Eagles chat: Les Bowen talks free agency, 2017 outlook

 

The Philadelphia Daily News’ Les Bowen joined Cody Benjamin and EaglesNotebook.com to talk all things Philadelphia Eagles Wednesday, running through pressing headlines of the 2017 offseason.

Projecting the Eagles’ plans to upgrade the wide receiver position, assessing the debated value of Jordan Matthews and speculating on other potential veteran targets of the team, Bowen also spoke on Philadelphia’s long-term outlook in the defensive backfield, the club’s running back rotation and the state of the organization heading into Year Two of the Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz era.

Covering the Eagles for the Daily News and Philly.com since 2002, Bowen is the author of “Philadelphia Eagles: The Complete Illustrated History.” (Oh, and he wrote the foreword for “The Eagles Notebook,” on sale now.) He posts on Twitter @LesBowen.

Listen to Bowen’s Eagles chat on SoundCloud above or read some highlights from the talk below:

On what the Eagles should – and will – do to upgrade the wide receiver position: As you look hard at this free agent class, as is usually the case with free agent classes, it’s not a panacea. Alshon Jeffery is by far the guy with the most talent and the most upside, but I saw Adam Schefter said today that he thinks that there are people that think Jeffery will get, like, $15 million a year … Do you want to commit like that to Alshon Jeffery? Maybe … One thing that I’ve gotten clear on in talking to people since the season ended, their focus is, yes, they want to have a good year in 2017, they want to make the playoffs, but they want to put long-term pieces around Carson Wentz — people that are going to be here three or four years, integral parts of what they hope will be a championship team. After Jeffery, it’s a lot of guys that, maybe, they’re kind of guys like what they brought in last year … A guy I kind of like is Terrance Williams from the Cowboys.

On Jordan Matthews’ value to the Eagles as a starting wide receiver: I think the fans are a little too critical there … Jordan Matthews is not going to be a No. 1 receiver for a Super Bowl-contending team … but he can be a No. 2 and certainly a No. 3. He’s a guy who works hard to get better, doesn’t take games off, (is) seldom hurt … he has some drops (but) I think, probably, if they didn’t rely on him quite as much, if there were other guys around him, he wouldn’t have as many drops … You’re kind of picking nits a little bit there. I really think if teams weren’t focused on him so much … I think you’d see him be really, really productive. The people who are really down on him, I don’t really get that.

On potential free-agent targets by the team outside WR and cornerback: (Leodis) McKelvin is the only salary-cap cut they’ve made so far … if there is no Connor Barwin, then you pretty well better draft a pass rusher. Jason Peters, if there’s no Jason Peters and you’re moving Lane Johnson, who’s one failed drug test away from the end of his career, over to left tackle and crossing your fingers that “Big V” is the right tackle, you might need to address something there, too … Is Jason Kelce really gone? Maybe you need to bring in somebody at guard who can help (Isaac Seumalo) out a little bit.

On the future of the Eagles’ secondary: Nobody’s going to sign here as a safety who wants to start, but … I think there’s a good chance that they add a safety that they hope to take over for one of these guys … maybe they still have hopes for Jalen Watkins, I don’t know.

On how the Eagles’ running backfield figures to shape up: That has to be a draft priority or a free-agent priority, one of the two. If Dalvin Cook is there, do you take him? I guess you do. Who else is there? There are free-agent running backs. Much was made, because they have the same agent, Carson Wentz working out with Latavius Murray the other day. I’m not sure how serious to take that.

On the roster turnover of recent Eagles teams and the state of the Birds in 2017: They’re making up for a lot of bad drafts. They really do have some holes and some long-term problems that aren’t going to be easy to fix … The teams who win Super Bowls aren’t the teams who have three coaches in the last five years … They need some stability, they need for Doug Pederson to be a good coach … You need to get a personality for your offense and build around that … You could certainly see a path to 9-7 or 10-6 next year and a playoff spot. I think Wentz is going to be better, he’ll have more weapons around him … I think they have smart people in charge … (but) I don’t see them overnight becoming a team that goes 14-2 next year and sweeps its way through the playoffs. I think the Cowboys are a formidable obstacle in the division … right now, they’re set up to be what the Eagles were in the NFC East in the early 2000s … (but) a key injury or two really puts them right in the soup.

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