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 Mailbag: Alshon Jeffery, running backs, offensive struggles

Eagles Mailbag: Alshon Jeffery, running backs, offensive struggles

We're less than a month away from the start of free agency — March 9 at 4 p.m. So we're really getting closer to the time of year where things get really interesting. 

From there, we're right into the draft and then after that, spring workouts won't be far behind. 

What offseason? 

Once again, we asked for your questions and you came through. Let's hop into this edition of the mailbag:

I'm not exactly sure if you're looking for a percentage, but I think there's a small chance. Now, Jeffery is going to be expensive and I understand why some folks are terrified about that PED suspension after what happened with Lane Johnson last year. 

But despite that, Jeffery is going to get paid. He's pretty darn good and a change of scenery could do wonders for his career. The price might force the Eagles out of the bidding, but I'd expect them to at least be in the running. 

Jeffery will turn 27 on Tuesday and the 6-foot-3, 218-pounder has been productive during his career. He actually uses that frame the way he's supposed to, unlike Dorial Green-Beckham. In Jeffery's two 16-game seasons (2013 and 2014), he caught 174 passes for 2,554 yards and 17 touchdowns. If he had done that in the last two years, his price tag would be even higher. 

In the last two years, he played nine games in 2015 and 12 in 2016 and hasn't eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier in either. But we all know he's more than capable and he would be a great weapon for Carson Wentz. 

So how likely is it? Well, there's probably not a great chance because of the price tag that will be attached to him. A cheaper, mid-tier option seems more feasible, but don't completely rule the Eagles out. 

I tend to think the Eagles will try to find a running back in the draft, but that doesn't necessarily mean Dalvin Cook at No. 14 or 15. (Sorry!) The thing with running backs is it's a position in which teams can find guys, draft them, and save money by using young players instead of veterans. 

Signing a veteran running back to an expensive contract just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. 

With that said, I'm not sure how much the Eagles actually value the running back position when it comes to the draft. Last year, Howie Roseman made it a point to praise Ezekiel Elliott and talk about how he would be a possibility with their first pick (that was before they moved up again), but this offseason he admitted everything he said last year was nonsense. That rings true with my belief that his comments on a first-round running back were nonsense. 

OK, here's an option. This year there are clearly two top guys in Leonard Fournette and Cook. They're likely both going to be first-rounders. After that, there are a few guys in the second tier. Christian McCaffrey, D'Onta Foreman, Curtis Samuel, Kareem Hunt and even Jamaal Williams or local product Corey Clement. 

Samuel is certainly in that group and the last Ohio State running back to come out has done alright. But Samuel isn't really a running back and he isn't really a receiver. He does both. Do you have faith that the Eagles' coaching staff will be able to get the most out of a player like this?

This year is a lot like what we saw in the draft last year. Wendell Smallwood was among a group of running backs that came off the board around the same time. He went three picks after Jordan Howard went to the Bears. Howard became a Pro Bowler as a rookie. 

The Eagles have always claimed Smallwood was the guy they wanted, but it's fair to wonder if that's the truth. This year, it's up to the Eagles to pinpoint their mid-round guy and try to get him. It's not always easy when trying to draft for value too. 

Interesting question. Sort of a chicken or the egg thing in my view. The receivers were horrible. There's really no debating that. 

But you're right. At times the play-calling was questionable, especially the lack of downfield attack. But if the receivers were better, perhaps Doug Pederson would have dialed up more plays to go downfield. 

The only reason I question that, is Green-Beckham. Now, obviously, he didn't have a full offseason with the team, so he was playing catch-up. But in his rookie season with the Titans, he averaged over 17 yards per reception. That was down to under 11 with the Eagles. 

So probably a bit of both. 

I'm not going to blame Wentz, though. While he certainly had his bad moments in 2016, at times he had to overcome bad receiver play and questionable play-calling. 

Eagles Mailbag: Cornerbacks, cutting for cap room, Pinkston & Thrash

Eagles Mailbag: Cornerbacks, cutting for cap room, Pinkston & Thrash

We got so many good questions this week for the mailbag that we split it up into two.

Monday's edition was a good one, with a theoretical question about which three players I'd pick from the Falcons and Patriots to plop on the Eagles in 2017.

Plenty more good ones today. Let's hop in:

This is a good question because it's a pretty decent line of thinking. Because there are so many good cornerbacks in this year's draft, maybe the Eagles can get max value at a later pick. In theory, this should be true.

And it was with that thinking in mind that I asked Howie Roseman at Senior Bowl week if teams think that way. His answer was really interesting and seems to ring true:

"It’s interesting, because last year we sat there and said defensive tackles in this draft are unreal. You’re going to get an opportunity to be there in the fourth or fifth round and there’s going to be a second- or third-round guy. And what happened was they all went. And we had looked at it before and in years where there’s positions of strength, when you think you can get guys later, what typically happens is there’s a run on those guys and [teams] want to get their own guys.

"So you just have to be careful that you’re not sitting there going, ‘This is a great draft at position X and we’ll be sitting there in the sixth round and we’ll get a great guy.’ That’s why just sticking to your board and not getting cute and just making sure you just get the best player for the Philadelphia Eagles."

Roseman is right. Last year, 14 defensive tackles went in the first three rounds. 

So while it might make some sense to think that the Eagles can put off taking a corner because there will be a good one later, it could be a dangerous trap. If there's one at the top of their board when they're on the clock, they should take him.

Interesting. So many people think back to Thrash and Pinkston and trash them, but let's take a strictly statistical look at the difference. Pinkston and Thrash were teammates in Philly from 2001 to 2003, a total of three seasons. In each of those three seasons, Pinkston and Thrash were the Eagles' best two receivers. Here's a look at their combined numbers:

2001: 105 catches, 1,419 yards, 12 touchdowns

2002: 112 catches, 1,433 yards, 13 touchdowns

2003: 85 catches, 1,133 yards, 3 touchdowns

The Eagles' top two receivers in 2016 were Jordan Matthews and Dorial Green-Beckham. They caught a combined 109 passes for 1,196 yards and five touchdowns.

So, to answer your question, yes, maybe Pinkston and Thrash weren't that bad. Or maybe they were and this group was just worse.

Yes, I fully expect the Eagles to make a few moves to clear cap room and then to sign a wide receiver who can help the team immediately. That doesn't mean they're going to make a huge splash, but I think they're at least going to sign someone you've heard of before.

The Eagles could look to the draft to find a wide receiver too; it's very possible. But signing a receiver takes some of the gamble out of trying to fix the position. Roseman made an effort to point out that aside from the 2014 draft class, it has traditionally taken receivers longer to acclimate to the NFL game. At least if they sign a free agent they'll have a better idea of what they're getting and will know that player is at least capable of playing in the NFL.

Clearing up some cap space is something Roseman is good at. Cutting Connor Barwin would save $7.75 million. Cutting Leodis McKelvin would save $3.2 million. Cutting Ryan Mathews would save $4 million. And Cutting Jason Kelce would save $3.8 million.

I think those first three moves are the most likely and would save just under $15 million in cap space that could help them sign a few free agents.

The Eagles rarely use the franchise tag; the last time was with DeSean Jackson in 2012. And I don't see them using it this year either.

Bennie Logan is the only player who would even be in consideration for a franchise tag, but the franchise tag for defensive tackles last season was $13.6 million and it'll be more this year, whereas if the Eagles sign Logan to a long-term deal, they could spread the money out and not take a big cap hit.

If Logan is back with the Eagles in 2017, it won't be on a franchise tag, it would be because the Eagles sign him to a long-term deal.

In that scenario, the Eagles should at least consider it. Tanoh Kpassagnon had a really impressive week down in Mobile for the Senior Bowl and proved he can hang with the bigger school guys, which was his goal.

The physical attributes jump off the charts and Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas seemed impressed with Kpassagnon. "The first thing that jumps out is he's 6-7 and 280 pounds and he's cut out of rock. He’s as body beautiful as it gets.”

The thing with Kpassagnon is that I view him more as a 3-4 end with his 6-7, 280-pound frame. He could probably play in a 4-3, but I'm not sure it fits him best.