Eagles Mailbag: Starting LBs, Jordan Howard, return for Big V


I answered the first batch of your questions yesterday, about JJ Arcega-Whiteside and the Eagles’ corners, but there are plenty more to go. 

As always, thanks for all the great questions: 

In their base defense, it should be Nigel Bradham, Zach Brown and Kamu Grugier-Hill. It seems pretty easy to me. 

Perhaps L.J. Fort pushes for a starting spot, but the addition of Brown should make you feel a lot better at depth. This actually isn’t a bad group anymore. Bradham is an above-average NFL starter, Brown is a former Pro Bowler and KGH can shine in a limited role. After that, having Fort and Paul Worrilow is decent depth. I’d expect Brown to man the MIKE spot in base, which should free up Bradham. But I still expect Bradham to be the LB who doesn’t leave the field. Bradham and Brown should be the top two (for most of the time) in nickel. KGH can still start, but will have a limited role on defense and his full (and important) role on special teams. 

I don’t know if Sanders will need to go over 1,000 for the Eagles to not re-sign Howard. We have to see how this season goes, obviously, but if Sanders at least shows he can be a true feature back, I can’t imagine the Eagles would re-sign Howard. 

Sure, Howard is still relatively young and maybe he’d be worth keeping. But Sanders can grow into a three-down back, so I don’t really see the need in keeping Howard if Sanders is what the Eagles thought he was. The great thing about Sanders is he’ll be cost-controlled for three years after 2019, so if he’s about as good or better than Howard, why would the Eagles spend money to keep Howard? 

This is a good question. All of a sudden, the Eagles have a surplus of offensive tackles. Lane Johnson and Jason Peters are the starters. Andre Dillard was a first-round pick. Jordan Mailata is a project with great promise. So Big V, entering the final year of his rookie contract, might not have a future here. So the thought is that the Eagles could find some return for him before he becomes a free agent next year. That’s possible, but it’s also important to remember that offensive tackles — even so-so ones — seem to get paid on the open market. So a compensatory pick that comes back from Big V might be even greater, but you’d have to wait for that. 

For now, what would he fetch? In recent years, the Eagles have traded away two offensive linemen in the summer. In 2017, they traded Allen Barbre to the Broncos for a conditional seventh-round pick and later that summer sent Matt Tobin to the Seahawks for a pick swap. The Eagles gave a seventh to get a fifth. 

Around the league, the best recent example happened last April, when the 49ers sent Trent Brown to the Patriots. In that deal, the Pats got Brown and a five for San Francisco’s 2018 three. There are a lot of parallels. Brown was a seventh-round pick in 2015 and was entering the final year of his rookie contract last season. Big V was a fifth-round pick in 2016 and will enter the final year of his contract this season. Brown had played in 32 games with 28 starts, while Big V has played in 39 games and 17 starts and also started in the Super Bowl. Of course, Brown was and is a better player (who just got paid this offseason) but the Eagles could start here and see where it goes. If there’s an injury in the summer, they could find another team to be desperate. 

It’s possible. There has been plenty of NFL buzz around Douglas and I feel pretty confident in saying he’s going to be an NFL GM at some point. The Eagles have to hold on to him as long as they can, but that’ll only last so long. Howie Roseman isn’t going anywhere and the natural progression for Douglas would be to become a franchise’s primary personnel decision maker. I would hope, for their sake, the Eagles already have contingency plans for whenever Douglas eventually leaves. 

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