Eagles Mailbag: A wide receiver splash, trade returns, Jeff Lurie

Eagles Mailbag: A wide receiver splash, trade returns, Jeff Lurie

We answered the first half of your Eagles questions yesterday, so we'll finish up today. 

The first mailbag of the week took on your questions about Alshon Jeffery, running backs in the draft and the real reason for the Eagles' offensive struggles in 2016. 

Plenty more good ones today: 

These two questions kind of go together, so I'll address them at once, as I remember back to last offseason. I didn't expect Howie Roseman to make a ton of big splashes, which seems comical now looking back. But if you remember, it really wasn't expected. Then Roseman cannonballed his way through the offseason. 

I'm tempted to say the Eagles won't splash this year either, but I know better. I'm not sure Roseman knows how not to splash. 

So here's what I'll say: Anything is on the table and I believe the Eagles really understand the importance of getting Carson Wentz some weapons. 

Now, will that mean Brandin Cooks? That would be tricky. He's just entering his prime and was a first-rounder in 2014. But don't rule out any trade from Roseman, who has consistently made more trades than most GMs in the league. He's at least going to explore every option. 

And if he doesn't trade for one, I'd be absolutely shocked if the Eagles don't sign a receiver the average fan has at least heard of. Even if they do, I still wouldn't rule out drafting a receiver with a high pick.

Along with corner, wide receiver was clearly the biggest weak spot in 2016. The difference between the two is the lack of receivers prevented the franchise quarterback from reaching his potential. I'd be shocked if the Eagles don't try to rectify that situation. 

The problem with trying to trade guys who would become salary cap casualties is that it doesn't leave much room for leverage. Why trade for a guy who will end up on the market in a week, especially if that guy makes a lot of money?

I don't think there will be much of a market for Ryan Mathews, especially coming off his injury. I fully expect the Eagles to cut him to save $4 million. 

While Connor Barwin probably has some good football left in him, that contract makes it tougher to trade him. Is it possible? Sure, but don't expect a great return. 

Kendricks is a pretty good trade candidate, but don't expect too much back for him, either. Jason Kelce is another guy who could probably be a trade candidate. 

Here's something I learned a while back: Draft picks and cars are the two things that instantly lose value when they're a day old. Draft picks are viewed as so incredibly valuable that a player's worth in relation, especially a player who makes money, just doesn't stack up. That's why oftentimes the return for a player in a trade isn't normally what fans would hope. But something is always worth more than nothing, so it's worth a go. 

I get a lot of Jeff Lurie hate on my timeline and I understand it. Ultimately, it's all on him. Every bad decision is on him because he's the guy who hires the decision-makers. 

There's one thing I don't get, though: the idea that he doesn't care about winning. I think he really cares about winning; he just doesn't know how to do it. 

In fact, recent reports about his becoming more involved in football decisions only reaffirm my belief that he desperately wants to win a championship but doesn't know how to get it done. 

The questionable moves have piled up. The most questionable in recent history was giving Chip Kelly complete control and basically saying it was done so that if it all went bad, he could fire him. Now, that's paraphrasing, but it’s kind of what he said last year at the owners' meetings after he had already put Roseman back in charge. 

I don't think Roseman is completely made of Teflon either. It looks like it now, but remember, Lurie once parted ways with his childhood friend Joe Banner (they haven’t been winners since). This is a results-driven business and if Roseman eventually doesn't produce, he'll be gone too.

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 would the Eagles give 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, all of whom should be there in the middle rounds.

When you look at who 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, either 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 Tankersley 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 the Eagles' 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.