By Matthew Schmidt | Last updated 10/27/23
The Philadelphia Eagles are 6-1 and are coming off of a very impressive Week 7 win over the Miami Dolphins in what was certainly their best performance of the season to date.
However, the Eagles can still stand to improve, as they looked rather shaky over their first six games. That included a loss to the New York Jets in Week 6.
It’s clear that Philadelphia understands it has holes, which was why it went out and acquired safety Kevin Byard in a trade with the Tennessee Titans.
But the Eagles may not be done making moves.
Here are three targets for Philly to pursue ahead of the Oct. 31 NFL trade deadline.
Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders
For all of the talk about the dominance of A.J. Brown through the first seven weeks of the season, we tend to forget that the Eagles don’t have much depth at wide receiver behind Brown and DeVonta Smith. They did sign Julio Jones, but Jones has not really been all that productive in three years.
There is no doubt that Philadelphia is in need of a No. 3 wide out, and Hunter Renfrow would be the perfect target for the team.
Renfrow has been a forgotten man in the Raiders’ offense, having logged just eight catches over the club’s first seven games.
However, just two years ago, Renfrow was one of the league’s most prolific pass-catchers, hauling in 103 receptions for 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Eagles wouldn’t need Renfrow to be that guy again, but they could at least use his sure hands and reliability in support of Brown and Smith.
Donte Jackson, Carolina Panthers
Yes, the Eagles did add Byard, but they could still use some more depth in their secondary, particularly at cornerback.
Philadelphia lost versatile corner Avonte Maddox to a torn pectoral muscle earlier in the season, which has absolutely compromised Philly’s depth at the position.
Donte Jackson would represent a cheap pickup for the Eagles, as he is a 28-year-old impending free agent playing for a Panthers club that is 0-6.
Jackson has recovered nicely from the torn Achilles that sidelined him for most of 2022, and while he isn’t a star, he would definitely help the Birds on the outside.
At the very least, Jackson would provide some insurance in the event of another injury.
Josey Jewell, Denver Broncos
The Eagles are currently employing second-year player Nakobe Dean at middle linebacker, and while Dean may have potential, he is just 22 years old and has been somewhat of a non-factor thus far.
Josey Jewell would be a great pickup for Philadelphia as a half-year rental. He wouldn’t cost too much in a trade, and Philly could just let him walk in the offseason if things don’t work out (or if the Eagles would prefer to roll with Dean or someone else in 2024).
As young and talented as Dean may be, Philadelphia is trying to win now, and Jewell would certainly give the squad a better chance to do that than Dean at this point.
Philly’s linebacking corps is one of the club’s weaker areas, so adding a player like Jewell would help bring some stability to the position.
This article first appeared on NFL Analysis Network and was syndicated with permission.
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Packers’ Matt LaFleur Appears To Be On The Hot Seat Now
The Green Bay Packers knew that there would be some struggles in the 2023 season given the overturn on the roster the last few offseason. This season they underwent another massive change with Jordan Love taking over the starting quarterback job from Aaron Rodgers. Love was entering his fourth season in the NFL but had played sparingly in the first three as Rodgers’ backup. He had only 10 appearances, including one start, and 83 regular season passes under his belt. But, the Packers were confident he would get the job done. Through the first two weeks of the season, it certainly looked like they had made the right decision. Love was tied for the league lead in touchdowns and the team narrowly missed getting off to a 2-0 start. But, since that point, things have gone downhill quickly for the Packers’ offense. Love has thrown at least one interception in four straight games and the offense has failed to consistently get going. People are already throwing the towel in on Love as a starting caliber player in the NFL, making predictions about who could be the next starting quarterback in Green Bay. But, there are also some people questioning whether Matt LaFleur is putting himself on the hot seat. It is a fair question as this offseason was focused solely on LaFleur now being able to fun his entire offense. People were confident that he would create an offense to put his skill-position players in a position to succeed despite their lack of NFL experience. The Packers took a risk compiling the youngest group of pass catchers in modern NFL history. There wasn’t a single wide receiver or tight end on the roster coming into the season who had more than one year of NFL experience under their belt. Josiah Deguara was listed as a fullback/H-Back originally but he is in Year 4 of his NFL career. LaFleur’s inability to take advantage of the skill sets his young players have and help them succeed has been disappointing. It would be shocking if the Packers moved on from him as head coach after one bad season without Rodgers under center, but he certainly deserves some blame for the struggles to this point in the season.
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Steelers Give Surprising Names First-Team CB Reps At Friday’s Practice Due To…
The Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback room has went through many ups and downs in 2023. Ahead of the team’s Week 8 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the unit is banged up. Levi Wallace and rookie Joey Porter Jr. have missed practice time this week with varying injuries. Their status for Sunday remains in question, and they are two of the top three corners for Pittsburgh. As a result, according to Nick Farabaugh, two surprising players saw first-team reps in Friday’s practice: Luq Barcoo and Darius Rush. The team signed Barcoo back in May, and he’s mostly been on the practice squad since. Barcoo was an XFL standout last year, which garnered recognition from the Steelers and other NFL squads. For Rush, via Mike DeFabo of The Athletic, he knows that this is an opportunity that he needs to seize. “For me to come here and only be here two weeks now and have an opportunity to play, it’s just an opportunity I gotta take advantage of,” Rush said on Friday via DeFabo. Just a few weeks ago, the team cut Desmond King in order to sign Rush off the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad. Rush, selected in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, failed to make the Indianapolis Colts’ 53-man roster this season. He was seen as an intriguing prospect just months ago, and the Steelers showed interest in him then. Now, the rookie may get his NFL chance to prove himself with Pittsburgh. Rush actually jumped Elijah Riley on the team’s depth chart, as he’s listed as the second-string nickel cornerback behind Chandon Sullivan. The signing of Rush made one thing clear: the team is going after tall, lengthy cornerbacks. Porter and Cory Trice Jr. fit that billing, and now Rush does as well. Even if it weren’t for a severe injury suffered before the season, Trice may have been in the starting lineup by now. Should The Steelers Be Concerned About Depth At Cornerback? Scout and former Steelers cornerback, Ike Taylor confirmed what the team is now going after in their new-age cornerbacks. Sullivan hasn’t exactly performed well though in his 145 (33%) defensive snaps in 2023. It remains a mystery as to why the team continues to send him out there, while Riley has been used as primarily a special teams guy. Riley has played 115 special team snaps in 2023, but just 10 on defense. Patrick Peterson has also been seeing snaps across the secondary, including at nickel. He was used this way in the Week 7 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, and the coaching staff confirmed that they will continue to move him around more. The Steelers now seem to be focusing on putting their best guys on the field from the cornerback room. Injuries are playing a role in these guys seeing first-team reps, but they are finally letting the young guys get a real chance. While Barcoo and Rush have the talent, it’s got to make fans nervous to hear them get first-team reps on Friday. In 2023, they have combined for a total of zero snaps. It’s not like the Steelers are facing an easy offense this weekend either, as the Jaguars possess a lot of talent amongst the skill positions. While the possibility of Porter and Wallace playing hasn’t been ruled out by any means, it has to make the coaching staff uneasy just days away from a big AFC game. If Porter and/or Wallace is out for Week 8, who are you most forward to watching? Do you think Rush has the potential to become a long-term answer for the Steelers? What will/should Sullivan’s role be moving forward?
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Does new mock draft signal end of Russell Wilson era in Denver?
The Denver Broncos paid a steep price to acquire nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks before the 2022 season. However, not even two years into his tenure, Wilson doesn’t appear to be the answer as the team marches toward another lost season. That is already leading to speculation — and perhaps even hope among Broncos fans — that the team will go in a new direction this offseason and find another starting QB. Per the latest Pro Football Focus 2024 mock draft simulator, the Broncos will indeed select a quarterback. According to the simulator, the most popular option is North Carolina’s Drake Maye, with Southern Cal’s Caleb Williams the No. 2 selection. For the Broncos to have any chance at Williams, they would likely need to finish with the worst record in the league. Williams is almost universally projected to be the top pick in the 2024 draft class, especially as Chicago (via Carolina as well as its own pick) and Arizona (uncertainty with Kyler Murray) are currently positioned to be in the top-three spots. Given Denver’s 2-5 record — and the fact it is likely to be a seller in advance of Tuesday’s trade deadline — it could easily finish among the league’s worst teams. Before the draft, the Broncos quarterback situation is going to be a huge discussion point. It’s extremely complicated because Wilson’s contract makes it nearly impossible to deal him or release him until after the 2025 season. His contract carries a $85 million hit in dead cap space next season and $49.6 million in 2025. Wilson has improved significantly this season and has again looked like a strong NFL starting quarterback. It has not translated to wins, but entering Week 8, he owns an above-average 99 passer rating and has thrown 13 touchdown passes to only four interceptions. However, the 2024 NFL Draft — which is projected to have several first-round talents at QB — may be the perfect time for the Broncos to think long term at the sport’s most important position. When a team has a chance to find a potential long-term answer at quarterback (which the Broncos very likely will this offseason), it must advantage of that opportunity. If the Broncos are going to be stuck with Wilson for at least another two years, they can at least get some productive play out of him and allow a potential franchise quarterback (whether it be Maye or Williams) to be brought along slowly. Given Wilson’s age (34) and the team’s lack of success with him at quarterback, it is a position that must be addressed soon. It might as well be this offseason.
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Star RB Saquon Barkley makes feelings toward Giants known
Long-running extension talks led to Saquon Barkley entering this season on the franchise tag, and the back-and-forth spanning from November 2022 to July 2023 put the New Jersey native’s future with the Giants in question. While the Giants have said they are not planning to trade Barkley, the subject of another contract lingers. As do the proposals each side made during the lengthy negotiations that began during the Giants’ 2022 bye week. Barkley is attached to a $10.1M tag, and while he could be kept for barely $12M on a second tag, it is unclear if the Giants will want to devote that much to a running back who will be going into his seventh season by then. The Giants’ initial offer was believed to be in the $12.5M-per-year range, but ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan notes New York’s first proposal was heavy on gameday roster bonuses. The Giants offered Barkley an extension with per-game bonuses around $1M, effectively tying a notable portion of the deal to playing time. Understandably, Barkley balked and the sides revisited the talks in the offseason. Months of back-and-forth commenced during the sides’ offseason talks, but the two-time Pro Bowler was also minutes from free agency, creating a seminal “what if?” for the former Offensive Rookie of the Year. Barkley joined Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard in being tagged, thinning the running back market. While a high number of starter-caliber backs still reached free agency, no marquee talents were available. That led to modest offers, with Miles Sanders‘ $6.13M-per-year deal leading the way. But at least one team was prepared to make Barkley a market-value offer had he been available, according to Raanan. While it is unknown who that team was, the Panthers and Lions devoted the most money to free agent backs this offseason. It is logical either Carolina or Detroit — which respectively ended up with Sanders and David Montgomery — would have pursued Barkley. Though, Detroit had initially wanted to retain Jamaal Williams. When he rejected the offer, the Lions pivoted to Montgomery. Tied to a Giants tag, Barkley turned down a proposal believed to include at least $22M guaranteed, which would have covered the cost of two tags. But Raanan adds the Giants did not reach that number until the deadline neared. When New York did come up to the $22M guarantee neighborhood, the final offer included an AAV drop from where the sides previously were. (The team had offered Barkley $13M per year at the March deadline to apply tags, though the guarantee number was lower than the July proposal.) The team’s 11th-hour call led to Barkley opting to play on the tag. Barkley stayed away from the Giants during negotiations and was on track to extend his absence up until Week 1, even threatening a Le’Veon Bell-esque path in which he skipped regular-season games. Barkley’s camp, in turn, was not in lockstep on his decision to report to Giants camp on time in exchange for a modest incentive package (one that will not end up being earned), per the 26-year-old back. “[I] said, ‘You know what? I’m going to keep quiet — hopefully, you know, just show up, put a smile on my face, work hard, do the things the right way,’” Barkley said, via Raanan. “‘Things going to get taken care of.’ And sadly, it didn’t. But you also could learn from the way Jonathan Taylor did it. At the end of the day, all you want is to be able to say you set yourself up, and get a long-term deal, and get money that you deserve — to help for security of your family.” Although injuries during the 2019, ’20 and ’21 seasons kept Barkley from high touch totals in three seasons, he will still exit 2023 as a six-year veteran. The Penn State product has recovered from the high ankle sprain sustained in Week 2, but another notable injury on Barkley’s resume will not help his 2024 cause. Neither will a heavy workload down the stretch of this season. Even though Taylor secured a $14M-per-year deal, that contract may become an outlier as another buyer’s market — which could feature Barkley, Jacobs, Pollard, Ekeler and Derrick Henry — is shaping up for March. Barkley added that he wants to play into his 30s, but as an every-down back throughout his career, doing so will not be automatic. Even after the tag sequence this offseason, the dual-threat talent remains bullish on staying with the Giants beyond this year. While it will be interesting to see if the sides negotiate again or if a second tag comes to pass, Barkley wants to remain in New York. Though Barkley may not end up collecting a lucrative long-term deal in his career, this tag season will put him over $48M in career earnings. “I want to create a legacy, and the way you do that is by continuing to stay with a team through your whole career,” Barkley said. “As I see the NFL and realize the business, you know, it’s less likely for that to happen for players. But if you’re able to accomplish that, it’s special.”
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CeeDee Lamb sends message to Cowboys about his role
CeeDee Lamb has a tendency to let his frustration show when he is not utilized enough by the Dallas Cowboys, and the star wide receiver says the reason for that is very straightforward. Lamb was asked by a reporter on Friday about his role in the Cowboys’ offense. He said he never wants to come across as “stingy” but believes Dallas drafted him in the first round a few years ago for a reason. “I have to make it clear, I’m not stingy. I’m here to help,” Lamb said. “I don’t necessarily think you take anyone in the first round and not have them help the team. That’s point blank period. Just let me do what I can do to provide for this team. I know all my brothers in the locker room know I got their back. And I say that confidently.” Lamb had a season-high 13 targets when the Cowboys beat the New York Jets 30-10 in Week 2. Dak Prescott looked Lamb’s way less often in the next three games, with the receiver’s targets decreasing to seven, then six and then five. Lamb had just four receptions in each of those games. He was visibly dissatisfied on the sideline during Dallas’ Week 5 blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers, which led to Prescott having to answer some questions from the media. Though he later said he regretted the way he acted, the squeaky wheel approach seemed to work for Lamb. He caught seven passes for 117 yards in a 20-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers the following week. The Cowboys then had their bye last week. Like many star wide receivers, Lamb wants the ball as much as possible. Anytime the Cowboys lose and he draws a handful of targets or less, Lamb is going to feel like he could have made a much bigger impact on the game. That is something Prescott and Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy have to manage in order to keep their best receiver engaged.