Vick threw a bad pick across his body (again) that killed a red-zone drive. Otherwise, he looked brilliant. Led another strong last-minute drive.
Brent Celek is a man. Shady is still human jello.
Brandon Boykin and Michael Kendricks look great in coverage. DeMeco Ryans can do no wrong. Juan Castillo is actually calling some good defenses instead of screaming quotes from "300" into his headset all game.
John Harbaugh might miss next week's Ravens game due to concussion-like symptoms after he basically forgot about Ray Rice and the hurry-up offense for most of the second half.
Scab refs keep on scab reffin'.
Grounds crew is going to have a tough week cleaning Joe Flacco's tears off the turf.
More to come tomorrow. Happy football.
It's the phrase every Eagles fan makes the middle of nearly every game, usually when the opponent is driving or the game has fallen into a malaise: "This would be a real good time for a turnover."
For the last four years, that meant Asante Samuel had to stop nursing his hamstrings long enough to jump a route and give the offense new life.
The Eagles didn't pay Asante Samuel to tackle people, according to Asante Samuel. The Eagles paid Asante Samuel to intercept passes. He would know. He's Asante Samuel.
He picked off passes a lot. Twenty-one times in his first three years in Philly, to be exact, including one postseason pick of Eli Manning.
Last July, though, the Eagles bought themselves two shiny new toys - Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. And suddenly, nearly seven INT's a season wasn't good enough.
The pieces didn't fit. The Eagles tried to make things work in Asante's favor last year, and, at the expense of Nnamdi and DRC's productivity, he had one of the best years of his career, even if he didn't put up his usual gaudy interception numbers.
But Nnamdi and DRC are man-to-man guys, and apparently, Juan Castillo can't make them work with #22, not that he made a lot of things work last season. So Asante is gone. He heads to Atlanta to start alongside sort-of-good-at-zone-coverage-guy Brent Grimes, which will give former starter Dunta Robinson plenty of time to go to hell. Have fun paying three cornerbacks a zillion dollars total, Arthur Blank.
Asante turned out to be one of the best free-agent signings in recent Eagles history. Better than The Freak. Better than T.O. And yes, it's hard to believe, but even better than Blaine Bishop. They paid Asante big money, and he earned it.
Then, there's what the Eagles got in return for Samuel. A...seventh...round...pick.
The Eagles got more for Lito Sheppard, even after the team spent a full year driving his value off a cliff. They probably could've gotten more if they'd tried to bring him to a recycling center. You can get teams to toss a seventh-round pick into any trade just by mentioning the number randomly during negotiations.
"Man, this has been a long morning. You know, you're the seventh call I've had to make, and it's not even noon..."
"Hey, speaking of which, want us to throw a seventh-round pick into this deal? You know, balance things out and all."
This trade comes down to cap room. It comes down to DRC not being able to play the slot. It comes down to...*sigh*...giving Joselio Hanson more playing time.
A few good things about the deal, though:
For four years, Andy Reid was a good little boy. The NFL told him where he would pick in the first round, and Andy obliged. It worked out pretty well for him, producing three Pro Bowlers and 4th and 26.
Then, Jerome McDougle happened.
It started a pattern of seemingly ineffective moves around the first round. The team usually acquires a Brinks truck of late-round picks every year, but have the early trades upward really been as bad as people perceive them? And has downshifting traditionally been the best move for the team? Let’s take a look by grading them on a scale from 1-5 McDougles, with 1 being “a totally defensible and overall very good move,” and 5 being “you just acquired Jerome McDougle.” And speaking of which…
2003 – Eagles trade their first and second round picks in 2003 (30th and 62nd overall) to San Diego for their first round pick in 2003 (15th).
Eagles’ haul – Jerome McDougle
Their haul – Sammy Davis , Terrence Kiel
It was understandable, really. Hugh Douglas was off to Jacksonville after the 2002 season, and the team was counting on a mix of N.D. Kalu, Brandon Whiting and coming-off-a-broken-foot Derrick Burgess at the defensive end spots. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, it’s because it wasn’t.
Enter McDougle. The Eagles, who picked 30th, traded their second-round pick to swap their first-round pick for San Diego’s 15th and took their first Miami player since Jerome Brown. And after Burgess blew out his Achilles at the start of the season, McDougle had high expectations, fairly or unfairly.
Jerome McDougle has had more bullets in his body than he’s had NFL starts.
San Diego didn’t exactly made out like bandits with the two guys they got (Sammy Davis and Terrence Kiel [RIP] were mediocre to below average at best), but McDougle has become the poster-child for Reid’s failures on the opening day of the draft. Grade: 5 McDougles
2004 – Eagles trade their first round and second round picks in 2003 (28th and 58th overall) to San Francisco for their first round pick in 2003 (16th overall).
Eagles’ haul – Shawn Andrews
Their haul –Chris Gamble (Carolina), Shawntae Spencer (San Francisco)
Andrews was an absolute monster, and one of my personal favorite early-round fantasy draft picks in Madden for years, before totally losing his mind in 2008. We may not be at liberty to judge exactly how much pain Andrews’ back put him through the last few years of his contract, but we can judge how properly his head was screwed in when there are more stories written about his music the last few years of his career than his football.
Chris Gamble’s career performance has traveled the proverbial roller coaster, but has played more good seasons than bad. Shawntae Spencer had that one good year and is now a Raiders nobody (a step below most NFL cornerback nobodies).
From 2005-2007, Andrews was an elite guard and a two-time Pro Bowler. But it’s amazing, even in the NFL, how a guy with three good years to his name got two different 6-plus-year contracts. Also, his presence cast a spell over the front office to trick them into signing his older, lazier, more crippled older brother. Grade: 2 McDougles
2005-2006 – Eagles do absolutely nothing, get Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley. Cool.
2007 – Eagles trade their first-round pick in 2007 (26th overall) to Dallas for their second, third and fifth-round picks in 2007 (36th, 87th, and 159th overall).
Eagles’ haul – Kevin Kolb, Stewart Bradley, C.J. Gaddis
Their haul – Anthony Spencer
The Kolb pick was less about his actual performance as an Eagle and more about what they got for him last off-season (DRC and another second-round pick). That worked out fairly well, actually. Nobody cares, because a few people booed him, so the entire city is somewhere below Libya on the "morality" scale, I guess.
Everyone lost their minds when the Eagles traded a pick to the Cowboys because Spencer was going to team up with Ware and overthrow the United Nations or something. He’s been fine, but nothing special.
Stew Bradley was at least the MLB-of-the-future-du-jour for a few minutes. C.J. Gaddis accidentally tackled a guy once when he played for the Bills. I’d also like to meet the 14 people who like C.J. Gaddis’ Facebook page. They’re probably great people. Grade – 3 McDougles
2008 – Eagles trade their first-round pick in 2008 (19th overall) to Carolina for their second and fourth-round picks in 2008 (43rd and 109th overall) and first-round pick in 2009.
Eagles’ haul – Trevor Laws, Mike McGlynn, Quintin Demps
Their haul – Jeff Otah
The Eagles kept moving down after this trade and ended up with Trevor “Breakin’ The” Laws. The Panthers jumped at the chance to get Jeff Otah, who formed a solid tackle tandem with Jordan Gross for a few years before Otah’s knees began to fail him.
The “Eagles’ Haul” list is a bit misleading – after all, even a one-legged Otah would be better than three backups who aren’t on the team anymore. However the Birds parlayed that first-round pick in 2009, along with a couple other choices, into Jason Peters, a worthwhile investment even if Peters is never the same/doesn’t play again after his Achilles surgery. Grade – 1.5 McDougles
2009 – Eagles trade their first and sixth round picks in 2009 (21st and 195th overall) to Cleveland for their first round pick in 2009 (19th overall).
Eagles’ haul – Jeremy Maclin
Their haul – Alex Mack, James Davis
James Davis has to be the only professional running back with less than 20 career rushing yards to leave a team because he was unhappy about his playing time.
Basically, this deal comes down to Mack vs. Maclin (headline-writer heaven), and that decision is a matter of personal preference/positional need. Mack made the 2010 Pro Bowl, albeit as a second alternate, and he’s regarded as one of the better centers in the league. Maclin oozes talent, but he’s yet to post a 1,000-yard season and had a couple boneheaded drops/turnovers last season. He’s still 23, so nearly anything could happen.
Still, it was a solid move based on the value – the Eagles jumped two spots and lost a sixth-round pick, which they have a million of every year (they drafted six times in round 5-7 that year). Did they need to? The Lions picked at 20, and even though Matt Millen was no longer embarrassing himself as the team’s GM (and was instead well on his way to embarrassing himself on national television again), you never know whether the Lions wanted a speed demon to pair with Megatron, or if they just wanted to see if they could wreck another first-round pick by using it on yet another receiver. Grade: 2 McDougles
2010 – Eagles trade their first-round pick and two third-round picks in 2010 (24th, 70th and 87th overall) to Denver for their first round pick in 2010 (13th overall).
Eagles’ haul – Brandon Graham
Their haul – Dez Bryant (Dallas), Ed Dickson (Baltimore), Eric Decker (Denver)
A quick recap of why this looks really bad right now:
· Jason Pierre-Paul blah blah blah
· The 24th pick the Eagles sent to Denver eventually wound up in Jerry Jones’ cold, dead hands, which he used to get Dez Bryant.
· When the Eagles moved up to 13, everyone in the world – well, all the Eagles fans I lived with at the time – was convinced they were going for Earl Thomas. Instead, they used their first two selections on Graham (who can't start anywhere now since the team signed Jason Babin) and Nate Allen (who was either never healthy last year or simply had trouble beating out Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum most of the season for playing time). Thomas has made a Pro Bowl and become a top-three free safety in the meantime.
· Not that this was the same exact thing that happened in the Jerome McDougle trade, but this was the exact same thing that happened in the Jerome McDougle trade.
· As a quick reminder, Jason Pierre-Paul. Grade – 5 McDougles
2011 – Fireman Dan. Did you know he was a firefighter? Because he used to be a firefighter.
To the judges:
Years the Eagles traded up: 3.5 McDougles
Years the Eagles traded down: 2.25 McDougles
What does it mean? Nothing. I averaged a bunch of scores on a fake scale that were determined subjectively by me in the span of a few hours. You’re all idiots for wasting your time reading this.
It means trading up for a guy that fills a position of need isn’t necessarily the best course of action, particularly when you don’t have any glaring positions of need. Of course, the Eagles do have two glaring positions of need flanking either side of DeMeco Ryans, but Claude Giroux will fire t-shirt cannons at a Nickelback concert before the Eagles take a linebacker in the first round.
Ahh….bad way to put it.
All the same, though, this seems like the ideal year to try and trade down, if anyone in the lower part of the draft wants to dive in. Let’s say, for example, that Ryan Tannehill starts falling down draft boards on Thursday for some reason. Cleveland, after taking some other schmuck at No. 4, sees a chance to make up for not getting RGIII. The Eagles just so happen to be on the clock. Let’s make a deal.
That’s just one of a few scenarios. And it would work a lot better than trying to move up again, if recent history is any indication.
Man, those guys who excessively analyze the NFL schedule when it comes out every year are a bunch of losers, right? Here’s an analysis of the recently-released 2012-13 NFL schedule for the Boids.
Week 1 (Sunday, Sep. 9, 1:00 PM)
AT Cleveland (4-12 in 2011, 3-5 at home)
At least we get our annual horribly-called Ron Pitts game out of the way early.
Prediction: The entire team gets lost in East Cleveland and dies.
Week 2 (Sunday, Sept. 16, 1:00 PM)
VS Baltimore (12-4 in 2011, 4-4 on the road, lost in AFC Championship)
See, the jacket was actually to cover up Donnie’s gut, not because it was cold.
Prediction: Asante comes back with an STD, even if he's not on the team anymore.
Week 3 (Sunday, Sept. 23, 4:05 PM)
AT Arizona (8-8 in 2011, 6-2 at home)
Fun fact: Cardinals backup quarterback Kevin Kolb was formerly a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. He is now apparently 45 years old.
Prediction: Larry FItzgerald all day long.
Week 4 (Sunday, Sept. 30, 8:20 PM)
VS G-G-G-G-G-G-G-Men (9-7 in 2011, 4-4 on the road, won Super Bowl)
Prediction: Everyone spends a week wondering, once again, why Eli has it so good.
Week 5 (Sunday, Oct. 7, 1:00 PM)
AT Pittsburgh (Pens Suck in 2011, Crosby’s a Bitch at home, Neal Deserves to be Shot in AFC Wild Card)
After an absolute bloodbath, it will be nice to go back to the purity and grace of football to get us back to a pure, healthy Philadelphia-Pittsburgh rivalry.
Prediction: Eagles line up for game-winning field goal, but Crosby pokes the ball away with his stick just before the snap.
Week 6 (Sunday, Oct. 14, 1:00 PM)
VS Detroit (10-6 in 2011, 5-3 on the road, lost in NFC Wild Card)
Juan: “Okay guys, we have Calvin Johnson this week, so we’re gonna f*** around with the coverage to make sure Jaiquawn Jarrett ends up on Megatron as much as possible.”
Prediction: Eagles bring back KC80 for sentimental value, then he goes for 400 yards and six touchdowns.
Prediction: Asante gives five other people his STD - four women and Riley Cooper
Week 8 (Sunday, Oct. 28, 1:00 PM)
VS Atlanta (10-6 in 2011, 4-4 on the road, lost in NFC Wild Card)
So sick of playing Atlanta.
Prediction: Eagles re-sign Todd Pinkston for the sole purpose of letting Dunta Robinson decapitate him.
Week 9 (Monday, Nov. 5, 8:30 PM)
AT New Orleans (13-3 in 2011, 8-0 at home, lost in NFC Divisional Round)
One can only presume this will be a cakewalk, as Chase Daniel is the best quarterback on the Saints that is currently under contract.
Prediction: We make some dumb joke about Asante and his STD on Bourbon Street even though it wasn't particularly funny when we started and we've totally run it into the ground.
Week 10 (Sunday, Nov. 11, 4:15 PM)
VS Pond Scum (8-8 on 2011, 3-5 on the road)
We have to be ready for Dallas to be 20 times as hate-able this season as they were last year. More on that later.
Prediction: Tony Romo is a baby-back bitch. DeMarco Murray truck-sticks Casey Matthews, who is playing middle linebacker because Juan thought the matchup called for substituting DeMeco Ryans with a worse player.
Week 11 (Sunday, Nov. 18, 1:00 PM)
AT Racistnames (5-11 in 2011, 2-6 at home)
If God has a sense of humor, he’ll get in Mike Shanahan’s ear and convince him that RGIII will benefit from spending a year on the bench learning from Sexy Rexy.
Prediction: Kurt Coleman doesn't give himself the team lead in interceptions in one game.
Week 12 (Monday, Nov. 26, 8:30 PM)
VS Carolina (6-10 in 2011, 3-5 on the road)
You have no idea how terrified we are of this game.
Prediction: Timely Bank of America foreclosure joke that reminds you that there are things in life more important than football.
Week 13 (Sunday, Dec. 2, 8:20 PM)
AT Pond Scum (5-3 at home in 2011)
Basically, three-and-a-half hours of Al Michaels losing his mind over the Cowboys, while Cris Collinsworth spends the whole time talking about Jason Peters even though he’s hurt.
Prediction: Some player does something earlier in the day that Bob Costas believes is naughty, naughty. Nobody calls Costas out for pontificating because he got to interview Jerry Sandusky.
Week 14 (Sunday, Dec. 9, 1:00 PM)
AT Tampa Bay (4-12 in 2011, 3-5 at home)
Theoretically, this game is no problem, but it’s also the kind of game where you won’t be shocked when LeGarrette Blount and Kellen Winslow start doing whatever they want for the upset.
Prediction: The game that makes you remember why talk-radio postgame shows are truly the work of Satan.
Week 15 (Thursday, Dec. 13, 8:20 PM)
AT Cincinnati (9-7 in 2011, 4-4 at home, lost in AFC Wild Card)
Just want to remind everyone that this man is a professional athlete.
Prediction: Eagles cruise, but defense tries not to beat up on Andy Dalton too much for fear Marvin Lewis will put Bruce Gradkowski in.
Week 16 (Sunday, Dec. 23, 1:00 PM)
VS Racistnames (3-5 on the road in 2011)
Remember, the Redskins consider signing two guys who aren’t as good as Santana Moss a way of “bolstering” their receiving corps.
Prediction: Redskins eek out a close one, setting up a win-and-in scenario next week when they face Dalls for the last wild ca...ahhh, just kidding. The Redskins are terrible.
Week 17 (Sunday, Dec. 30, 1:00 PM)
AT G-Strings (5-3 at home in 2011)
No shame in NBC just announcing right now that it's going to flex this game to Sunday night.
Boy, you ever wonder why Asante Samuel wanted out of Philadelphia? Maybe it’s because nobody wants him here, like, at all.
We’re approaching the eight-month mark of “Asante’s on the trade block!!!!” status. The Titans are the destination du jour according to the Gunner. And even though having a rookie come visit for a workout is far from turning in your card to the commissioner at the draft, it probably doesn’t bode well for Samuel’s odds of staying with Philly that the team keeps inviting cornerbacks to hang out with them.
The idea that Samuel of all guys is going to be the odd man out in the secondary is mind-boggling. Nnamdi and DRC looked lost or misused all year, and in the meantime, all Samuel did was perform like one of the five best cornerbacks in football.
Samuel has been one of the best big-name free agent signings of the last five years. The Birds paid him a truckload of cash, and he’s been a top-five cornerback for pretty much the duration of his deal. Further, anyone who says he doesn’t deserve the dough because he doesn’t hit people deserves to have their ears boxed. No team pays their cornerbacks on the basis of whether or not they can take a ballcarrier’s head off. No one talks about Darrelle Revis because he’s a hard hitter, and literally nobody talks about Sheldon Brown, period.
There are three reasons the Eagles might trade Samuel
· He costs too much money (north of $10 million next year)
· He doesn’t fit their scheme
· He’s not happy
The Eagles always have money on hand, so despite what Florio seems to believe, this isn’t a cap move. And as long as large sums of money continue to be directly deposited into his checking account (or savings or money market – maybe he’s a conscientious saver), Samuel seems to like Big Red and Philly.
So we’re looking at a big-time scheme shift for Juan Castillo if Samuel is dealt. All press-man, all the time. Buckle up, kids.
In other news…
· The booth is going to review all turnovers now, too. Coaches can now basically only challenge ball spots and catch/no catch now. This is good. Technology is only as good as the people who use it, but at least we’re well on our way to employing one guy to solely focus on replay decisions.
· Surprise! When you sign a bunch of free agents and your worst free-agency causality is Stewart Bradley, you don’t get any compensatory draft picks.
· Like every other team in the NFL, the Eagles inquired about Peyton Manning. Sources are unclear as to why the Eagles asked about Manning when they already committed to a guy with the 14th-best QB rating in the league, but some speculate the inquiry had to do with Peyton Manning being one of the best quarterbacks of all time.
· Rock on, Phil Sheridan.
· Say goodbye to Former Eagle Steve Smith of the Giants. (That’s his full name)
· Hey, Nnamdi’s a nice guy, everyone. Isn’t that sweet?
· Hey, the Eagles are nice guys, everyone. Isn’t that sweet, too?
· Apparently, FredEx didn’t make enough cash from the tax fraud scam he was a part of to pay his child support.
· Some reporter asked Pete Carroll if the $2 billion purchase of the Dodgers is a sign that football should come to Los Angeles, so now it’s Pete Carroll’s idea, apparently.
Peace, love, football.
Roseman and Reid have made all their noise for now. Last week was all about Roger Goodell being the man, Roger Goodell being a dick, and Drew Stanton somehow deciding he was the biggest, most important part of the Tim Tebow thing.
So we're now at the "rampant speculation" part of the offseason, which is just plain awesome, because it means Bleacher Report becomes simply incredible. It mutates into a parody of its already cartoonish nature. I can't get enough of it.
In all likelihood, you've stumbled upon Bleacher Report on your own in the past, though you swear it was by accident. It's okay, friend. Happens to the best of us. Sometimes you're groggily scanning your Internet-providing machine of choice late at night, digging for sports news or factoids in Google News, and you come across a bewildering headline like "Should Trent Cole Move to Linebacker?" Baffled, you click though to find a five-picture slideshow of Trent Cole looking like a football player with five absolutely fantastic reasons for moving him to linebacker with each picture. ("1. The Eagles Need a Linebacker. 2. Linebackers Are Sometimes Defensive Ends Too. 3. It Would Be Really Funny. 4. I Love Trent Cole. 5. The Eagles Can Totally Still Count on Near-Cripple Brandon Graham.")
The main problem with Bleacher Report is their tagline "Open source sports network that caters to citizen journalism." I don't want "citizen anything." I don't want indignant assholes making citizens' arrests, I don't want citizen electricians fixing downed power lines and I don't want a citizen surgeon doing anything to anyone ever. There's already a home for "citizen journalists," and it's on WIP, or stupid websites like this.
The problem is that stuff from Bleacher Report shows up under the NEWS tab of Google. And unless Paul Sturgess signs with the Eagles soon, the next four weeks of Eagles searches on news sites will be the denizens of Bleachertopia losing their f***ing minds. (Note: Asante Samuel being on the trade block is not news because Asante Samuel has been on the trade block
While I come up with more feature ideas for the blog, let's start one here. Every week we'll take a look at three BR articles or slideshows that have no equal. I'm not going to pretend we're going to break it down or go into explicit detail, because we're just going to make fun of it a lot. Hope you're okay with that.
1. Three Affordable Free Agent Running Backs for the No. 2 Spot
There are three running backs on this list, all of whom are Ronnie Brown. On a related note, the Eagles tried to trade Ronnie Brown in October for a running back with a brain tumor. (You could also compare the play styles of those three running backs to Mike Bell, who...was actually traded for the same running back a few years earlier
2. Drafting a QB Early May Give Andy Reid Job Security
Yes, instability is bad for a young quarterback, so because teams never make dumb or rash staffing decisions, there's no way Andy Reid will be fired if he drafts a quarterback to be the backup for Mikey "I Still Have Five Years and a Wazillion Dollars of Guaranteed Money Left On My Contract" Vick. (Kind of surprised that hasn't caught on as a nickname yet)
3. The Five Biggest Draft Needs for the Philadelphia Eagles
Well...the first and last one make sense. Sure.
Also, before we go, a moment of silence for the late Marion Barber III.
So, I'm gonna level with you for a minute here.
Electrical engineering = Pretty smart.
General relativity = Pretty f***in' smart.
The Eagles giving up a fourth-round draft pick and swapping third-rounders with the Texans to acquire DeMeco Ryans?
You could read all the articles and takes on this, but the opinions will boil down to this:
I'm going to totally pretend that I'm a renowned expert on Achilles tears and I absolutely wrote this article about NFL players recovering from them. Farthest thing from a slam dunk that Ryans returns to pre-Achilles-shredding form from the beginning of his career.
Like everything in football, though, it's all relative. Mikey Vick isn't as swift as he was when he was 23, but he's still the fastest, most agile quarterback in football, and he's still quicker than most men in a defensive front seven. Defensive coordinators aren't preparing for games saying, "Hey fellas, relax, this Vick guy isn't as fast as he used to be, so no big deal, okay?"
Same goes for Ryans. Speed was never his schtick to begin with, even coming out of college (not that an Achilles tear only impacts a player's running ability. I KNOW GUYS SETTLE DOWN). Even so, Ryans in a merman costume trying to pedal a tandem bicycle on his own around the field is leaps and bounds ahead of what Matthews and Jamar Chaney gave them last year. The Houston Chronicle's Texans writer spent most of the night making sweet, sweet love to Ryans on Twitter if you're interested.
It's a lottery ticket. If he's solid, the Eagles have him through 2015 at $6.5 million a year. If he isn't, not a time of it is guaranteed after this coming year. It's the Ernie Sims and Will Witherspoon trades combined, but a zillion times better - and in terms of player type, he's Mitt Romney's version of Dan Connor, a guy the Eagles were linked to before.
Plus, Big Red's spent every evening the last month or so watching scouting tape of Fletcher Cox alone in his dark bedroom without pants on. With the mike locked up, now he can actually draft him in April.
Before we go, just wanted to let you know that the Eagles showing up on this list is the dumbest thing of all time.
While I took a breather for a few days, Howie Roseman continued to pay his own players large sums of money.
Technically, Evan Mathis wasn’t his player anymore, as he had the chance to visit with the Ravens too (who needed to fill the hole left by Ben Grubbs, who left for the Saints, who needed to fill the hole left by Carl Nicks, who left for the Bucs, who needed to fill the hole left by Jeremy Zuttah, who’s being moved to center to fill the hole left by Jeff Faine, who was released and is now auditioning for the return of Prison Break to television).
Roseman got him back all the same, though, bagging him for 5 years and $25.5 million, $7 million guaranteed. Mathis can make somewhere north of $31 million overall if he hits all the incentives in his deal.
Mathis has shown flashes of brilliance before, but he finally got a chance to start full time last year and was, by all accounts, a boss. One wonders if he can maintain that kind of play for another full season, seeing as he’s never really had to before, but since he hasn’t played a ton over his career, he still has plenty of tread on his tires – perhaps why the team was willing to give the 30-year old a 5 year deal.
The Eagles have all kinds of stability on the offensive line now, and getting Mathis was definitely their best option at guard, rather than signing a replacement-level player and letting him compete with the oft-deactivated Julian Vandervelde for the job. And with the average salary somewhere between $5 and $6 million depending on whether Mathis hits certain escalators, the deal puts him in the upper salary range of guards without paying an embarrassingly disproportionate amount based on actual quality of play (here’s looking at you, Buccaneers guards other than Carl Nicks).
With all of that wonderful stuff being said, the “line stability” argument leans heavily on the way the line played for the second half of last season – not exactly an enormous sample size. (If the Eagles as a team played at the rate they did the last four games of last year, they’d have gone undefeated – ohhhhhmaaaaaannnn!!!)
That’s a risky bit to bet on considering the middle of the line will consist of three guys with one full season or less of starting football under their belt, two of whom are rookies. If any of them regress, fail or get injured, you’re looking at Vandervelde, King Dunlap, or recently-signed Mike Gibson.
Still, even the prospect of offensive line stability is something most teams would love to have. It’s what made the Giants so tough to beat in the mid-to-late 2000’s. If the middle of the line plays as well as it did last season, the Eagles will actually have the best line in football (as opposed to that “best offensive line in the league” that counted on actual production from the Andrews brothers a few years ago). It’s just not as foregone a conclusion as some might think.
Other Eagles things…
· Because of the pending TV contract, conventional wisdom says the salary cap is going to balloon over the next few years. The Eagles aren’t counting on that, hence the multitude of long-term, relatively cap-friendly deals now, and they’ll benefit from it regardless of whether or not the cap goes up significantly – if it doesn’t, they’ve prepared for it, and if it does, they have oodles of extra cap to re-sign guys or pick up free agents. (Of course, the guys currently under contract then will probably also be aware of how able the Eagles are to spend and ask to get re-upped)
· Speaking of extensions, the Shady McCoy extension is still progressing, If/when this gets done, Jeremy Maclin has to be next on the list. His deal runs out after 2013-14. Big year for J-Mac – if he can make a big jump this coming season, as opposed to being the “Not DeSean Jackson” guy, he’ll have all kinds of leverage. If he posts another 60-catch, 850-yard year, though, the Eagles could be more eager to lock him up at a low value the way they did with Jackson.
· The Eagles didn’t sign Dan Connor because…let’s get real here. Now Dallas has him to pair up with fellow Penn State product Sean Lee. With those two between DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, in addition to the signing of very good No. 2 corner Brandon Carr, the Cowboys are a Mike Jenkins rebound season away from having an excellent defense.
Elsewhere in the NFL…
· The Giants signed Martellus Bennett because Eli Manning is a fan of jokes.
· Either Rex Grossman thinks that RGIII will sit on the bench while Grossman “help[s] out that guy get up to top speed,” or he’s willing to accept the backup quarterback job for the Racistnames. Whatever. John Beck knows he’s the best quarterback on the team.
· The Racistnames whiffed on Eddie Royal, which is a shame because they really like mediocre wide receivers. They also got Brandon Meriweather and Cedric Griffin. Cool.
· Not Matt Dodge received a five-year extension for not being Matt Dodge.
And Automatic Dave is gone too. Le sadness.
Quick show of hands – who else got a contract extension from Howie Roseman in the last 48 hours?
Roseman spent most of last year’s 35-second offseason signing guys who’d never played for his team before (or who played for it very briefly before leaving for a year and having a career season so Roseman could sign him the year after for astronomically more money), but he’s singing a different tune this year. Last offseason, he said, “won’t you be my neighbor?” to a half-dozen or so gran nombre free agents; this year, he’s reminding current players that they are STILL his neighbor, damn it.
Yesterday, it was Todd Herremans and Trent Cole receiving extended stays in Philly. Today, it was 2011-12 malcontent DeSean Jackson “earning” some major guaranteed moolah. And word on the street is Roseman and the front office are nearly finished a big-time contract-lengthening agreement for Owen Schmitt.
Er, Shady McCoy.
Provided the McCoy deal pans out, that’s a lot of long-term security for four pretty big pieces. Unless the Eagles guarantee McCoy $20 million a year for life or something, the deal I’m least pleased with is Jackson’s.
Dan Graziano breaks down Jackson’s deal well on ESPN’s NFC East blog, and certainly, there are plenty of advantages to the deal for the Birds. It also means they’re paying Jackson like a top 10 receiver, which he is decidedly not.
Jackson actually caught a career-best 56 percent of passes thrown his way in 2011, up from a dismal 49 percent the year before. That’s still mediocre at best, though, and his percentage would be significantly higher if he didn’t have a chronic case of alligator arms…or if he’d look back at his quarterback once in a while when open.
Look at traditional statistics, and you’ll see Jackson behind such gamebreakers as Darrius Heyward-Bey and Nate Washington in receiving yards last year. You’ll also find him 25th in yards per game, and you’ll also discover Big Brent Celek had one fewer 20+ yard reception than D-Jax this year. Look at more advanced stats, such as Football Outsider’s “Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement” (DYAR) and “Defense-adjusted Value Over Average” (DVOA), and you’ll find he may have played even worse last season than you thought.
Of course, his defenders will point out there’s “no doubting Jackson’s abilities as a playmaker,” as we’ll no doubt hear countless times in the days following this deal, because of the value he brings on special teams. However, Jackson’s return opportunities are likely to be reduced even more now with his new “I’m A Number One Receiver So Use Me Like One” contract, the way they’ve disappeared since his rookie year. And while you can never take the Second Miracle away from him, for every dazzling return Jackson pulls off, he has another where he runs backwards five yards before fumbling the unsecured football. (Call it the Dante Hall effect)
This shouldn’t be perceived as the DeSean Jackson Rip Session. Publically airing his “health” concerns hit a sour note with fans, but it makes sense for a young guy who’s already been concussed twice in four years. He’s supremely gifted and could easily bounce back to the form of his second and third years in the league.
Nevertheless, to live up to the megabucks his extension provides, he has to outperform the job he did in his first four seasons, and he’s done nothing to indicate he can improve off that. Maybe the Eagles wanted to repay him for past success, but this isn’t Derek Jeter we’re talking about here.
He has no excuses now. He has his money and (some semblance of) long-term job/financial security. If he doesn’t step up in the next few years, though, as Graziano said, the Eagles wouldn’t have much issue kicking him to the curb.
Lots of other Eagles moves today:
· The team tendered Antonio Dixon, who’s coming off a torn triceps. If Dixon’s back to full strength, that defensive tackle rotation is going to be the nastiest, even if they don’t bring back Derek Landri.
· The front office decided the difference between the 176th pick in the 2012 draft and the 161st pick was approximately one Winston Justice. He’s gone, and so is his $4 million cap hit (of which they'll actually save about $2.4 million). To commemorate his departure, we’ve compiled a tribute video highlighting his commendable charitable work in the community, as well as the highlights of his recent G20 keynote speech on the undesirable side-effects of austerity measures in Greece.
(Nah, here’s three minutes of Osi Umenyiora lighting him on fire. Dammit)
· The release of Jamaal Jackson is as much a mercy decision as it is a football one. Jackson’s been hurt so often the last few years that by the time he was relatively healthy this season, Jason Kelce had taken his job. Jackson gets a chance to start somewhere else, the Eagles get $2 million in cap relief for the next two seasons, and Kelce can resume antagonizing fans at practice knowing he at least has job security.
· Speaking of antagonizing fans, Kelce’s partner-in-antagonizing, Evan Mathis, hasn’t signed anywhere yet, but Carl Nicks is off the market, meaning the guard stockpile is down to Mathis, Ben Grubbs, the decaying Steve Hutchinson and a bunch of schmucks. And if the Redskins get Mathis I swear to the heavens I don’t even man just no damn it no.
· Staying on the subject of schmuck guards, the Eagles picked up one, too. Luckily, the Eagles’ official mouthpiece says acquiring said schmuck is not a reflection on their thoughts towards Mathis, so we can relax knowing the Eagles would never, ever acquire a guy as an eff-you to a player griping about his contract/potential departing player at the same position.
Elsewhere in the NFL…
· Too many Eagles things happened, so I don’t care.
· Oh hell, let’s laugh at the Racistnames some more. Dan Snyder knows he needs to have some good players to start with for the whole “use free agency to plug up holes” thing to work, right?