Eagles TE Zach Ertz did his homework and was told that retired offensive line coach Hudson Houck still trained players. So he called Houck, who mentored Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz and Bruce Matthews at Southern Cal and coached the great Cowboys lines of the 1990s, out of the blue. Soon after, they spent two weeks together in San Diego working on blocking.
Ertz' time with Houck was just one part of his offseason plan. He spent a month focusing on strength training, another on circuit training and additional time on mixed martial arts training. He also sought out former tight end great Tony Gonzalez, who instructed Ertz on the importance of preparation and tenacity.
The 24-year-old Ertz's goals are high. He said he wants to be mentioned someday alongside Gonzalez and others in the NFL pantheon of tight ends. But he knows he can't get there if he's playing only 50 percent of offensive snaps, as he did last season.
There's ample reason, though, to believe that Ertz will finally become a focal point of Chip Kelly's offense. He caught a franchise-record 15 passes against the Redskins in the penultimate game of last season. And when asked to explain last month how he'll compensate for the loss of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Kelly prominently mentioned Ertz.
"I think he's still growing, and I think Zach will be the first one to tell you that," Kelly said at the NFL meeting. "I think he's working extremely hard in the offseason at continuing to get better."
Ertz was the #13 TE in both standard and PPR formats despite only playing half of the Eagles’ snaps in his second year. Ertz played mostly (73%) on passing downs, so if his playing time is going to increase, a majority of the additional snaps are likely to come in run formations. Still, there’s upside with Ertz if he begins to see starter’s snaps. The Eagles lost their leading receiver -- DeSean Jackson and then Jeremy Maclin -- in back-to-back seasons, so there will be opportunity from a targets standpoint. If Chip Kelly moves Jordan Matthews outside, then Ertz is a candidate to fill Matthews role in the slot, assuming Kelly is willing to play more two-TE sets to get Ertz on the field. Ertz is currently going in the 8th round of early PPR drafts.
Sunday, April 19, 2015, 8:39pm
Tebow is scheduled to arrive in Philadelphia -- and get a deal done -- in time to be in attendance for the start of the Eagles off-season program Monday.
Friday, April 10, 2015, 4:28pm
Robinson will enter his third season with the Saints as third fiddle with Mark Ingram returning and C.J. Spiller signing with the Saints. The landscape looked quite different one month ago with Ingram being a potentially hot free agent and Pierre Thomas being released.
Ingram will be the clear-cut option for snatching up carries after his breakout 2014 season. Spiller is a far more capable runner in the traditional ground game than Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles the last few seasons.
This means more carries for Ingram and Spiller and less touches for Robinson. The logic entering 2014 was that we'd see more Robinson. Barring injuries, Robinson will likely find fewer opportunities.
Thursday, April 9, 2015, 10:25am
According to Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals are expected to re-sign the veteran running back later today.
The Bengals like Peerman’s ability on special teams, as he has just 64 carries in his five seasons there.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 6:14pm
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Ajirotutu has played in 57 games for San Diego and Carolina over the past five years. He has caught a total of 24 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns.
HC Jeff Fisher on WR Kenny Britt:
“It didn’t surprise me because obviously I know Kenny, the production didn’t surprise me,” Fisher said, via ESPN.com. “I can kind of share the same issue Kenny does and that’s we think he can be better. I think he can do better. He thinks he can be better. He thinks he can be more productive. He’s looking forward to the offensive changes. I think yeah, we should see a lot more out of Kenny this year.”
Britt was effective when he was targeted consistently. He averaged 4.4 catches for 73 yards and 0.29 TD in the seven games in which he saw at least six targets. Those are solid WR2 numbers, but the Rams didn't use him consistently enough to make him a trustworthy fantasy starter. The arrival of Nick Foles will help the passing game, and Britt should benefit.
"I think you would think that I might get a whole lot more outside reps now just because Maclin is gone, but I already had talked to coaches, and they were already going to implement me more on the outside as opposed to just the inside regardless," Matthews said. "I don't think that's a crazy, huge deal."
HC Chip Kelly said last week that he can envision Matthews playing "a lot of different spots." Kelly kept Matthews in the slot because they wanted him to learn only one position as a rookie. Now that Matthews is more comfortable entering his second season, that role can expand.
If Matthews moves outside, he'll surely see his snaps played increase from his rookie season (65%) and he should be able to improve on his #25 finish in PPR formats. The team signed Miles Austin, who played mostly in the slot while with the Cowboys. Josh Huff and Zach Ertz could also see snaps in the slot.
Austin finished with 47 catches for 568 yards and two touchdowns, but missed four games due to a kidney injury. Over a full season his stats extrapolate to 63-757-2.7, which equate to fringe WR4-type numbers in PPR formats. This is certainly a system upgrade in Philadelphia. It's not clear what Austin's role will be, but he has plenty of experience playing in the slot from his days in Dallas, so the Eagles could elect to move Jordan Matthews outside. Austin figures to be fantasy relevant, though his days as a starter are probably over.
Harvin will have a chance to rehab his image if he can behave and produce in Buffalo. He'll play third fiddle to LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins in the Bills' offense, so he'll have WR3/WR4 value provided new OC Greg Roman figures out how to use him. Roman's track record of underutilizing talent (like Vernon Davis) isn't very encouraging.
It's reportedly a 3-year, $12M deal. Philadelphia would have been a good landing spot for Mathews before the team agreed to terms with DeMarco Murray. The Eagles ran the ball a lot more than the Chargers did, but they'll be hard-pressed to find enough carries for Mathews to allow him to maintain his RB2 value from his days in San Diego. The signing is also a downgrade for Murray, whose workload is surely to take a hit from the 449 touches he saw in 2014.
Murray will get $42 million over five years, including $21 million in guaranteed money, per reports.
Although the Cowboys said they wanted Murray to return, they never came close to meeting his contract demands, citing the diminished value of the running back and the decline in production as they get older.
Murray had a career year in his fourth season, racking up 2,261 total yards and 13 touchdowns on 449 touches. He should get plenty of work in Philadelphia, though the signing of Ryan Mathews and the presence of Darren Sproles indicate that he won’t approach 450 touches in 2015. LeSean McCoy averaged 353 touches over the past two seasons, so that’s probably Murray’s best-case scenario if everyone stays healthy. He’ll hold low-end RB1 value, though the presence of Mathews and Sproles may make that a stretch.
It's reportedly a 3-year, $12M deal. Philadelphia would have been a good landing spot for Mathews before the team also agreed to terms with DeMarco Murray. The Eagles ran the ball a lot more than the Chargers did, but they'll be hard-pressed to find enough carries for Mathews to allow him to maintain his RB2 value from his days in San Diego. The signing is also a downgrade for Murray, whose workload is surely to take a hit from the 449 touches he saw in 2014.
Rapoport reported that the deal was worth $11 million per season. Maclin was the #9 wide receiver in both standard and PPR formats last season. However, he did most of his damage in the first eight games (46-801-8, #2 WR) and faded from Week 10 on (40-528-2, #23 WR). His targets dropped from 10.5 per game in the first half of the season to just 7.5 T/G down the stretch, but this decrease basically coincided with Mark Sanchez taking over for Nick Foles at quarterback. Now he’ll have Alex Smith as his quarterback and should see plenty targets alongside up-and-coming TE Travis Kelce. HC Andy Reid is very familiar with Maclin, so we would expect his transition to be a smooth one, though this appears to be a system downgrade. Maclin averaged 4.6 catches for 61 yards and 0.50 TD (solid WR2-type numbers) from 2010-2012, while playing for Reid.
Update: This deal has been finalized.
The Eagles can also pick up a conditional pick in 2016 based on how many snaps Bradford takes. If Bradford plays less than 50 percent the Eagles will get a 4th-round pick, if he does not play at all it becomes a 3rd-rounder. If Bradford plays more than 50 percent of snaps the Eagles will not receive any additional compensation.
Change is afoot. Foles’ second season as the starter in Philadelphia didn’t go as well as his first. After a ridiculous 27-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2013, Foles tossed 13 touchdowns against 10 picks last year. It wasn’t all his fault, however, as he was playing behind a patchwork offensive line and didn’t have as much time to throw. In the seven games that he finished in 2014, he averaged 16.9 fantasy points, which is about what Philip Rivers scored as the #12 QB on the season. Foles ultimately broke his collarbone in Week 9 and missed the final eight games of the season. He'll be penciled in as the starter in St. Louis, but this is a scheme/system downgrade, and the Rams' receiving corps is currently lacking established talent. As for Bradford, he'll get a fresh start in a friendly offense, though the Eagles just lost Jeremy Maclin. It's a familiar situation for Bradford, who has never had the benefit of a strong supporting cast. Both quarterbacks will be QB2 types heading into the summer.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that the Chiefs are expected to release Bowe on Wednesday, according to a source. Bowe became expendable when the team locked into an agreement with Jeremy Maclin on Sunday.
Bowe's production has been on the decline since 2011, though the last two years (with QB Alex Smith) have been particularly ugly.
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