Nelson Agholor

Extra Points: Redskins, Agholor, Spagnuolo

The Redskins and Ron Rivera are making a historic hire. Washington is hiring Jennifer King as an offensive assistant, a source told Adam Schefter and David Newton of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The news of the potential hire was first reported by Rhiannon Walker of The Athletic (Twitter link). King will now be the first full-time African American female assistant coach. As Schefter points out there’s some familiarity here, as Rivera had hired King as a summer intern when he was with the Panthers. It furthers a trend we’ve seen developing the past couple of years, as women continue to make more inroads into the coaching ranks. Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians has been a champion of female coaches, and he hired two women to full-time coaching positions on his staff before last season. King also coached with the Arizona Hotshots of the short-lived AAF.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Eagles fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh after the season ended, and it looks like they could be headed for a lot of turnover on that side of the ball. Receiver Nelson Agholor is “unlikely to return” next year, writes Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. A first-round pick back in 2015, Agholor just finished the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, and is slated for unrestricted free agency. He missed the last month-plus of the 2019 campaign, but was pretty much always a full-time starter for Philly when healthy. He struggled with inconsistency and drops, but also had plenty of good moments with the Eagles. He scored eight touchdowns in 2017, and had at least 736 yards in each of his last two full seasons. Despite the sometimes maddening inconsistency, the 26-year-old USC product should draw plenty of interest on the open market.
  • Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo just won another Super Bowl, and he earned a ton of praise for his work with Kansas City’s defense. The unit made major strides from last season after he took over, and it sounds like he hopes to parlay the success into another shot at a head coaching gig. “Oh, certainly,” Spagnuolo told Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio when asked if he’d be interested in being a head coach again, via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. “Listen, that desire and passion never changes. But I will say this . . . I’m a blessed man to have the job I have. If it’s not in God’s plans, I’m OK with that. But I’ve always kept preparing myself that way. It would be great if it happened, and if not, again, I’m very fortunate to be where I am.” The thought would’ve seemed like a huge reach a year ago, but Spags bounced back in a big way. He first rose to prominence as the Giants’ defensive coordinator, and his success in New York led to him becoming head coach of the Rams. He was fired after going 10-38 in three years as St. Louis’ head coach. He also served as New York’s interim coach for four games in 2017 after Ben McAdoo was fired.

Eagles’ Nelson Agholor Out Vs. Seahawks

The Eagles will face the Seahawks without the services of Nelson Agholor. The wide receiver’s knee injury will sideline him for the opening round of the playoffs, head coach Doug Pederson announced. 

Agholor has not played since suffering a knee injury in Week 13. Before that, he caught 39 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns in eleven games.

Meanwhile, the statuses of tight end Zach Ertz and right tackle Lane Johnson remain murky.

Zach [is] still not cleared for any contact,” Pederson said. “He will work a little bit on the side again like he’s done this week and stuff like that, but we’re waiting on a few doctor results tomorrow. If things go favorable, he’ll play. If they don’t, he won’t.”

The Eagles can get by without Agholor, but it won’t be easy for Carson Wentz to move the chains or convert in the red zone without Ertz. The tight end caught 88 passes for 916 yards and six touchdowns this season, giving him his third-straight Pro Bowl nod. Ertz is known for his toughness, but doctors won’t let him take the field unless his broken rib and lacerated kidney show drastic improvement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Eagles, Jacobs, Steelers, Hawks

Afflicted with injuries to their receiving corps for most of the season, the Eagles will be severely shorthanded on this front in their win-and-in game Sunday. In addition to Nelson Agholor missing another game, Zach Ertz is not ready to return. Carson Wentz‘s top target will miss Week 17 due to back and ribs injuries. Ertz left the Eagles’ Week 16 win, leaving second-year tight end Dallas Goedert as Wentz’s most proven target.

Here is the latest from Philadelphia and other contending teams’ injury situations going into the regular season’s final Sunday:

  • While the Eagles are stripped of their top three wide receivers and their premier tight end, Jordan Howard will return. The fourth-year running back missed Philadelphia’s past six games due to a shoulder injury. The Eagles’ leading rusher when the injury surfaced at the midseason point, Howard will rejoin a backfield that’s seen more from Miles Sanders and some contributions from Boston Scott.
  • Moving to another playoff hopeful’s running back situation, the Raiders will be without Josh Jacobs on Sunday in Denver. The team declared Jacobs out, meaning he will miss a third game in his past four. Their offensive rookie of the year candidate is battling a shoulder malady and a skin condition, the latter prompting him to undergo a minor surgery this week. Jacobs missed Week 14 and Week 16 due to a shoulder injury. Free agent-to-be DeAndre Washington has filled in well for Jacobs, amassing 202 scrimmage yards in those two games. The Raiders need to win and receive another Sunday of good fortune to make the playoffs.
  • One of the teams the Raiders need to lose Sunday will be shorthanded on the ground as well. James Conner will miss the Steelers‘ regular-season finale, joining Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey in that regard. After missing a chunk of Pittsburgh’s season with a shoulder injury, Conner is now dealing with a quad problem. Pouncey is down due to a knee ailment.
  • Most of the non-Marshawn Lynch Seahawks news this week centers around the players who will not be available Sunday night, but the team will have some key players back in uniform. Jadeveon Clowney and Shaquill Griffin missed Seattle’s past two games but will be on the field in Sunday’s de facto NFC West championship game against San Francisco. Clowney is still battling the core issue that he initially played through but one that’s caused him to miss time.
  • The 49ers placed another defensive lineman on IR. Defensive tackle Jullian Taylor will end his season on the injured list because of an ACL tear sustained in practice this week, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. A 2018 seventh-round pick, Taylor played in six 49ers games this season. Defensive linemen Taylor, Ronald Blair, D.J. Jones and Damontre Moore reside on San Francisco’s IR list.

NFC East Notes: Dak, D-Jax, Eagles, Giants

After a week of limited practices, two of which involving no throwing, Dak Prescott is no longer on the Cowboys‘ Week 16 injury report. Prescott will make his 63rd straight regular-season start Sunday. He participated in light throwing drills Friday, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. While Prescott’s status never seemed to be in doubt, his practice routine this week was notable. The former offensive rookie of the year had never previously been designated as limited during his four-year career.

Here is the latest from the NFC East, shifting first to the other team in Sunday’s marquee game.

  • Should the Eagles pull off the upset Sunday and then defeat the Giants in their regular-season finale, they would make the playoffs. If that happens, DeSean Jackson offered a glimmer of hope he could return from IR. Weeks after undergoing groin surgery, the 33-year-old wide receiver shared a workout video of him featuring sprints and agility drills (Instagram link). If Jackson does not experience any setbacks, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio tweets he is on target to play once eligible. However, Jackson not being eligible until the divisional round may make this a moot point for the 7-7 Eagles. Philadelphia has Jackson and Alshon Jeffery on IR, and Nelson Agholor may be on the wrong end of questionable after not practicing all week.
  • Said upset will be a bit more difficult without Lane Johnson, who will miss a second straight game because of the high ankle sprain he suffered in Week 14. The Eagles declared their All-Pro right tackle out against the Cowboys. Johnson has missed two games this season, the first due to a concussion. Halapoulivaati Vaitai will draw the start.
  • Golden Tate‘s 2020 salary was to be guaranteed, but because of the PED suspension the Giants wideout received, he now could be a cut candidate. The 31-year-old receiver, whose $7.98MM base salary next year is no longer guaranteed, addressed this prospect this week. “There’s not 100% certainty in really anything,” Tate said, via the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy. “I definitely hope and plan to be here. I think I’ve proven to be a solid leader for our locker room. I feel like I’ve been productive, and I haven’t shown a decline. But I don’t know what people upstairs think.” Rookie fifth-rounder Darius Slayton‘s emergence will likely play a role in the team’s decision. Slayton, Sterling Shepard and Tate are all signed through at least the 2022 season.

NFC East Notes: Shurmur, Vander Esch, Eagles

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur is clearly on the hot seat, and everything we have heard this year suggests that he could be fired at season’s end. And as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, the sentiment for bringing Shurmur back for the 2020 season is dimming within the organization because there is simply no concrete reason to suggest that he should be retained. Previous reports indicated that Shurmur could keep his job simply for the sake of giving young QB Daniel Jones some continuity, but Schwartz says the cons of keeping Shurmur outweigh that potential pro.

Schwartz does not offer an update on Big Blue’s plans for GM Dave Gettleman, and the fact that the Giants have historically practiced patience with their GMs and knew that they were tasking Gettleman with a rebuilding job could mean that he is safe for 2020. But will the team trust him to hire another HC since the Shurmur hire has flopped, or will ownership just clean house and start afresh? All options are definitely on the table.

Let’s take a swing around the NFC East:

  • Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has not played since November 17 due to a neck injury, and while there has been some improvement, the 23-year-old is still not ready to practice, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes. The club is not ready to put Vander Esch on IR just yet, but it sounds like that could be a possibility.
  • The Eagles may have lost WR Alshon Jeffery for the season, and as Bo Wulf and Zach Berman of The Athletic write, Nelson Agholor‘s status remains up in the air. Agholor sat out the team’s Monday night win with a knee injury, so Philly may need to make more than one WR roster move. Old friend Jordan Matthews just signed with the 49ers, so Berman believes it’s more likely that the team will promote one or two of their taxi squad wideouts than sign a free agent. Wulf, though, names a few players on other practice squads that the Eagles could poach.
  • Speaking of Jeffery, Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com says the Eagles have no choice but to release the veteran wideout if they cannot find a trade partner for him (which seems highly unlikely). Because the team guaranteed Jeffery’s 2020 salary earlier this year in order to create more cap room, cutting Jeffery will result in an enormous dead cap number of over $26MM in 2020. That seems like an impossible pill to swallow, even if the club were to designate him as a post-June 1 cut to spread out the dead cap money over two years, but Shorr-Parks believes the team will indeed cut Jeffery if he cannot be traded.

Practice Notes: Eagles, Jets, Cardinals

The Eagles got positive news on the injury front regarding three of their biggest weapons Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport. Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (ankle) and Nelson Agholor (knee) are full participants in practice today and running back Jordan Howard (shoulder), while not yet back to practice, is “trending the right way.”

All three players missed Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, Jeffery and Howard have not played since November 3rd. Philadelphia’s offense has struggled mightily in recent weeks. Most of the blame has fallen on the shoulders of quarterback Carson Wentz, but it would surely help their signalcaller to have some more weapons.

Here’s some more notes on practice status around the league:

  • Jets head coach Adam Gase told reporters he expects cornerback Darryl Roberts is expected to return after missing two games with a calf injury, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. Right tackle Chuma Edoga will not practice today and left tackle Kelvin Beachum will be limited as well. The Jets are in the midst of a three-game win streak in hopes to rebound from what looked like a lost season.
  • While Cardinals offensive tackle Jordan Mills was designated for return from the injured reserve earlier today, cornerback Robert Alford, though, will not be joining his teammate, according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. Alford, a six-year veteran, fractured his tibia prior to the season and was placed on injured reserve with the possibility to return. However, per Urban, that possibility is no longer an option.

Breer’s Latest: Jets, Broncos, Rudolph

Some assorted notes from SI.com’s Albert Breer leading up to tonight’s draft…

  • The Jets are beginning to gain some traction on a deal involving the third-overall pick. Breer mentions that the Redskins could be a match, with the team presumably eyeing a quarterback. Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins could be an option, as could Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (if he isn’t taken with the first-overall pick). Breer notes that if the Jets remain in the top-10, they could opt for Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who one scout described as “the epitome of a [defensive coordinator] Gregg Williams player.”
  • Missouri quarterback Drew Lock is “rising continuously in draft meetings” among the Broncos front office. The team could be eyeing him with pick No. 10, or they could be preparing for a scenario where Lock falls towards the bottom of the first round.
  • After paying Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter, the Vikings could be looking to deal one of their other pricey veterans. Tight end Kyle Rudolph could be a trade candidate, and Breer writes that he wouldn’t be shocked if the Patriots make a play for the pass-catcher. The writer mentions cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes as well as wideout Laquon Treadwell as trade candidates.
  • Two players who are set to play on their fifth-year option are on the block. Breer writes that Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor and 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead “have been part of trade discussions.” On the flip side, Breer believes that it’s unlikely that the 49ers trade defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.
  • If Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat gets past the Redskins (No. 15), Panthers (No. 16), or Seahawks (No.21), Breer is unsure how far the defensive end could end up falling. Breer points to the Rams as a potential fit at the end of the first round. Reports indicated that Sweat was diagnosed with a heart condition, although there were rumblings today that he may have been misdiagnosed.

Eagles Willing To Trade Nelson Agholor?

Teams believe that Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor could be available via trade, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Agholor, a versatile weapon, carries a $9.4MM fully guaranteed price tag and could be moved if the Eagles draft a receiver early in this week’s draft. 

This is a change in thinking from where the Eagles were just six weeks ago. Even after the Eagles acquired DeSean Jackson and gave him a lucrative three-year extension, the belief was that Agholor would remain with the club. Now, the Eagles seem to be a bit more future-minded at the WR position and they could use this opportunity to get younger while cutting down on costs.

The former USC pass-catcher has been a key component of the past two Eagle passing attacks. Even with the midseason arrival of Golden Tate, Agholor still managed a career-high 64 receptions for 736 yards and four touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Expected To Retain Nelson Agholor

Yet another Eagles splash move at wide receiver places Nelson Agholor in a precarious position, but the fifth-year player may be set to be part of another Philadelphia receiving corps.

Despite his 2019 option price of $9.4MM, Agholor is likely to remain with the Eagles, Jeff McLane of Philly.com tweets. Agholor staying means he will join Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson on what would be quite the well-compensated wideout trio.

Jackson is expected to sign an three-year, $27MM extension, and Jeffery is tied to a four-year, $48MM deal. Agholor’s fifth-year option makes it somewhat uncertain he makes sense to return, given Philadelphia’s expenses elsewhere. But the former USC pass-catcher has been a key component of the past two Eagle passing attacks.

Last season, the Eagles brought in Golden Tate at the trade deadline, somewhat diminishing Agholor’s role. But the Eagles’ incumbent slot receiver still caught a career-high 64 passes for 736 yards and four touchdowns. With Jeffery and Jackson in the fold, a Tate return to Philly no longer makes sense.

Agholor could be a trade candidate, per McLane, so that bears monitoring. For now, however, the Eagles have a Jeffery-Jackson-Agholor trio to team with Zach Ertz.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: OBJ, Cowboys, Redskins

Dave Gettleman gave his Odell Beckham Jr. party line again this week, insisting the Giants were planning to keep him. However, trade gusts continue to swirl in Indianapolis. While the Giants won’t move Beckham for a below-market deal, Jay Glazer of The Athletic notes (subscription required) buzz around the Combine points to the team being ready to part ways with the superstar wideout if the offer is fair. Glazer predicted earlier this month Beckham would be traded. Teams are higher on Beckham than Antonio Brown, with the latter’s antics posing a significant problem for some, Glazer hears. This could inflate Beckham’s value, but Gettleman will surely need to be blown away to part ways with the recently extended wideout.

Here’s the latest from the NFC East quartet:

  • Jason Witten‘s exit from the Monday Night Football booth shocked many, and the Cowboys already appear to have a plan for the recently unretired tight end. They are planning to deploy Witten around 25 snaps per game, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The future Hall of Fame tight end, who will turn 37 in May, does not want to impede incumbents Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz‘s progress, per Hill, and is fine with a 25-snaps-per-game workload.
  • Another way the 2019 Cowboys could be flashier than the ’18 version: if Earl Thomas joins the team. Long connected to the Cowboys, the Texas native looks to still view Dallas as his preferred destination. If the money is equal, Thomas will pick Dallas, former teammate Richard Sherman said (via Matt Barrows of The Athletic, subscription required). However, the 49ers cornerback added that another team outflanking the Cowboys would make it a fairer fight. Thomas’ camp met with the Cowboys’ Combine contingent on Thursday, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (Twitter link). It doesn’t sound like the Cowboys will go all-in for the three-time All-Pro, with JLC adding the team is casting a wide net (on a deep safety market) to help here. But the soon-to-be 30-year-old defender certainly appears to still be on Dallas’ radar.
  • Nick Foles has now been connected to the Jaguars and Giants, but the Redskins also need a starting quarterback. Or do they? Washington appears likely to avoid spending starter-level cash on a veteran, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Colt McCoy has one season remaining on his contract, and a report earlier this month indicated the Redskins are high on their backup as a possible stopgap starter. McCoy, 32, has not been a full-time starter since working in that capacity for the 2011 Browns. He started 21 games for Cleveland from 2010-11 before becoming a well-regarded backup.
  • The Eagles are finally under the projected cap, but they are still floating Nelson Agholor‘s name as a trade option at the Combine, La Canfora writes. The 2015 first-round pick’s salary is set to spike to $9.4MM. Although Philadelphia is not going through with its Foles tag-and-trade plan, taking a $25MM cap hold off the books, Agholor’s salary will still affect a team with just $6MM in cap space. Only the Jaguars hold less.