Good morning, Eagles fans. In case you’ve lost track of what day it is — don’t worry, you’re not alone — you can now take solace in knowing it’s an Early Birds Wednesday. Since the last newsletter hit your inbox, there have been a few glimmers of hope for some semblance of an offseason and training camp.
The NBA is targeting July 31 as a potential startup date for the playoffs and states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania have seen leadership give the green light to teams hoping to reopen their practice facilities wisely. A lot can still happen between now and then, but the NFL can watch and learn from the other leagues in the meantime.
— EJ Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The hot stove of NFL free agency has been cooled for quite some time now, but there are still some viable players looking for a place to land. Jadeveon Clowney is the most prominent name still on the market, but it’s unlikely he and the Eagles are interested in joining forces considering how last year ended.
Clowney aside, the Eagles have three players who started games for them last year still on the market. Here’s a few thoughts on each of them:
Curry, 31, had a career year in 2019 and made a handful of big plays for the Eagles in the last four games of the season. His biggest came against the Cowboys in Week 16 when his sack put the Cowboys in a third-and-8 that eventually led to Sidney Jones’ game-sealing interception.
He finished the season with five sacks and 12 quarterback hits primarily in a spot rusher role. He had a pair of sacks against the Giants in Week 13, too.
So why isn’t he back with the team, training with the rest of the defensive linemen somewhere in Texas? It’s possible the Eagles are ready to see what Josh Sweat can do in an expanded role. Sweat is 6-foot-5 with long arms and a muscular 250 pounds. He’s got prototypical size and had four sacks last year while holding up well against the run. Next year could be a breakout season for him.
Genard Avery also figures to be given a chance at more snaps, considering the team traded a 2021 fourth-round pick for him at the trade deadline.
Still, Curry was productive last year and, like anyone still on the market right now, he can’t be too picky about his potential role.
The Eagles’ linebacker position, even when you consider how heavily they rely on sub packages, is dubious. The group requires projection no matter how you look at it, but the Eagles have seen a lot more of T.J. Edwards as an early-down linebacker in practice than we’ve seen in the four games he started last year. He and Nate Gerry could be the way forward, especially considering the team declined Bradham’s option and spent the early part of the offseason saying how important it was to get younger and healthier. But Bradham was the team’s most consistent linebacker and was typically the one to stay on the field when the defense went into sub packages.
Gerry impressed Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz when asked to call plays while Bradham battled a foot and ankle injury, but Bradham would still bring value at some point, especially considering the socially distant offseason will stunt the growth of Davion Taylor, an already raw linebacker, and T.J. Edwards in his second year.
The door is still open for the 38-year-old to return for his 17th season. To re-sign the left tackle would more than likely cause 2019 first-round-pick Andre Dillard to spend another season waiting in the wings.
The Eagles moved up in that draft to take Dillard. He had an up-and-down rookie year, but the Eagles’ front office made a significant investment and needs to see what it has in the coveted tackle out of Washington St.
Again, the Eagles preached an emphasis on getting younger and healthier this offseason, so reuniting with Peters would be quite the relapse, but it can’t be ruled out.
Is there any risk of the NFL season being delayed or teams having to play in empty stadiums? — From Dan May (@dannmaal) on Twitter.
Good question, Dan. I’m not a doctor, and I’m not going to get too into any predictions here. I think the next few weeks will tell us a lot about what the season could look like. I’m certain of one thing: It will not look like it typically does. Best-case scenario is the NFL has a successful NBA experiment to go off and can use that as a starting point. There will be obstacles specific to the NFL, like the sheer volume of people who are in tight quarters during training camp and games, but it’s still unknown what things will look like by then.