Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles trade Jordan Matthews, draft pick to Bills for CB Ronald Darby

Eagles trade Jordan Matthews, draft pick to Bills for CB Ronald Darby

A day after their first preseason game, the Eagles traded wide receiver Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round draft pick to the Buffalo Bills for cornerback Ronald Darby.

Matthews, a free agent after the season, has been the Eagles' most productive receiver the last three years, catching 225 passes for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns.

But with his impending free agency, the additions of Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Mack Hollins, and the more glaring need at cornerback, the Eagles decided to make a deal. 

Darby, 23, was a second-round pick in 2015. In two seasons with Buffalo, he had 137 tackles and two interceptions. 

Darby had an impressive rookie season, placing second to Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. 

Pro Football Focus graded Darby that year as the fifth-best rookie cornerback since 2006, behind only Casey Hayward, Tyrann Mathieu, Joe Haden and Desmond Trufant.

As Buffalo's No. 1 corner last season, Darby didn't have as much success. Quarterbacks had a 104.8 rating when targeting him. To put that in perspective, Jalen Mills had a 97.7 passer rating against and Leodis McKelvin was at 113.0.

Darby is under contract through the end of the 2018 season. He has a cap hit of $800,426 this season and just under $1.1 million next season.

In a separate move, the Bills traded wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams for a second-round pick and cornerback E.J. Gaines.

With Matthews gone, Nelson Agholor is expected to man the slot for the Eagles.

Changing of the guard: Eagles have a new starter on the offensive line

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AP Images

Changing of the guard: Eagles have a new starter on the offensive line

Chance Warmack didn't want to say it. 

"I'm not really in a position to tell you what's going on in terms of the reps," he said. 

He didn't need to. 

The Eagles on Wednesday made a switch at the left guard position. After giving up three sacks against the Chiefs in Week 2, Isaac Seumalo is out and Warmack is in, their teammates indicated after practice. 

After a few days of publicly backing their second-year player Seumalo, the Eagles coaching staff benched him and started practice with Warmack as the Eagles' left guard between Jason Peters and Jason Kelce. Their teammates didn't know until they arrived at practice. They found out when reporters did, when during the individual period, Warmack was with the first team. 

"The change is quick and sudden," right guard Brandon Brooks said. "That's how the league is. But Isaac will get through it. We're going to support him, while also supporting Chance now that he's in there."

Seumalo (6-4, 303) was handed the Eagles' starting left guard job at the start of training camp. At that time, the Eagles decided to cut former starter Allen Barbre but eventually got a conditional seventh-round pick for him. 

"Just being in the league going on six years, I can't say I am surprised, just because it's all about production," Brooks said. 

And it's true that Seumalo didn't produce. Still, the swift change is probably shocking to some. Head coach Doug Pederson and Frank Reich backed Seumalo over the last few days and Pederson even talked about not wanting to hit panic buttons. Two days later, he has a new starting left guard. 

Warmack (6-2, 323) was brought to the Eagles on a one-year deal this offseason, reuniting with his college coach Jeff Stoutland, with whom he has a very strong relationship. He clearly thinks Stoutland is the guy to get his career back on track. Warmack was once the 10th-overall pick, and while he was a starter in Tennessee, he never lived up to that hype. 

When the Eagles signed Warmack to an extension before the start of this season, it was easy to see into the future and determine that the team might have a plan for him. Warmack chose to not read into it too much. 

For the first two games of this season, Warmack was inactive, which he admitted was "weird." It was the first time since early on in college when he was healthy and did not play. He has played in 48 games in the NFL and has 48 starts. 

In training camp, Warmack wasn't even given an opportunity to compete for a starting job, but after two weeks of the regular season, he's already taken over. 

"The more you stay in the same system, the better you're going to get," Warmack said. "You're never perfect that you want to strive to be, but you just constantly beating on the same things over and over and try to execute on those things and get better."

Seumalo, who said he needed to improve his play, did not speak to reporters on Wednesday. 

If anything, a couple of Seumalo's teammates on the offensive line seemed disappointed the second-year player won't get a chance to work through his struggles. Both Brooks and Lane Johnson said when they've had bad games, it helped to get back on the field the next week. 

Johnson remembered the third game of his rookie season in 2013 against Kansas City, when Justin Houston abused the bright-eyed rookie. He thought about that this week as he faced off against Houston and the Chiefs again last week. 

"I think in this city, it'll make you mentally tougher," Johnson said. "Like when we played the Chiefs in my rookie year. I gave up three sacks and I made sure it wasn't going to happen again. I learned from it. The biggest thing from having bad games is to learn from it, grow from it, so when you have an opportunity again, you can show coaches I've learned from it." 

But, as Johnson noted, he was a first-round pick and kept his starting gig partially because of it. 

Brooks, likewise, said he's had bad games but has never been benched because of one. 

"It's just unfortunate, man, seeing a young guy like that after having a bad game," Brooks said. "He's a young player, you don't just want to kill his confidence this early in his career. A bad game, for that to happen, I wish he could work through it. 

"I just wish he had a chance to bounce back."

He won't yet. Seumalo will sit, while the Eagles take a chance on Warmack. 

Eagles add to depleted secondary by claiming safety from Buffalo

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USA Today Images

Eagles add to depleted secondary by claiming safety from Buffalo

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but the Eagles have added a safety to their roster.

They claimed Trae Elston off waivers from the Buffalo Bills Wednesday, a day after the Bills released him.

The Eagles were in desperate need of some depth at safety after hamstring injuries have ripped apart their secondary. Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham and Jaylen Watkins all missed Wednesday's practice with hamstring injuries and are in danger of sitting this Sunday against the Giants. Cornerback Ronald Darby (ankle) will also still be out for a few more weeks.

The Eagles had just two safeties healthy Wednesday: Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Maragos.

It won't be easy for Elston to come in and pick up the defense in time to play. Jenkins said if the team brought in a new player, that guy would probably be used more in a special teams role or in an emergency situation. The Eagles also have linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, who can play safety, and Jenkins thinks the Eagles' cornerbacks have the ability to slide back too.

Elston, 23, went undrafted out of Ole Miss last year. He has bounced around from the Saints to the Bucs to the Browns and then to the Bills. He spent all of training camp with the Bills and made their initial roster out of training camp before getting waived on Tuesday.

Since the Eagles had just 52 players as of Wednesday, they won't need to make a corresponding roster move. They got down to 52 last Friday when they placed rookie running back Donnel Pumphrey on IR.