Subject: Eagles will NOT tender Kenjon Barner, report says
Not too surprising.
The Eagles likely won’t be bringing back Kenjon Barner for the 2017 season. The restricted free agent running back will NOT receive a tender from the Eagles, according to a report from the Inquirer’s Zach Berman. This means Barner will now become an unrestricted free agent free to sign with any team.
This news isn’t really surprising. Barner, who turns 28 in April, was a backup running back for the Eagles at best. He logged 55 carries in two seasons with Philadelphia. He also handled some punt and kick returns. The Eagles originally acquired Barner in a trade with the Carolina Panthers in August 2014.
Barner was decent for Philadelphia last season. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns. He also averaged 30.8 yards per kick return on nine attempts. Some other team will probably take a flier on him.
The Eagles are looking to remake their backfield, though, so there wasn’t really room for a part-time back like Barner here. Philadelphia desperately needs to upgrade their backfield this offseason with a legitimate full-time answer.
Running backs under contract with the Eagles currently include: Ryan Mathews (expected to be cut), Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Byron Marshall, and Terrell Watson. Fullback Andrew Bonnet was signed to a futures/reserves contract earlier this offseason.
Subject: Allen Barbre staying with Eagles in 2017, per report
A lot of in-house stuff so far for Howie.
In a day of wild free agency action, the Eagles are making moves with familiar faces. After officially releasing Connor Barwin this morning, it would appear they’ll be bringing back offensive lineman Allen Barbre, according to the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane.
#Eagles expected to retain Allen Barbre, per NFL sources. Allowed him to shop around for trade, but will bring back versatile OL at $2.25M.— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) March 9, 2017
ESPN’s Adam Caplan has since confirmed the report, not that McLane needs confirming.
Barbre’s status has been up in the air over the past 48 hours, and the past few weeks and months. He’s turning 33 years old before the 2017 season, but he had a good year in 2016 and is a versatile OL who can play multiple positions. And being able to retain a versatile, solid lineman who knows your system and young quarterback is clearly a plus.
It also bears mentioning that the team is still looking for potential trade partners for Jason Kelce. If Kelce were to be traded away today or tomorrow, the Eagles would likely want to place second-year lineman Isaac Seumalo in there at center. Having solid pieces return at left (Barbre) and right guard (Brandon Brooks) would probably make Seumalo’s introduction to center a bit easier, if the Kelce move were to happen.
And, of course, it’s important to note Barbre dealt with a hamstring injury for a chunk of last season. At 33, you wonder if he can remain healthy for an entire season. He’s only played 16 games once in his nine-year career.
Releasing Barbre could’ve saved the Eagles $1.8 million against the cap, but overall, retaining a good starting player at a good price outweighs the potential savings.
As always, stay tuned for more free agency news as it rolls in today.
Subject: Flyers vs. Maple Leafs: Preview, lineups, TV / radio / live streaming, and discussion thread
It’s the biggest game of the year so far.
Tonight’s game is on CSN Philly locally, with the radio call on 93.3 WMMR. NHL Network has the game elsewhere in the United States. CSNPhilly.com has your live stream. In Canada, you can see the game on Sportsnet Ontario or Rogers GameCentre Live.
- Jordan Weal - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds
- Brayden Schenn - Valtteri Filppula - Jakub Voracek
- Nick Cousins - Sean Couturier - Matt Read
- Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Travis Konecny
- Ivan Provorov - Andrew MacDonald
- Brandon Manning - Shayne Gostisbehere
- Michael Del Zotto - Radko Gudas
- Michal Neuvirth
- Steve Mason
- James van Riemsdyk - Nazem Kadri - Mitchell Marner
- Leo Komarov -Brian Boyle - Connor Brown
- Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
- Matt Martin - Eric Fehr - Nikita Soshnikov
- Frederik Andersen
- Curtis McElhinney
Subject: Flyers at Leafs recap: Flyers slip further in standings with loss in Toronto
The Flyers lost a 4-2 game in Toronto to the Maple Leafs, losing key ground in the race for the East’s final playoff spot.
There once was a time Jeremy Roenick scored a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It sent them into a nine-year playoff drought. They’ve made the playoffs once since 2004 and with a lineup of loaded young talent they look poised to return. The Flyers, a team of mismatched parts, came into tonight hoping to block the Leafs from returning to playoff hockey. However, after playing 60 minutes of lackluster hockey with sprinkles of hope placed in, they came out of Toronto four points from a playoff spot. Late-game heroics from Shayne Gostisbehere were not enough as the Flyers fell 4-2.
On a Thursday
Claude: Alright boys, we need this win. Our playoffs start now.
Radko: I hit things.
Michael D: Yo, check this new match I got on Tinder.
Claude: Michael, put your damn phone away, the game is starting.
Leafs DJ: Let me fire this crowd up. [plays ‘Party Like a Rockstar’]
Everyone knows the premier pump up song is the 2007 classic by Shop Boyz.
Brayden: Hey guys, I’m going to try and score but no promises, this isn't a powerplay.
Jake: Don’t worry I’ll use my patented move of strongly carrying the puck in but doing nothing with it.
Valtteri: Hi, I’m new here, let me pass the puck.
The new-look 2nd line of Brayden Schenn, Valtteri Filppula and Jake Voracek has been one of the best, if not the best line on the team in their recent stretch of games. The Brayden Schenn at center experiment can finally be put to rest after five years, and Voracek continues to prove he can play anywhere in the lineup. Filppula’s game compliments both players very nicely.
Claude: Hey Ghost, what was that thing you did a lot of last year?
Shayne: Dunno, increase the usage of ghost and bear emojis?
Claude: Nah man, this..
Shayne: [rips shot]
Wayne: Don’t mind if I do..
Was it Ghost.. Simmer?— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 10, 2017
Who cares 1-0 Flyers! pic.twitter.com/yURtUI8XEK
Brayden: Mac, don’t touch that its off sides!
Andrew: What? [touches puck]
Referee: [blows whistle] Offsides!
Brayden: What did I just tell you?
Andrew MacDonald was all over the place during the first period. Between taking an offsides that was 100 percent avoidable and slinging passes into purgatory, we’re still stuck wondering what happened to the AMac of early December.
Ivan: (In head) I guess I have to defend goals and score them.
Jake: Ivan! Ivan! Over here!
Ivan: [passes puck]
Zach Hyman: Not in my house.
Charlie Kelly: (In stands) [throws wristband]
Ivan Provorov continues to impress as the standout rookie was the clear-cut best defensemen for the Flyers this game. The thought of Provorov being a No. 1 shutdown defensemen for many years to come is enough to bring a smile to any Flyer fans face.
Travis: Maybe I can get off this 4th line if I score a goal.
Chris: Not if I have anything to say about it!
Travis Konecny had a fantastic scoring chance late in the first period, weaving in and out of the leafs with ease. He made it all the way to the front of the net, where he fired a shot. The rebound sat infront of an open net, where Chris VandeVelde deflected the puck back to the blueline.
END OF 1ST PERIOD
The Flyers played a fine first period. They didn’t look completely lost on the ice however they did not stand out. The game was tied going into the second, and it really could have went either way at this point. Michal Neuvirth didn’t allow six goals, like many fans expected.
START OF 2ND PERIOD
Connor Brown: Time to score as goal, the hockey kind!
Ivan: Dammit, don’t you know who I am? I’m Ivan Provorov and I do not allow hockey goals to be scored on this ice.
(Schenn and Filppula on 2-on-1)
Valtteri: Schenner, here take this nice sauce pass
Brayden: I like it saucy (Shot is saved)
Michael D: (Coming in from the point) Heyyy guys I got three more matches during the intermission.
Michael D: Oh hey, the puck. [shoots puck]
Brayden: Dammit Michael, if you put as much effort on the ice as you do tinder, you’d be Bobby Orr.
Filppula and Schenn have continued to show chemistry on the ice. Chemistry with a linemate is something we’re not used to seeing with Brayden Schenn.
Tyler Bozak: (Thinking to himself) Ya know I need to prove them I dont need Kessel to succeed in the NHL.
Tyler Bozak: [snipes goal]
Michal N: Oh! A puck! I should stop those!
Tyler Bozak scored an unassisted goal to give Toronto the 2-1 lead midway through the second period. Bozak walked right through the Flyers defense ... and the forwards ... and the goalie. Here is some groundbreaking analysis from our very own Steph Driver.
Jim Jackson: And that brings us to our next segment, the ‘Fearless Play of the Game’.
(Somewhere in the distance Kurt can be heard screaming)
(Leo Komarov left wide open, takes a shot)
Michal N: I’m getting really sick and tired of you guys leaving me out to dry
Steve: (On the bench) Yeah, but Neuvy, your face is stupid!
Nick S: (In the pressbox) Classic!
While fans might pin this loss on Michal Neuvirth, he played a fairly solid game and gave the Flyers a chance to win. It is not his fault the team didn’t score a second goal until there were only two minutes left in the game.
END OF 2ND PERIOD
Well, the Flyers were not in a spot that favored them, but they were only down one goal at this point and had a full period left to play. Maybe Hakstol could give them a Herb Brooks-esque speech. With the ups and downs this team has had this year, and their season riding on this next period they should have came out with fire in their eyes.
START OF 3RD PERIOD
Claude: Alright boys, this period is our season. As the wise Jack Black once said in the 2004 hit School of Rock, LET’S KICK SOME ASS.
Wayne: CHOO CHOO LETS DO THIS
Chris: YEAH! Can’t wait for Hak to put ME out with 2 minutes left in the third.
Pierre: Oh heck yeah!
Michal N: Is anyone gonna score? I’m going to get ripped by the fans if you don’t.
Ivan: Don’t worry, I’m Ivan Provorov, a.k.a. the man, and I’ve got this
Andrew: [turns puck over]
Michal N: Andrew, that is not what I meant!
Neuvirth’s steady play continued into the third. The Flyers, however, looked flat; they came out of the locker room looking like a team ready for nap time, not the playoffs.
Jordan: Hey remember that time you guys stuck me on a line with Umberger?
Hakstol: No, who are you and when did you get in my lineup?
Jason Akeson: (from a distance, in Michael Scofield voice) That’s my brother.
Jordan Weal continues to impress, isn’t it amazing when you give a guy an actual chance with NHL level linemates? While Weal might never sniff the center position in the NHL, he does have a chance of becoming a steady winger and has performed very well alongside of Claude Giroux.
Nikita Zaitsev: (pushes Giroux down)
Claude: My leg!
Referee: Alright, that’s it, I haven’t called a penalty since the first period and need to make it look like I’m doing my job.
Referee: #22 to the box, two min for tripping.
The Flyers were given a prime opportunity to tie the game midway through the third after Leafs defensemen Nikita Zaitsev tripped up Claude Giroux. Jordan Weal would get a fantastic scoring chance 15 seconds into the power play, but that is all she wrote. The Flyers could not get set up in the zone and nearly gave up a shorthanded goal in the process.
Mitch Marner: I’m here to chew bubblegum and score goals, and I’m all out of gum.
(Marner scores goal)
Michal N: Dammit guys, now I’m never going to hear the end of this from Steve
Steve: (In head) I wonder where I can get a good hotdog after the game.
[Writers note: The above line is reference to Full House]
Michael D: Oh shit, six more matches!
Mitch Marner stuck the dagger into the Flyers scoring to give the Leafs a 3-1 lead with less then 10 minutes to go. But if the Maple Leafs have taught us anything, never trust a 4-1 lead. (Well, except in this case, because it was only 3-1.)
Shayne: Dammit, if I don’t do something I’m getting scratched for another game.
Valtteri: Hold on, man, watch this.
Hakstol: (to self) Just scratch him anyway, Dave.
Shayne Gostisbehere scored his second goal in 38 games to pull the Flyers within one, with not much time remaining in the third period.
Claude: C’mon boys, one more goal and this we’re right back in this.
Wayne: Somebody shoot so I can deflect a damn shot.
Claude: Ghost no! Don’t turn it over!
(Ghost turns over)
Nazem Kadri: I am score.
Nazem Kadri twisted the dagger already in the Flyers by scoring an empty net goal.
3RD PERIOD ENDS
In typical Flyers fashion, they kept it interesting until the end ultimately to drain all fans of any hope they had left. The Flyers now sit four points from the second wildcard spot in the East, with their playoff hopes dwindling. They're back in action Saturday afternoon in Boston.
Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: Hopes, dwindling.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...
*Probably the most "must win" game of the season and your chucklefuck of a coach starts his under-performing backup and saddles one of his most dynamic forwards with two plodding human anchors for half of the game. Your '16-'17 Philadelphia Flyers, folks! RECAP!
*And an entirely different goalie prospect is up for the Richter Award. The Flyers have a lot of good goalie prospects guys!! [ProHockeyTalk]
*Old Silky Mitts has been suspended for that, to the surprise of no one. [ProHockeyTalk]
*Because the NHL absolutely despises fun and also probably its fanbase, they are keeping the expansion protection lists secret. But maybe we shouldn't blame them entirely for this idiocy. [Puck Daddy]
*But blame whoever you want, the league is handling what should be a fun and exciting thing in the worst possible way. Because NHL. [Sportsnet]
*And finally, on the timeless beauty of the Gordie Howe hat trick. [The Hockey News]
Subject: Maple Leafs 4, Flyers 2: 10 things we learned from playoff dreams slipping away
The Flyers had an opportunity to give their playoff chances a major boost last night. Instead, they fell back into old habits.
Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.
#1: Game was lost in the second
As they have in so many games in 2017, the Flyers actually got off to a very strong start in this one. The forecheck was working, the passing was crisp, and the team was even directly attacking the front of the net and the slot area in an attempt to flood Frederik Andersen with scoring chances. Toronto didn’t generate their first shot attempt until seven minutes had passed in the game, and the Flyers were already up 1-0. The Maple Leafs unsurprisingly pushed back (and tied the game with a power play goal), but Philadelphia’s execution remained strong throughout the opening stanza. They hit the first intermission holding a minor advantage in territorial play and a sizable edge in scoring chances, implying that if they held that level of performance for the following 40 minutes, they’d come away with a much-needed victory.
Instead, the second period was all Toronto. The Flyers did keep the 5v5 shot attempts battle close (23-20 Maple Leafs) but there was a stark discrepancy in the quality of shots from both teams. Toronto was effortlessly creating chances off the rush and battling to the front of the net on the cycle, while the Flyers were settling for point shot after point shot. HockeyStats.ca put the scoring chance differential (at 5v5) between the two clubs at 14-7, and if anything, that undersold Toronto’s dominance. Tyler Bozak’s goal was less the result of the “make one mistake and it goes in” issue that Philadelphia has dealt with all season, and more the floodgates finally bursting after a deluge of Maple Leafs chances.
There are tons of cheap narratives that could be built around the first and second periods. One could say that the Flyers got frustrated their strong first didn’t result in a lead and execution suffered as a result. Or that Toronto simply had to “weather the storm” early of a desperate road team. But in the end, it’s impossible to know what was going through the players’ heads in this one. All we can say is that they lost control of the pace of their game in the second period, lost the lead as a result, and never got it back in a game that they had to win.
#2: 5-on-5 scoring again goes cold
After exploding for six goals at 5-on-5 against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, the Flyers were back to their old ways versus the Maple Leafs just two days later. Despite blasting 28 shots on Frederik Andersen at 5v5 and generating 1.82 Expected Goals during the situation as well, they could not muster even one tally. Part of that was on Andersen, who was rock solid and occasionally brilliant throughout this game. His stop on Michael Del Zotto in the second period was truly one of those “timely saves” that commentators love to reference, since the game was tied at the time and Bozak scored to break it just seconds later.
But you can’t keep blaming “hot goalies” for the scoring woes. Recent games against Colorado and Buffalo prove that the Flyers can score, and to their credit, the offense in recent weeks can be better described as inconsistent rather than anemic (like it had been for the majority of 2017). Still, in the biggest games against the toughest opponents, the scoring is still coming up small. It’s partially due to the reliance on point shots — a trap they fell into again from the second period on — but that’s not the whole story, as Philadelphia was getting to the high-danger areas early. They were just missing the shooting accuracy that they had on Tuesday, and that Toronto had all night long, specifically on display with Bozak and Nylander’s tallies.
#3: Neuvirth decision proves misguided
The big shock leading into last night’s game was Dave Hakstol’s decision to start Michal Neuvirth against the Maple Leafs rather than Steve Mason. The latter, who has delivered a rare (for this season) run of strong play over the past two weeks, seemed the obvious choice, both due to his “hot streak” and because he’s simply been the team’s best statistical goalie all year long. Instead, Hakstol went with Neuvirth, who hadn’t started since February 25th and hadn’t delivered a single-game save percentage over 0.910 since the 11th. There’s a fine line between bold and foolhardy, and even prior to the game, this move appeared to be skirting the line.
While the decision was a shock, the result surely wasn’t. Neuvirth went out and played like the exact same goalie he’s been since mid-February — capable of making some very impressive saves, but also prone to leaky goals as well. All three goals against could have been stopped, though it’s fair to note that Nylander and Bozak’s tallies were especially well-placed. Still, it’s not as if they were unstoppable shots, and Marner’s goal in particular is one that Neuvirth simply needed to have. The Flyers’ goalie wasn’t the only reason the team lost, but he was a not insignifcant part.
My question is simple — what drove this odd decision to start Neuvirth? Hakstol referenced wanting to avoid overusing one goalie during the stretch run, but that’s never been his philosophy as an NHL coach, as he’s often ridden his “hot” goalies for weeks at a time without rest. Why change now, in maybe the highest-leverage game of the season against a rival for the final East playoff spot? Did Hakstol just have a hunch that Neuvirth was the right guy for this game? Did the career numbers versus Toronto (Neuvirth’s were very good, Mason’s quite bad) play a role, even though the bulk of those records came against far different Maple Leafs clubs? Or does Hakstol simply believe that Neuvirth — contrary to all of the numbers — truly is his best goalie, and he wanted the guy he viewed as his most reliable netminder in goal for such a huge game?
#4: Filppula line held their own versus Matthews
Toronto has earned a reputation for being one of the teams in the NHL more open to analytics, and while watching last night’s game, I had to wonder if the stats had played a role in driving the Maple Leafs’ preferred matchups. While the Schenn-Filppula-Voracek line has received tons of praise from the media over the past few days, they actually were dominated territorially in both the Capitals and Sabres contests. Rather than this being a happy accident as the prevailing narrative claimed, the unit by the numbers looked ripe to be exploited.
I believe the Leafs tried to do just that as the home team, as they chased the Auston Matthews-versus-Valtteri Filppula matchup all night long. Matthews spent over 11 minutes against the Filppula line, and at first glance, it seemed a major mismatch. But credit the Flyers’ trio — despite the tough assignment, they held up, posting an above-50% score-adjusted Corsi when head-to-head with the young phenom and his line. By the numbers, it seemed like the right move, and even as someone who does not root for Toronto, it was neat to watch them chase a matchup that made sense statistically. But this game is played by human beings, and sometimes those guys unexpectedly step up.
#5: Konecny dominant, moved up
For the third straight game, Travis Konecny started out with the fourth line, alongside Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde. Obviously, Konecny has far more talent than both, but I still had no problem with the decision. Considering Konecny’s early return from ankle and knee sprains, it seemed justifiable to limit the rookie’s minutes until he proved that his old burst had returned, and placing him on the fourth line was the easiest way to do so.
However, the caveat was that if Konecny did flash that old electricity, he would need to be moved up the lineup ASAP. To Hakstol’s credit, that’s pretty much what happened. From the opening shifts, it was clear that Konecny’s burst was back, and it was equally clear that Bellemare and VandeVelde had no chance of keeping up with him. So in the third period, it was heartening to see Konecny up with Sean Couturier and Matt Read, pushing Nick Cousins down to the fourth line. It didn’t pay off in a goal, but at least it proved that the “Konecny with the checkers” was truly a temporary strategy born of circumstance, and not something Hakstol was especially excited about trying.
#6: Weal stands out again
As I noted on Tuesday, Jordan Weal has been a revelation ever since being recalled last month, both by the eye test and the numbers. He grades out incredibly well by basically every metrics (standard, advanced and manually tracked) and he’s helped to turn the Giroux line back into a legitimate scoring and play-driving threat. Last night wasn’t Weal’s best game by the metrics (45.23% score-adjusted Corsi) but to my eyes, he remained one of Philadelphia’s best forwards.
The biggest improvement I’ve noticed in Weal’s game this time around versus his stint with the Flyers last year is his strength. No longer is he getting bullied in the corners, or being forced to play a perimeter game due to an inability to navigate the bodies in front. Instead, he’s using leverage and positioning to protect the puck down low, and exhibiting a fearlessness in front that allows him to create scoring chances. This loss may have delivered a crushing blow to the Flyers’ playoff hopes, but one of the few things that will be truly interesting for fans the rest of the way is to see if Weal can keep this up and fight his way into the future plans of the organization.
#7: Couturier follows up strong game with weak one
Aside from Weal, there’s a strong case to be made that Sean Couturier was the Flyers’ best player in Buffalo on Tuesday night. It was a classic “do all the little things right” game for Couturier, which resulted in the shutdown center being a key part of three even strength Flyers goals. But just when the Couturier fans had something to hit the doubters over the heads with, their favorite player followed up his stellar game with something of a dud. It wasn’t all bad — Philadelphia did carry play with Couturier on the ice (61.25% score-adjusted Corsi) — but that felt more the result of strong games from Matt Read, Nick Cousins and (later) Travis Konecny. Couturier was fighting the puck all game long, and it was his turnover that directly led to Tyler Bozak’s second period goal. Considering the quality of their performances, it felt to me like Weal and Couturier probably should have swapped Corsis in this one.
#8: PK fell apart
The Flyers’ penalty kill really hasn’t been a disaster in recent months, fan sentiment aside. Over the past 25 games, Philadelphia ranks fourth in the league in fewest shot attempts allowed per 60 minutes on the PK, and second in high-danger chances permitted. But on this night, you can throw those metrics out the window, because the penalty kill was a disaster. It allowed two goals, one to William Nylander and the other to Mitch Marner. The latter’s goal was most egregious, as both of the Flyers “top” penalty killing forwards (Bellemare and VandeVelde) got caught on the other side of Toronto’s formation, and were incapable of pressing down on Marner to take away time and space for his shot. Instead, he was able to just casually walk down low and pick his spot. For a penalty kill that has shown signs of statistical improvement this year, it was painful to see them fall apart at such a key moment of the season.
#9: You make your own luck, and the Flyers haven’t
I’ve noted on multiple occasions in these columns this season that the Flyers haven’t exactly been a “lucky” team in 2016-17. By the metrics, Philadelphia should have scored more goals this season considering the location and quality of their shots, and there was no reason to believe their goaltending would be this bad when the year began. However, it’s hard to have too much sympathy for them considering the way the season has played out.
The Flyers sit five points out of a playoff spot, a deficit that is probably too much to overcome. But it’s really just two wins and one loser point picked up at some point in the season. What I keep coming back to is this — is it really that ridiculous to think that the endless parade of questionable lineup decisions may have made up that difference? Neuvirth starting over Mason last night was just the newest in a long line of “why?” choices by Hakstol and the organization. Maybe if the team ices a fourth line capable of scoring a goal once in a while (and it sure looks like Jordan Weal can do so) for the full season, they pick up an extra win or two. Or if the weird scratchings of guys like Raffl, Konecny and yes, Shayne Gostisbehere, might have cost them a point here and there. It’s something I want to look into at the end of the season, especially if the Flyers miss out on the playoffs by just a few points.
#10: Credit Hakstol for sitting the fourth line late
With their playoff hopes essentially on the line and down just one goal, you half-expected the Bellemare line to be on the ice constantly. After all, it has been a major criticism of Hakstol from the coaching staff all season, that in close and late games, the fourth line somehow finds its way out for pivotal shifts. In this case, however, Hakstol had the unit right where it should have been — stapled to the bench. Even if you believe that Bellemare and VandeVelde provide value at 5v5 due to their forechecking ability and defensive acumen, that’s not much use to a team down 2-1 in the third period, and their usage reflected that. They received just two shifts at 5v5, which is reasonable considering the fact that the top three lines do need to reset on occasion, but that’s about the extent that you want to see a line with almost no scoring punch playing in that situation.
Subject: NHL owners should stop thinking about themselves and let players go to the Olympics
For once ... just this once, maybe think about the fans and the players.
When I think about the NHL’s involvement in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, I try to put myself in the shoes of team owners and general managers as much as possible.
When I do that, I can fully understand why they don’t want to send their players to the Olympics. It takes time (and money) away from their season, usually during a very valuable part of the year in February. And it’s a major injury risk to allow all of the league’s best players to go play some of the most competitive hockey they’ll ever play.
In return, the league doesn’t really see much tangible benefit. Sure, putting NHL players on the world’s biggest athletic stage is valuable. But how much of that can be quantified, particularly when the games are 14 time zones away from the east coast of the United States? It’s not an easy answer.
But none of this takes into consideration two very clear realities:
- Hockey fans, generally speaking, want to see NHL players in the Olympics. (Why wouldn’t we want to see them in the Olympics?)
- NHL players want to play in the Olympics.
The NHL might not go to the Olympics basically because of money. That doesn’t get to the core of what the players or the fans care about, though. So theres a natural disconnect there -- one that the NHL can only really bridge if they stop worrying about profits and their own concerns for a second.
Jakub Voracek was talking to the media in Toronto yesterday, and he got to the core of that divide. Via CSNPhilly.com:
"It's stupid and I find it absolutely ridiculous. ... Absolutely ridiculous. We have it once every four years. I read something that [NHL deputy commissioner] Bill Daly said we're not going. Nobody wants you to go. The players want to go. Why you're saying you're not going? You're not part of the players association. ... Nobody wants you there. They want the players.
It's the Olympics. It's not just about business. You want to be part of the Olympics. And trust me, players want to go. And the players who don't go get a week off to recharge their batteries. If you have bumps and bruises, you can heal and recover.
The players want to go, I guarantee you that. I want to see how you are going to hold [Alex] Ovechkin back. The Russian players. Tell them they can't go."
That last part really gets to the bottom of this. The players want to go. And the Russians, in particular, really want to go. They have always viewed the Olympics in some ways as even more valuable than the Stanley Cup.
Whether the suits on the 15th floor at 1189 Sixth Avenue in New York give them their blessing or not, a lot of players are going to Korea. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has already said that he won’t get in the way of Ovechkin or any other Olympian on his team going to the Games, and that’s a very messy headache for the league.
There’s only one easy, grown-up solution for the NHL here as a result: just let the dang players go. You might not make money, and you might have to take on some risk, and you might not really like the idea of taking two weeks off during the season.
But it doesn’t always have to be about the money. Saving face with your fans and your players — for once -- has some value too, even if you can’t apply a dollar amount to it.
Subject: Flyers vs. Bruins: Preview, lineups, TV and live stream info and discussion thread
A matinee in Boston. Those always go well.
Now five points out of the final wild card position in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers are in Boston today with their playoff lives on the thinnest of ice and a tough matchup against the Bruins on deck.
Boston’s won seven of their last eight on home ice, and they’re 9-3-0 since making a coaching change in February, so this won’t be an easy test for Philadelphia.
Steve Mason will be back in goal after getting the night off in the loss against Toronto on Thursday. We could see some other lineup changes coming, but we won’t have a sense of that until the team hits the ice for warmups.
It’s a 1 p.m. start this afternoon. CSN Philly has the feed locally, with CSNPhilly.com live streaming and 93.3 WMMR picking up the radio call. In Boston, the game can be seen on NESN, and nationally in the United States the game can be seen on NHL Network. Sportsnet 360 has the broadcast in Canada.
Philadelphia lineup (could change)
- Jordan Weal - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds
- Brayden Schenn - Valtteri Filppula - Jakub Voracek
- Nick Cousins - Sean Couturier - Matt Read
- Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Travis Konecny
- Ivan Provorov - Andrew MacDonald
- Brandon Manning - Shayne Gostisbehere
- Michael Del Zotto - Radko Gudas
- Steve Mason
- Michal Neuvirth
Boston lineup (via NHL.com)
- Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- David Backes
- Drew Stafford -- David Krejci -- David Pastrnak
- Frank Vatrano -- Austin Czarnik -- Jimmy Hayes
- Matt Beleskey -- Dominic Moore -- Riley Nash
- Zdeno Chara -- Brandon Carlo
- Torey Krug -- Adam McQuaid
- Colin Miller -- Kevan Miller
- Tuukka Rask
- Anton Khudobin
Subject: Carson Wentz, Eagles players welcome new teammates to Philadelphia
Everyone already loves each other.
The Philadelphia Eagles added three new players to their roster via NFL free agency this week. As is often the case, current Eagles players welcomed their new teammates to Philadelphia on Twitter. Carson Wentz is especially welcoming on Twitter, which must feel good since he’s the franchise quarterback. Here’s a look.
ALSHON JEFFERY (@TheWorldof_AJ)
ANDDDD also Welcome @TheWorldof_AJ to the squad. Big things ahead!!!— Carson Wentz (@cj_wentz) March 9, 2017
I like— Jordan Matthews (@jmattjmattjmatt) March 9, 2017
Howie the Goat❗— Jalen Mills (@Mills_Island) March 9, 2017
TORREY SMITH (@TorreySmithWR)
Some Eagles players also welcomed back returning teammates Stefen Wisniewski, Najee Goode, and Trey Burton.
Subject: Alshon Jeffery won
Give us your best suggestion.
Clearly one of the most important things to come out of Alshon Jeffery’s press conference on Friday was the BIG NEWS about how he won’t wear his old jersey number, No. 17, as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. That number is currently being worn by ... well, you know who. Nelson Agholor.
"Nelson can have 17," said Jeffery. "I wore that in Chicago, I’m going to leave that in Chicago."
When I first got it, a lot of the players I respected in the league had it. Alshon [Jeffery, of the Chicago Bears] was one of my first close friends in the NFL that played the receiver position - and he wore 17. So when I looked at the number, I was like, 'I can be like AJ17.'
So if Jeffery isn’t going to wear No. 17, what will he wear for the Eagles? His college number was No. 1 so that won’t work. His high school football number was No. 2 and his high school basketball jersey number was No. 15. None of these are options for Jeffery with the Eagles.
Numbers currently available include: 13, 80, 83, 85, 88, and 89. 12 is technically available and would be a nice combination of his college (1) and high school (2) numbers, but I doubt Jeffrey Lurie is going to give Randall Cunningham’s unofficially retired number to Alshon.
It’s always possible Jeffery could get another receiver other than Agholor to switch their jersey number. If that’s the case, watch out, Dorial Green-Beckham (No. 18), Paul Turner (No. 19), Bryce Treggs (No. 16), David Watford (No. 14), and Marcus Johnson (No. 84).
If you ask me, No. 88 is the best choice for Jeffery. I just think that’s a good number for big receivers. The Eagles haven’t had a good player at that number in a long time so he could really make it his own.
What say you? Vote in the poll below.
Subject: Eagles News: Philadelphia tried to trade Chase Daniel
Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 3/11/17.
Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...
PHI explored trades for back-up QB Chase Daniel, who'd like to compete for a No 1 job. Nothing made sense. Maybe that changes down the line— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 11, 2017
Eagles signing Alshon Jeffery gives Philadelphia fans something to be very excited about - BGN
Breaking down the Eagles’ big moves in free agency.
How Alshon Jeffery instantly makes Eagles better - ESPN
The 50-50 ball isn't a high-percentage throw like the dig or the curl. We all understand that. But when you have a target down the field like Jeffery, with the skill set to make these plays, it can become a major part of the offensive game plan. Read the coverage, move the safety or target the open throwing window versus two-deep coverage. Jeffery will bring that big-play ability to the Doug Pederson's call sheet in Philly, even when he's not truly open.
Rather than gloat, Roseman says Eagles have 'a lot more work to do' - PhillyVoice
The draft is still over six weeks away, but by improving one of their weakest positions in free agency, wide receiver, Roseman and the Eagles can now enter the draft focused on solidifying a weakness on the other side of the ball: cornerback. But we're only on the second day of free agency, so there could be more moves to come, especially if Roseman wants an insurance policy at cornerback – someone he can plug in there this season in case the right guy isn't there at 14th overall OR if a guy like Dalvin Cook were to fall to them.
Focus Up Front - Iggles Blitz
That’s pretty impressive. And the Eagles still have talent beyond that. They are high on Dillon Gordon, the former LSU TE. He flashed serious potential last summer. Josh Andrews has been on the roster since 1960, give or take. The team signed Josh LeRibeus and Dallas Thomas as interior depth pieces. Both have starting experience and the Eagles really like LeRibeus (for what he is). You also have developmental guys Taylor Hart, Darrell Greene and Aaron Neary. That’s about as deep an OL as I can remember.
Wentz's Potential Key For New Receivers - PE.com
As the NFL’s free agency period officially began on Thursday at 4 p.m., there were plenty of things that made the Eagles an attractive destination for players on the open market. Of course, there’s the fan base that’s as passionate as any in the world. There’s the ownership, front office, and coaching staff focused on taking the next step and playing into January and beyond. But perhaps the biggest draw this offseason has been quarterback Carson Wentz.
McLane: Which Jeffery will the Eagles get? - Inquirer
Jeffery's forte has long been climbing the ladder and winning jump balls against defensive backs. He's done it all over the field, but where that skill is most needed is inside the 20-yard line. The former Bears receiver, however, hasn't had as many opportunities nor has he been as successful, over the last two seasons as he was earlier in his career.
Ex-Eagles LB Connor Barwin has heard from Packers - NJ.com
A source close to the situation confirmed a report by Packers Report that former Eagles linebacker/defensive end Connor Barwin has been contacted by the Packers. Barwin, who the Eagles released Thursday to save $7.75 million of salary cap space, is believed to have several suitors but the Green Bay Packers could be near the top of that list.
Our 10 favorite deals from the first day of free agency - PFF
Unable to compete financially to sign Jeffery to a long-term deal, Howie Roseman came up with a creative solution to ensure second-year QB Carson Wentz has a viable No. 1 target in 2017. Jeffery changes the outlook of the Eagles’ offense significantly, opening up the vertical game. Head Coach Doug Pederson appeared reluctant to expand his West Coast offense, but he now has the personnel to generate big plays more consistently. Jeffery has excellent hands to make grabs in traffic underneath, and the body control and size to come down with the deep ball. Although only a short-term solution, Jeffery will make a huge impact, assuming he stays free of injury and suspension.
Eagles' draft options at CB, WR after Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith signings - CSN Philly
During the 2016 season, it was clear the Eagles had two glaring needs: wide receiver and cornerback. On Thursday, de facto GM Howie Roseman eliminated one of those needs by signing veteran receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. But what about corner? A.J. Bouye, Stephon Gilmore and Logan Ryan were three of the top corners on the market. The Eagles weren't seriously linked to any of them, and on Thursday Bouye landed with the Jaguars, Gilmore agreed with the Patriots and Ryan went to the Titans. Roseman chose to surround Wentz with proven commodities rather than add to the defense. With how phenomenal this cornerback draft class is, that appears to be a wise move.
Faith, Fear and Football - The Players’ Tribune
You’re in your early twenties, in the best shape of your life and have signed a contract to receive millions of dollars in exchange for taking a ball from one painted white line to another. For many players, all this comes after having grown up in project housing. You don’t have car keys when you live in the projects; you have a bus pass. And even though you’re making millions, much of your family still lives in poverty and they’re looking to you to get them out. (I grew up in Dallas, but many of my relatives still live in impoverished villages in Nigeria.) You’ve also been primed to believe in this notion that “quitting is for cowards.” There’s no chance you would have made it this far without a fear of failure. And the reality is that you’ve loved football your whole life. It’s what people are proud of you for. It’s how you’ve shaped your legacy. Would you let that go? Could you just walk away?
Terrelle Pryor signs with Washington after big year with Browns - SB Nation
Cleveland’s top receiver in 2016 wanted to stay with the Browns, but is on to Washington.
Dolphins Announce Signing Of Nate Allen - The Phinsider
Allen is a former second round pick (2010) of the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent his first five seasons with them before testing the free agent market and signing with the Oakland Raiders. He signed a four-year deal with the Raiders but was released after only one season but re-signed for less money.
Chargers Sign Damion Square to a 2-Year Deal - Bolts From The Blue
Today the Los Angeles Chargers announced that they agreed to terms with defensive lineman Damion Square. While more of a rotation player than a starting caliber lineman, Square was and will in all likelihood remain a valuable contributor to the Chargers defense that ranked in the top half of the league last season.
Bears agree to terms with the Texans’ Quintin Demps per report - Windy City Gridiron
With the start of the 2017 league year on the horizon, it appears the Chicago Bears have had their first domino in this year’s free agency drop with Texans safety Quintin Demps. The Bears are set to sign Demps, who will be 32-years-old next season, to a three-year deal worth $4.5 million per year according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. More terms of contract structure and guaranteed money have not yet come to light.
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Subject: Eagles Free Agency Rumors: Bennie Logan visiting Redskins
This is the first time Logan has been connected to any team in any kind of report since NFL free agency began. It doesn’t seem like there’s a great market out there for him. Schefter notes Logan is evaluating one-year contracts from multiple teams.
Philadelphia hasn’t shown a ton of interest in retaining their 27-year-old starting defensive lineman. Even if the Eagles did want to bring Logan back, he might be out of their price range at this point given how tight Philadelphia is against the cap.
Howie Roseman was asked about Logan during a press conference on Friday.
“We’re hopeful,” said Roseman. “Bennie’s a good player. We’re in communication with his representatives, and we’ll see how all this shakes out here.”
By my judgment, Roseman’s answer seemed short and dismissive. I’d be surprised to see Logan back with the Eagles. If anything, it would have to be a one year deal.
Losing Logan will hurt the Eagles because they’ll need a new starting defensive tackle. Philadelphia has reportedly been showing Giants free agent defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who is three years younger than Logan, a “lot of love” so maybe they want him instead.
It would be a bummer to see Logan end up with Washington. He’s a likeable player and no one should want to see him condemned to that awful, dysfunctional franchise.
Subject: Brandin Cooks Trade: Patriots acquire wide receiver from Saints
Brandin Cooks isn’t headed to Philly.
The Philadelphia Eagles won’t be getting Brandin Cooks. The New Orleans Saints are shipping their 23-year-old wide receiver to the New England Patriots, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini. Here’s what the trade looks like:
New England Patriots receive: Brandin Cooks, Saints’ 4th round pick (No. 118)
New Orleans Saints receive: Patriots’ 1st round pick (No. 32), Patriots’ 3rd round pick (No. 103)
The Eagles were reportedly interested in trading for Cooks but it seemed like New Orleans’ asking price was too high. Ultimately, the Patriots were able to get it done with a late first and a swap of late Day 2/early Day 3 picks.
Adding Cooks to Philadelphia’s wide receiving corps would have been nice, but it became less likely when the Eagles signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith this week. Cooks will need a new contract soon so the team paying for him has to be prepared to pay him.
Philadelphia was also able to keep their first and third round picks by signing Jeffery, as opposed to losing them by acquiring Cooks. What choice would you rather have? Vote in the poll below.
Subject: Cowboys sign former Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll
Carroll’s contract with the Cowboys is reportedly worth $10 million over three years. The first year will pay $4 million.
Carroll played in 43 games and made 28 starts with the Eagles after first signing with Philadelphia in 2014. He logged 112 tackles, three interceptions, and one forced fumble during that span.
Dallas showed interest in signing Carroll last offseason but he ultimately ended up returning to the Eagles on a one-year deal.
Carroll was a serviceable starter for the Eagles at times but other times he was a liability in coverage. For what it’s worth Pro Football Focus ranked him 92nd out of 112 cornerbacks in 2016.
Bringing Carroll back on a cheap deal wouldn’t have been the worst thing for the Eagles, but paying the 30-year-old as much as Dallas did wouldn’t have been ideal for Philadelphia. Howie Roseman talked about not wanting band-aids earlier this offseason, specifically at the cornerback position.
The Eagles are still in need of two new starting cornerbacks. It’s expected they will seriously address the position in the 2017 NFL Draft, which is loaded with cornerback talent.
Carroll will now have to deal with facing Eagles wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and/or Torrey Smith twice a year. Maybe he’ll do Philadelphia fans a solid and give up some big plays just like he did with the Eagles.
Subject: Chance Warmack turned down better offers for Jeff Stoutland, Eagles
“I’m hoping to make that magic work.”
College is often called a formative time. Kids turn into young adults, learn what motivates them, and form bonds that last lifetimes.
Stoutland, then the offensive line coach at Alabama, left a lasting impression on Warmack. In his senior year, Warmack was named First Team All-SEC and a unanimous All-American, and the following spring he was selected 10th overall by the Titans.
When he thinks of Stoutland, naturally Warmack thinks of some of the best football he’s ever played.
So, a chance to reunite with his former tutor? It was a no-brainer. So much so that Warmack said he turned down better financial offers to come to Philadelphia.
“[Stoutland] influenced my decision very much,” Warmack said at his introductory press conference Friday. “He’s my guy, helped me a lot in college, took me to the next level, and I’m hoping to make that magic work again here.”
Warmack said he and Stoutland already got together and chatted since he arrived in Philadelphia to sign his one-year deal with the team. The two talked scheme and strategy. Warmack said Stoutland’s scheme is very lineman-friendly, similar to the things Stoutland ran at Alabama.
“He’s a dynamic coach,” Warmack said. “He’s a guy that’s going to pull everything he can up out of you. He knows me. He knows the type of player I am from Alabama. And I feel like that relationship in itself is what’s going to take me to the next level.
“I’m just excited, man. I’m ready to go.”
Warmack played left guard in college, but spent his four years in Tennessee playing right guard. He feels comfortable in both spots, Warmack said.
Of course, the Eagles have an entrenched, highly-paid right tackle in Brandon Brooks. Brooks had a good first season with the team and, unless his anxiety returns next season, is expected to be a 16-game starter at that position. Which means Warmack is ostensibly battling with Barbre, and possibly Seumalo, for the starting left guard position when OTAs and training camp begin.
Warmack isn’t concerned with his place on the line for now, he says. He’s just ready to play.
“Wherever I can help the team the best way, I’m gonna do that,” Warmack said. “Whatever they ask of me to do, whether it’s play left or right, I’ll do that for them. I’m here, I’m a team player, and I’m here to help the team.”
Before he signed with the team, Warmack said, he didn’t pore over the depth chart worrying about potential playing time. He chose the Eagles because of his connection with Stoutland, and because he thinks the Eagles are a team on the come-up.
“This is a great team, a great organization,” Warmack said. “They’re on the rise, man. I feel like we can really make some things happen here. I really mean that. That’s what the organization, that’s what the team in terms of offense and defense, the personnel, everything’s clicking on all cylinders, and I want to be part of that.”
After missing most of the 2016 season with a hand injury, Warmack sounded Friday every bit a man who’s missed football, and isn’t worried about specifics so much as just playing the game.
“I’m ready to go,” Warmack said. “They cleared me. Ready to go, ready to grab, punch.”
Whatever the Eagles ask for.
Subject: Flyers vs. Bruins recap: Bruins win with buzzer beater because they are better than the Flyers
The Flyers and the Bruins were pretty much evenly matched this game...that is until there were only five seconds left.
Today was not really a day I felt like watching hockey, to be honest. The Flyers have been a huge disappointment this year, and I can easily think of a thousand ways I could have used my time more productively today. So like, going into this game I was in a pretty bad mood.
And then I realized that the only reliable feed I could get was the Boston one. Jack Edwards. Other guy (I call him Jimmy O’Boston). The worst broadcasting duo in the NHL. The combination of homerism and that ridiculously terrible accent is enough to drive any NHL fan crazy on a good day, so you can just imagine how I felt.
To make matters worse, just before puck drop, one Kelly Hinkle informed me that the following abomination had taken place at TD Garden:
Now, if any of you are familiar with my amazing history of providing words on the internet, you’ll remember that I cannot stand St. Patrick’s Day NHL merchandise. I also can’t stand the Bruins, Brad Marchand, Jack Edwards, and anything related to Boston.
It was going to be a tough day for me all around.
So here’s the good news — the Flyers started this game not looking like absolute crap. They weren’t completely dominating the game, and Radko Gudas even helped Boston get an early power play, but they didn’t look like a team that couldn’t keep up with the Bruins. About mid-way through the period, the Flyers even almost scored a goal! Wow!
Jake Voracek was able to get through the Bruins defenders and go off on a breakaway. The puck got lodged between Tuuka Rask’s pads and the post for a second until Brayden Schenn kinda maybe sorta poked it through for a maybe goal. It was definitely a big maybe, so when the refs confirmed that it was not a goal, I wasn’t mad at all.
But here’s why I hate Jack Edwards and Jimmy O’Boston. Before they could have possibly had any evidence to determine whether or not the puck had crossed the line, these jabronis were 100% convinced that it was not a goal. I totally get playing to the home crowd, but this kind of crap is just ridiculous. Even if you think I’m wrong, I still hate those guys and I am always right so there.
Anyway, after that the Flyers ended up doing absolutely nothing with a five-on-three opportunity. Then Travis Konecny went to the box for tripping. I was starting to get mad.
LOL then the Bruins scored off a David Pastrnak snap shot. It was mostly Andrew MacDonalds fault, because of course it was.
But then the Flyers started the second period with some stupid good play. For the first minute and a half, the puck only left the Bruins zone because the Flyers chose to regroup. The pressure ended up paying off when Jordan Weal was able to put a Wayne Simmonds pass into a mostly empty net. I was starting to get less mad.
That goal ended up getting challenged because of some stupid nonsense about Simmonds maybe being offsides like 20 seconds before the goal. The whole question came down to whether or not Simmonds non-offensive-zone-skate (does that make any sense?) was on the ice or in the air. Jack Edwards and Jimmy O’Boston were convinced the skate was in the air, which would have meant the Flyers goal would be overturned. They were wrong, so it was very funny to hear their reactions when the refs informed the crowd that the goal would stand.
Not much else happened in the second period, but I gotta say: the Flyers looked damn good. I haven’t watched that much hockey this season, but it definitely seemed to be one of the more dominant periods the Flyers have had. It was both Cool and also Good.
And then it all went to shit. The Flyers were absolute garbage in the third period, taking over twelve (12!) minutes to register their first shot on net. Things didn’t get better from there.
Honestly, I just wanted the game to end. And luckily, the Bruins obliged, scoring with only five seconds left to prevent this abomination from continuing past regulation.
Go the Flyers!
Subject: NFL Free Agency: Connor Barwin reportedly visiting Bengals
The former Eagle could return to Cincy.
Former Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Connor Barwin is visiting the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, according to a report from NFL insider Adam Caplan. This marks Barwin’s first free agent visit since the Eagles cut the 30-year-old veteran last Thursday.
Barwin attended college at the University of Cincinnati and played both football and basketball there. As a Detroit native, signing with the Bengals would also allow him to be closer to his home city than he’s ever been in the NFL. (Cincy is a four hour drive south of Detroit.)
The Bengals are the only team reportedly interested in Barwin. Jason La Canfora speculates he could end up with the Rams in Los Angeles (Wade Phillips connection) or return to the Texans, the team who drafted him. NJ.com noted the Packers also have interest in Barwin after losing Julius Peppers in free agency.
Barwin had a down season playing in the Eagles’ 4-3 defense last season, but he still has some gas in the tank. Here’s hoping he has success with his new team.
Subject: Trading for Kyle Fuller could be an interesting cornerback option for the Eagles
Eagles mailbag Q&A!
Welcome to the latest edition of the Bleeding Green Nation mailbag! Every so often I'll be taking some of your Philadelphia Eagles questions and answering them here in this post. As always, thanks to everyone who sent in a question. We already answered some of your questions during the BGN Facebook Live session I hosted. (Shameless plug: please like on the BGN Facebook page and the BGN Radio Facebook page.) Watch the Q&A below:
Now it's time for some of the questions I didn’t get a chance to answer (contact me: @BrandonGowton). Let's get started.
Thanks for bringing this question up, Tim. There’s been talk of this possibility ever since the Bears signed Marcus Cooper on Saturday. (I believe @igglesnut was the first person I saw to suggest it on Twitter yesterday.)
It seems like the Bears could be ready to give up on him after a disappointing, injury-riddled 2016 season where he never played. It doesn’t help Fuller that the regime who drafted him at No. 14 in 2014 isn’t around anymore, either.
If the Bears are ready to move on, the Eagles should absolutely look into buying low on Fuller. He had a promising season as a rookie with 50 tackles, four interceptions, 10 passes defensed, and three forced fumbles. He struggled early in his second year but he finished the 2015 season strong.
Since the Bears' Week 7 bye, Kyle Fuller has the 7th-highest coverage grade among CBs, and is allowing a 39.1 passer rating to opposing QBs.— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 14, 2015
It makes sense that the Eagles would have some interest in Fuller. He is one of six players the Eagles wanted in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The other five included: Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, C.J. Mosley, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Brandin Cooks.
In addition to Howie Roseman’s former interest in him, Fuller has some more ties to Philadelphia’s front office. Eagles director of pro scouting Dwayne Joseph was with Chicago when Fuller was drafted. Current Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas didn’t have a role in drafting Douglas but he spent the 2015 season with the Bears so he has some familiarity with the 25-year-old cornerback.
So what would the Eagles need to give up to acquire Fuller? Probably not much. One Bears reporter thinks a fifth-round pick could do the trick. Or perhaps a bust-for-bust swap in the form of trading Nelson Agholor (and a pick?) for Fuller, as Sam Lynch suggested. I’d personally love to trade Agholor because the Eagles can’t cut him (lose $2.3 million in cap space) but they can trade him to save like $17K. Agholor has been just so bad and at best he only fits in as the fourth or fifth receiver on Philadelphia’s depth chart now.
I really liked Fuller heading into the 2014 NFL Draft. He was my pick for the Eagles to take in the SB Nation NFL writers mock draft that year. I’m intrigued by his size and athleticism.
If Fuller is available for a fifth, that seems like an easy call to take a chance on. My first reaction to Fuller possibly being available was that I’d be willing to give up the Browns’ fourth-round pick that the Eagles own. So anything less is an obvious “yes” for me. Or maybe something like a Mychal Kendricks for Fuller trade is an option, as BGN Radio’s Turron Davenport suggested.
Trading for Fuller would be a creative way for the Eagles to address their cornerback problem. Right now the Eagles don’t have any proven starters and they don’t really have the money (only $3 million in cap space) to sign a corner right now. They just barely don’t have enough room to trade for Fuller, either, but that money could be easily freed up if/when the Eagles get rid of some combination of: Kendricks, Jason Kelce, Ryan Mathews, Ron Brooks.
Acquiring Fuller wouldn’t preclude the Eagles from being able to address cornerback in the draft. In fact, it’d be nice to have him as one of the team’s two starters with the other player being a rookie. As opposed to throwing two rookies into the fire right away.
This is a possibility to keep an eye on. Roseman loves to trade more than anything executive in the NFL. And given the way he tried to acquire Cooks this offseason, there has to be a chance he’s interested in getting Fuller.
@Siiiide asks: Why does Howie Roseman say "Drafting WRs is no quick fix" insinuating drafting DBs could be? Rookie DBs are eh usually.
Is that what he’s insinuating or are you putting words in his mouth? Generally speaking, it’s hard to count on rookies as a reliable quick fix at most positions. Cornerback definitely seems like one that takes time for players to develop. There are some exceptions to the rule, such as Marcus Peters. But it’s not like the Eagles are going to draft two immediate lock-down talents for 2017.
With that said, this year seems like a good draft class to bet on the young guys. And, quite frankly, even if it wasn’t, the Eagles wouldn’t have much of a choice anyway. Philadelphia doesn’t have any proven starting corners right now. They don’t have a lot cap space either. Maybe they’ll sign a veteran body or too (come on down, Kayvon Webster!) but more likely than not they’ll have to look into the draft.
Roseman’s point about receivers not being a quick fix was more about how the Eagles couldn’t just rely on the draft to fix the position. He was saying that Philadelphia needed to get some immediate help, and that’s exaclty what they did by signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.
@Juslisun2DaMsg asks: Draft Needs: CB, OT, DE, WR, RB, OG, OLB. Of course you go best player available, but what player at 14?
Well I would have loved to say Sidney Jones but that’s not going to happen now. I don’t have a great sense what’s going to happen yet. We’re still more than a month away and my mind is likely to change a lot until draft night gets here. Wide receiver is still a big need given the fact Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith are essentially playing on one year deals while Jordan Matthews will be a free agent after this season. Corey Davis or maybe even John Ross could be in play. Cornerback is obviously still an option even though Jones won’t be the pick. Maybe Marlon Humphrey? The Eagles are bringing him in for a pre-draft visit. Maybe Marshon Lattimore falls within range to trade up for? You can’t rule out pass rusher, and offensive tackle is also an outside chance.
@Milford236Eagle asks: Favorite edge rushers in draft outside the 1st round? Definite need for Eagles that no one is talking about.
I’m intrigued by the Villanova kid: Tanoh Kpassagnon. Great size at 6-7, 289 pounds. There’s question about his fit in the NFL at that size. He might not be a perfect fit at 4-3 defensive end (as opposed to 3-4 defensive end), but the great Fran Duffy thinks it’s possible. He could be more of an inside rusher though.
Tim Williams is a guy our draft writer Ben Natan likes a lot. You can read more about him here.
More mid-to-late pass rusher options listed here.
@BEickhoff asks: With spring training here, which Eagle would make the best baseball player, which Phillie is best at football?
I think it was Zach Ertz who hit a home run at Phillies batting practice last year, so I’m tempted to say he’d be the best baseball player.
As for the Phillies ... I’m going to cheat and say future Phillies player Mike Trout would make the best Eagles player. He’s a crazy athlete and he’s already best buds with Ertz and Carson Wentz. New slot receiver.
Hey, by the way, if you like the Phillies, check out our friends over at: The Good Phight. Great people over there.
Subject: 2017 NFL Free Agency: What we learned about the Eagles
Subject: Eagles are getting cornered at cornerback
The draft will have answers, but the problem runs deeper
The Eagles spent the first day of free agency adding to their offense. Since then, they’ve remained silent. The lack of cap space after those signings, at about $3 million, is certainly a factor. But they’ve still got needs to address. Bennie Logan and Connor Barwin’s starting jobs are up for grabs, and both starting cornerbacks from last year are no longer on the team. The current depth chart lacks actual depth: Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks, Dwayne Gratz, C.J. Smith, Aaron Grymes, and Mitchell White. Smith played just one snap on defense, Grimes just 9 on special teams last year, the Eagles were Gratz’s third team in 2016, White was in the CFL the last three years. Brooks might be released, which would save $1.6 million in cap space, but like Ryan Mathews’s $4M in savings, the Eagles would have to wait until he is medically cleared to release him, and if he’s cut then they’re down another corner, which only amplifies the issue.
At this point the Eagles have to draft a corner, and given the depth at the position in the draft and their needs, they should take two. There will be a corner available at 14 that could start, but planning to roll with two rookie starters is a bad idea. And only adding rookies to the depth chart above still makes for a poor group of CBs. At the very least, as unpleasant as it seems, a stop gap is needed. Looking at the free agent market, the least might be all they can do.
Not spending big on corner was justifiable, but now the second-tier players are starting to go off the market.
Dallas literally spent the last 3 ysr trying to find as many ways as possible to throw at Nolan Carroll. They'll spend 2017 paying him $4M— Joey Ickes (@JoeyIckes) March 11, 2017
Marcus Cooper, Bears - 3/??. Details aren’t available, but considering Cooper spent one inconsistent year as a starter in Arizona, it’s probably comparable to Carroll’s contract.
D.J. Hayden, Lions - 1/$5.25M. That’s a little pricey for a guy who’s struggled on the field and to stay healthy.
There are some options still available. They’re not much more than warm bodies or reclamation projects, but that also means they should come cheap. Another one year deal would be in line with the Eagles offseason.
Morris Claiborne - Signing Claiborne would essentially be swapping him for Carroll, which means the Eagles would get the younger player (he’s 27) who was actually good last year, though his season was cut short with a groin injury.
Davon House - Signed from Green Bay in 2015, House was a starter his first year in Jacksonville then found himself a backup in 2016. He’ll be 28 when the season starts, and the Eagles already have a guy he replaced in Dwayne Gratz. A reunion with the Packers seems likely.
Sterling Moore - Moore has been on three teams in three years, starting 28 games in that span, but he’s just 27. He’d probably like some stability, but with the Eagles dishing out one year deals, he could make some sense.
Patrick Robinson - The Eagles had some interest in Robinson last year, but he ultimately signed with the Colts. He missed 9 games with injuries and was released on Friday. Could they be interested again?
Sam Shields - Shields missed 15 games recovering from his fourth concussion in his seven seasons. If he can recover, he can be a good player, but the Packers weren’t willing to take that chance and released him in February.
Alterraun Verner - A big signing in 2014, Verner spent the last two years as a backup in Tampa. He’s just 28, a one year deal to get back to a starting job somewhere makes sense for him.
Kayvon Webster - The Eagles are thought to have some interest in Webster, who Cory Undlin coached in Denver and was buried behind Chris Harris, Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby. Expectations should be low, but at 26 and with coaching staff familiarity, he might be a pleasant surprise.
There’s also the shells of Darrelle Revis, Tramon Williams Lardarius Webb, and Terence Newman, but the Eagles should stay away from players over 30—and they’re unlikely to want to sign with a team that wasn’t a contender in 2016. And there are players with more name recognition that playing ability such as Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr and Justin Gilbert. Stay away from them too.
It’s slim pickings, but the longer the Eagles wait to add at least some depth, the slimmer they get.