Roob's Observations

In Roob's Eagles Observations: How much $$$ is DeVonta Smith worth?

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A funny thing happened while I was putting together this week’s Eagles Observations.

I did 20 by mistake.

So you’re stuck with a double shot of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations today. Maybe I'll shoot for 100 next week!

1. Calvin Ridley got $23 million per year over four years with the Titans. Mike Evans got $26 million per year over two years from the Bucs. Michael Pittman signed with the Colts for $23 million per year over three years. There are now 16 WRs averaging at least $20 million per year, including A.J. Brown at $25 million per year. So there’s your updated wide receiver market. Which brings us to DeVonta Smith, who is heading into a contract year and is priority No. 1 right now for Howie Roseman. Smith has played the last three years on his rookie contract, which averaged about $5 million per year. So what’s he worth? Statistically, Smith only ranked 20th in the NFL in receiving yards among wide receivers last year. And over the last three years he’s 16th. But the eye test says he’s better than that. And he also just turned 25 and I don’t think anybody who’s watched him would think he’s reached anything close to his peak. With more consistent quarterback play and improved play calling, there’s no question Smith can be a 1,200-yard guy. The disparity between Smith’s ability and potential and youth and where he ranks statistically is why this is a tricky contract negotiation. And also as gifted as Smith is, he is WR2 and in contract talks, that will be a factor. You certainly wouldn’t expect him to go over Brown’s $25 million per year figure. But if Ridley and Pittman are worth $23 million per year, Smith is worth more. I would think four years, $94 million gets it done. That would give him the 8th-highest average annual salary among receivers and put him right around D.J. Metcalf and Deebo Samuel. It’s a fair deal for the Eagles and a fair deal for Smith. Roseman has never not signed a promising young player to a second contract, and he won’t this time. This will get done. It just might take a little while.

2. Did you ever stop and think how many quarterbacks have played for both the Eagles and the Rams? Jaws, Roman Gabriel, Bobby Thomason, Norm Van Brocklin, Sam Bradford, Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, A.J. Feeley, Dave Barr and T.J. Rubley come to mind. Anyone else?

3. I get that a lot of people think the Eagles should have gotten more than a conditional 3rd-round pick in 2026 for Haason Reddick, but I think there’s a very high probability that pick does become a 2nd-round selection. I know the Jets have rotated their edge rushers recently, but assuming they re-work Reddick’s contract – which they pretty much have to do since he only has one year left on his deal – he’ll be making somewhere around $25 million per year, and it makes no sense to have one of the NFL’s most productive and highest-paid edge rushers playing less than 67.5 percent of the snaps just to make sure the 3rd-round pick doesn’t convert to a 2nd-round pick. Reddick the last four years has played 78 percent of his team’s defensive snaps. I just can’t imagine the Jets would slash his snaps 15 percent when he’s one of the best edge rushers in the league and they really need to win football games. And how do you think Reddick would feel about playing 120 to 140 fewer snaps per season just so his team doesn’t have to trade the Eagles a 2nd-round pick? None of it adds up. Maybe Reddick doesn’t get the 10 sacks he needs to also trigger the 2nd-round pick, but he’s had 12 ½, 11, 16 and 11 the last four years, one of only two NFL players to be in double figures each of the last four years. The 2nd-round pick isn’t a lock, but the chances sure look pretty good. 

4. Running back Robert Drummond, the Eagles’ 1989 3rd-round pick out of Syracuse, had 77 rushing yards and 74 receiving yards in a 20-17 loss to the Chargers at Jack Murphy Stadium as a rookie. He had 110 rushing yards and 145 receiving yards the rest of his career. So 37 percent of his career scrimmage yards came in one game. The only other Eagles rookies with 70 yards both rushing and receiving in a game are Don “Heartbeat” Johnson vs. the Browns at Connie Mack Stadium in 1953 (81 rushing, 75 receiving), Billy Ray Barnes vs. the Cards at Connie Mack in 1957 (76, 97) and Miles Sanders vs. the Cowboys at the Linc in 2019 (79, 77).

5. Dave Zangaro and I were having some fun putting together a Howie Roseman all-time draft team on a recent Eagle Eye podcast, and some positions were really strong – offensive line is loaded; Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert at tight end; Nick Foles, Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts at quarterback; Fletcher Cox and Jalen Carter at defensive tackle; Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat at edge. Other positions? Not so much At linebacker, the best you can come up with is Mychal Kendricks and Nate Gerry. At safety it’s Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen. At outside corner it’s Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas. And if you’re going three wides, who are you going to pick other than DeVonta Smith? It’s gotta be Jordan Matthews and Riley Cooper or Quez Watkins. Howie has become a tremendous general manager, but there are some definite holes in his game when it comes to drafting. I mean, Nate Gerry? 

6. Carson Wentz and Nick Foles have both played for the Eagles, Colts, Rams and Chiefs. 

7. Andy Harmon is the only interior defensive lineman in NFL history to have three seasons with at least 9.0 sacks and never make a Pro Bowl. Harmon had 11 ½ sacks in 1993, 9.0 in 1994 and 11.0 in 1995. Harmon ranked second in the NFL in sacks by a defensive tackle in 1993, third in 1994 and third in 1995. From 1993 through 1995, only Hall of Famer John Randle had more sacks among interior linemen. At the end of the 1995 season, Harmon had the 12th-most sacks ever by an interior lineman. In his career, Harmon averaged 0.46 sacks per game. The only interior lineman in Eagles history to average more is Javon Hargrave (0.48). To this day, his 39 ½ career sacks 9th-most ever by an interior lineman who never made a Pro Bowl. Harmon’s 39 ½ sacks are most in NFL history by a defensive tackle drafted in the sixth round or later. The most underrated player in Eagles history? I’d say yeah.

8. Saquon Barkley has 20 career offensive plays of at least 20 yards. In 2008, he averaged one every 40.2 touches, then one every 53.8 touches in 2019, one every 101.5 touches in 2021, one every 117.3 touches in 2002 and one in 288 touches last year. In all, he had 10 20-yard plays in his first 372 career touches and 10 more in his last 1,117 touches.

9. We don’t make a big enough deal about Keith Byars’ 1990 passing stats. Byars had four pass attempts and all four were touchdowns. The next-fewest pass attempts in a season by someone throwing four TDs is nine, by Patriots running back Andy Johnson in 1981. Johnson was 7-for-9 with four TDs and an interception. Nobody else in NFL history has even thrown three TDs in a season without an incompletion. Eight players have thrown two TDs in a season without an incomplete pass, most recently Patriots receiver Jakobi Meyers in 2020. Byars in 1990 threw more TD passes on four attempts than Stan Humphries on 156 attempts, Mike Pagel on 148 attempts, John Fourcade on 116 attempts or Mike Tomczak on 104 attempts. Byars’ six career TD passes are 19th-most in NFL history by a left-hander. Tied with Kellen Moore.

10. Braden Mann had 15 punts inside the 20 and just one touchback after joining the Eagles last year. That’s the best Inside the 20 / touchback ratio by an Eagles punter since 2005, when Dirk Johnson dropped 11 inside the 20 and didn’t have any touchbacks. 

11. In the six years that Stathead has been tracking defensive back analytics, safety Marcus Epps has the highest defender passer rating on the Eagles with a 139.1 mark in 2022. Opposing QBs were 38-for-52 (73 percent) throwing at Epps for 470 yards and six touchdowns. 

12. Over the last 20 years, the Eagles have drafted Billy McMullen, Matt Ware, Ryan Moats, Chris Gocong, Tony Hunt, Stewart Bradley, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Curtis Marsh, Josh Huff and Davion Taylor in the third round. The only regular starters the Eagles have found with their 19 3rd-round picks over the last two decades are Bennie Logan, Jordan Hicks and Isaac Seumalo. Only one of the Eagles’ 3rd-round picks over the last 20 years has made a Pro Bowl, and that’s Nick Foles in 2013.  The Eagles’ last defensive Pro Bowl drafted in the third round is Jeremiah Trotter, drafted 26 years ago. The Eagles’ last 18 3rd-round picks have started a combined 305 games, an average of 16.1 games per pick. One – 2008 pick Bryan Smith – never got on the field for the Eagles.

13. In the first 60 years of the NFL, only one player had 1,600 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in a season, including postseason. That was Wilbert Montgomery in 1979, with 1,634 yards rushing and 529 receiving. It’s been done 38 times since, including by LeSean McCoy in 2013 (1,684, 554). 

14. If Brandon Graham plays in all 17 games this year and then retires, he’ll become the 22nd position player in NFL history to play at least 217 games all for the same team. The only defensive linemen to play in 217 games all for the same team are Joe Nash, a defensive tackle with the Seahawks from 1982 through 1996, and defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones, who played 224 games with the Cowboys from 1974 through 1989. B.G. has already played the most game in Eagles history without playing for another team (195). Next on that list are Jason Kelce (193), Brent Celek (175), Chuck Bednarik (169) and Randy Logan (159.

15. Jalen Hurts' disparity on first down last year and all other downs is striking:

• Last year on first down, Hurts had a 74.6 passer rating, with six TDs and seven INTs. Of 30 quarterbacks who threw at least 100 passes on first down, only Desmond Ridder had a lower passer rating (71.7), and his 60.9 completion percentage ranked 27th

• On all other downs, Hurts had a 97.8 passer rating, which was 8th highest out of 29 QBs who threw at least 200 passes on second through fourth down. He had 17 TD passes and eight TDs after first down and completed 68.2 percent of his passes, highest in the entire NFL on 2nd through 4th downs (Pat Mahomes was second at 68.0). 

16A. Seth Joyner had nine career games with an interception and a sack, and that is the most in NFL history. Lawrence Taylor and Wilber Marshall each had seven and Brian Urlacher, former Eagle Richard Dent and Mike Merriweather had six. Seven of Joyner’s INT-sack games came as an Eagle and two with the Cards. Other Eagles with multiple games with both an interception and a sack are Brian Dawkins with four, and Reggie White, Wes Hopkins, William Thomas, Rashard Cook, DeMeco Ryans and Rodney McLeod. Cook is the only Eagle who did it in the postseason. In the Eagles’ conference semifinal win over the Bears at Soldier Field in 2001, Cook sacked Jim Miller and intercepted Shane Matthews after Hugh Douglas had knocked Miller out of the game.

16B. Hugh’s quote about that hit on Miller during Damon Moore’s 18-yard interception return: “I told him don’t move. He moved. The rest is history.”

17. There have been four games in NFL history where a quarterback has thrown for 300 yards and rushed for three touchdowns. Jack Kemp of the Bills did it in 1963 against the Bills at Buffalo War Memorial Stadium, Dak Prescott did it against the Falcons at AT&T Stadium in 2020 and Jalen Hurts has done it twice – in Chicago in a win over the Bears in December 2022 and of course in the Super Bowl two months later. So Hurts has half of all the 300-yard, 3-TD performances in NFL history. Hurts had 61 rushing yards vs. the Bears and 70 yards vs. the Chiefs, so he’s the only one with 300 passing yards, 50 rushing yards and three rushing TDs in a game, and he’s done it twice.

18A. Are people getting carried away with their expectations of Isaiah Rodgers? I don’t think so. In 2022, when he started nine games, Rodgers had the 5th-highest overall cornerback grade out of 142 corners who played at least 200 snaps on Pro Football Focus at 82.1. His 81.5 coverage grade was also 5th-highest. And he was also an impressive 21st as a run defender. The last Eagle corner with a season grade as high as 82.1 was slot Patrick Robinson with a 87.0 in 2017. You always take PFF grades with a grain of salt, but these numbers do give you an indication how well Rodgers played the last time he was on the field. Now, who knows how much – if at all - he’ll be affected by missing all of last year and not even being with a team. And if the Eagles draft a corner in the first round, that guy is going to start. And James Bradberry is still here, although for the life of me I can’t imagine why. And Kelee Ringo had a promising rookie season. But all things being equal? I think Rodgers has as good a chance as anyone to start opposite Darius Slay when the 2024 season starts.

18B. And I just don’t believe Bradberry will be here by the time next season begins.

19. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s 16 career catches are not the fewest in NFL history by a wide receiver drafted in the first two rounds who played at least 40 career games. But it’s close. In 1968, the Cards drafted Fred Hyatt out of Auburn with the 40th pick overall. Hyatt caught just six passes in parts of six seasons with the Cards, Saints and Washington.  

20. Saquon Barkley had 12 broken tackles in 247 rushing attempts last year and D’Andre Swift had 21 broken tackles in 229 attempts. Barkley had a broken tackle every 20.6 rushing attempts and Swift had one every 10.9.

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