Philadelphia Eagles

Howie Roseman, Eagles didn't want to move Jordan Matthews, but 'unique opportunity' arose

Howie Roseman, Eagles didn't want to move Jordan Matthews, but 'unique opportunity' arose

A year ago, Jordan Matthews was the unquestioned leader of a young and inexperienced receiver group, charged with not just carrying the load but also helping the rookie franchise quarterback acclimate to the NFL. 

Now he's gone. 

The Eagles traded away the 25-year-old Matthews, along with a third-round pick in 2018, to the Bills in exchange for cornerback Ronald Darby on Friday. 

"This was a unique opportunity," Eagles de facto general manager Howie Roseman said. "We were not out there shopping Jordan Matthews."

Talk and rumors about the Eagles' possibly trading Matthews have been floating for months and it's those rumors — true or not — that actually led to the Eagles' receiving calls about him, Roseman said.

Matthews has been extremely productive during the first three years of his career. Since the Eagles drafted him in the second round in 2014 out of Vanderbilt, Matthews has piled up 225 catches for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns. 

Despite what some might consider inflated numbers, Matthews' production is unquestionable. He's one of just seven players in NFL history to put up those numbers in his first three NFL seasons. The others are Randy Moss, Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Larry Fitzgerald, A.J. Green and DeAndre Hopkins. 

But Matthews was entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract and instead of trying to gamble on re-signing him next season, the Eagles decided to get something back for him — although in the process, they also had to part ways with a third-rounder.   

"I think from our perspective and Jordan's perspective, everything's been incredibly positive with Jordan Matthews and our conversations with him and his agent," Roseman said. "It never came down to this guy's asking for too much money and we're not willing to do this so we better ship him out now. This all came down to this particular trade and this particular value for where our football team is now. Last year at this time, from where the group was, it would have been hard to do. It was still hard to do but when we looked at the overall needs on this team and what this guy could potentially do for us, we thought it was the right deal." 

Getting a player back with two years left on his contract allowed the Eagles to pull the trigger. If Darby had just one year left, Roseman said it would have been hard for the Eagles to take him. 

Roseman said it's not that Matthews wasn't in the team's long-term plans; it was just that the offer in return was good for the team. And he didn't rule out a possible reunion with Matthews, however unrealistic that might be. 

"Theoretically, [Matthews is] a free agent in March so there's nothing precluding us from signing any free agent in March," Roseman said.

During his three years in Philadelphia, Matthews became a clear favorite within the Eagles' locker room. The Eagles upgraded the receiver position enough this offseason by signing Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery, as well as drafting promising rookie Mack Hollins, to feel comfortable making this move. 

But Matthews' departure will still leave a void. His teammates flooded social media in the wake of the trade to wish him the best. It was clear he had a great relationship with his teammates, specifically franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. 

Roseman said he had a "knot in his stomach" before talking to Matthews on Friday morning and certainly thought about the possible locker room ramifications a deal like this one might have. 

"You worry about everything when you trade a professional like Jordan Matthews," Roseman said. "This isn't one where you're celebrating and doing a dance because you're giving up a good player and a good pick. In this league, you're not going to be able to get anything unless you give something. I think we have a really good character group, not just at the wide receiver position but on this team and on the offensive side of the ball. But it hurts when people you care about leave. 

"The hardest thing to do was talking to Jordan about this. It never gets any easier in this business because however good he is as a player, he's a better person. But we've got to do what's in the best interest of this team moving forward and that's why we made the trade."

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.