Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is over and Eagles rookie minicamp doesn’t begin until Friday, we’re kind of in a mini-dead period right now. So why don’t we kill some time by looking back at an ESPN In$ider article I’ve been saving to write about until after the draft.
Earlier this offseason, ESPN’s Mike Sando polled some general managers and other personnel executives around the league in order to form two lists: one featuring the top 10 best values and one featuring the top 10 worst overpays in NFL free agency.
One of the Eagles’ signings made the good list.
9. Mike Wallace, Philadelphia Eagles
Deal: One year, $1.9 million
The Eagles traded Torrey Smith and arguably upgraded with Wallace, who has much better production over the past two seasons and should benefit from leaving Baltimore’s stagnant offense. Wallace’s annual salary is less than half what Cordarrelle Patterson is earning on the deal he signed with Oakland before the Patriots acquired him.
Over the past two seasons, Wallace has seven receptions on passes traveling at least 30 yards past the line of scrimmage, which is tied for 12th in the league with Doug Baldwin and Will Fuller. It is six more than Smith and Patterson, and only one fewer than Julio Jones and A.J. Green.
I’m excited to see Wallace in Doug Pederson’s offense. He’s been significantly better than Smith has in recent years; it’s not even arguable. And Wallace has been playing in a terrible offense led by Joe Flacco. Getting to play with Carson Wentz figures to be a major upgrade. I’m already envisioning Wentz hitting Wallace on deep bombs and boy I can’t wait until September gets here.
One of the reasons the Eagles got Wallace at such a good value is because he wants to chase a Super Bowl ring. He was very honest about how he’s already made a lot of money to this point in his career. Now he wants some hardware to go with the cash.
Elsewhere in the NFC East, the New York Giants signed two of the worst free agent contracts.
3. Nate Solder, New York Giants
Deal: Four years, $62 million
The Giants were negotiating from a position of extreme desperation within a market featuring few established starting tackles. This deal reflects those realities.
”What they paid [Solder] was unbelievable,” an evaluator said, “but they had to help their quarterback, and that helps him.”
It would be tough to fault the Giants for overpaying a top-shelf left tackle given their issues along the offensive line. Solder has not recently been a top-shelf left tackle, however, and there is a good chance he will fail to meet unrealistic expectations after the Giants made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league. They’ll pay $34.8 million guaranteed to Soldier over the next two years.
The Giants making Solder, who turned 30 in April, the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL is such a panic move. Now, as the Eagles just proved with their Super Bowl win, it’s not a bad idea to invest in the trenches.
With that said, this Solder contract still stinks. He’s the fifth best offensive tackle in the NFC East, at best. (Anyone with a brain would take Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Trent Williams, and Tyron Smith over him.) What’s more, Solder ranked 44th out of 55 NFL offensive tackles in PFF’s pass blocking efficiency stat last year. He allowed 51 total pressures in 620 pass block snaps.
But wait, there’s more! Another one of the Giants’ signing made the bad list.
10. Jonathan Stewart, New York Giants
Deal: Two years, $6.9 million
Stewart should provide welcome leadership at running back as new general manager Dave Gettleman works to build the Giants’ culture.
As for the production part? Stewart is one of 20 running backs with at least 800 carries over the past six seasons. He ranks 19th among them with a 3.92-yard average per attempt, ahead of only ex-Giant Rashad Jennings (3.86). The 31-year-old Stewart remains 19th on the list when excluding runs from inside the 5-yard line, which can suppress per-carry averages.
Against the Eagles last season, Stewart rushed eight times for NEGATIVE FOUR YARDS. The Giants are paying this guy nearly $7 million! And he’s not even projected to get a ton of playing time. Saquon Barkley is the Giants’ bell cow back.
Speaking of Barkley, picking him at No. 2 overall this year (and turning down a boatload of picks from the Bills in order to do so) was another bad move by Gettleman. That’s not because I think Barkley will be bad. He’s a very impressive player. The problem is that there’s a ton of evidence to show why drafting a running back so high is simply a bad use of resources.
Gettleman mocked the notion of positional value during a post-draft press conference by pretending to type on a computer.
The Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, just won a Super Bowl while heavily relying on analytics.
Roseman > Gettleman.
Eagles > GiantsPosted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Saturday, April 28, 2018
Two former Eagles players also made the bad list.
4. Trey Burton, Chicago Bears
Deal: Four years, $32 million
Burton comes to Chicago knowing the offensive system Matt Nagy is installing with the Bears, and if Burton becomes the next [Travis] Kelce as the Bears hope, then this will be money well spent. The reality for now, however, is that Chicago invested $18 million fully guaranteed in an undrafted special-teams contributor who averaged 19 offensive snaps per game last season while finishing with 23 receptions.
It’s a bummer the Eagles couldn’t afford to retain the thrower of the Philly Special but it’s nice to know Burton got a good pay day. He worked his way up to this contract after entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent. Plus he potentially got the Eagles a 2019 fourth-round compensatory pick by signing this deal with the Bears. Here’s wishing Burton well in Chi-town.
The other former Eagles player on ESPN’s list is someone very much unlike Burton. This guy didn’t work his way up to a big contract. He’s been receiving them like handouts from the get go.
5. Sam Bradford, Arizona Cardinals
Deal: Two years, $40 million
Just as the Giants were desperate for tackle help, the Cardinals faced dire circumstances at quarterback. They structured their deal with Bradford to mitigate risk while giving the team an option for 2020. That was smart. Still, they are paying $15 million guaranteed for a quarterback who lasted less than six quarters last season, has a “degenerative” knee, according to Mike Zimmer, and has missed 33 of his past 64 games.
If Bradford holds up, this deal could push him past $150 million in career earnings without him ever being above average over an extended period. His 48.8 Total QBR since 2015 ranks 29th out of 36 quarterbacks with at least 1,000 snaps since then.
Man. What a dumb contract to hand out.
If the Cardinals were going to be so dumb about their quarterback plan, why couldn’t they do it in a way that helps the Eagles by giving up, like, three first round picks for Nick Foles?
At least the Cardinals bothered to land Josh Rosen. That makes the Bradford signing a little less worse since they’re not just banking on him. But it’s still a terrible contract. That cap space could’ve been spent way better. Such as not cutting Honey Badger.