SI Grades the Eagles in Their NFC East Off-Season Report Card

Sports Illustrated has released their grades for the offseason to this point, including of course the Eagles and the rest of the NFC East.

Here’s some of what the site had to say about the Eagles to this point in the offseason.

On defense, the personnel has been shuffled, starting up front. Sturdy veteran Connor Barwin was released. In his stead is Chris Long, another sturdy veteran who can set the edge against the run, and first-round pick Derek Barnett, who figures to at first be a pass-rushing specialist behind Long.

At nosetackle, Bennie Logan signed with Kansas City; in his spot (sort of) is ex-Raven Timmy Jernigan. We say “sort of” because Logan was a gap-clogger who could dominate with strong east/west movement. Jernigan is more of a north/south gap-shooter. His best position is three-technique (i.e. between the guard and tackle). He and Fletcher Cox can each line up at a three-tech spot on third downs, but on first and second down, one of those two will have to align tighter inside, between the guard and center (i.e. at “nose shade”). Cox might be the best all-around three-tech in football; the guess here is Jernigan will play the nose. But can he?

Changes abound in the secondary, too. Starting corners Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin were allowed to walk in free agency. (Both could be effective at times, but neither was effective all the time. McKelvin could be especially up and down.) Journeyman Patrick Robinson was signed in free agency, but the real additions were second-round pick Sidney Jones and third-round pick Rasul Douglas. They’ll be counted on to start in nickel in 2018. For Douglas, it could even be sooner. For Jones, it will be whenever his torn Achilles is healed.

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz believes in straightforward, fundamentally sound football. That is to say, he doesn’t riddle his scheme in complexities. Theoretically, this should make it easier for newcomers to contribute right away.

Grade: B-

You can read the rest of what SI has to say about the Eagles, as well as the NFC East by clicking HERE

Eagles Hope Adding Big Back Blount Will Add Punch to the Run Game in 2017

The Eagles made a move on Monday they think will bring a big boost to their run game on Wednesday, as the team agreed to a one-year deal with former New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount.

Last season Blount led the NFL with 18 scored touchdowns, but when it counted the most he kind of vanished into thin air, as during the Super Bowl he was an afterthought during the Patriots record setting comeback.

The Eagles and Blount will open the NFL season in 2017 against the rival Washington Redskins, and don’t forget you can get the latest football matches at William Hill, including all the Eagles games for the upcoming season.

Back to Blount, the Eagles seem to want to see what they can get out of the Pats running back, as they only inked him to a one-year deal, showing that even today over 1000 yards and 18 touchdowns is not worth much in today’s NFL.

The 30-year-old Blount is the latest veteran playmaker the Eagles have added in free agency. They also signed wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, showing they want to give more weapons to second-year quarterback Carson Wentz.

If there was one area on the Eagles last season that could use some work, it was grinding out big yards in big games, and here’s hoping that adding Blount will be able to do that.

He’s always been a back that’s been known for getting the tough yards when it counts the most, and the Eagles haven’t had a physical running back like that in quite a long time.

It is hard to believe, but Blount joins his fourth team in eight seasons. He began his career in Tampa Bay and also played briefly with Pittsburgh in between two stints with the Patriots – last season it paying off with his second Super Bowl ring with New England.

In 2016 the Eagles were not a running team that was known for being able to get the job done when it was needed. They had Darren Sproles, but he’s not exactly known as a back that will get you very many 100-yard games.

Then there’s Ryan Mathews, who ran for 661 yards last season with eight touchdowns, a player the team has been waiting to break out, but again, one that is not going to make many other teams cringe when it comes to thinking about intimidating running backs.

Give Blount the ball a lot in preseason, get him use to the Eagles offense, and let’s see what he can do in 2017. For the Eagles, he might be the best option they have in running the football.

Eagles and Free Agent RB LeGarrette Blount Agree to One-Year Deal

The Eagles have come to terms with free agent running back LeGarrette Blount, it’s a one-year deal for the former Patriots running back.

Last season with the Super Bowl Champion Patriots Blount for 1161 yards and an NFL high 18 touchdowns. He played in all 16 games and three postseason games and stated eight games for New England.

In his career he’s appeared in 100 regular season games with 49 rushing touchdowns.

Eagles Coach Pederson Not Concerned About DE Brandon Graham Not Being at Offseason Program

Following the lead of Eagles top football executive Howie Roseman a day earlier, coach Doug Pederson on Friday said he too is not terribly concerned about the departure of defensive end Brandon Graham from the team’s voluntary offseason program, Nick Fierro of the Allentown Morning Call reports.

Speaking before the opening practice of rookie camp, Pederson gave no indication of any dissatisfaction.

“I love Brandon,” Pederson said, “and obviously he and I have a great relationship. He’s been here. As you guys know, this is a voluntary offseason program, so a lot of this is out of my hands. But he’s a guy that’s valuable to the football team and I’m not worried about him at all.”

Pederson is not sure if Graham will return for Organized Team Activities (OTAs), which begin on May 23.

“He and I have had conversations as I do with a lot of the players,” Pederson said. “Again, the expectation is would I like him here? Yeah. Voluntary? I got it. And that’s the hardest part as a coach is when you’re working on that type of schedule. It’s hard. But at the same time, he’s a guy that’s a veteran player, understands his role, understands his assignment, and [we] expect big things from him this season.”

Eagles DE Brandon Graham to Reportedly Hold Out For a New Deal

Defensive end Brandon Graham has stopped attending Eagles workouts and is expected to skip organized team activities later this month – and also possibly mandatory minicamp in June – until the Eagles renegotiate his contract, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Graham signed a four-year, $26 million contract in 2015 and is slated to earn $6.5 million in each of the last two years of the deal. He was the Eagles’ most productive defensive end last season, and his base salary for 2016 is $500,000 less than defensive end Vinny Curry, who inked a five-year, $46.25 million contract last offseason.

Graham, 29, is the 28th-highest-paid edge rusher in the NFL, on a per-year scale. Curry, who didn’t start last season despite his blockbuster deal, is 13th highest.

Graham, reached via text message Wednesday, declined to address his potential holdout.

“Can’t talk about contract stuff right now,” Graham said.

The Eagles had no comment. Graham would be fined each day he missed minicamp, which is scheduled for June 13-15. OTAs will begin on May 23 and run for three weeks.

Eagles Won’t Pick Up Fifth-Year Option on DE Marcus Smith

The Eagles will not the exercise the fifth-year option of defensive end Marcus Smith, Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. This per a league source.

Smith, 25, was a 2014 first-round pick who has only four sacks in three seasons. The deadline for exercising the option is Tuesday. By declining the option, the Eagles are allowing Smith to become a free agent after the 2017 season — if he even makes the 53-man roster.

Smith will have a salary-cap number of $2.48 million in 2017, although he faces significant competition for playing time. The Eagles will return defensive ends Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, and they signed veteran Chris Long and drafted Derek Barnett in the first round. So four players are already ahead of him on the depth chart, with Steven Means and Alex McCalister competing for spots and undrafted rookies likely to arrive at the position.

Most fifth-year options are exercised for first-round picks because they are only guaranteed for injury, so teams could still cut the player after the fourth year. However, if the Eagles exercised the option and Smith suffered an injury this season that extended beyond the first day of the 2018 league year, the Eagles would be on hook for his salary. Smith’s 2018 salary would have been the average salary of the third-through-25th highest-paid players at his position. That was why the Minnesota Vikings reportedly did not exercise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s fifth-year option, and why Buffalo might pass on wide receiver Sammy Watkins’ option.

This decision is another bad sign in Smith’s tenure with the Eagles. A controversial pick out of Louisville in 2014 after the Eagles missed out on their initial targets, Smith seesawed between outside linebacker and inside linebacker as a rookie. That stunted his development, and he played only 68 defensive snaps that year.

A Rundown of All the Philadelphia Eagles 2017 NFL Draft Picks

Sports Illustrated has a complete rundown of all of the Eagles 2017 Draft Picks and some commentary as well.

Round 1, Pick 14 (No. 14 overall)

Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: This is a good pick. It’s a relatively safe pick. It does not address the Eagles’ biggest need, which is at cornerback, and it also ignores a couple players who slipped down the board. The real positive is in pairing Barnett’s skill off the edge with Jim Schwartz’s scheme. Barnett can line up wide and worry about little else beyond penetrating into the backfield, which is exactly the type of role that should play to his strengths as a pass rusher. Brandon Graham, Chris Long and Barnett make for a talented DE trio from which Schwartz should be able to find a lot of sacks. GRADE: B

Round 2, Pick 11 (No. 43)

Sidney Jones, CB, Washington: Sidney Jones’s Achilles injury would have made him a significant gamble in the first round. In Round 2, though, he’s a value. Remember, he was thought of as a potential top-10 pick before that setback at his pro day. He’s a tall, physical cornerback who can lock down on the outside. When he gets healthy again, the Eagles could have a star. GRADE: A

Round 3, Pick 35 (No. 99)

Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia: Definitely do not mind the Eagles doubling down on cornerback Friday night—it was a trouble spot on their depth chart, and Sidney Jones (their Round 2 pick) likely won’t be available until at least October. Douglas doesn’t have a ton of speed, but he has size, length and a knack for getting in front of receivers.? GRADE: A–

Round 4, Pick 12 (No. 118) Mack Hollins, WR, UNC

Round 4, Pick 26 (No. 132) (From Vikings) Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State

Round 5, Pick 22 (No. 166) Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia

Round 5, Pick 41 (No. 184) (Compensatory pick, from Dolphins) Nate Gerry, S, Nebraska

Round 6, Pick 31 (No. 214) Elijah Qualls, DT, Washington

Eagles Land Big Name Sack Stud; Take Tennessee’s Derek Barnett with 14th Pick in NFL Draft

The Eagles added to their defense on Thursday night, snapping up a big name in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The team took Tennessee all-time sack leader Derek Barnett, a player that should add quite a bit to a defense in transition.

“I’m excited,” Barnett said at the press conference following his selection. “I don’t have to go far just a few blocks up the street. I appreciate the love I’ve been receiving already.”

Philadelphia have a long history of selecting Vols. Barnett is the 18th Vol to be selected by the Eagles in the NFL Draft or Supplemental Draft. That group includes VFL legends such as Frank Emanuel, Reggie White, Antone Davis and Charlie Garner. The Eagles selected White with the fourth overall pick of the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft of USFL and CFL players.

“I’ve heard the fans are very passionate and I know I’m going to an organization with a lot of great players,” he said. “I just can’t wait, I’m ready to get to work and everybody’s been telling me to enjoy the moment but I love football and I’m ready to get back to what I love to do.”

Barnett is Tennessee’s first NFL first-round draft pick since the Miami Dolphins took Ja’Wuan James with the No. 19 overall selection in 2014. The last time the Eagles took a UT player in the first round of the NFL Draft, they selected Antone Davis with the eighth overall pick of 2008.