Training camp is right around the corner for the Eagles. So is August, which is a month they have made plenty of roster noise in the recent past.
With that in mind, here are some bold predictions for camp, which begins July 24 when players report to the NovaCare Complex:
A trade will happen. Executive vice president/general manager Howie Roseman has made an August deal two of the past three seasons.
On Aug. 16, 2016, Roseman dealt offensive lineman Dennis Kelly to the Titans in exchange for receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. It was a deal ultimately won by Tennessee, with Kelly still on their roster and DGB long gone.
On Aug. 11, 2017, Roseman packaged receiver Jordan Matthews and a third-round draft pick to the Buffalo Bills for cornerback Ronald Darby. It was a deal won by the Eagles, with Darby a starting cornerback on the Super Bowl-winning team and returning this season on a one-year deal and Matthews having left Buffalo, returned to the Eagles for 14 games last year, and is now in San Francisco.
Even when Chip Kelly ran the show in 2015, the Eagles made an August deal, sending cornerback Brandon Boykin to the Steelers on Aug. 1 in return for a fifth-round, 2016 draft pick, which became Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
So what happens this August?
The Eagles have some candidates to be dealt, including Vaitai, receiver Nelson Agholor, or a defensive back such as Sidney Jones or Rasul Douglas.
Question is, with a roster that is stacked at every position, what would Roseman deal for?
If an injury happens in camp, expect the GM to make a deal. Even if one does not, he could make a trade for a 2020 draft pick.
The Eagles will get splashy. One of these three will sign, but not all three: Connor Barwin, Darren Sproles or Jay Ajayi.
The Eagles made a couple splashes last August when they signed veteran safety Corey Graham, who has retired, on Aug. 5 then on Aug. 12 added quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
While it would be great to add a veteran at defensive end in Barwin, his presence would cut into the snaps of youngsters Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller, and, perhaps, Joe Ostman. The Eagles would have to weigh the pros and cons of such a move.
As for the running backs, it wouldn’t hurt the team to bolster the depth at the position, even though they added Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. Corey Clement is still battling from an injury last year and Josh Adams had shoulder surgery in April, so those situations need to be monitored early in camp.
Nate Gerry will be the biggest surprise on defense. There is plenty of competition at linebacker, with Nigel Bradham and Zach Brown likely to get most of the snaps. Kamu Grugier-Hill is also in the mix, but Gerry, now in his third season, looks ready to make a big leap.
Hear what LB coach Ken Flajole said about Nate Gerry during minicamp
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (pictured above) will be the biggest surprise on offense. Heck the rookie second-round receiver from Stanford was probably the biggest surprise for me in spring practices. I fully expect him to continue doing what he did so well in OTAs and minicamp and that is use his body well to shield himself from a defender and the ball. In fact, he may even do it better because he will have pads on.
Shareef Miller and Josh Sweat will find roles in the defensive end rotation. I really liked what I saw from both of these players in the spring, though it should be pointed out that impressions can change once the pads come out and hitting begins.
They are in good hand with new defensive line coach Phillip Daniels, who I was also impressed while talking with him for several minutes before minicamp started.
“Rushing is an attitude, you have to want to do it, you have to want to rush, you have to want to get to the quarterback,” said Daniels, who had 62 career sacks during his 14-year career. “I tell my guys to look at each other on third down and say meet me at the quarterback and make it happen. That’s how you have to approach it.
“My big thing is teaching technique. That’s the big thing for young guys. A lot of them don’t have that technique. They go to college and play against guys they can probably dominate most of the time. You come into this league you’re not going to dominate a guy. They’re pros, too, they get paid to do a job, too, so it’s a little different. My thing is to teach them technique and everything I can give them to help them be successful on the field.”