The Eagles are in safe hands thanks to a new generation of leaders despite the end of an era on the horizon

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith celebrates after scoring with quarterback Jalen Hurts during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Philadelphia Eagles kickstarted their offseason workouts this past weekend by hosting rookie minicamp down at the NovaCare Complex. Establishing the tone for the newest recruits was the priority this past weekend, and it became clear very early on that there is even more to Howie Roseman’s masterplan than meets the eye.

A changing of the guard for the Eagles

The Eagles have completely reshaped the way they value players. A shift from production to athleticism and character-based traits have marked the dawn of a new era in Philadelphia, and a focus on leadership has become the epicenter of how the team is built.

It’s also a tough window for Philadelphia to navigate with that in mind. Both Jason Kelce and retired this offseason, and we all know that Brandon Graham and Lane Johnson won’t be around forever. All of these players have been fixtures of the team for over a decade, and their presence in the locker room is bound to be missed.

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Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham celebrates after a sack against the Buffalo Bills during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The good news is that while Howie Roseman has been putting his efforts into building the next generation of this team through the NFL Draft, he’s also ensured that the ‘leadership’ baton is ready to be received by the next men up.

A new generation of leaders

When asked about the arrival of Jalyx Hunt, a small-school edge rusher who has some tremendous athletic upside, Head Coach Nick Sirianni was quick to comment about how valuable the mentorship from some real franchise greats truly is.

“Goodness, he gets to be around [DE Brandon Graham} B.G., and that’s huge. Just like it was for [C/G] Cam [Jurgens] to be around [Former Eagles C] Jason [Kelce]. And just like it was for [DT] Jordan [Davis] and [DT] Jalen [Carter] to be around [DT Fletcher] Fletch [Cox]. It’s going to be the same thing there. 

It’s not only that person at that position, it’s getting them immersed into the culture. Our culture is our behaviors, what you do every single day, over and over and over again. So it’s exciting that they’re here.

DeVonta Smith and A.J Brown were both seen at the NovaCare Complex over the weekend to offer support to the newest birds to the nest. No Eagles practice is mandatory until the end of OTA’s, so the fact they were willing to show up to work in order to support young players and offer their tutelage is a huge testament to their characters and the type of culture that the Eagles are continuing to establish.

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 12: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver AJ Brown (11) runs a route during pre-season game between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles on August 12, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

“What was really cool in my mind was that [WR] A.J.[Brown] was out there today and that Jordan Mailata was out there today.” Sirianni told reporters. “A.J. giving out coaching points. Jordan Mailata, I got in here this morning, he was in here for the team meeting and went to the O-line meeting this morning, just to be there with those guys. 

That’s special. That’s a connection that these guys are willing to put that time in to be around our rookies, see what they’re made of, and just be there for them.”

While the Eagles might be in the process of saying goodbye to players who have carried this franchise through every high and low of the last decade, the fact that there is already a group of players who have clearly learned from those vets before them and have taken on leadership roles of their own is a really reassuring sentiment.

While goodbyes are never easy, it’s nice to see that the Eagles are in safe hands thanks to players who embody the same selflessness and work ethic as those that paved the way for them, and hopefully they can pass that on to the next generation of players who are only just dipping their toes into NFL waters.

AP Photo/Chris Szagola