Good morning, everyone. The Eagles’ players were back at work at the NovaCare Complex on Monday after a weekend off following Thursday night’s 34-27 win over the Packers in Green Bay. Offensive coordinator Mike Groh and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz both held their weekly news conferences on Monday. The team’s position coaches also met with reporters. The players are off Tuesday, then will begin preparations on Wednesday for Sunday’s game at the Linc against the winless New York Jets.
— Paul Domowitch (email@example.com)
The Eagles’ cornerback situation is extremely precarious at the moment. A unit that looked to be very deep when training camp opened in late July has been gutted by injuries for the second straight year and is threatening to derail the team’s Super Bowl hopes.
With the latest injuries to Sidney Jones (yet another hamstring strain) and Avonte Maddox (neck sprain), the Eagles currently have just three healthy corners on their roster: Rasul Douglas, Craig James, and Orlando Scandrick.
Douglas is the only one of those three who was even on the team’s 53-man roster a week ago. James, whose goal-line deflection led to Nigel Bradham’s game-saving interception against the Packers on Thursday night, was promoted from the practice squad two days before the game.
Scandrick, 32, who was released by the Eagles in late August, was re-signed on Friday, a day after Jones and Maddox joined Jalen Mills (foot), Ronald Darby (hamstring), and Cre’Von LeBlanc (foot) on the injured list.
Maddox and Jones are expected to miss multiple games. Same with Darby. How many is anybody’s guess. Hamstrings and necks are notoriously slow to heal.
Mills is on the physically unable to perform list. He can return to practice on Oct. 14 if he’s healthy. But that’s a big if.
LeBlanc is on injured reserve and can’t be activated until after the eighth week of the season (following the Eagles’ Oct. 27 game against Buffalo). But there’s no way of knowing whether he’ll be ready to go then. I mean, Mills has been sidelined with his foot injury since last November.
The obvious solution to the Eagles’ cornerback dilemma, at least as far as lot of their fans are concerned, is the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey. The 24-year-old Ramsey, who is considered one of the two or three best corners in the game, requested a trade a few weeks ago after getting into a sideline argument with his head coach, Doug Marrone.
It remains to be seen whether the Jags even will trade Ramsey. According to Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports, they’ve already turned down an offer for him of two first-round picks. Other reports have indicated that Jags owner Shad Khan still is hopeful of signing Ramsey to a long-term extension. Ramsey is in the fourth year of his rookie contract, which includes a $13.7 million option year in 2020.
This isn’t what Eagles fans want to hear, but even if the Jags are willing to part with Ramsey, I think it would behoove them to stay clear of him. While he would obviously rectify a good many of their cornerback problems in the short term, I just think the steep price they would have to pay for him would throw a wrench into their plans for long-term sustainability.
GM Howie Roseman is trying to accumulate draft picks so that he can offset the high future cap numbers of many of his veteran players, including quarterback Carson Wentz, with cheaper rookie deals.
Ramsey’s next contract figures to be in the $16 million to $18 million a year range. The Eagles could handle that cap-wise. But trading for him and signing him to a new deal would mean having to make difficult decisions elsewhere, at positions they place greater value on than cornerback.
Unless the Eagles are way more optimistic than I am about the returns of Darby, Jones, Maddox, Mills, and LeBlanc, I’m not sure they can afford to stand pat and stay in the Super Bowl hunt this season.
Their cornerback problems are magnified by injuries to their defensive line that have weakened their pass rush and put even more pressure on their secondary.
The Eagles can beat the Jets on Sunday with Douglas, Scandrick, and James. But then they’ve got three straight games on the road, including a Sunday night battle against the Cowboys, followed by three straight games at home against the Bears, Patriots, and Seahawks.
Maybe some of their injured corners will be back by then. Maybe not.
I completely understand why Eagles fans want their team to go after Ramsey, price be damned. They’re completely focused on this season, and they know Ramsey would make them a better team right now and help their Super Bowl chances. I can’t disagree with that.
But Roseman needs to look at the bigger picture. He needs to think about 2020 and 2021 and beyond. If I’m him, I’m working the phones right now trying to make a deal for cornerback help.
Just not Ramsey. Somebody else who, while maybe a little less talented, is also a little more affordable and isn’t going to gut my future assets and future cap space.