Good morning, Eagles fans. The 2019 NFL season is officially over after the Chiefs rallied to beat the 49ers, 31-20, in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday. The Eagles have been done for a month, but the front office and coaching staff are still cleaning up after a 9-7 record and a first-round end to the season. They’ve yet to announce coaching hirings they’ve made to replace vacancies at offensive coordinator, receivers, defensive line and cornerback.
Defensive assistant Matt Burke is expected to become defensive line assistant, and former Falcons coach Marquand Manuel is expected to be cornerbacks coach. The other positions are likely to be filled by the end of this week.
The Eagles have already made one move in their personnel department. Former Eagles defensive end Connor Barwin was brought on as an assistant to general manager Howie Roseman. And they have made moves in their medical staff by allowing the contracts for two from their sports science staff — Shaun Hauls and Shireen Mansoori — to expire.
Roseman and coach Doug Pederson are still assessing the roster and formulating a plan with the NFL combine set to start in three weeks and free agency set to open on March 11.
— Jeff McLane (email@example.com)
I’ll have an answer for our regular-scheduled mailbag question below, but I thought it would make sense to answer a few more from readers since there are many unknowns about the Eagles with key events like free agency and the draft approaching. So here we go:
Question from @ScottNewcomb4: Thoughts on Malcolm getting a new contract or will the Eagles let him go due to his age and somewhat declining production?
Answer: This has to be one of more pressing questions for the Eagles, and frankly I’m not sure which way they’ll go. My gut is that they’ll find a way to keep Jenkins, one of their most valuable players on and off the field. But it won’t be easy because he has made it clear he won’t return under his current contract. Some might say, well, he has no say in that regard, but at this point in his career, he does. Jenkins has done well financially. As far as I know, he’s handled his money well. He also has a few business ventures that are seemingly successful. He could easily walk away from the game. Or more likely, if he was willing to take a stand, he could hold out.
The Eagles have plenty of leverage, of course. They could look at Jenkins’ age (32), as you mentioned, and be fine with either trading him (more likely) or releasing him. I agree that his play has declined some. He simply doesn’t run as fast. But he’s the glue to that secondary, and really the entire defense. A lot of his value isn’t measured in numbers. The Eagles also don’t have an obvious replacement at safety — Rodney McLeod is set to become a free agent — although I’d consider moving Avonte Maddox from corner to safety.
I don’t think Malcolm wants the world, and I’m not sure he even wants to be paid like a top-five NFL safety. But I bet a large guarantee up front would entice him to sign an extension that keeps him here for another year, and possibly two.
Question from @DZee7777: Could the eagles stick to their trend n draft a player in the trenches instead of a wide receiver or a DB with their first pic? Suggested player at 21 or even a trade to move up?
Answer: The Eagles have long favored drafting linemen in the first round. I can’t really blame them. They haven’t been perfect, but they’ve done better than most teams in evaluating the big guys. I think it’s unlikely they take an offensive lineman in the first round. They’re set at tackle for the next several years, and I can’t see them selecting a guard or center that early. This draft isn’t loaded at the position, either.
But defensive tackle makes more sense. The Eagles could be looking for someone to complement Fletcher Cox down the road, or more likely, replace him. I think Cox will be motivated to erase last season. He seemed on point in the playoff game vs. the Seahawks. But his salary-cap numbers increase dramatically over the next few years.
That being said, the Eagles clearly need to address receiver and cornerback. The draft is stocked at receiver. Fans are likely salivating over some of the prospects at the position. CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy are studs, but it may take a trade up to get either one. Henry Ruggs could be there at 21. He’s fast and the Eagles clearly need burners on the outside. I don’t know if the Eagles will take a cornerback that early. They haven’t drafted one in the first round in nearly 20 years. I think free agency makes more sense (see below).
Question from @scottacular7: Will the Eagles be in play for a top-3 WR or CB free agent?
Answer: Wide receiver, no. Cornerback, yes. That’s just my hunch, but I think with Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside under contract for next season, the Eagles will likely look more to the draft than free agency. Jeffery’s future is uncertain because of his foot injury, and because the Eagles may not want him anymore, but Jackson may be more likely to return. The Eagles just can’t go into next year without insurance behind him, which is why I could see them adding a second-tier free-agent receiver like the Chiefs’ Demarcus Robinson.
As for cornerback, the Eagles have some work ahead as well. Ronald Darby is unlikely to return. I’m not sure what the Eagles will do about Jalen Mills, who also can enter free agency next month. Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas and Maddox are homegrown young corners still under contract. Cre’Von LeBlanc is also on the books. There aren’t likely to be any free-agent stud corners on the market. Why would any team let shutdown corner walk in the first place? But there are older options (Chris Harris, Jimmy Smith, Logan Ryan) and some younger ones (Byron Jones, Eli Apple, Trae Waynes). Jones might make the most sense, but can the Eagles afford him?
What will it take to have one year free from multiple injuries to key players? — @CRZN03 via Twitter.
No football. The fact remains that the sport is violent, physical, and injuries are part of the game. Every team loses at least two key players a season. The Eagles, of course, have been snakebit by injuries over the last three seasons, particularly the last two. They know. Howie Roseman admitted that and that the team needed to find better solutions.
They have already started by allowing two from their sports science department to walk. There could be more changes coming, and not just in personnel. The Eagles could be mulling a complete philosophical shift in how they train their players and treat them when injured. There are many injuries that are simply unavoidable. But there are precautions that can be taken with soft tissue injuries, for instance.