Jalen Hurts

NFC East Notes: Ertz, Giants, Cowboys

Zach Ertz‘s high ankle sprain may well have prevented a big trade. Prior to Ertz’s injury, the Eagles were willing to part with the eighth-year tight end before the Nov. 3 deadline, multiple NFL executives informed ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (video link). The Eagles view Dallas Goedert as a long-term cornerstone, a position Ertz previously held in Philly, and the older of the team’s two prominent tight ends became embroiled in a contract dispute with the team during camp. Ertz sought a deal in the George KittleTravis Kelce neighborhood ($14MM-plus per year) and openly questioned whether the Eagles wanted him around. Ertz’s current contract — a four-year, $42MM pact — expires after the 2021 season. He will be on IR beyond the trade deadline.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Although Joe Judge was interestingly noncommittal about Andrew Thomas‘ status earlier this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the No. 4 overall pick is in good standing with the Giants and will start at left tackle Thursday night. The Giants used third-round rookie Matt Peart as their left tackle starter against Washington, making the change because Thomas violated a team rule. Thomas played just 22 snaps in Big Blue’s win. Through six games, Pro Football Focus slots Thomas 61st among tackles — behind three tackles that were taken after him in this year’s first round.
  • The Eagles will continue to incorporate Jalen Hurts into their offense. Doug Pederson said this week using Hurts in a Wildcat-type capacity is something the Eagles are “definitely going to continue to explore each week,” via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP. The second-round rookie has played 19 snaps this season, including a career-high seven last week. Hurts has completed one pass but is averaging 7.0 yards per carry on seven attempts.
  • It is quite possible the Washington Football Team‘s mascot-less existence will continue into 2021. “There’s a pretty good chance we will be the Washington Football Team next season,” team president Jason Wright said (via John Keim of ESPN.com). The franchise made the change in mid-July.
  • Key defensive personnel could return for the Cowboys this week. Sean Lee and Chidobe Awuzie returned to practice and could be activated ahead of Saturday’s deadline. Both players went on IR after Week 1. Lee’s return from a sports hernia issue would follow Leighton Vander Esch into Dallas’ lineup, giving the embattled defense its full set of first-string linebackers. Awuzie is attempting to come back from a hamstring malady.
  • The Giants worked out a familiar player Thursday. They brought former first-round pick Corey Coleman back for an audition/checkup. The Giants re-signed Coleman in March but cut him ahead of the regular season. Coleman tore an ACL during the team’s 2019 training camp and has not played since.

Eagles HC On Benching Carson Wentz: “Don’t Go There”

Despite a rocky start to the season, the Eagles are not thinking about benching Carson Wentz, head coach Doug Pederson says. In an interview on 94 WIP, Pederson shot down the notion of giving Wentz the hook in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts.

You don’t go there,” Pederson said (via NJ.com’s Chris Franklin). “That’s a knee-jerk reaction. That’s a reaction to things that sometimes are the aura that’s out there. That’s not what we believe internally. We are going to continue to get better. Carson is our quarterback. We are going to get it fixed. Listen, we are only half a game out of first place. The whole division is not playing good football. We’re not that far off.”

Wentz hasn’t been all that and a bag of chips through three games, lobbing two interceptions in each contest against the Washington Football Team, the Rams, and the Bengals. After dropping the first two games, the Eagles came out of this week’s game with a tie, leaving them at 0-2-1 heading into Week 4 against the 49ers. On the plus side, the rest of the NFC East hasn’t gotten off to a rollocking start either, as Pederson indicated. Currently, Washington (1-2) and Dallas (1-2) share the divisional lead with the Giants (0-3) in the cellar.

If Wentz’s struggles continue, so will the questions about Hurts. During his lone season at Oklahoma, Hurts ran for 1,298 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 233 carries. Wentz, meanwhile, has several years and zeroes to go on his four-year, $128MM extension.

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Eagles QB Jalen Hurts Active For Week 2

The Eagles’ surprising second-round selection, Jalen Hurts, is making his professional debut today. After being inactive last week, Hurts is active for today’s bout against the Rams and will serve as the backup to QB Carson Wentz. Fellow signal-caller Nate Sudfeld, meanwhile, finds himself on the inactive list.

As Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP observes, the fact that Hurts was activated the week after Wentz turned in a poor performance and is facing even more public scrutiny than usual is interesting (Twitter link). However, it will likely take at least a few weeks of disappointing play from Wentz to generate any sort of quarterback controversy. Head coach Doug Pederson said after this year’s draft that the club would use Hurts in the same way that the Saints have used Taysom Hill — as a gadget player who can provide a jolt to the offense — so look for Hurts to get his feet wet in that role before anything more dramatic happens.

After their lackluster offensive showing in their Week 1 loss to Washington, the Eagles could certainly use a jolt. But Pederson also said that he sees Hurts as a quarterback first, so it will be interesting to see if he remains Wentz’s QB2 moving forward. It wasn’t too ago that Sudfeld was seen as a potential starting signal-caller, but he missed all of the 2019 season with a wrist injury, and his stock has fallen considerably. Philadelphia re-signed Sudfeld this offseason, but the club hopes that Hurts will become, if nothing else, a capable backup.

Hurts was a good player for Alabama from 2016-18, but he was otherworldly after transferring to Oklahoma last season. He threw for nearly 4,000 yards and had 32 TD passes against just eight interceptions. He also rushed for 1,298 yards and 20 TDs, so he clearly has enough talent to make a difference in special packages.

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Eagles Sign Josh McCown To Practice Squad

Well this is an unusual arrangement we didn’t see coming. The Eagles are signing veteran quarterback Josh McCown to their practice squad, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Thanks to a new COVID-19 exception veterans will be able to serve on practice squads, making this possible. As Schefter notes, he’ll easily be the oldest practice squad player in NFL history. Making the situation even more unique, McCown won’t even be reporting to the team. Instead McCown will continue to live in Texas, earn a $12K weekly salary, and serve as Philly’s emergency quarterback remotely.

McCown’s lovable journeyman career has taken him all over the football world, so it feels right for him to blaze this unheard of trail. We had heard back in January the Eagles were talking about adding him to the coaching staff, and this is the next best thing.

After originally announcing his retirement in June of last year, he signed with Philly last August after they had a couple of injuries. After serving as Carson Wentz‘s backup and not starting a game he was suddenly thrown into the spotlight when Wentz went down in the Eagles’ first round playoff game against Seattle.

McCown came into the game cold off the bench and nearly led them to a miracle victory, tearing his hamstring in the process and playing through the injury.

The Eagles have Nate Sudfeld and Jalen Hurts behind Wentz now, but in these uncertain times it can’t hurt to have too much insurance. McCown has turned into a fan favorite over the course of his career that started in 2002 with the Cardinals, and this is a nice feather in his cap.

Here is Philly’s full practice squad:

* = international player

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NFC East Notes: Eagles, Guice, Giants

The Eagles will be without Lane Johnson for a while. They placed their Pro Bowl right tackle on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday. Teams are not permitted to disclose whether a player tested positive or if he was placed on the list for other reasons, but Johnson tweets he did indeed test positive for COVID-19. The eighth-year right tackle will be on the shelf for a bit because of the roster designation. The reserve/COVID-19 designation is for players who have tested positive for the coronavirus or are in quarantine for potential exposure. Players must pass three coronavirus tests to return to action. Fellow tackle Jordan Mailata and linebacker Nathan Gerry also landed on Philadelphia’s reserve/COVID list.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Ahead of what could be a make-or-break season, Washington running back Derrius Guice is healthy again. The third-year player tweeted that he has been fully cleared for participation in football activities. Guice missed all of 2018 with an ACL tear and encountered multiple bouts of knee trouble last season as well. The former second-round pick has played in five of a possible 32 regular-season games and now will attempt to carve out a role for a new Washington regime.
  • Although rookies have come in at slot deals since 2011, the Eagles sweetened their second-round quarterback’s deal a bit. Jalen Hurts‘ four-year, $6.02MM rookie contract includes a $75K workout bonus in 2022 and a $100K workout bump in 2023, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Broncos included workout bonuses in 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock‘s contract.
  • The Giants and Leonard Williams were not close on a long-term deal, and an NFL executive believes Big Blue overpaid the sixth-year defensive lineman on the $16.1MM franchise tag, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes. Williams has an interesting trait of almost sacking quarterbacks, ranking 12th in QB hits (101) since 2015 but 84th in sacks in that span. As a result of the pricey tag, which makes Williams the Giants’ highest-paid player this season, an agent told Raanan that the team raised Williams’ asking price. Despite registering a half-sack in 15 games last season, Williams sought an $18-$20MM-per-year deal.
  • Ten-year veteran defensive lineman Ziggy Hood is moving into the coaching ranks. The former defensive tackle will be a Washington coaching intern this season, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. Hood, 33, played in Washington from 2016-18.

Eagles Sign Jalen Hurts, Wrap Draft Class

That’s a wrap. On Monday, the Eagles formally announced the signing of second-round quarterback Jalen Hurts, plus five other draft picks. With that, the Eagles have formally inked all ten of their rookies in advance of training camp.

[RELATED: Eagles, Jalen Reagor Agree To Terms]

The Birds surprised everyone with their selection of Hurts at No. 53 overall. Few saw the QB2 role as a priority, but Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson couldn’t pass up the chance to grab the Oklahoma star.

“I think this player, obviously with Jalen Hurts, he has a unique skillset and you see what Taysom Hill has done in New Orleans,” Pederson said earlier this year. “And now he and Drew Brees have a connection there and a bond there. You look at with (Joe) Flacco and Lamar (Jackson) in Baltimore in the short period of time, how they gelled together. It’s just something we’re going to explore.

During his lone season at Oklahoma, Hurts ran for 1,298 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 233 carries. He also had five receptions during his collegiate career, including two for 25 yards and a score during the 2019 campaign. His versatility is a major plus, and so is his salary – he’ll make just $6.025MM over the course of his four-year deal, allowing the Eagles to spend elsewhere and save in advance of their 2021 cap crunch.

The Eagles also inked deals with third-round linebacker Davion Taylor, fourth-round guard Jack Driscoll, fifth-round receiver John Hightower, sixth-round linebacker Shaun Bradley, and seventh-round linebacker Casey Toohill to round out the group. Here’s the full rundown, via PFR’s Tracker:

1-21: Jalen Reagor, WR (TCU): Signed
2-53: Jalen Hurts, QB (Oklahoma): Signed
3-103: Davion Taylor, LB (Colorado): Signed
4-127: K’Von Wallace, S (Clemson): Signed
4-145: Jack Driscoll, G (Auburn): Signed
5-168: John Hightower, WR (Boise State): Signed
6-196: Shaun Bradley, LB (Temple): Signed
6-200: Quez Watkins, WR (Southern Miss): Signed
6-210: Prince Tega Wanogho, T (Auburn): Signed
7-233: Casey Toohill, DE (Stanford): Signed

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Latest On Eagles’ Plans For QB Jalen Hurts

The Eagles had the most surprising pick of last night’s portion of the draft, selecting Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts with the No. 53 pick. While Eagles fans were rooting for something other than a backup to Carson Wentz, it sounds like Hurts could be doing more than holding a clipboard during his rookie year.

Head coach Doug Pederson told reports that the Eagles will explore using Hurts similarly to how the Saints use quarterback Taysom Hill.

“I think this player, obviously with Jalen Hurts, he has a unique skillset and you see what Taysom Hill has done in New Orleans,” Pederson said (via Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia). “And now he and Drew Brees have a connection there and a bond there. You look at with (Joe) Flacco and Lamar (Jackson) in Baltimore in the short period of time, how they gelled together. It’s just something we’re going to explore.

“I want to make a point here: First and foremost, Jalen Hurts is a good quarterback. He was drafted as a quarterback and he was a quarterback first. But he has a unique skillset. He’s a great runner, obviously. He throws well on the run. He has a unique set of skills that we’re going to take a look at as well as we keep developing this offseason and this advancement as we get ready for training camp.”

Hurts has the talent in the open field to match Hill’s seven total touchdowns from 2019. During his lone season at Oklahoma, Hurts ran for 1,298 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 233 carries. He also had five receptions during his collegiate career, including two for 25 yards and a score during the 2019 campaign.

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport also provided some insight into the Eagles’ thinking with the pick. Garafolo notes that while fans may be clamoring for help at other positions, this selection may actually help in that pursuit. Instead of spending significant money on a backup for the injury-prone Wentz, the team now has the ability to trust their inexpensive second quarterback. This vicariously allows the organization to go out and spend money elsewhere.

Further, while fans may want a player with more upside than Taysom Hill in the second round, Rapoport notes that the comparison implies the best-case scenario for the Eagles. If Hurts indeed turns into a Swiss Army Knife on offense, that means Wentz managed to stay healthy and/or have playoff success. Alternative scenarios see Hurts emerging as a starter in place of an injured Wentz or the Eagles dealing Hurts down the road (à la Patriots and Jimmy Garoppolo).

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Eagles Draft QB Jalen Hurts

The Eagles (ahem) selected quarterback Jalen Hurts with the No. 53 overall pick. Few could have predicted that the Eagles would use significant draft capital on the QB position, but they apparently see him as a potential heir to Carson Wentz.

To say it’s a shocking pick would be a pretty big understatement. Wentz has been injury-prone during his time in the pros, and it’s possible the Eagles just wanted a reliable backup the next time Wentz has to miss games. Regardless of their reasoning, this is going to cause some waves in Philly. Hurts had a very unique and decorated college career, leading Alabama to a national championship before transferring and becoming a Heisman finalist at Oklahoma.

Originally not regarded as an elite pro prospect, Hurts became a late riser after putting up gaudy numbers under Lincoln Riley with the Sooners. After Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, he’s now the third straight Oklahoma passer to be drafted early. Wentz tore an ACL and LCL in 2017, then missed significant time with a back issue in 2018.

He started all 16 regular season games last year, but was knocked out of the Eagles’ playoff loss to Seattle early on. Hurts showed well at the combine, and did enough to thrust himself firmly into Day 2. Last week we heard the Packers and Chargers were interested, both teams that ended up drafting signal-callers in the first-round.

Hurts averaged a ridiculous 11.3 yards per attempt last year, tossing 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. A dynamic threat with his legs as well, he also added 1,298 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground. It’s anyone’s guess as to what Howie Roseman had in mind with this pick, but it’ll be very interesting to see how it all plays out. Wentz is under contract through 2024 after signing a four-year, $128MM extension last offseason.

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Draft Rumors: Hurts, Giants, Jags, Tua

With the draft in less than 24 hours, several names have started to surface as potential first-round upsets. It would not surprise some around the league to see TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor and Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet end up as first-round picks, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes. The Eagles have surfaced as a Reagor candidate; the TCU product clocked two sub-4.3-second 40-yard dashes recently. The tight end class is not viewed to be nearly as strong, but an AFC coach said Kmet’s landing spot will likely be in the back end of the first round or start of the second.

Notre Dame pass rusher Julian Okwara and Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette profile as players who could sneak into Round 1, per Pelissero. One exec compared Romeo Okwara‘s younger brother to an Anthony Barr type who could rush passers and drop into coverage. Julian Okwara registered 12 sacks over the past two seasons. Arnette would join Jeffrey Okudah as a first-rounder in this instance and follow a host of recent Buckeye corners by being a Thursday-night draftee. Arnette started 38 games in his Ohio State career.

Here is the latest from the draft world:

  • While Jalen Hurts is not expected to creep into the first round, Pelissero notes some NFL personnel believe he will go higher than most predict (Twitter link). So will Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield Jr., Pelissero adds. ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Hurts going off the board at No. 49 overall to the Steelers; Scouts Inc. grades the dual-threat quarterback as its No. 94 overall prospect. The Packers, Chargers and Raiders are among the teams believed to be interested. Winfield (29th per Scouts Inc.) is a second-generation NFLer, the son of former Vikings Pro Bowl corner Antoine Winfield. The younger Winfield intercepted seven passes last year and is also seen as a player who, like his father, could move into the slot.
  • Ex-Hurts teammate Tua Tagovailoa is “very well-regarded” in New England, per Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston. However, Curran also believes the scenario NBC Sports’ Peter King suggested of the Patriots moving up to No. 13 (the 49ers’ slot) to draft a falling Tagovailoa doesn’t make much sense for the team, due to the Pats’ various other needs. Tagovailoa may now be back in play for the Dolphins at No. 5 anyway.
  • Buzz has surfaced about the Giants having a trade partner. While it is not certain the Jaguars are that team, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets several GMs have pointed to the Giants moving down from No. 4 and the Jags climbing up from No. 8. The Giants are believed to be serious about wanting to move down. Although the Jaguars are believed to be planning to give Gardner Minshew a legitimate opportunity, JLC speculates a move up would be for a quarterback.
  • This draft could well see five tackles taken in the first round. With Hall of Fame executive Gil Brandt listing Ezra Cleveland as a player who will go higher than expected, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo adds that the Boise State tackle is a “mortal lock” to be chosen in Round 1 (Twitter link). The Browns were believed to be eyeing Cleveland, which would be a fun fit. If they pass on a tackle at No. 10, the Browns may need to consider making an early move back into Round 1 for the rising player.

Packers, Chargers Interested In Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts

The Packers and Chargers have been “in touch with and monitoring” Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Both teams have veteran QBs in place, but they could be eyeing Hurts as a developmental option further down the board. 

So far, most projections have Hurts going in the second or third round. The Cowboys and Raiders have also been connected to the dual-threat passer in recent weeks.

Obviously, the Packers are set under center with Aaron Rodgers, who has four years to go on his contract. Rodgers, 36, has also indicated that he would like to play into his 40s. Still, Rodgers did not look like his usual self last year. The two-time MVP completed just 62% of his throws and this upcoming season could be an indicator of how much he has left in the tank. Behind Rodgers, the Packers are lacking in proven options. There’s Tim Boyle, who doesn’t have much of a track record beyond his solid 2019 preseason. There’s also fellow UDFA Manny Wilkins, the Arizona State product who spent all of last year on the taxi squad.

The Chargers say they’re comfortable with Tyrod Taylor, but they haven’t dismissed the possibility of exploring Cam Newton or other veteran QBs. Assuming they stick with Taylor and his extremely reasonable contract, they could pair him with a prospect like Hurts to hedge their bets for 2021 and beyond.

Hurts, the 2019 Heisman runner-up, threw for 3,851 yards with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions at OU. Before that, he spent two years as Alabama’s starter, and one year as a backup to Tua Tagovailoa.

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