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Mailbag: Will Connor Barwin, Mychal Kendricks return in 2017?

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Looking into a crystal ball I definitely do not own.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the first offseason mailbag! I got bored this week because very little is happening, so I put out a call on Twitter for questions about the Eagles. I was asked many things. I answered a good number of them here.

A couple longer ones

Question:

Answer:

Of these three theoretical moves, I would say jettisoning Connor Barwin is the most likely.

Not in terms of what the Eagles most want to do, mind you — they’d much rather be rid of Mychal Kendricks, who the team had a hard time finding a role for in 2016 and has fallen off considerably in standing since his breakout 2014 campaign. Kendricks is due $6.6 million next year, and if the Eagles cut him they’re eating $4.8 million.

They’d enjoy trading Kendricks, and as we approach the draft, I wouldn’t rule it out entirely. He’s a 26-year-old, uber-athletic linebacker with playmaking ability in the right system.

But he’s not the kind of linebacker you build a defense around, his contract has you on the hook for at least two seasons before it makes sense to eat a little guaranteed money, and he hasn’t proven himself capable of adapting to new defenses. It would have to be the perfect marriage.

As for moving Kelce, the recently-beleaguered center had a much better second half of the 2016 season than a first half. He was hit constantly for penalties and mis-snaps in the first eight games of the season, but as the offensive line deteriorated around him, Kelce seemed to step his game up as a reaction, and he played much better football. His ability in open space shined through as Carson Wentz scrambled more, and his pass blocking improved considerably.

Perhaps it was just adjusting to yet another new starting quarterback that slowed Kelce in the early going. Whatever it was, the Eagles don't have a bona fide answer at center behind him, which means getting rid of him isn’t the best idea just yet.

He’s 29 years old, and his contract makes him eminently release-able after 2017; the Eagles can save $6 million if they cut him after next season. But there’s reason to believe, with an entire offseason together with Wentz, Kelce should be solid enough for next year. And it’s always good to have consistency at center.

Which means Connor Barwin, whose contract is very favorable to the Eagles in terms of freeing up space for a busy offseason, is my most likely of these three to get moved. The team saves $7.75 million against the cap next season if they cut Barwin, who obviously dropped off this year and turned 30 this past October. He had a good run with the team, but I would be surprised if he returns, especially on this contract, in 2017.

Barwin has, of course, come out and said he would take a pay cut. Just how much he’s willing to give back to the team likely determines whether he’s on the roster next season.

Question:

Answer:

Ah, yes. Free agency, the time of year when fans convince themselves another team’s WR3 can be the Hall of Fame-caliber answer to all of their prayers.

Let’s begin with the obvious one: the rumors about DeSean Jackson wanting to return to Philadelphia have legs. He’s told a number of friends he wants to come back to the Eagles, and the way the team handled discussing him this season, it was clear they are up for a reunion if he is.

Jackson would turn 31 in December of the upcoming season, which is less than optimal considering his skill set is based almost entirely on his physical skills. But if Howie Roseman can negotiate a team-friendly two-year deal — somewhere in the $11 million range, with $6 million guaranteed, similar to the deal Mike Wallace signed with the Ravens? — it would make plenty of sense to bring in a guy who can still stretch the defense with the best of them. Plus, Eagles fans would love it.

Then there is Kenny Stills, the 24-year-old Dolphins wide receiver with game-breaking speed.

Stills caught 42 passes for 726 yards and nine touchdowns this year, a very solid line for a deep threat on a borderline playoff team. His 17.3 yards-per-catch average is an alluring number, as of course is his age.

There’s a lot to like about a guy with the upside of Stills, which is the problem for the Eagles. He will likely be offered a lot of money by wide receiver-needy teams considering his production, and the fact that he’ll hit the prime of his career on this next contract.

The Birds don’t have the most flexible cap situation this offseason; Stills could very easily be too pricy for Howie Roseman, which I think, while disappointing, would be a good thing in the end. He’s not a bona fide WR1, but he’s going to get paid like one.

Instead of Stills, how about Robert Woods? With the Eagles interviewing the Bills’ wide receivers coach, Sanjay Lal, and having a far more enticing quarterback of the future in Carson Wentz, Lal joining the Eagles’ offensive staff could put Woods over the top as a free agent target for the Birds.

Woods, like Stills, is 24 years old and hasn’t nearly hit his ceiling yet. The 6-foot-1, 201-pound wideout has hauled in at least 550 yards in each of his first four seasons in the league. This year he missed three games with a knee injury, but still caught 51 passes for 613 yards and a touchdown.

Woods would be an excellent WR2 option, maybe opposite first-round selection Corey Davis? Or he could be a capable WR1 in a receiving corps featuring DeSean Jackson at WR2 and Jordan Matthews in the slot.

***

A few quick hitters

Question:

Answer:

Yes, but it’ll cost them.

Question:

Answer:

Absolutely.

Question:

Answer:

If they’re both BPA, sure.

Question:

Answer:

Stud WR.

Question:

Answer:

I sure as hell hope not.

***

A few fun ones

Question:

Answer:

A hot dog is not a sandwich. C’mon, guys, it’s been years. You’ve gotta grasp it eventually.

Question:

Answer:

I’m tempted to say Philippine eagle, just because of how awesome they are. (Watch this and fast-forward to about 2:18 to see what happens when you ruffle their feathers.) But I think we all know it’s this guy.

Question:

Answer:

  • Captain America: Carson Wentz, because he is a golden boy who does no wrong
  • Thor: Rodney McLeod, because he is very handsome and hits things real hard
  • Hawkeye: Caleb Sturgis, because he is very good at aiming at things
  • Hulk: Jason Peters, because you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry
  • Iron Man: Nelson Agholor, because he doesn’t have any real superpowers but is rich