Key free agent signings:
Trades: The Eagles traded DeMarco Murray for a future fourth-round pick. That seems to be the theme with the Philadelphia Eagles organization welcoming an array of new faces. Murray was a key RB for the Cowboys, but his performance plummeted with the Eagles offense. Murray expressed concern about Kelly’s leadership and did not believe they were utilizing his tackle breaking abilities as a North-South runner.
Top Impact Rookies:
Carson Wentz was the number 2 overall pick in the draft and a huge addition for the Eagles, as the future face of the franchise. It is likely that he will take on a more hands-off role, learning from Sam Bradford in his rookie year. Bradford’s string of injuries dates back to his first ACL tear in 2013 and for the past two seasons, he focused on rehabilitating his knee. Now, he is beginning to regain strength and is able to train to full capacity this summer. It is a make or break season for the leading QB and after missing some crucial time on the field, he may not be the same. Wentz may just get his opportunity, but he is also competing with second-string QB Chase Daniel. At 6’5, 237 pounds, Wentz has a significantly bigger frame than Daniel, who is 6’0, 225 pounds. I f he sees time on the field in this matchup with the Giants, Wentz will be much harder to bring down when Olivia Vernon is coming with full force.
Wendall Smallwood is a fifth-round pick with huge potential. At 5-foot-10, 208 pounds, he is not the bruiser, but can run by most defenders if the crease is there. He also possesses big playmaking ability in the passing game. Ryan Matthews will return as a starter but the team is limited with their running backs. The Eagles’ other go-to RB is one of the shortest players in the NFL. At 5’6, Sproles has a small stature, but he makes up for it with speed that is unmatched. Nothing is official yet and Smallwood looked good at OTA’s so he might joining his teammates on the field sooner than later.
Biggest offseason addition:
Carson Wentz has all of the physical attributes to be a great QB in the NFL. He has a strong arm and can throw the deep ball well. He has a higher ceiling than first overall pick Jared Goff because of his athletic ability. He did not play D1 football in college so he is not yet NFL ready, but the talent is there. He is still developing the mindset, but his measurables are impressive. At 6’5, 237 pounds, along with his 10” hands, not only does Wentz have the ability to sling the ball, but also can out run most defenders with a 40-yard dash time clocking in at 4.77 seconds.
Most intriguing storyline heading into training camp:
After an unsuccessful era of Chip Kelly and his unorthodox methods, the Eagles have decided to make big changes to their coaching staff starting with new head coach Doug Pederson. Pederson comes from the staff of former Coach Andy Reid, where he served as a defensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. During Pederson’s reign, the Chiefs’ defense were ranked at the top in most statistical categories. This is his first head coaching position, but he is prepared for a season with a tough schedule. He has learned from his past experience, but is already to take over the team with his own meticulous plan.
“Andy Reid is a mentor,” Pederson said. “I’ll be the first one to tell you that he is. But I’m also going to tell you that this is not an Andy Reid Football team and it’s not a Doug Pederson football team. This is a Philadelphia Eagles football team. So I’m going to bring my spin on it. I’m gonna bring my personality to it. And we’re going to make it our team going forward.”
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
Despite Pederson’s off the radar persona, he is now in the spotlight as starting receiver Nelson Agholor had been accused of sexual assault, while at a strip club. It was announced last week that Agholor would not be charged with the crime because of a lack of evidence. Pederson has not spoken with Agholor since the incident but intends to have a conversation about it this week. Pederson said that he would not comment on the accusations against Agholor but that it would not affect his status on the team. Regarding the aftermath, Pederson said: “He and I will speak privately when he gets here and I’ll leave it at that.” Before even week one of the regular season, Pederson’s leadership as a first year head coach will be tested in how he handles adversity and the standards he sets for his players.
Key Injuries heading into training camp”
As previously mentioned, Sam Bradford is entering a critical season with the Eagles after suffering from knee related issues since 2013. He first tore his ACL in 2013 in week 7 in a game against the Carolina Panthers. After just 3 seasons in the NFL, he had to deal with major rehabilitation only to take another step backwards the following year, tearing his ACL again. He missed the entire 2014 season and just started to get back into can active role toward the end of the 2015 season. He was a promising QB from the beginning as he won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and showed great potential. He performs well under pressure and perhaps one of his most memorable moments was the big upset the team managed to pull off against the Patriots in the 2015 season under the leadership of Bradford. Before the end of OTAs, Coach Pederson was asked if Bradford would be the starting QB for the season. He answered with conviction. Yes,'' Pederson said in response to the doubters. ”I've said that all along.’'