- Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders and Corey Clement will be on the Eagles‘ 53-man roster, leaving recent draft picks Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams and Donnel Pumphrey in danger of the waiver wire. Despite the Eagles investing in each of these players out of college, Saints 2018 sixth-round pick Boston Scott looks like the early favorite to be the Eagles’ fourth running back, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes. Possessing a Darren Sproles-type physique at 5-foot-6 and 203 pounds, Scott has yet to take a regular-season handoff. But his experience as a punt returner may give him the edge, per Zangaro. Adams (511 yards) and Smallwood (364) were Philadelphia’s two leading rushers last season.
- The Giants will join the Eagles in having a project offensive lineman in camp. After Philly drafted tackle Jordan Mailata in last year’s seventh round, the Giants signed college shot putter Austin Droogsma. The Giants signed Droogsma, who last played football as a high-schooler 2012, in May and will try the 6-4, 345-pound track convert as a guard, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes. While at Florida State, Droogsma won the 2018 ACC indoor and outdoor titles and finished both seasons as an All-American. Mailata, a rugby standout, spent most of last season on the Eagles’ practice squad; the Giants’ P-squad would seem like the best-case scenario for Droogsma in 2019.
Here are today’s minor moves:
- Waived/non-football injury: WR Devin Ross
Eagles offensive tackle Tyreek Burwell has announced his retirement, as the Cincinnati product announced himself on Instagram (h/t Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk). Burwell posted the following statement:
“Man it’s hard for me to sit here and put this into words but after careful consideration I’ve made the decision to retire from the NFL. This journey has been unbelievable! I’ve been blessed to have been able to play this game since I was 7 years old. Playing in the NFL has been a dream come true and this game has taught and given me so much.”
Burwell signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2015, and though he was a victim of final cutdowns in September of that year, he was signed to the club’s practice squad shortly thereafter. He ultimately suited up for nine games in his rookie campaign, and five more in 2016, seeing minimal snaps in both seasons.
He was waived by the Bolts in September 2017 and then joined the Colts’ practice squad. He played in one game for Indianapolis that year, the last time he would see regular season action.
The Colts cut him last September, and the Eagles signed him to a reserve/futures contract in January. He was obviously a long shot to make Philadelphia’s 53-man roster.
- Derek Barnett missed the final 10 games of the 2018 campaign after undergoing shoulder surgery, but the Eagles are still excited about the former first-round defensive end as he enters his third NFL season, according to Dave Spadaro of PhiladelphiaEagles.com. “I’d say every time he’s on the field, he’s rewarding our investment in him,” general manager Howie Roseman said. “We have a lot of confidence in him as a player and he’s a huge part of our football team. He’s shown that this isn’t a guy that’s going into his third year and we haven’t seen what he’s done. We’ve seen what he’s done in big games. We saw what he was doing last year before he got hurt. We expect him to come in and be a huge part of our team.” Now entering his age-23 campaign, Barnett has posted 7.5 sacks and 49 pressures over two years in Philadelphia.
The NFL’s Supplemental Draft order does not go by the inverted win/loss records of clubs. Instead, the order is dictated by a weighted lottery that uses a team’s win percentage as just part of the equation. Here, via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link) is the complete order of the supplemental draft:
The supplemental draft is conducted via email. If multiple teams submit a pick for the same player in the same round, this order dictates which club gets the player. Of course, any team picking a player in the supplemental draft will sacrifice the corresponding pick in the 2020 draft.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
It happens every year. A handful of top-tier teams will inevitably miss the playoffs. In 2018, a staggering seven teams who made the postseason in 2017 missed it the following season. So which of the 2018 playoff squads will underperform and miss the tournament in 2019?
The Patriots, the reigning Super Bowl champions, haven’t missed the postseason since 2008, when Tom Brady missed most of the season with an injury. The team has also produced double-digit wins in every campaign since 2002. Though they seem like a lock to extend that streak, the aforementioned Brady isn’t getting any younger, Rob Gronkowski retired following 2018 and the team’s defensive coaching staff is being headed by head coach Bill Belichick after the departure of Brian Flores to Miami and a deal with Greg Schiano fell through. Though the AFC East is perennially one of the worst in football, the Bills, Dolphins and Jets all have young quarterbacks who could take the next step and challenge New England in 2019.
The Ravens surprised in 2018, using an opportunistic defense and an unorthodox rookie signal-caller in Lamar Jackson to roll to a 10-6 record and a spot in the postseason. With an offseason to build the offense around its young quarterback, the Ravens could take another step in 2019. Or they could take a step back as opposing defenses catch onto the team’s run-heavy schemes. The Steelers are also due for a bounce back and the Browns have overhauled their roster in recent years to make a push not only for the playoffs, but for a Super Bowl run.
The Texans, the AFC South division champions, and the Colts, a Wild Card squad, have squads loaded with young talent. Houston boasts a loaded offense behind Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, and a strong defensive unit led by J.J. Watt. The Colts caught fire down the stretch, winning nine of their final 10 games to advance to the postseason. The team also fields the reigning Comeback Player of the Year (Andrew Luck) and Defensive Rookie of the Year (Darius Leonard). Though both teams should be strong again in 2019, only one can win the division, leaving the other to compete for one of the two Wild Card spots.
A pair of Super Bowl favorites, the Chiefs and Chargers both won 12 games in 2018 and are stacked with talent to inflate that number in 2019. Though the field the league’s MVP in Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs have had a tumultuous last few months that has seen the departure of running back Kareem Hunt and legal troubles for Tyreek Hill. Though stacked on both sides of the ball, the Chargers have posted just one double-digit win season since 2009. Again, only one squad can win the division.
In the NFC, both the Cowboys and Eagles appear to be the class of the East, with solid quarterbacks in Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott leading the charge. Both squads field excellent defenses and have plenty of talent at the skill positions. The question in Philly, however, is if Wentz can stay healthy. An MVP candidate when on the field, Wentz has missed eight regular season games and every postseason outing in the last two seasons. Though a strong unit in 2018, the Cowboys defensive front is not a deep one after Demarcus Lawrence and could be the weak link in 2019.
The Bears improved from a 5-11 squad in 2017 to a 12-win team in 2018. With a young quarterback at the helm and a loaded defense, Chicago is in good position for another division crown. However, how much will the team miss defensive coordinator Vic Fangio? The new Broncos head coach oversaw a unit that allowed the fewest points and third-fewest yards in the NFL. Chicago also plays in a strong division that features a Vikings squad poised to bounce back and an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team.
In 2017, the NFC South placed three teams in the playoffs. In 2018, only the Saints escaped the tough division. Atlanta and Carolina look ready to challenge for a postseason berth and a Bruce Arians-led Bucs squad could surprise. New Orleans is sure to be a Super Bowl favorite, but a tough division could see them underperform a hair and miss the tournament.
The NFC representatives in Super Bowl LIII, the Rams are still led by Sean McVay, a high-powered offense and a stout defensive front. The question with Los Angeles is an easy one, however, how will Todd Gurley fare in 2019? The NFL leader in touchdowns in each of the past two season, Gurley was a non-factor in the postseason and his health is a mystery. The Seahawks returned to the postseason following a one-year hiatus but can they do it again in 2019? The teams has to replace Russell Wilson‘s top target in Doug Baldwin, who retired in the offseason. How quickly DK Metcalf assimilates into that offense could determine Seattle’s postseason fate.
If you had to plant your flag on one of these teams missing the 2019 playoffs, which one would it be? Vote in the poll and give us your reasoning in the comments.
Former West Virginia wide receiver Marcus Simms worked out for half of the NFL’s teams on Monday, according to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. The Jaguars, Saints, Seahawks, Colts, Jets, Redskins, Chiefs, Browns, Eagles, Lions, Packers, 49ers, Vikings, Ravens, Raiders, and Falcons.
The 49ers and Vikings both sent directors of scouting while the Ravens had their personnel director on hand. The Raiders, meanwhile, had general manager Mike Mayock on hand, which may be an indicator of strong interest.
Simms’ 40-yard-dash times of 4.49, 4.45 and 4.40 seconds were strong, while his 36 inch vertical showed decent hops for the position. While he’s not considered to be as strong of a pro prospect as Washington State safety Jalen Thompson, Simms has a chance at being selected when the NFL Supplemental Draft takes place later this month.
Unlike the AFC, where the same team has been the annual favorite for a few years now, the NFC has featured different Patriots opponents over the past three seasons. Since the Packers’ back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 1996-97, only the 2013-14 Seahawks have repeated as conference champions.
When determining who should be considered the 2019 NFC favorite, we should first look at conference’s two best 2018 teams. While the Saints have one of NFL history’s greatest arguments for being the team that should have gone to a Super Bowl, the Rams did. Both teams bring back most of their core players.
The Rams lost more than the Saints this offseason, with their big-spending 2018 helping lead to the departures of Rodger Saffold, Lamarcus Joyner and Ndamukong Suh. Los Angeles brought back Dante Fowler and added Clay Matthews, giving the two-time reigning NFC West champions much bigger names on the edge than the ones that opened the ’18 season as starters, and signed Eric Weddle to replace Joyner. The Rams will trot out two new offensive linemen, likely 2018 mid-round picks Joseph Noteboom (at left guard) and Brian Allen (center). Cooper Kupp is also on track for Week 1. But Todd Gurley‘s status overshadows the rest of the Rams’ lineup; the team has kept information about its two-time All-Pro running back’s knee injury close to the vest.
Lagging just behind the Rams in Super Bowl LIV odds, the Saints lost Mark Ingram but added Latavius Murray. Max Unger retired, but New Orleans added both free agent Nick Easton and second-round pick Erik McCoy. The 2018 trades the Saints made left them without first-, third- and fourth-round picks this year, limiting their ability to enhance their roster cheaply. Drew Brees heads into his age-40 season, and while his arm strength may not be what it once was, he broke his own completion percentage record and was Pro Football Focus’ top-graded QB last season. The cogs chiefly responsible for the Saints’ No. 6 weighted DVOA defensive ranking also return.
The next tier, per Vegas, features the double-doink game’s participants. The Eagles were again active this year, bringing back DeSean Jackson and replacing Michael Bennett with Malik Jackson. Zach Brown also headed to eastern Pennsylvania on a low-cost deal. Philadelphia brought back Brandon Graham and Ronald Darby and extended Jason Kelce. Carson Wentz‘s extension will hit future Eagles caps harder, but his 2019 number ($8.393MM) helps Howie Roseman‘s ability to fortify the roster. After a busy 2018 free agency, the Bears had a quiet offseason. They lost DC Vic Fangio, the NFL’s assistant coach of the year, and may be in line for changes under replacement Chuck Pagano. Scrutinized quarterback Mitch Trubisky (No. 3 in 2018 QBR, No. 18 in Football Outsiders’ DYAR metric) obviously has the biggest say in where the Bears go.
Two out of the past three NFC champions missed the playoffs the year prior, and Vegas places the Packers as the top such candidate for 2019. Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur have expressed a difference of opinion about Green Bay’s offensive structure, but the Packers enjoyed their most active offseason in years. Brian Gutekunst spent wildly on edge rushers, with both Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith now each a top-five highest-paid 3-4 outside linebacker, and brought in Adrian Amos for $9MM annually. Did they do enough to get back in the Super Bowl mix?
While the Cowboys re-routed their season after their Amari Cooper trade, Las Vegas is not bullish on their chances. Dallas sits at 25-to-1 Super Bowl odds, the same as Seattle, Minnesota and San Francisco. Despite their NFC East title, the Cowboys ended last season as the No. 21 DVOA team.
The Seahawks lost one of the top receivers in franchise history, with Doug Baldwin retiring at age 30, and traded their best pass rusher. Ziggy Ansah and first-round pick L.J. Collier represent the team’s top edge options. Minnesota is all-in on this nucleus, with the Anthony Barr deal furthering Rick Spielman‘s massive financial commitments to the core he built. Do the Vikings (ninth in weighted DVOA last season) have enough talent to justify these expenses?
Will a team emerge unexpectedly? The 49ers have Jimmy Garoppolo set to suit up again and, after acquiring Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, boast their best edge corps in years. Are the Falcons (40-1) being undervalued? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your NFC assessments in the comments section.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
It’s getting pretty late in the free agency process and pass-rusher Connor Barwin hasn’t signed yet, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t planning on playing in 2019. During a recent interview with Heavy.com, the veteran revealed he still wants to play, and that he even has a specific team in mind.
“I’m trying to come back and play for the Eagles,” Barwin said. “I’m training right now and I’ve talked to [Eagles GM] Howie [Roseman] and they’re going to see if they need any depth on the edge and so I’m going to wait until camp starts before I sign anywhere else, but obviously I’m not going to wait too long. But the Eagles know that’s where I want to be.”
Barwin was with the Eagles from 2013 through 2016 and had some of his best years with the team, so it makes sense why he wants to return. By far the best season of Barwin’s career came in Philly in 2014 when he racked up 14.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl. He was also a second-team All-Pro that year. He signed a one-year deal with the Rams in 2017, and although he had five sacks he was a bit of a disappointment.
He signed a two-year deal with the Giants last offseason and was an even bigger disappointment in New York, getting released back in February. He took a meeting with the Dolphins last month, but nothing materialized. In his one season with the Giants he made only three starts, and finished with just one sack. Barwin is 32 now, but still thinks he has something left in the tank. That being said, he understands he won’t be signing anywhere in an every-down role.
“I’m going into my 11th year and I’m ready to just be a situational player. Howie knows. I’ll be there if one of the three guys get hurt or if something happens, or to mentor the younger guys,” he said. Barwin said his preference is the Eagles, but that if they pass he won’t hesitate to go elsewhere. “Me and Howie are talking. I might wait a week into camp, but that’s about as far as I’m going to wait. Other teams are going to be like, ‘You better sign now or we’re going to sign someone else.’ If not, I’ll try to go to another contender. I would love for it to be in a good situation where I can contribute,” he continued.
While Barwin is clearly over the hill, he seems confident that he’ll be able to find a team. There will probably be a club looking for some veteran pass-rushing help, and after Philadelphia traded away Michael Bennett this offseason it’s quite possible it’ll be the Eagles.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Patriots running back Sony Michel missed the team’s minicamp following arthroscopic surgery on his knee. He is “progressing quickly” in his recovery and is reportedly running at “full tilt,” the NFL Network’s Mike Girardi tweets.
That’s a good sign for the second-year back, who sounds like he is on track to return to action when the team opens training camp in July.
A first-round pick in 2018, Michel impressed in his rookie campaign with 931 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He turned it up a notch in the postseason, adding another six rushing scores in New England’s run to a Super Bowl title.
Even if the Georgia product misses a little time, the Patriots should still be in good hands in the backfield. The team still boast James White and added Damien Harris, a running back from Alabama, in the draft in April.
Here’s more from around the NFL:
- The Browns were deemed to have the best offseason, an ESPN NFL Nation post states. Each team was given a designation of elite, above average, average and too soon to tell, and Cleveland was the only squad to garner an elite ranking. The explanation for the lofty ranking was the team succeeding on its goal of surrounding second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield with talent at the skill positions with Odell Beckham and Kareem Hunt.
- With Joe Douglas now with the Jets, the former Eagles vice president of player personnel could look to fortify his new squad with players from his old team, NBC Sports’ Dave Zangaro writes. Zangaro identifies 10 players who could be cut or have reduced roles in the coming weeks who Douglas could have his eyes on, three of which are in the secondary in cornerbacks Cre’Von LeBlanc and Josh Hawkins, and safety Deiondre’ Hall.