There are some recent NFL news bytes which kinda/sorta affect the Eagles but which are somewhat obscured by the NCAA Basketball Tournament frenzy capturing most of our attention in late March. Here a select few items which I found interesting to ponder in recent days:
BARNER IS GONE? Yes, the San Diego Chargers signed RB Kenjon Barner, formerly of the Eagles, to a one-year contract.
A sixth-round pick of the Panthers in 2013, Barner totaled 69 touches in two years with the Eagles, who declined to tender him a restricted free agent offer in March. He is landing in a pretty good spot for opportunities, however, with the Chargers desperate for depth behind Melvin Gordon following the departure of Danny Woodhead. At the very least, Barner should compete for a role as a returner.
I guess you guys saw that coming….but I didn’t think Barner would end up anywhere but in Philly in 2017 after testing the RFA market.
ROGER GOODELL WANTS SHORTER OVERTIME PERIODS? Yes, the league meetings are coming up and rules changes will be on the table. The NFL’s overtime period could be shortened from 15 to 10 minutes in 2017.
Playoff overtimes would remain 15 minutes, though that’s irrelevant since postseason games cannot end in ties. It seems like a bad idea, one certain to increase the number of ties. The logic is supposedly that the 15-minute period is too much extra football to be played in one week, especially a short one. Marvin Lewis would be all but guaranteed of bringing home his fourth career tie in 2017 if the rule is passed.
By the way, the Eagles are proposing a new rule which prohibits defensive linemen from leaping at the line of scrimmage to block field goal or extra-point attempts. I’m not sure what their thinking is on this, but I think such a rule would cheapen the kicking game. Why do we even bother testing defensive linemen for vertical leaping ability if this shabby rule gets passed?
KIKO ALONSO GOT RE-SIGNED BY THE DOLPHINS? Yes, a great deal for Kiko, too—what the heck, I guess Miami is extremely satisfied with the former Eagle at inside linebacker. I just don’t get it, especially on a four-year, $28.8 million contract, and the deal reportedly includes $18.5 million guaranteed. For whatever reason, this was one of the Dolphins’ top goals this offseason. Alonso was a restricted free agent tendered at the first-round ($3.91 million) level. Alonso didn’t necessarily stay healthy in 2016, dealing with hand and hamstring injuries, but he finally stayed on the field. He played over 1,000 snaps across 15 games, ringing up 115 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Pro Football Focus rated his play as below average, but the Dolphins obviously see room for improvement. The Phins have dabbled with the idea of moving MLB Alonso to the weak-side, but he seems to want to remain in the middle.
DON’T HOLD OUT FOR McCAFFREY IN AN EAGLES UNIFORM? The Philadelphia Inquirer considers it “very unlikely” that the Eagles use their first-round pick on a running back.
Reporter Jeff McLane does hedge by saying “never say never.” As usual, there’s little consensus on which running backs will even go on Day 1, aside from LSU’s Leonard Fournette. Fournette figures to be gone by the time the Eagles are up at No. 14. Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey would be an option for a team that had a desperate lack of weapons in 2016.
KEEPING UP WITH THE SANCHEZ’s? Free agent QB Mark Sanchez will visit the Bears on Thursday.
It’s Sanchez’s first action of free agency. Nothing more than a clipboard-holder at this point in his career, Sanchez would slide in behind Mike Glennon.
It’s hard to believe (or is it?) that this guy set the one-season pass completion percentage mark for the Eagles in his 9 games played back in 2014 (64.1 percent—198 completions in 309 attempts, 2,418 yards, 14 TD’s, 11 INT’s….88.4 QB Rating)…It’s been all downhill since.
THE REDSKINS JUST LET EAGLES NEMESIS DE CHRIS BAKER WALK OFF TO THE BUCS? Yeah, and they didn’t even try to sign him. I don’t get it. But The Washington Post reports the Redskins weren’t always happy with DE Chris Baker’s work ethic before letting him sign with Tampa Bay in free agency.
Coaches, officials and “even some teammates” were reportedly “lukewarm” on the pass rusher. The Post’s Mike Jones reports the ‘Skins felt they needed someone who would make a more “consistent impact.” To replace Baker, Washington made the unimpressive signings of Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee. No one escapes Washington without getting slammed on the way out the door.
DID WE MISS ANY BIG FREE AGENT SIGNINGS BY OUR NFC EAST RIVALS? Well, here’s a review in case you did:
wasn’t guaranteed much when he signed a one-year contract with the New York Giants
on Monday. The money was (in football terms) minimal and he isn’t assured a spot on the roster or depth chart this season.The way the contract was structured, Smith was only fully guaranteed $100,000 of his base salary for 2017, sources told ESPN. He also earns a $200,000 roster bonus on March 22 and a $25,000 workout bonus this spring, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. Smith’s total compensation package maxes out at $2 million.
The Giants, who finished second in the NFC East with an 11-5 record last season, also added receiver Brandon Marshall
. Marshall caught only 59 passes for 788 yards and three touchdowns last season — you can probably blame the New York Jets’ poor quarterback play — but playing opposite Odell Beckham Jr. will allow him to see a lot of single coverage, which he should exploit.
The Dallas Cowboys had prepared to move on to life without WR Terrance Williams when free agency began. They thought he would have received a multi-year deal that they could not match and that they would have to find receiver help in low-cost free agency, like with Brice Butler, and in the draft. But Williams eventually made his way back to the Cowboys on a four-year deal worth $17 million with $9.5 million guaranteed.
That’s a good deal for the Cowboys and a good bit of guaranteed money for Williams. Sam Monson at Pro Football Focus called the Williams’ signing one of the most underrated of the free agency period, noting Williams’ 16.2 yards per catch, 4.7 yards after the catch and big-play ability.
Meanwhile, five key defensive players for Dallas — safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox, cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr, and defensive tackle Terrell McClain — left in free agency, and it’s hard to see how the Cowboys are going to adequately replace the 2,625 snaps those players provided last season.
The Washington Redskins lost DeSean Jackson (Tampa Bay) and Pierre Garcon (San Francisco) but added Terrelle Pryor Sr., who had 77 catches and 1,077 yards in his first full season as a receiver after spending three years as a quarterback with the Oakland Raiders before joining the Browns in 2015.
One reason Washington appealed to Pryor: The Redskins will throw the ball and the belief is that coach Jay Gruden will help him develop by how he’s used. Pryor also mentioned playing with quarterback Kirk Cousins — other free agents pointed to his presence as key in any decision they’d make regarding Washington. With Pryor on a one-year deal, it could put him in better position next offseason to secure a multiyear deal. Pryor also liked his meeting with Gruden and receivers coach Ike Hilliard the night before he signed.
“Every day I step on the field, I can get better and learn,” Pryor said. “I’ll never stop doing that. From Ike and Coach Jay, there are small things I can work on that I’ll keep to myself. But they’re very intimate [details] and I learned a lot talking to them. They’ll help me get to that next level.”