Report: Eagles likely landing spot for Brandin Cooks

Report: Eagles likely landing spot for Brandin Cooks

The Eagles may not need to part with a first-round draft pick in order to land wide receiver Brandin Cooks, according to Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio and The Sporting News.
 
Marvez tweeted on Friday morning that the Eagles are Cooks' "likely landing spot" and it will "probably" take only a second-round pick to pry Cooks away from the Saints. 

However, the Saints have told teams that they are seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Cooks, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
 
Cooks, only 23, has already played three full seasons with the Saints and is one of only five NFL wide receivers to surpass 75 catches and 1,100 yards in each of the last two seasons. The others are Odell Beckham, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Jarvis Landry.
 
Cooks had a breakthrough season in 2015 with 84 catches for 1,138 yards and nine touchdowns and followed that up with 78 receptions for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns this past season.
 
The Eagles are desperate for wide receiving help, and Cooks would give Carson Wentz the young, inexpensive, productive and consistent force that they’ve lacked since parting ways with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.
 
It's unknown whether the Eagles would make a deal for Cooks without getting him to agree to a contract extension. Cooks is under contract for two more years at $1,563,198 this year with a club option for 2018. If the Eagles traded for Cooks and then were unable to get him to sign a long-term deal, he would become a free agent in two years and the Eagles would wind up unloading a second-round pick for just two years of Cooks.
 
Over the last two years, Cooks has been among the most productive wideouts in football. His 2,387 receiving yards are eighth-most in the NFL, and his 17 touchdowns are fifth-most.
 
Among receivers before their 24th birthday, Cooks ranks sixth in NFL history with 215 receptions, seventh with 2,861 yards and 11th with 20 touchdown catches.
 
Saints coach Sean Payton, a former Eagles assistant coach, told Sirius XM Radio last month he "absolutely" expects Cooks to remain with the Saints in 2017.
 
In an interview this week with the Saints' official website that took place at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Payton said of Cooks, "I wouldn't say he's on the trade block, but ... we're always listening."
 
Here’s the full quote from Payton on the Cooks rumors:
 
"I would say this: It's not uncommon, at this event, where there's a lot of discussion in regard to picks, players. I said this before, Brandin is someone we value tremendously in our system. He's been extremely productive. He's everything we were wanting when we drafted him.
 
"Now, that being said, these news items come up and there are a lot of meetings that take place here. I wouldn't say he's on the trade block but certainly, when a team calls, a team that's looking for a receiver -- and we’re looking to improve our defense -- we're always listening.
 
"I know (general manager) Mickey (Loomis) has probably spoken to a handful of GMs or presidents with other teams, but right now I’m comfortable, we're comfortable with (Cooks) in a Saints uniform. We think the world of him and his skill set. (Compensation) would have to be something real significant. 

"That's part of being at the combine, it's one of the things that takes place here and that news certainly spreads quicker now than it would 10 years ago."

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 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 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.