PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Eagles enter the 2016 season with different expectations that in recent years.
Bovada LV set the Eagles’ over/under win total at seven games and only three teams have longer Super Bowl odds than the Birds. The have a new head coach in Doug Pederson, a two new quarterbacks in Carson Wentz and Chase Daniel to go along with starter Sam Bradford, and are void of offensive weapons.
We know all of that.
But here are three questions facing the Eagles as they enter training camp, which you may not be thinking about.
3. How will the running back roles play out?
Ryan Mathews will turn 29 years old this season. Darren Sproles is 33 and is entering the final year of his contract. Waiting in the wings is rookie running back Wendall Smallwood, who the Eagles selected in the fifth-round of this year’s draft. And then, there’s also Kenjon Barner, who continues to fight for his opportunity.
Mathews has played a full 16 games just once in his six-season career, so opportunity for Smallwood and potentially even Barner, is certainly there.
2. Is this it for Jason Peters?
Jason Peters is an eight-time Pro Bowl left-tackle, but the reality of the situation is he is on the decline. Peters, 34, dealt with lingering back issues and missed two games last season. The Eagles could have saved about $7 million by releasing Peters, a move I thought would have made sense, but obviously they feel he’s not quite done.
“I have the utmost confidence in Jason Peters,” head coach Doug Pederson said at the NFL combine. “I think he’s excited and ready to go come April 4th. I think he has several good years left. I still think you have to be smart with a guy like JP as far as how you handle him during the course of the week to get him to Sunday. But I think he can continue to play at a high level.”
Next offseason, the Eagles would save more than $9 million by releasing Peters, a future Hall Of Famer.
1. Did the Eagles get worse at cornerback?
Byron Maxwell clearly under-performed his contract last season, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t the best corner on the Eagles’ roster. Now, it looks like the team’s top corner might be Leodis McKelvin, who signed a two-year deal worth $6.2 million this offseason.
McKelvin, 30, is the oldest projected defensive starter on the roster. Last season, as the third corner for the Buffalo Bills, McKelvin — a former first-round pick — recorded two interceptions and nine passes defended in just nine games played.
On the other side of the field — assuming McKelvin wins a starting job — it looks like second-year corner Eric Rowe, seventh-round pick Jalen Mills, and 29-year-old veteran CB Nolan Carroll will compete for the other starting cornerback role.
For a team that ranked 28th, 31st, and 32nd against the pass the last three seasons respectively, the CB situation does not look promising. Add in the fact that Eagles will have to deal with names like Odell Beckham Jr., Dez Bryant, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon twice — plus Antonio Brown, Alshon Jeffrey, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, and Jordy Nelson this season — and…yikes.