a different receiver for Carson Wentz. According to Mile High Sports Radio's Benjamin Allbright, Kenny Britt, 28, is expected to sign with the Eagles when free agency begins at 4 p.m. on Thursday. 

Britt, enduring subpar quarterback play with the Rams in 2016, had a career year with 68 catches for 1,002 yards and five touchdowns.

As for former Eagles receivers, DeSean Jackson is reportedly expected to sign with the Bucs Thursday. 

7:02 p.m. -- Stills staying in Miami 

One of the biggest free-agent targets for the Eagles never even became a free agent. So much for getting him as the Eagles' deep threat. It looks like Stills is indeed staying with the Dolphins. 

If you're keeping track at home, Stills, Pierre Garcon, Brandon LaFell and Brandon Marshall are all already reportedly off the market well before the start of free agency. 

3:26 p.m. -- Stills off the market? 

Stills would have been a really good fit with the Eagles. He's still just 24 and is a serious deep threat, something the Eagles need desperately. Of all the receivers set to hit the market, Stills made more sense than most. If this report pans out, it will be interesting to see what kind of deal Stills signs with the Dolphins. Earlier reports talked about him getting over $10 million per season. 

But hold the phone. Stills isn't definitely staying in Miami just yet. 

At least one receiver really is off the market: 

2:11 p.m. -- You don't say

Yeah, this isn't much of a surprise. The Eagles have been trying to trade these guys for a while. Cutting Conor Barwin if he doesn't get traded seems like a realistic possibility. They'd save $7.75 million by cutting him and would have just $600,000 in dead money. 

Last week, Howie Roseman said there wasn't a deadline to make these decisions and the Eagles wouldn't just cut players to cut them. Still, cutting Barwin makes sense. As for Mychal Kendricks, cutting him would save $1.8 million in cap space. If they designate him as a post-June 1 cut, they would save $5 million, but would need to carry his full cap number until June 1. 

1:51 p.m. -- Romo on the move

Obviously, the Eagles aren't going to sign Tony Romo, but he is a huge domino to fall. He will change the free agent market. Suppose he goes to Houston, will they then have enough money to hold on to A.J. Bouye? 

11:17 a.m. -- Bennie's replacement?

Bennie Logan will become a free agent at 4 p.m. on Thursday and because of his price tag, it seems rather likely he won't return. So maybe the Eagles need a replacement. 

Domata Peko is already 32, but for a year or two, he would be a decent fill-in. The Eagles have also started to work on a new deal for Beau Allen, who has been Logan's backup. 

10:41 a.m. -- Eagles after Bouye

For all that talk about the Eagles not trying to sign Band-Aids to fix their cornerback position, it sure seems like they're going after pending Texans 25-year-old free agent Bouye. 

Bouye (pronounced boy-yay) would be just the latest Texans player to join the Eagles after Barwin, DeMeco Ryans, Brandon Brooks, Bryan Braman and others. Now, it looks like Bouye could join the group. 

But not so fast ... 

10:14 a.m. -- That's a lot of money

Like, really, a lot of money. But the 49ers do have $90 million in cap space. 

8:20 a.m. -- Washington in on Poe

This isn't necessarily an Eagles-related report, but it's worth noting. Washington clearly needs help on the D-line and it has seemed like a really strong landing place for Eagles pending free agent Logan. 

"We have some work to do there," Jay Gruden said at the combine about his defensive line. "Without a doubt."

If Washington grabs Dontari Poe, it means they're probably out for Logan. 

8:31 a.m. -- Giants get deeper

The Giants now have Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall. 

The Eagles' corners right now are Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks and C.J. Smith. They're going to need some more help to deal with this division. Luckily, there are options in free agency and even more in the draft. 

Update: Marshall has signed. 

7:16 a.m. -- Still talks about Cooks 

It sounds like the Cooks trade isn't dead yet, but it's possible some other teams will put together better offers for the young receiver. 

Apparently, the Saints want some pass rush help. How would they feel about an aging Barwin with a cap hit of over $8 million in 2017? 

While Kendricks isn't a lineman, he is a linebacker who can blitz. Perhaps he'd be of intrigue to the Saints. 

Maybe the Eagles don't have the firepower to get this deal done, but they're not out of it yet. 

6:14 a.m. -- How much for DeSean? 

Well, it seems like Jackson is going to get paid. 

According to this report, Jackson is expected to have a salary of over $11 million per year. 

It lists the Cowboys, Eagles, Patriots and Bucs in the mix. It appears like Washington is preparing to move on from DeSean. 

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Ezekiel Elliott was the fourth overall pick by the Cowboys in the 2016 NFL draft.

He went on to have a historic rookie season, leading the NFL in rushing behind the best offensive line in football.

But do you know who finished second in the league in rushing? That would be the Bears' Jordan Howard, another rookie, drafted in the fifth round. 

If you keep going down the list of the league's top rushers last season, nine out of the top 10 on the list were drafted after the first round. Only three backs in the top 10 were drafted in the first two rounds (Elliott, LeSean McCoy, Le'Veon Bell). 

Whether it's LSU's Leonard Fournette, Florida State's Dalvin Cook or Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, the Eagles should stay away from running backs in the first round.

We'll start with Fournette, considered by most to be the best running back in the class. He was also mocked to the Eagles in a trade-up scenario by Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke with the No. 5 overall pick. Burke is an excellent evaluator, but in this case, he's off the mark. Fournette's talent is real. His combination of size and speed is unmatched by any running back in the class and perhaps any running back in the NFL. He'll correctly be the first back off the board and go in the top 10. 

But the Eagles giving up a second-round pick to obtain Fournette? It's just hard to see as realistic. This team has too many holes and not enough draft picks to make a move like Burke suggests. Fournette looks like he'll be a special player, just not for the Eagles.

Then there's Cook, who seems to be the belle of the ball with Eagles fans. Watching the tape, it's undeniable: Cook is an extremely talented player. But evaluations aren't black and white. Cook has issues with injuries (multiple shoulder surgeries) and has had a couple issues off the field. 

He also tested poorly at the combine. In the biggest audition of his life, Cook's numbers didn't match what you saw on tape. That has to make you wonder if he was fully prepared for the combine. If the Eagles take Cook, there's no doubt he'll make their offense better. The biggest concern has to be his long-term success and the value you get taking him at 14 over another player at a more valuable position.

Lastly, there's McCaffrey. It's easy to see the fit here. McCaffrey is an explosive back who runs routes and has the ball skills of a receiver. He's also incredibly dangerous in the return game. Unlike Cook, McCaffrey tested off the charts in Indy. His strength (10 reps at 225) is the only real concern.

From a scheme perspective, McCaffrey is perfectly suited for Doug Pederson's offense. Pederson can use McCaffrey much like Andy Reid used Brian Westbrook over a decade ago. McCaffrey's struggles running between the tackles are a little overblown, but it still has to be a concern for a team that doesn't have a proven, primary back. 

This is also a strong running back class. Toledo's Kareem Hunt would fit nicely in this offense and should be available in the third round. Clemson's Wayne Gallman is a tough, versatile back that could be available in the third or fourth. There's also BYU's Jamaal Williams, Pitt's James Conner and Wyoming's Brian Hill that will be there in the middle rounds.

When you look at what else could be there at 14, it just doesn't make sense to draft a running back. If you're looking to give Carson Wentz more weapons, one of Clemson's Mike Williams, Western Michigan's Corey Davis or Washington's John Ross should be there. Any of them could give Wentz a long-term receiving threat. 

If you're looking to improve the defense, there are plenty of options. In case you've been living under a rock this offseason, this cornerback draft class is crazy deep. Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore is the best of the bunch and will likely be gone by 14. His teammate, Gareon Conley, should still be around at 14. So should LSU's TreDavious White, Alabama's Marlon Humphrey, Clemson's Cordrea Tankersely and Florida's Quincy Wilson. 

Don't count out Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett as an option if he's on the board. With Vinny Curry's struggles and a lack of depth, a pass rusher is a definite need. If Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster slips for a spat he had with a hospital worker during the combine, he's worth a long look. He's a game-changing 'backer.

Elliott was as close to a sure thing as you can get. There's a reason he was taken at No. 4 overall. If Cook and McCaffrey are there at 14, there's a reason for that, too. 

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie rails against political polarization in Washington

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie rails against political polarization in Washington

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie isn't often very outspoken on football or political matters. 

He has apparently made an exception. 

Just a few days before Lurie is tentatively scheduled to speak to Philadelphia reporters while in Phoenix for the league's annual meetings, the Eagles owner authored a story for Time Magazine railing against political polarization in Washington.

Lurie has not spoken to reporters publicly since last March in Boca Raton, Florida, at the 2016 owners meetings. 

The owner's essay was published just hours after House Republican leaders pulled legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday afternoon. Lurie, for the record, donated money to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign last year.

Lurie, the Eagles' 65-year-old billionaire owner, in the story, uses football as an example for which Washington should strive. 

Here's how Lurie begins the piece:

"What do football, political polarization and autism have in common? They all illuminate aspects of the human condition, explaining who we are, where we are headed and the hurdles along the way. As a sports team owner I rarely publicly discuss politics, but as a member of a family touched by autism, I often think about the unspoken millions of people who live with the daily challenges of this disorder."

Lurie then goes on to explain why football can act as a guide for Washington when it comes to united for the common good:

"What I have learned from football can be applied to society at large. Just as we intensely game-plan against an opponent in sports, we need to game plan for the reality and consequences of polarization. Extreme polarization is the opponent -- not each other. A football team is made up of players from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and political viewpoints. What unites them is grit, determination, and the desire to win. They join in a common goal and do what is necessary to transcend their differences for the greater good of their team.

"What unites Americans is far more negative. We are now in an age where communicating verifiable information becomes secondary to the goal of creating a common enemy that unifies people in fear, negativity and opposition. This masks our inability to solve serious domestic problems (poverty, violence and institutional racism to name three current examples) and diverts our attention from obvious suffering."

Lurie then writes that we, as Americans, have the "necessary resources" to tackle serious problems, like autism, but lack the leadership to put aside differences. 

The whole piece isn't very long and is worth reading in full to gain a better understanding of its context. 

Next week while in Phoenix, Lurie will surely be asked about what motivated him to write the piece.