Roob's Observations

Roob's Eagles Observations: Why Parker, White signings make sense

Why DeVante Parker and Devin White are smart signings even if they can’t play, a ridiculous A.J. Brown and Britain Covey comparison and more in Roob's observations.

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Why DeVante Parker and Devin White are smart signings even if they can’t play, a ridiculous A.J. Brown and Britain Covey comparison and a look back at LeSean McCoy’s 2013 season.

After an insane first week of free agency that saw Howie Roseman begin rebuilding the Eagles’ roster, let’s catch our breath with the latest edition of our weekly 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations.

1. DeVante Parker and Devin White are similar in a way. Parker was the 14th player in the 2015 draft but never had the career the Dolphins hoped, and White was the fifth pick in the 2019 draft but never became the player the Buccaneers expected. Neither came close to panning out. Both are considered 1st-round busts, but came to the Eagles on no-risk, one-year prove-it deals, and both are additions at positions where the Eagles desperately need to improve. The thing about Parker and White is that they’ve both shown flashes that tell you there’s something there. Parker caught 72 passes for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns in 2019 — his one full season with Ryan Fitzpatrick. White had a nine-sack season in 2020 and made a Pro Bowl in 2021. But both are guys who needed a change of scenery and could flourish with a new team, a new culture, a new start and lower expectations. And if they don’t? Nothing lost. Parker’s on essentially a minimum-wage deal – if he makes the team the Patriots will pay him more than the Eagles. And we haven’t seen the real White numbers yet, but it’s going to be well below the $7.5 million figure that’s been tossed around. These are classic Roseman moves. Everything to gain and very little to lose. If Parker can just be a functional fourth receiver or if White can just be an upgrade over Nicholas Morrow, Shaq Leonard and Zach Cunningham, these will wind up being successful signings. And if not? You move on and try something else. The Eagles still have to add talent in the draft at receiver and linebacker and I expect them to. But as low-priced stop-gap one-year additions? Parker and White make perfect sense.

2. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson had six interceptions the first nine games of the 2022 season. The Eagles’ entire team had six interceptions the first 14 games of 2023.

3. One thing we all need to stop doing is worrying about the salary cap. Because with the Eagles, it’s literally never an issue. The mastery the Eagles have over the cap – and that’s Howie Roseman as well as vice president of football administration Jake Rosenberg, Howie’s cap specialist, and their staff – is unparalleled in the NFL. The Eagles took on what at the time was the largest amount of dead money in history when they released Carson Wentz and it didn’t even create a ripple in their ability to build a competitive roster. Has there ever been a young player the Eagles wanted to keep but couldn’t because of their cap situation? Not once since Roseman became GM in 2010. And there’s a reason they’re always in position to make competitive offers to top free agents when they need to. Roseman and Rosenberg know how to manipulate contracts to position themselves every year to have the money they’ll need to go out and add who they want. The notion of the Eagles being in cap trouble or running out of cap space just doesn’t exist. Why doesn’t every team do what the Eagles do? Because you need to combine outstanding player evaluations with a long-range plan that you stick to over a period of years, and a lot of other teams and GMs just can’t do that. You also need a GM who’s not worried about his job so he can have a long-range plan that isn’t based on short-term fixes. Other teams don’t do this because other teams can’t do it.

4. How good was LeSean McCoy in 2013? He rushed for 1,607 yards and nine touchdowns with a 5.1 average and caught 52 passes for 539 yards and a 10.4 average. The only other back with 1,600 rushing yards, a 5.0 average, 50 catches and a 10.0 receiving average in a season was Chris Johnson in 2009.

5. I’m fine with the Eagles letting Jack Stoll leave as a free agent without trying to re-sign him. I appreciate that Stoll carved out an NFL career after going undrafted in 2021 and he always gave everything he had in his three seasons here. And he played a lot. Nearly 1,500 snaps on offense over the last three seasons with 28 starts, including the postseason. But if you’re going to have a tight end play that much who doesn’t catch the football – and he caught 20 passes for 183 yards in 50 career games – he better be an elite blocker, and Stoll isn’t. He’s a good blocker – above average as a run blocker, below average as a pass blocker —but not elite. Stoll is the only tight end since the NFL began tracking snap counts in 2012 to play at least 1,400 snaps and have fewer than 200 receiving yards. He's one of only four tight ends in history to start at least 25 games and not score a touchdown. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore loves playing 12 personnel – one running back, two tight ends, two receivers – and it’s not ideal if your second tight end in 12 isn’t a factor in the receiving game. Maybe Grant Calcaterra can be that guy, but most likely the Eagles need to find TE2 in the middle of the draft. There were 34 tight ends with at least 300 yards last year, and 15 of them – nearly half – were either undrafted or selected in the fourth round or later. You can find tight ends. And especially with Dallas Goedert now 29 and dealing with injuries the last few years, the Eagles need to think pretty soon about adding a TE2 who can potentially grow into a TE1. The Eagles have had outstanding tight ends for 2 ½ decades – Chad Lewis, Jason Dunn, Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and Goedert (and don’t laugh at L.J. – from 2003 through 2008 he had the 10th-most yards of all NFL tight ends). It’s time to add to that list.

6. Jake Elliott has made 15 of 17 field goal attempts from 50 yards and out since opening day 2021 for 88.2 percent. Every other kicker combined has made 68.2 percent of his 50 yarders during that three-year span.

7. Pete Pihos is the most under-rated player in Eagles history. Seven straight Pro Bowls, five 1st-team All-Pros, 61 touchdown catches. When Pihos retired after the 1955 season – which was one of his best – he was 2nd in NFL history in TD catches, 3rd in catches and 4th in yards. To this day – nearly 70 years after he retired and despite playing just nine seasons – he’s 6th in franchise history in receiving yards. Only three Eagles have made more All-Pro teams – Chuck Bednarik, Jason Kelce and Reggie White. He caught the game-winning touchdown in the 1949 NFL Championship Game against the Rams at L.A. Coliseum. And get this: Pihos had 63, 60 and 62 catches from 1953 through 1955 in his last three seasons. To this day, he’s one of only four players in NFL history to catch 60 or more passes in each of his last three seasons. The other three are Sterling Sharpe, Calvin Johnson and Tony Gonzalez. Pihos was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1970, but even so you never hear his name brought up in conversations about the greatest Eagles of all-time. But he has to be in that conversation.

8. Saquon Barkely had 11 100-yard games in his first 28 NFL games. He has six in his last 48 games. In those first 28 games, he averaged 4.8 yards per carry. In the last 48 he’s averaged 4.0.

9. If one stat can possibly illustrate just what a complete mess the Eagles’ offense was late in the season, it’s this: Britain Covey had as many receptions of 20 yards or longer over the last four games of the regular season as A.J. Brown. Covey played 36 offensive snaps, Brown played 197. 

10. Kenny Pickett has thrown 713 passes in his NFL career and 13 interceptions. That’s an interception every 54.9 passes, which is 6th-best in NFL history, behind Aaron Rodgers (one every 73.0 attempts), Jacoby Brissett (69.6), Tyrod Taylor (59.7), former Eagle Gardner Minshew II (59.3) and Justin Herbert (57.7). Jalen Hurts was ninth on that list at 54.7 going into 2023 but with 15 interceptions on 538 attempts he dropped to 25th at 46.4.

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