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.

A Look at the 2017 Eagles Schedule with a Glance at the Good and the Bad

The 2017 NFL Schedule is out as well as the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles Schedule, and here’s a look at the slate for the upcoming season, with the home games in bold:

Sep. 10 at Washington Redskins 1:00 PM

Sep. 17 at Kansas City Chiefs 1:00 PM

Sep. 24 New York Giants 1:00 PM

Oct. 1 at Los Angeles Chargers 4:05 PM

Oct. 8 Arizona Cardinals 1:00 PM

Oct. 12 at Carolina Panthers (Thu) 8:25 PM

Oct. 23 Washington Redskins (Mon) 8:30 PM

Oct. 29 San Francisco 49ers 1:00 PM

Nov. 5 Denver Broncos 1:00 PM

Nov. 12 BYE

Nov. 19 at Dallas Cowboys * 8:30 PM

Nov. 26 Chicago Bears 1:00 PM

Dec. 3 at Seattle Seahawks * 8:30 PM

Dec. 10 at Los Angeles Rams 4:25 PM

Dec. 17 at New York Giants 1:00 PM

Dec. 25 Oakland Raiders (Mon) 8:30 PM

Dec. 31 Dallas Cowboys 1:00 PM

What’s Good about this Schedule: If the Eagles are to make the posteason or be in the mix, they have the final two games of the regular season at home, with a big matchup with Derek Carr and the Raiders on a Monday night on Christmas, and then a huge game on New Year’s Eve afternoon against the Dallas Cowboys.

What’s Bad about this Schedule: Three of the first four games for this young team looking to get going will be on the road, and their only home game will be against the Giants. A win over the Redskins opening day would be a great start to the season as they look to make the playoffs.

Quintin Mikell Leaving the Eagles Front Office

Quintin Mikell, the former Eagles safety who spent the last year in the front office as the director of player engagement, is leaving the team, Philly.com reports.

The job was created during Harold Carmichael’s long tenure with the team. In a story for an NFL website, Mikell explained the role this way:

“This position has been around a while, but it’s changed over the years. It’s different now in that it used to be a former player who would just kind of be around if you needed something. Now, it’s development, just as it says ‘player development.’ My job is trying to help, not just our young players, but any of our players, develop on and off the field. If it’s a rookie, it’s getting them used to the NFL life, the different stresses and ups and downs you go through; to a guy that’s been in the league for a couple years but still isn’t sure where he is. Maybe he wants to start getting ready for his exit. What should he do? How should he plan? And it goes all the way to the guy who is on the way out and I’m helping them transition to life after the game.’’

Veteran Eagles Beat Writer Jeff McLane Tossed From Lincoln Financial Field During Sunday’s Game

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles on Sunday ejected Inquirer beat writer Jeff McLane from Lincoln Financial Field after he and a member of the Eagles’ media relations department got into an argument over how loudly reporters in the press box were discussing a penalty, Chris Palmer of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

McLane, who has covered the team for eight seasons, was escorted from the stadium during the second half of the Eagles’ final regular-season game, against the Dallas Cowboys.

Anne Gordon, the team’s senior vice president of marketing, media, and communications and a former Inquirer managing editor, said McLane violated the press box’s “well-understood code of conduct” while arguing with the Eagles employee.

The ejection brought a sharp rebuke from Inquirer senior vice president and executive editor Stan Wischnowski.

“We find the actions taken by the Eagles media relations staff to be extremely disappointing and unprofessional,” Wischnowski said. “Jeff has spent eight years covering the Eagles exhaustively in a fair, accurate and thorough manner.”

McLane said that during the game, Zach Groen, an Eagles public relations coordinator who sits in the press box, told journalists sitting in McLane’s row that they were speaking too loudly while debating a penalty in the third quarter.

McLane said he and the other reporters snapped back at Groen. Gordon said McLane told Groen to “shut up,” though McLane said he did not use those words.

McLane said that after the initial verbal sparring, he decided to talk about the issue with Groen outside the press box.

McLane said the discussion was “a slight argument, but nothing out of the ordinary.” He said the discussion included his mentioning a football writers’ union that advocates for access by journalists. After a few minutes, McLane said, both men calmly returned to the press box.

About 15 minutes later, McLane said, an Eagles security employee returned with Gordon and told McLane he was being kicked out. Daily News columnist Marcus Hayes posted a picture of the encounter on Twitter.

Gordon cited McLane’s behavior and his bringing up the union during the conversation with Groen as factors in his dismissal. She did not elaborate.

“I asked for security to eject Jeff from our press box, a press box that has a standard code of behavior that every reporter understands and actually participates in endorsing and policing . . . so that people can watch the game and can follow and do their jobs carefully,” she said.

Giants vs Eagles NFL Week 16 Notes

THURSDAY NIGHT NOTES:

NEW YORK GIANTS (10-4) AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (5-9)

December 22, 2016

Week 16 kicks off on Thursday night as the Philadelphia Eagles host the New York Giants (NBC, NFL Network, Twitter; 8:25 PM) in an NFC East showdown. The Giants, who have 10 wins for the first time since 2010, can clinch a playoff berth with a victory. New York defeated the Eagles 28-23 in Week 9 as QB ELI MANNING passed for four touchdowns, including two to WR ODELL BECKHAM JR. Beckham, who has 85 receptions for 1,173 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, joined JOHN JEFFERSON (1978-1980) and RANDY MOSS (1998-2000) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches in each of his first three NFL seasons. Eagles QB CARSON WENTZ, the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, leads all rookies with 339 completions and ranks second with 3,385 pass yards and 13 touchdown passes, while LB JORDAN HICKS is one of two NFL linebackers (THOMAS DAVIS) with at least three interceptions (three) and a sack this season.

REGULAR SEASON SERIES

  GIANTS EAGLES
SERIES LEADER 83-78-2  
STREAKS   4 of past 5
COACHES VS. OPP. Ben McAdoo: 1-0 Doug Pederson: 0-1
LAST WEEK W 17-6 vs. Detroit L 27-26 at Baltimore
LAST GAME 11/6/16: Eagles 23 at Giants 28. New York Giants QB Eli Manning passes for 257 yards & 4 TDs. Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. has 2 TD catches.
LAST GAME AT SITE 10/19/15: Eagles 27, Giants 7. Philadelphia RB DeMarco Murray rushes for 112 yards & TD. Eagles CB Nolan Carroll has 17-yard INT-TD.
REFEREE Clete Blakeman
BROADCAST NBC/NFLN/Twitter (8:25 PM ET): Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, Heather Cox (Field reporter). Westwood One: Tom McCarthy, Tony Boselli. SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 83 (NYG), 81 (Phi). XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (NYG), 225 (Phi).

STATS

PASSING Eli Manning: 322-508-3491-25-13-89.3 Carson Wentz (R): 339-540-3385-13-13-78.5
RUSHING Rashad Jennings: 154-497-3.2-2 Ryan Mathews: 137-615-4.5-8
RECEIVING Odell Beckham Jr.: 85-1173-13.8-10 Jordan Matthews: 71-792-11.2-3
OFFENSE 320.6 340.4
TAKE/GIVE -3 +2
DEFENSE 347.5 344.2
SACKS Olivier Vernon: 8.5 Fletcher Cox: 6.5
INTs Landon Collins: 5 Jordan Hicks, Rodney McLeod: 3
PUNTING Brad Wing: 46.2 Donnie Jones: 45.4
KICKING Robbie Gould: 30 (18/21 PAT; 4/4 FG) Caleb Sturgis: 120 (24/25 PAT; 32/37 FG)

NOTES

GIANTS: QB ELI MANNING has 559 pass yards (279.5 per game) with 6 TDs & 2 INTs for 94.9 rating in past 2 vs. Phi. Is 7th player in NFL history with 4,000+ career completions (4,017)…RB RASHAD JENNINGS has 394 rush yards & 2 TDs in past 5 meetings…WR ODELL BECKHAM JR. has 26 receptions for 354 rec. yards & 4 TDs in past 4. Has 35 TD catches since 2014, most in NFL. Is 1st player in NFL history with 80+ catches & 1,000+ rec. yards in each of 1st 3 seasons. WR STERLING SHEPARD ranks 2nd among NFL rookies with 592 rec. yards & ties for 2nd with 7 TD catches. WR VICTOR CRUZ has 3 rec. TDs in 4 games at Phi…DE OLIVIER VERNON has 7.5 sacks in past 7. Has 2 sacks in past 3 vs. division. CB DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE had INT in Week 15. S LANDON COLLINS is only player with 5+ INTs (5) & 3+ sacks (3). Leads NFC safeties with 108 tackles…EAGLES: QB CARSON WENTZ ranks 2nd among NFL rookies with 3,385 pass yards & 13 pass TDs. Has 88.5 rating in 6 career home games…RB RYAN MATHEWS has 5 rush TDs in past 6. RB DARREN SPROLES is only player in NFL history with 30+ rec. TDs (30), 20+ rush TDs (21), PR-TD (7) & KR-TD (2)…WR JORDAN MATTHEWS has 3 TD catches in past 4 vs. NYG. Has 26 receptions for 322 yards & 2 TDs in past 4 at home vs. division. In past 2 meetings, TE ZACH ERTZ has 17 receptions for 249 rec. yards (124.5 per game). Has 524 rec. yards (87.3 per game) in past 6 vs. NFC East…DT FLETCHER COX has 2.5 sacks in past 2. Has 6.5 sacks & FF in past 7 at home. LB JORDAN HICKS had INT in Week 15. Has 5 INTs since 2015, tied for 2nd-most among NFL LBs. CB NOLAN CARROLL aims for 3rd in row vs. NYG with INT.

Eagles Ink CB Dwayne Gratz and Long Snapper Rick Lovato

Dwayne Gratz

The Eagles signed cornerback Dwayne Gratz and long snapper on Rick Lovato on Monday night and placed long snapper Jon Dorenbos, running back Wendell Smallwood, and tackle Matt Tobin on injured reserve, Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

They still have one open spot on the 53-man roster.

Gratz, 26, is in his fourth NFL season and last played for the Los Angeles Rams. He spent his first three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, starting 25 of 37 games from 2013-2015. He has 119 career tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one touchdown.

Lovato, 24, played two games with the Green Bay Packers last season and two games with the Washington Redskins this season. He’s from Middletown, N.J. and played college football at Old Dominion.