Eagles propose four rules to be considered by NFL next week

Eagles propose four rules to be considered by NFL next week

Next week, when the NFL convenes for its owners meetings in Phoenix, there will be 15 proposed rule changes under consideration by the competition committee. 

While the one proposed rule change would cut regular-season overtime from 15 to 10 minutes (see story), there are 14 others up for discussion. 

Of those 15, seven were submitted by NFL teams. And of those seven, four were submitted by the Eagles

Three of the four rule proposals from the Eagles are safety related. 

Here are the four from the Eagles, per the NFL: 

1. Gives additional protections for long snappers on kick plays. 

2. Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays. 

3. Expands the “crown of helmet” foul to include “hairline” part of helmet. 

4. Amends the challenge system by granting a third challenge if a club is successful on at least one of its initial two challenges, and expands reviewable plays outside of two minutes of each half.

The first proposed rule would offer long snappers -- Jon Dorenbos included -- some extra protection. It would add this language to Article 6, Unnecessary Roughness: "When a team is in scrimmage kick formation, a defensive player may not initiate contact with the snapper until one second has elapsed after the snap." 

The second proposed rule change is one of the proposals that has garnered the most attention. Basically, the league now allows players to leap over the line of scrimmage on kicks as long as they don't touch anyone. This new rule would completely outlaw the process of leaping over the line. 

It seems like this rule change is likely to happen. The NFLPA has previously asked for this rule to be changed. 

"So the inevitable is going to happen, and just hearing from the players association, Philly now proposing it is really in the best interest of the game," former Eagle and league football operations director Troy Vincent said on a conference call Thursday. 

The next rule does pretty much exactly what it says: it expands the area that is considered to be the "crown of the helmet." 

Here's the new language that would be added to Article 8, Initiating Contact with the Crown of the Helmet: "Lowering the head and making forcible contact with the crown or 'hairline' parts of the helmet against any part of an opponent shall be considered a foul even if the initiating player's head moves after initial contact and the majority of contact occurs with the side or front of the helmet."

Finally, the last proposal isn't a safety one. It's about replay and is pretty self-explanatory for the most part. 

The reasoning given for this rule change on the proposal: "Provides coaches with a greater opportunity to correct subjective officiating errors, but excludes those fouls that have a minimal opportunity for reversal."

Two Eagles question why Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned

Two Eagles question why Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned

Two weeks into NFL free agency and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains available. He decided to test the market in free agency after not picking up the player option on his contract.

While there's still a chance Kaepernick gets signed, a couple of Eagles players are pointing out that some of the quarterbacks to get contracts recently aren't as good.   

On Monday, Geno Smith signed with the Giants, Josh McCown signed with the Jets and E.J. Manuel signed with the Raiders.

Kaepernick has a better record and completion percentage than those three quarterbacks. He's also second in touchdown passes, trailing only McCown by seven, 79-72, despite playing nine fewer seasons.

So, why aren't teams giving the quarterback who nearly won the Super Bowl against the Ravens in 2013 a chance?

It could be because of his protest of the national anthem last season.

According to Bleacher Report, about 20 percent of teams around the league believe he can play, but the others are simply using showing no interest as punishment for his protest:

"He can still play at a high level," one AFC general manager said. "The problem is three things are happening with him.

"First, some teams genuinely believe that he can't play. They think he's shot. I'd put that number around 20 percent.

"Second, some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.

"Third, the rest genuinely hate him and can't stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem]. They want nothing to do with him. They won't move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did."

And of course, President Donald Trump chimed in on Kaepernick's status in free agency.

Last year, Trump commented on Kaepernick's decision not to stand for the national anthem saying, ​"maybe he should find a country that works better for him."

Eagles' 5 most-pressing needs after free-agency flurry

Eagles' 5 most-pressing needs after free-agency flurry

While free agency is still ongoing, the major flurry of the first few days is long gone. 

The Eagles addressed one of their biggest needs by signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. It could be argued that receiver is still a need because of the length of these contracts and that's not a wild thought. It wouldn't be surprising if the Eagles still prioritize getting a wideout in the draft.

But after free agency, receiver is no longer the biggest need for the Eagles. In fact, it doesn't even crack the top five anymore. 

Let's take a look at the top five and how they can address them: 

1. Cornerback
This is No. 1, then there are about 1,000 miles until No. 2. The Eagles are in desperate need of cornerbacks. And even if they're able to sign a lower-level free agent that's still left on the market, they'll need to leave the draft with a couple corners. The good news for the Eagles is that if there was ever a good year to be extremely weak at corner heading into the draft, this is it. This class is extremely deep. 

Until the draft, here's a list of the corners on the Eagles' roster: Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks, C.J. Smith, Aaron Grymes, Dwayne Gratz, Mitchell White. 

Yeah, not great.

So the Eagles are definitely going to go into the draft on a mission to bring in some corners. There are going to be plenty of options in the first few rounds. It seems likely Marshon Lattimore will be gone when the Eagles are on the clock at 14, but they might have their pick of guys like Tre'Davious White, Marlon Humphrey and Gareon Conley, among others. And even if the Eagles don't grab a corner in the first round, they'll have opportunities to snag a playmaker in the first three rounds or so. At this point, it would almost be shocking if they didn't leave the draft with a couple. 

2. Defensive end
Jim Schwartz's entire defense is predicated on getting pass rush without blitzing. That's hard to do with edge rushers who aren't getting to the quarterback. It was already a problem last season, and now the Eagles have cut Connor Barwin and will have to start Vinny Curry. Maybe this will be the push Curry needs, but he didn't do anything to instill confidence last year after signing a $46 million megadeal. 

Right now, Marcus Smith is the third defensive end off the bench in the rotation, so the Eagles need plenty of help at this spot. 

If the Eagles want to use their 14th pick on a defensive end, there aren't a ton of options. Tennessee's Derek Barnett might make the most sense if he's still available. If not him, then maybe Missouri's Charles Harris or Michigan's Taco Charlton, although most mocks have them going a little later. 

Even if they don't grab one in the first round, there will be options later. Maybe a local product in Tanoh Kpassagnon will be an option in the second or third rounds. Or maybe Kansas State's Jordan Willis will be a fit.

3. Running back
Ryan Mathews is still on the roster, but it seems very likely he'll be cut once he heals from his neck injury. That could take a while. Once he's gone, the Eagles will be down to Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Byron Marshall and Terrell Watson. 

Running back is the last piece needed to really complete the offense. 

That's why many fans have been clamoring for Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey (is he like LeSean McCoy?) in the first round. And maybe the Eagles decide to just take a shot and give Carson Wentz another weapon/security blanket. But the franchise hasn't taken a running back in the first round since 1986. Since then, the Eagles have found success taking running backs later in the draft. And just last year, while with the Bears, Joe Douglas snagged Jordan Howard in the fifth, just a few spots before Smallwood. 

So if the Eagles think there's more value in taking a different position in the first round, there are plenty of options later. Guys like D'Onta Foreman, Marlon Mack and Kareem Hunt will be available in the next few rounds. Keep an eye on BYU's Jamaal Williams. He might not be ultra-explosive, but he has a three-down skill set and could be a steal a little later. 

4. Linebacker 
Because the Eagles have Jordan Hicks in the middle, the need at linebacker has been largely overlooked, and that's somewhat understandable. While the Eagles are hoping for big things in the future from Hicks, the rest of the position is in question. Nigel Bradham played really well in 2016, but he has one year left on his deal and isn't yet over his legal troubles. And while Mychal Kendricks is still on the team, it's pretty clear the Eagles are trying to trade him. 

After the three starters, the Eagles are left with Joe Walker, who is recovering from an ACL tear, special teamer Kamu Grugier-Hill, Najee Goode and Don Cherry. Not a lot of depth there. 

Would the Eagles think about using their first-rounder on a linebacker? What if Reuben Foster is there? Or what if they want to keep Temple's Haason Reddick in Philly? Would it really be that crazy? 

If they don't go for one early, look for the Eagles to gain a depth piece in a mid-to-late round. 

5. Defensive tackle 
Bennie Logan is gone and Beau Allen -- for now -- will be his replacement. While Allen was OK in 2016, he's just simply not as good as Logan. That's a problem. 

After Allen? Well, there's not much depth. The top backup is now Destiny Vaeao and then another undrafted player from last year, Aziz Shittu. While both Vaeao and Shittu might grow into decent NFL players, can the Eagles count on them this year? And while Taylor Hart couldn't find the field in 2016, he has now switched to offensive tackle and leaves the bench another spot short at defensive tackle. 

The talk all last offseason was about how the 2016 draft class was extremely deep at interior defensive tackle, but the Eagles didn't get one. Howie Roseman talked earlier this offseason about how there was a run on D-tackles last year, and they all went off the board quickly. Looking back, maybe the Eagles made a mistake by not grabbing one early. 

There might not be a guy at 14 who makes sense, but the Eagles should be looking in the other rounds for a possible future starter or at least another depth piece.