Should The Eagles Pursue Richard Sherman?

For the past few years Richard Sherman has been one of the most recognizable names in professional football. Whether it’s him being a part of one of the best Superbowl winning defenses in recent memory or his fiery, charged up controversial interviews, Sherman has been as prevalent a face as there’s been in the NFL. For perhaps a few reasons, the Seahawks seem relatively open to trading the cornerback who this past season was named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl. I’m not here to discuss those reasons. There’s one thing and one thing only that matters in my eyes. How does this affect the Eagles. I feel that despite the Seahawks open willingness to discuss a deal for him, nobody seems to be taking it too seriously. At least as of now. But I bring this to light for a few reasons, the most fundamental being that Eagles could actually really benefit from a player like Sherman. For the heck of it, let’s break this down the simple way…

 

Pros

The Eagles desperately need a cornerback. Last year their secondary woes were too dire to ignore. As bad as their cornerback situation was, where we stand now, it’s worse. The Eagles have cut Leodis Mckelvin. Nolan Carroll is gone too and while those will ultimately probably be good moves for the birds, they still have to find someone to fill the void. The Eagles play in a division where they have to face Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall twice. It’s imperative to find at least one player that has either elite production or potential. The Eagles are probably considering a corner in the first (as well as other positions) so it might make sense to get one that’s established.

He never gets hurt. Seriously, by some freakish chance, one of the most aggressive players in the league has not missed a game yet. He’s started in every one since he became the starter his rookie year. Having a player that doesn’t get hurt often is such a valuable asset to a team, especially one that is trying to win and figures to be in the mix for a playoff berth down the stretch. Not only would the Eagles be able to fill a void, they would be able to do it with someone they can rely on week in and week out.

His intensity is a match for Philly. Richard Sherman is one of those guys you love to hate…unless he’s on your team. Say what you want about his personality but there is absolutely no denying the mans passion for the game. Philly fans would eat that up like cheesesteaks and crab fries. A few big plays on D combined with some wins and Sherman could have the city in the palm of his hands.

His price is going down. The reason I started to ponder this was because I read that the Seahawks could be dropping his asking price. First they wanted a player and a high pick. Now they apparently want a first round pick and a conditional mid round pick later (which could be OK if that means he’s on the team for at least a couple of years). Profootballtalk suggested it could eventually drop to just a first. Instead of using a pick to draft someone who might be good the Eagles could get one who’s already proven he’s elite.

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Cons

He makes too much money. One of the reasons Seattle is likely open to trading him is because of his expensive price. The Eagles as they stand now wouldn’t have enough to take on his salary without cutting or trading additional players. Still, for a team that was supposed to be cash strapped the Eagles seemed to manage pretty well in free agency. Howie Roseman and his guys have a remarkable ability to work around the parameters of the league’s salary cap. So while as of now it would seem pretty unlikely they could afford him, if there’s anyone who could make it work it’s Howie Roseman.

He’s 29. As I mentioned before Sherman has made the Pro Bowl the past four years. But everyone knows the day comes eventually where a player loses that elite step. You don’t want to mortgage a part of your future if you think that day is sooner rather than later. Does Sherman probably have at least a few good years left in him? That’s very reasonable to believe. But let’s be honest this team is built around Carson Wentz and his future. It may be foolish to acquire too many veterans for stopgap roles instead of grooming young players who could be a core part of this team for years to come.

The Eagles could lose valuable players. If the Seahawks end up being firm and demand additional players with a first round pick then would it be worth it? What if that meant not having Jason Peters protecting Wentz’s blindside? There are certainly expendable players on the Eagles roster but there are also a lot of players I wouldn’t be excited about parting with either, especially if it means adding the 14th overall pick too.

His personality could pose some problems. Sherman is known to be a fierce competitor and quite outspoken on a number of issues. He’s played in Seattle his whole career where he’s quite familiar with his teammates and coaches. It’s fair to question how he would handle a situation he didn’t approve of in Philadelphia. What if he doesn’t agree with a scheme or assignment or decision? Could that potentially cause distractions? Issues in the locker room? That could be a risky proposition to gamble on for a 29 year old corner.

Verdict: Surprisingly, I think the Eagles should at least be interested in trading for Sherman. They need a corner, badly. Sherman plays the position at an elite level and while his production might drop they could probably still get a few good years out of him. His veteran leadership would be of great value too, considering this is a young squad still learning how to compete and play in the NFL. He’s a SuperBowl champion and he brings that championship mentality week in and week out. While his demeanor could spark some drama I ultimately think that at the end of the day Sherman just wants to win. I would want that attitude on my team. It would be risky sending away a high pick but at least you’re getting someone reliable in return. I wouldn’t want to send additional players in the deal unless the team strongly feels they would be able to win without them on the team. He’s expensive but if Howie Roseman can figure out a way to afford him then why not? The Eagles could be targeting offense at 14 but let us not forget gems at the running back position can often be found in the second and third rounds and even beyond. I would like to get another young corner to pair with Jalen Mills but drafting one later to learn from Sherman sounds like it could be a wise move too. Overall if the Eagles couldn’t swing a deal to land Sherman it wouldn’t be the end of the world. It would be exciting to keep our first round pick and draft a promising prospect that could be on the Eagles for years to come. But if the price comes down to maybe just a first round pick or even less and the Eagles could figure out a way to afford him, then I’d do it.   It would unquestionably immediately make the defense better. It would help them as they try to make the playoffs in Doug Pederson’s second year as head coach. He’s 29 but won’t turn 30 until after next season ends. Combine that with his healthy past and veteran presence and I think the Eagles would be foolish to at least not try to make a deal work.

 

Gratz’s Grumblings: Week 2, Breaking Down The Debacle In Philadelphia

For this week of Gratz’s Grumblings I will be focusing solely on the Philadelphia Eagles game against the Dallas Cowboys because well, that was the only game I watched this Sunday as I was unfortunate enough to have been there. The abysmal performance from the Eagles cannot be understated. Simply put, that was one of the worst displays of the sport I had ever seen. It’s early in the season, and there’s a lot to break down, definitely not too late to tweak things around and salvage the season, so let’s take a closer look at what the fuck is actually going on with this team after two games.

It’s no secret that the offense was atrocious. I think inept would be the correct word. Demarco Murray was held to 2 yards on 13 carries. Let me repeat that, Demarco Murray was held to 2 yards on 13 carries. However, if you talk to anyone who watched the game they would probably tell you this really didn’t fall on Murray or indicate what kind of runner he is at all. Murray had nowhere to run all game as the line played poorly. Also there was an even bigger problem than the offensive lines woes and Murray’s lack of running space…

Chip Kelly was out coached by Dallas this week and Atlanta last week. It was almost as if Dallas had the Eagles play call on each and every snap. Yes the offensive line played bad but there’s a deeper rooted problem and that is schematically the Eagles are off. This is a huge concern considering so much of Chip Kelly’s success relies on his schemes working each week. Chip Kelly has proven through two seasons that his offense isn’t a gimmick and I believe he is a smart enough coach to figure this thing out.  Whether there is enough talent to really take the offense to next level still remains to be seen. I’m really not too worried about this offense. The biggest concern for me is the line, which don’t get me wrong is a huge question mark going forward but as far as the scheme not working and getting out coached, I think Chip will figure it out.

Sam Bradford didn’t play all that bad. A lot of people are criticizing his play from yesterday but I really don’t think it’s founded. Listen, it’s hard to throw no matter who is under center when the defense knows exactly what you’re doing. The Eagles knew they couldn’t run against Dallas so were forced to pass and play catch up in the second half, what do you expect from Bradford? A Mike Vick type run of 30 yards to put them in scoring position? The red zone interception was a killer and a bad, bad play but I don’t think it’s fair to judge his performance off one mistake. With how the offense as a whole played yesterday that one interception should be at the very bottom on the list of concerns. I don’t think Bradford played particularly well but I don’t think he played poorly either. Again, it’s only his second game since 2013 so it’s going to take some time to get into a groove and get comfortable. He might not turn out to have the pro bowl season some of us thought he would under Chip Kelly but that’s not to say he won’t be effective going forward, and he’s still a whole lot better than Mark Sanchez. Also, he doesn’t exactly have the best receivers with the Eagles…

The receiving core’s ability might be limited this season. I’m sick and tired of defending Jordan Matthews. When they drafted him all I heard about was his tremendous work ethic and thirst for improvement. It was well documented that Matthews didn’t exactly have the most sound hands coming into the NFL but everybody was assured they would improve. Well guess what? He’s still dropping passes, important passes too. On one of his drops he leaped in the air for a pass he really didn’t need to jump at all for. He could have calmly put out his hands and secure the ball but he acted like a kid playing pick up football who was just trying to do too much. Don’t get me wrong I like Jordan Matthews and think he will have a fruitful career with the Eagles but his hands have to get better. It’s only his second year so it’s not really fair to hold him up to an elite standard. That’s really the problem with the receiving group as a whole, they are just young and inexperienced. As I just mentioned Matthews is in his second year and Nelson Agholar is only a rookie. You have to temper your expectations at least for this season. Josh Huff is only in his second year too but the former third rounder really isn’t showing much promise at all. Riley Cooper and Miles Austin are both on the downward sides of their careers which is OK considering they aren’t really supposed to be the focal point anyways. If the wide receivers underperform that falls mostly on Chip Kelly. These are his guys. He made the decision to let Jeremy Maclin walk. That is starting to show its ill effects as the Eagles really don’t have a respectable deep threat at the moment and its hindering them. I don’t remember Sam Bradford taking any big shots down the field because quite frankly we don’t have that type of receiver on the roster yet to throw it to, or we do and he’s not ready for that role at the moment. This hurts too, the five and six yard completions are great and all but when a defense doesn’t respect your ability to go deep it makes it much easier for them, plus it allows them to focus more on run stopping. Like the running game I think the passing game will see a lot of improvement too. If not, it’s another group of decisions you have to question about Chip Kelly. However…

It’s way, waaaay too early to start calling for Kelly’s job. Hey, even if this thing turns out to be a huge bust firing him now would only set us back another half a decade. Then, the next guy would have to bring his people in and the a new process would start and we would have an abundance of new players and recent draft picks who might be the total opposite of what they want. The bottom line is if the Eagles were unsure of Chip Kelly they should cut ties before this season. We’re pot committed at this point. Plus, at the end of the day it’s only two games, Andy Reid once took an 0-2 team to the NFC Championship so step back from the ledge. If the Eagles have a losing record this season then maybe in January we’re having a different conversation.

The defense is probably my greatest concern. I feel like a lot of people are excusing the poor defensive play due to the offense’s inability to stay on the field. That is a valid argument but I trust Chip Kelly’s ability to fix the offense more than I trust Billy Davis’ ability to fix the defense. His play calling seems off, his coverage personnel seems off and even their formations seem off.  Last week when asked why Julio Jones was able to run wild across the defense their response was because it’s hard to play him and double him because he gets lined up all over the field. So? Isn’t that the defensive coordinators job? To account for this and try to find a way to counteract it? There was a play this week where Maxwell was all alone on an island with no receiver on his side and two receivers lined up on the opposite side. It was evident that Maxwell would have no impact on that play, unless they gave it to the running back who was on Maxwells side, but still far from him and unlikely to cross paths with Maxwell. Yes the defense was on the field for a lot of the game but this wasn’t that hard of a game to plan for. Dez Bryant was out leaving the Cowboys with a weak group of playmakers. Their leading rusher from last year is now on the Eagles. Brandon Weeden is…Brandon Weeden. There is no excuse for letting Brandon Weeden go 7 for 7, none. Even when the Eagles knew the Cowboys were going to run the ball at the end of the game they still struggled to stop them. Like the offense, the scheme is off and unfortunately I’m not confident in Billy Davis’ ability to fix it. Speaking of Byron Maxwell though…

Byron Maxwell looked horrendous, again. Like really, really bad. They paid him a boatload of money not because he’s an elite cornerback, but because he was the best at his position in a weak free agency class and the Eagles needed to upgrade that position badly. If he’s unable to cover elite corners (or any corners at all) then the Eagles need to devise a plan that will put him in situations similar to where he found success in the past. That is, unless they can’t because they don’t have the Legion of Boom surrounding him. Maxwell plays better as a zone corner, not as a guy you throw on an island like Darrelle Revis. Whatever his deal is it needs to be figured out immediately.

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Yes, Sundays performance from the birds was dismal. Yes, there are huge question marks on both sides of the ball. Yes, it is early and the Eagles can still turn this thing around and salvage the season. You gotta remember our competition going forward, the Giants and Redskins don’t appear to be playoff teams and the Cowboys are going to be without both Dez Bryant and Tony Romo for an extended amount of time. Somebody has to win this division. Even the mighty Seahawks are 0-2. There’s plenty of reason to be scared silly right now but there is still a lot of football left to be played. Chip Kelly is now going to face the toughest challenge he’s ever faced in Philadelphia and the answer to whether he can handle it or not begins now.