Philadelphia Eagles

Trading Matthews 'hard trigger to pull,' but Eagles desperate to stockpile corners

Trading Matthews 'hard trigger to pull,' but Eagles desperate to stockpile corners

Howie Roseman has spent a good portion of his two tenures as Eagles GM trying to find cornerbacks.

He’s drafted guys. He’s signed guys. And now he’s traded for a guy.

The morning after the Eagles’ preseason opener, Roseman executed a blockbuster trade, acquiring third-year pro Ronald Darby — a 23-year-old former second-round pick — from the Bills in exchange for free-agent-to-be Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round pick.

"This was a hard trigger to pull, when you’re talking about Jordan and a premium pick," Roseman said.

"But we’re just trying to figure out the best way to build this team and be competitive — not only during the regular season but hopefully one day to win playoff games and get even further than that. 

"And when we look at this, the corner position is a huge priority for us and having the opportunity to get a young corner who can grow with our group, it was appealing."

Roseman, the Eagles’ executive vice president of football operations, said the trade was the most difficult he’s ever had to make.

“You have a knot in your stomach,” he said.

But in the end, his desire to stock the cornerback spot with young talent convinced him to ship Matthews, whose 225 receptions are ninth-most in NFL history by a receiver in his first three seasons.

Darby started 29 games for the Bills the last two years. He had two interceptions with Buffalo — both in 2015 — but 33 pass knockdowns in 29 games.

"You know you're going to need a bunch of corners to play," Roseman said. "And so the more you can have at that position, the better set up you are. 

"It is a pass-driven league and throwing a bunch of three- and four-wide receiver packages is a part of (teams') game plan. And so when we looked at it and we looked at the teams that have tremendous success, they continue to throw resources at that position." 

The Eagles haven’t won a playoff game since their cornerbacks were Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown, a pair of high 2002 draft picks.

Since that duo left Philly — Sheppard after 2008, Brown after 2009 — the Eagles have stumbled with an ever-changing cast of overpaid free agents, failed draft picks, disinterested reclamation projects and fading veterans on their last legs.

The Eagles this offseason drafted Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas in the second and third rounds, signed veteran Patrick Robinson and brought back guys like Jalen Mills, Aaron Grymes, Ron Brooks and C.J. Smith.

"When you look at depth charts around the league, it’s hard to find corners," Roseman said. "It’s hard to find teams that have a lot of corners, and having all these guys who are 21, 22, 23 years old. I think that’s the most exciting thing about this."

Because of the cost — a capable receiver and a third-round pick — Darby automatically becomes the centerpiece of this group.

"He's got rare speed," Roseman said. "His production on the ball, he doesn't have a high interception number but his (passes defensed) number is incredibly high. 

"He's played a variety of coverages. He won a national championship at (Florida State). You see him go against the players that we go against in our division. The Bills in 2015 played the NFC East. So you have that look. 

"When you go into the draft, a lot of those things are unknown. So you have a lot of known qualities in him. We have people in the building who have been around him and that's an important part as well. 

"There's no insurance on these things. We do what we think is in the best interest of the team. And then when you pull the trigger on anything like this, you think about the player you're giving up and the draft pick. But we felt like this was the right decision for us."

The Eagles now have a nucleus of corners who are 23 or younger: Mills, Jones, Douglas and Darby. C.J. Smith, who has had a promising camp, is 24. 

"We spent a lot of time going over this because this is obviously a big trade for our football team," he said. "You look around the league, and it is a corner-deficient league. It's hard to find those guys. It's hard to find guys who have been solid starters in this league and can play at a high level. And teams that have them aren't really ready to move them. 

"So it's something that we felt — as well as the quarterback position, the offensive line, defensive line — you can never have enough of those guys."

Before the trade, Mills and Robinson were the projected starters, with Brooks the top slot guy. Douglas and Jones — out indefinitely while rehabbing an Achilles injury — presumably are the long-term future starters. 

Where does Darby fit in? 

"All those are good problems to have," Roseman said. "They'll all be sorted out through competition, through this process. 

"Our coaches will put the best guys out on the field and in the best positions. Jalen certainly has done a great job. Big jump from Year 1 to Year 2, he's really taken it and run with it."

How bad have the Eagles' cornerbacks been?

The Eagles have allowed 25 or more touchdown passes in eight straight seasons, the longest streak in NFL history.

The last time they didn't? That was 2008, the last time they won a playoff game.

"There are a lot of priorities that go into building a team that consistently competes for championships," Roseman said. "And having a defensive back, corner position that was young and could grow together, this fits with that description. 

"Ronald's got two years left on his contract. He's played in the National Football League for two years. You have the tape of watching him go against the guys we go against. Doesn't make it any easier. We wish Jordan all the best, but we did what we thought was best for our team going forward."

Dimitri Patterson injures 2 police officers trying to flee court room

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AP Images

Dimitri Patterson injures 2 police officers trying to flee court room

Former Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson injured two police officers while trying to flee during a family court hearing on Tuesday, according to police, via The Miami Herald.

Patterson, 34, appeared in Lawson E. Thomas Court Center when he was ordered by the judge to be taken into custody. At that time, he tried to run out of the door and tackled a female officer who fell and hit her head, while another officer suffered a wrist injury before Patterson was taken into custody.

The female officer was taken to the hospital but later released.

This isn’t Patterson’s first brush with the law. ESPN’s Rich Cimini reported in 2015 that the Miami native was charged with felony child abuse.

Per police reports obtained from the incident, Patterson met his ex-girlfriend at Aventura Mall on Aug. 1, 2015, for a custody exchange of their 1-year-old child when an argument ensued over child support payments.

“While placing the boy in the back seat of the car, Medina told Patterson to calm down, warning him that she wouldn't allow him to take the child,” Cimini reported.

“Patterson ‘grabbed her around her neck and threw her to the ground,’ according to the incident report. ‘While this occurred, [Medina] was holding [the boy]. This action caused [him] to fall also and hit his head.’”

Court records show Patterson was eventually acquitted for culpable negligence and battery.

Patterson spent time with the Redskins, Chiefs, Eagles, Browns, Dolphins and Jets during his eight-year career. With the Eagles in 2009 and 2010, he appeared in 27 games (nine starts) with 50 tackles, four interceptions and one sack.

Patterson was last with the Jets in 2014 but suspended indefinitely by the team after leaving without contacting the organization. He was released a short time later and retired.

NFL Notes: NFLPA officially appeals Ezekiel Elliott's 6-game suspension

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USA Today Images

NFL Notes: NFLPA officially appeals Ezekiel Elliott's 6-game suspension

NEW YORK -- The NFL Players Association has appealed Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension over the league's conclusion that its 2016 rushing leader injured his former girlfriend in three separate incidents last summer.

The union said Tuesday it will represent Elliott "to ensure that the NFL is held to its obligation of adhering to principles of industrial due process under the collective bargaining agreement."

The NFL suspended Elliott last week after a yearlong investigation into an Ohio domestic violence case that prosecutors declined to pursue. Elliott's attorneys blasted Commission Roger Goodell's ruling, saying the league "cherry-picked" evidence to reach its conclusion.

A hearing with Goodell or an arbitrator will be scheduled within 10 days with a decision "as soon as practicable" after the appeal is heard, according to the labor agreement.

The Cowboys open the regular season Sept. 10 at home against the New York Giants.

Panthers: Davis signs 1-year contract extension
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Thomas Davis won't have to worry about ever playing for another NFL team.

The Panthers have signed the 34-year-old veteran outside linebacker Thomas Davis to a one-year contract extension, keeping him with the team through the 2018 season. The deal is worth $6.76 million and includes $3 million in guaranteed money, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The person spoke to The Associated Press Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team doesn't release financial terms of contracts.

"I'm extremely excited. Everybody knows how I feel about being a Carolina Panther," Davis said in a team release Tuesday. "This extension solidifies me being here for the rest of my career, and I'm excited about that. Now I'm totally focused on winning a Super Bowl."

Davis' contract was set to expire after this season. Some blamed general manager Dave Gettleman's handling of extensions for Davis and tight end Greg Olsen as the reason he was fired earlier this offseason and replaced by interim general manager Marty Hurney. Olsen has two years left on his current contract but is seeking an extension, too (see full story).

Raiders: Lynch says teammates ‘proud’ of protest
NAPA, Calif. -- Marshawn Lynch isn't shedding anymore light on his decision to sit during the national anthem before the Oakland Raiders' first exhibition game.

Lynch declined to comment on why he chose to sit down Saturday night while the rest of his teammates stood during the anthem before a game in Arizona against the Cardinals.

That left his teammates to answer for him on Tuesday after the team returned for its first practice since that game.

"I'm proud of him," tight end Jared Cook said. "I think it's awesome. Everybody has points of discussion after what happened in Charlottesville just the night before. I think it's important for men in our position to step up and speak on unnecessary situations we find ourselves in as minorities in this country. That's why I'm proud of him" (see full story).

Jets: Whitehead out indefinitely with broken foot
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets wide receiver Lucky Whitehead has a broken foot and will be sidelined indefinitely.

Coach Todd Bowles said Tuesday that Whitehead was injured during practice Monday and it's uncertain whether he will need surgery. Bowles did not know if Whitehead will be out for the year, saying only that it'll be at least "a little while."

Whitehead, who was on crutches during the team's indoor practice, appeared to be the top contender to serve as the Jets' primary punt and kickoff returner.

The injury is the latest in a string of bad news for Whitehead, who has had a strange summer. He was waived by Dallas last month following a shoplifting incident that turned out to be a case of false identity. New York claimed Whitehead off waivers on July 26.