Eagles mailbag: Fun hypothetical with position changes


Time to clean out the mailbag.

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions this weekend. We got so many I had to break this up into four parts and still didn’t get to all of them. So if I missed yours, I apologize.

Here’s Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and now …

Here’s Part 4:

The easiest way to ensure I answer your question is to give me a dumb hypothetical like this that I will undoubtedly spend way too long thinking about. Offense to defense, defense to offense.

QB: Avonte Maddox
RB: Nakobe Dean/Jordan Davis
WR: Darius Slay
WR: James Bradberry
WR: Josiah Scott
TE: Haason Reddick
LT: Josh Sweat
LG: Javon Hargrave
C: Milton Williams
RG: Fletcher Cox
RT: Brandon Graham

Maddox is a former baseball player so I’m guessing he has an arm. If not, he’s fast enough to just run around and run a high school offense. I like the idea of two top defenders from Georgia being the lightning and thunder running attack. Try to stop Davis at the goal line. Solid offensive line of defensive linemen and solid receiving corps of cornerbacks. Reddick is going to be a monster at tight end.

DE: Landon Dickerson
NT: Jordan Mailata
DE: Lane Johnson
LB: Jason Kelce
LB: A.J. Brown
LB: Dallas Goedert
LB: Zach Pascal
CB: DeVonta Smith
CB: Quez Watkins
NCB: Greg Ward
S: Jalen Hurts
S: Miles Sanders

Went with a 3-4 defense here with big Mailata up the gun. Dickerson and Lane get to flank him. We’re turning back the clock by putting Kelce at linebacker. We got our two biggest receivers and top tight end at linebacker. The corners seemed obvious. There wouldn’t be many NFL QBs doubling up as safeties, but I think Hurts can do it. He’d be able to read QBs back there and his instincts would have him as a field general back there.

1. Davion Taylor
2. Jalen Reagor
3. Isaac Seumalo
4. Andre Dillard
5. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Taylor is a cheap backup linebacker who showed promise and plays special teams so why get rid of him? I can’t see the Eagles giving up on Reagor, especially because it would cost more to cut him. Seumalo might offer some value as a trade chip, but he could also be the starting right guard; hardest one to place on the list. I think Dillard could be moved if some team gets desperate in training camp. JJAW faces an uphill battle with his position change to tight end.

I really liked Maddox at safety when he was forced to play there earlier in his career. He reminded me of Bob Sanders a bit; just a small and athletic player back there who was tougher than his stature would indicate. But Maddox is best suited to the nickel corner position and that was evident last year. There’s still a chance we could see Maddox play safety at some point but it shouldn’t be a full-time move. But if the Eagles want to put out an extra defensive back, there’s a decent chance the next guy up could be Jimmy Moreland or Josiah Scott, who are both nickels. That would free up Maddox to get some reps at safety.

Using PFF data, here’s the percentage of snaps Brown has played in the slot during his three years in the NFL:

2019: 11.5%
2020: 14.8%
2021: 27.4%

So you’ll notice that his snaps in the slot have actually gone up every year he’s been in the NFL. DeVonta Smith was the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver last season and he played just under 11% of his snaps in the slot. I think we’ll see Brown play more than that inside in 2021, but he’ll still primarily be used on the outside. Still, using Brown (6-1, 226) in the slot can get him some favorable matchups against smaller nickel corners. Nick Sirianni cares about matchups.

Cutting Reagor would leave the Eagles with a dead cap figure of over $6 million in 2022 and his cap hit if he’s on the team is just over $3.6 million. So would the Eagles really be willing to take a bigger cap hit just by cutting him? Seems unlikely. Beyond the admission that cutting Reagor would be, the money means he stays. I think he’s on the roster this season.

The Eagles got Minshew for a sixth-round pick so you could call it a win if they got anything more in return for him less than a year later. But the Eagles aren’t in any sort of rush to trade him unless they get a great offer because he’s entering the season with a cap hit of $2.54 million. That is a bargain for a high-level backup who still has starter potential. There’s a decent chance that Hurts misses a game or two in 2022 and the Eagles are a team with serious playoff aspirations. That makes Minshew’s role really important. If a team offers up a third-round pick, then sure, take it. Other than that — or unless Carson Strong looks great in camp — just hold on to Minshew for the year.

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