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Five biggest Eagles takeaways from Doug Pederson’s NFL Combine press conference

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It sounds like Jason Kelce will be back?

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters for the first time in exactly two months on Wednesday at the 2017 NFL Combine (watch the video here). Pederson touched on a number of key topics, so let’s get to the five biggest takeaways. (Click here for a recap of what Howie Roseman said.)

1) Doug Pederson expects Jason Kelce to be back in 2017

Pederson didn’t address this subject during his presser, but rather when he briefly talked to reporters afterwards. Pederson’s expectation is interesting because Roseman totally failed to comment on Jason Kelce’s status. Roseman has been given several opportunities to give the team’s starting center a vote of confidence this offseason but has declined to do so.

So will Kelce really be back in 2017? In January, Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice reported the Eagles were considering moving on from Kelce (and Allen Barbre, too). More recently, however, NFL insider Adam Caplan said he “fully expects” the Eagles to keep Kelce.

The feeling here is the Eagles would like to keep Kelce if he took a pay cut, but that’s just my speculation. There’s definitely value in keeping continuity with Carson Wentz and the center he worked with last season. But Kelce might not be here for the long-term anyway after struggling the past two seasons. Kelce has the eighth highest cap hit of any center in 2017 and it could be hard to justify that price. The Eagles can save $3.8 million by trading or cutting Kelce.

2) Isaac Seumalo is ready to start at center

Speaking of the Kelce situation, it’s very possible 2016 third-round pick Isaac Seumalo will start at center if the veteran is gone. Seumalo played that position in college and figures to be Kelce’s eventual heir. Pederson seems confident in Seumalo as a starter in 2017.

“We’d be fine,” said Pederson of Seumalo potentially starting at center. “He’s a very versatile offensive lineman, as you know. We saw that last year. Playing guard, playing tackle, playing both guard spots. Got some center reps during OTAs, a little bit in training camp.”

“It is a big step just to come in and play center. We have a tremendous center right now in Jason Kelce, a Pro Bowl center. So I’ve got a lot of confidence in Isaac and I look forward again to this season with him and his growth.”

3) Eagles will look into Jamaal Charles

Pederson confirmed the Eagles will look into signing free agent running back Jamaal Charles. Charles, who was recently released by the Chiefs, obviously has experience playing under Pederson in Kansas City.

“I think he’s a tremendous running back,” said Pederson. “It’s something that we’ll evaluate now. We’ll grade him just like we do every free agent every person that’s released. See where he could fit into our offense.”

(67% of Eagles fans polled on BGN say the Eagles should give Charles a shot, by the way.)

4) Doug Pederson didn’t want to lose John DeFilippo

The Eagles denied quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo from interviewing for the New York Jets’ offensive coordinator position earlier this offseason. Shortly after that happened, there was a report Pederson broke a promise to Flip about not blocking him. Pederson denied that report in a recent interview with the team’s official website.

“I did not renege on any promises. In fact, one of the things that I feel strongly about, with Jeffrey Lurie and I being on the same page, is retaining as many of our good coaches as we can. That’s very valuable to this team and the success that we have.”

Pederson reiterated that message on Wednesday. He said it’s “hard to let good coaches go” and stressed the need of retaining Flip for the sake of Wentz’s development.

5) Darren Sproles will be back in 2017

There was never really any doubt about this but Pederson was asked about it and he confirmed Sproles will be back. Sproles, who turns 34 in June, is expected to retire after the 2017 season.

Smaller stuff

  • Pederson said he will continue to call plays next season.
  • Pederson said he doesn’t have a bigger role in personnel decisions this year. It’s still a “collaborative effort” and “nothing has changed.”
  • Pederson thanked Greg Lewis for his services as the Eagles wide receiver coach last year. He also said he’s looking forward to working with new WR coach Mike Groh.