Changes Are Looming for the Eagles
The elephant in the room at the NovaCare Complex is as big as the six-story, wood-and-tin pachyderm in Margate.
Lucy the Elephant has been part of the Margate landscape since the 1800s. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz's tenure could end after five years.
His future depends on whether his rocky relationship with coach Doug Pederson can be repaired. According to a ESPN report Sunday, Wentz wants to be traded rather than duke it out with Jalen Hurts for the starting job in training camp next season.
Wentz declined to speak to the media to confirm or deny the report. However, Pederson seemed to think a reconciliation is possible.
"Listen, I'm not going to speak for Carson, but obviously I can speak for myself and say that, yeah, the relationship is good," Pederson said Monday. "It's fine. It's something that we're going to continue to build upon. Listen, I know Carson's disappointed. It's not the season that he anticipated."
Not even close.
Wentz, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2016, was horrible before Pederson benched him for Hurts. At the time, he led the NFL with 15 interceptions - he wound up tied with Denver's Drew Lock - and 19 total turnovers to go with 16 touchdown passes, and had suffered 50 sacks.
Worse, his decision-making had become a source of frustration. Several of the sacks and turnovers were the result of Wentz's refusal to throw the ball away and/or forcing passes into coverage.
"There were a lot of moving parts," Pederson said. "It's not about one guy here. It takes all of us and that's something that we've stressed a lot here."
But in this case, it was all about one guy.
Make that two.
If the Eagles are hesitant to trade Wentz, it might be because they aren't sure what they have in Hurts, yet. The rookie showed flashes of brilliance in his five-game audition, especially early when he rushed for 106 yards in a 24-21 upset over New Orleans and threw three touchdown passes a week later in a loss at Arizona. But there were also some hiccups. Before Pederson replaced him with Nate Sudfeld Sunday night against Washington, he had rushed for two touchdowns, but also completed just 7 of 20 passes for 72 yards with an interception.
Any potential deal would come with a steep asking price. Even if Wentz is unhappy, Roseman isn't just going to give him away. Indianapolis, Denver, New England or any other team interested in adding him had better be willing to part with a couple of first-round picks, plus a few other selections and even a veteran player or two.
"I don't think it's a secret that we moved up for him (in the 2016 draft) because of what we thought about him as a person, as a player," Roseman said. "We gave him that ($128 million) extension because of the same things. Players like that are like fingers on your hand. You can't even imagine that they are not part of you, that they are not here."
That's not to suggest the Eagles won't be parting with a few digits.
A number of players will be shown the door during this offseason. Offensive lineman Jason Peters, defensive back Jalen Mills, defensive end Vinny Curry, Sudfeld and running back Corey Clement are among 11 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.
Center Jason Kelce might retire. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is a goner. Sadly, tight end Zach Ertz might be following him. He had a down year in 2020, registering just 36 receptions for 335 yards with one touchdown while missing five games with an ankle injury. Trading or cutting him with one year left on his five-year, $47.5 million deal would save about $4.7 million in salary cap money.
"I think for Zach, it's all about wanting to be here and being a part of that," Roseman said.
"Sometimes, you see that in my role, sometimes it's not always the good cop. Sometimes you're in a mode that you have to do what you think is right for the team, not only with Zach, but with everyone. That's hard when you have relationships with guys."
Ertz doesn't want to leave. He and his wife, soccer star Julie Ertz, are entrenched in the community. He's also immensely popular among teammates and the Eagles organization.
He sat alone on the bench for about 30 minutes after Sunday's game, as if it would be his last appearance at Lincoln Financial Field. Later, he hung out with Wentz and Kelce on the sideline.
"I think this city is the best city to play for," Ertz said during a tearful videoconference Monday. "I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. It means a lot to me, it means a lot to my family and I'm thankful."
Parting with both Wentz and Ertz would tough on some fans, especially Mike Trout.
Trout, the three-time American League MVP from Millville, has Eagles season tickets behind the end zone near the Eagles' tunnel, though he didn't attend any games this season. He goes hunting with Wentz on occasion. Ertz has given Trout several footballs after scoring touchdowns at the Linc.
Of course, he could always go golfing with Pederson.
Pederson will rightfully be keeping his job for at least one more season. He drew criticism for his actions against Washington Sunday night - several members of the New York Giants were mad for obvious reasons - but he's also the coach who delivered a Super Bowl just three years ago and guided the team to the playoffs three straight seasons.
One more bad season, however, and both Pederson and Roseman could be looking for new jobs.
Just don't count on them ever joining the Giants.
An elephant never forgets.