Combine week is notoriously a busy period for NFL teams and the Eagles have been no exception. There have been some interesting headlines regarding the team that have surfaced today, from a contract extension for Jaylen Watkins, to a potential trade in the works. Here’s all of your Eagles related news for a busy day:
Jaylen Watkins returns:
The Eagles confirmed today that they have signed backup Safety Jaylen Watkins to a one-year deal. Watkins was a pending free agent and was coming off a big year. While his stats may not show it, Watkins actually played in 37% of defensive snaps for the Eagles in 2016, filling the void left by Malcolm Jenkins when he filled in for Ron Brooks as the slot cornerback.
Amassing 32 tackles in that time, Watkins certainly proved he belongs after taking a gamble in the offseason. Watkins moved to Safety after the cornerback was inundated with new faces during the offseason. Sixth round pick Blake Countess was the odd-man out, as a strong preseason effort secured Watkins’ spot on the 53-man roster. A spot that would prove vital in the weeks to come.
Watkins proved to be more than capable as a cornerback in 2015 and followed his impressive season closing games up with a consistent 2016 effort when he was forced into the front lines of a new position. Extending him means the Eagles have continuity at the Safety spot, with Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod starting ahead of the former Florida product.
Allen Barbre being shopped?
According to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, Eagles left guard Allen Barbre has been given permission to seek a potential trade.
#Eagles have given G Allen Barbre permission to seek a trade
— Jason Cole (@JasonCole62) March 4, 2017
With Jason Peters returning in 2017, the offensive line appears to have found sustenance, although the Eagles starting left guard has now been granted access to a potential trade. Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice had previously speculated that Barbre may well become a cap casualty of the Eagles, due to his $1.9M cap hit in 2017.
If the Eagles do let Barbre go, they will likely rely on Isaac Seumalo, who flashed plenty during his rookie season in the limited snaps he played. Whether a suitor is found for the 32-year old remains to be seen, but it’s clear the Eagles are prepared to relieve some pressure from their cap space situation, as well as begin building a line that will last the duration of Wentz’s rookie deal. Johnson and Brooks are the long-term options on the right hand side and with Seumalo starting at LG, it would leave veteran Jason Peters and Center Jason Kelce’s futures to be decided.
Eagles tried to trade for Brandin Cooks one year ago:
With all the speculation surrounding the Eagles and potential trade target, Brandin Cooks, it’s interesting to hear that the Eagles actually tried to trade for the Saints wide receiver prior to the 2016 trade deadline if a report from Jeff McLane is true. Not only that, but as we learned recently, the Birds’ were looking to draft Brandin Cooks back in 2014.
This previous interest should come as no surprise, but it’s clear that fuel is being added to a fire that demands substance. The Saints are said to want a reasonable return in exchange for a the discontent receiver who has amassed at least 1,000 yards in each of his last two seasons. Whether the Eagles will pursue Cooks or not will likely have a large implication on their draft strategy, due to Cooks having 3-years worth of NFL experience, despite being just 23-years old.
John Ross breaks a Combine 40-yard dash record (4.22):
The Eagles have been linked with just about every wide receiver possible who is eligible for this year’s draft, but Washington Huskies WR John Ross did something extraordinary at the Combine, breaking the 40-yard dash record, amassing a stunning time of 4.22 seconds.
It’s no hidden fact that the Birds have been seeking a deep threat who can stretch the field in Pederson’s west-coast offense (See Bryce Treggs and Chris Givens), and it looks like Ross, who amassed 1,150 yards in 2016, could fit the bill perfectly.
Terrelle Pryor to test free agency:
After months of speculation surrounding the future of breakout Browns wide receiver and former quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, it appears as though he is to hit free agency. After recording 1,007 tards in 2016, Pryor was at least expected to be franchise tagged by the Browns, instead..it appears as though he’s been allowed to test the free agency market, despite a reasonable pursuit.
Pryor should obviously interest the Eagles, but after such a stunning year, it would be fair to assume that the former Raider is expecting a heft payday..and there’s no doubt he deserves it. The problem is, do the Eagles have enough cap space to sign him..and if they do, what role would he play.
The Browns surprisingly had a solid receiving corps in 2016..with Pryor and rookie Corey Coleman headlining the group. If the Eagles were to sign Pryor as a number one wide receiver, it would be placing all of their chips on the table on a receiver with just one full NFL season’s experience at the position and one solid season at that. It’s not to say he’s undeserving of such a salary, but he wouldn’t be surrounded by the same talent to elevate his game as he was in 2016..and now teams will have a year of wide receiver tape on him..it’s unlikely he will make the same splashes he did a year ago.
If the Eagles sign Pryor as a 2nd/3rd wide receiver, who loses out? Jordan Matthews controls the slot and Nelson Agholor would naturally fit alongside whomever the Eagles decide to add to a lacking position. Dorial Green-Beckham, Paul Turner and Bryce Treggs could all find themselves fighting for their Eagles future in such an instance.
This is of course all speculative and there will naturally be plenty of teams bidding for Pryor’s services..but will the Eagles be one of them?
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports