Thursday, October 23, 2014
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Eagles notes: When do the Eagles' projected starters' contracts expire, and more

There's a feeling among many that on paper, the Eagles will be facing a stacked schedule in 2014. That is a myth.

Eagles notes: When do the Eagles' projected starters' contracts expire, and more

Eagles center Jason Kelce, quarterback Nick Foles and running back Nick Foles. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Eagles center Jason Kelce, quarterback Nick Foles and running back Nick Foles. (Matt Rourke/AP)

Some people feel that looking ahead to NFL schedules is an exercise in futility, as a lot can change from year to year. There's some truth in that. There are teams who surprise in good ways (such as the Chiefs in 2013) and in bad ways (Texans, Falcons), but for the most part, teams are relatively close to what is expected.

There's a feeling among many that on paper, the Eagles will be facing a stacked schedule in 2014. That is a myth. Here is a list of the teams the Eagles will play, sorted from the best 2013 records to the worst. (Because they tied a game, the Packers are listed as 8.5 - 7.5 for the purpose of winning percentages).

If you'll notice, the Eagles play 5 teams that had at least 10 wins last year, which is perhaps what is contributing to the idea that it's a hard schedule. However, the rest of the NFC East will also play all of those teams, with the exception of the Panthers.

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The Eagles will face the Packers and Panthers because both teams won their divisions last year. However, the Panthers are hemorrhaging quality players. They've already lost standout LT Jordan Gross to retirement, they cut WR Steve Smith (the real one), and they lost S Mike Mitchell, CB Captain Munnerlyn, and WR/KR Ted Ginn in free agency. They will likely not be as good as their 12-4 record of a year ago would suggest, although the Packers are still probably the best team in the NFC North. 

Otherwise, the Eagles' schedule is weak. They only face 6 opponents who had a winning record last season, and they play in one of the worst divisions in the NFL. If you tally up the total wins and losses, the Eagles' 2014 opponents had a 0.479 winning percentage in 2013. They also had a combined point differential of -300.

There are certainly a few tough hombres (Seahawks and Niners) on the slate, but on the whole, the schedule is very favorable. There's a lot of (projected) junk.

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If you were to project the Eagles' 2014 starting lineup as currently constructed, they only have 3 starters set to become free agents in 2015. They would be Jeremy Maclin, Bradley Fletcher and Cedric Thornton, and Thornton will still be a restricted free agent.

Note: Since Zach Ertz is expected to take on a much larger role in the offense, I projected 12 starters on offense. I also included Brandon Boykin on the defense, giving that side of the ball 12 players as well.

Contracts are complex, so it's not as simple as saying players will be on the roster until the dates above. This is oversimplifying it to some degree, but if a player isn't producing, they can cut bait. If they are producing, they keep them. On a macro level, the Eagles really are in fantastic control of their roster's best players.

Note that Nick Foles, Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, and Brandon Boykin are all set to become free agents after the 2015 season. Depending on how well they play in 2014, it should be a priority for the Eagles to lock up those 4 players long-term next offseason, and that won't be cheap. So if the Eagles choose to carry over some of their cap space into next season, they certainly have a valid reason why that makes sense.

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While it is weighted lightly, the Eagles factor in success at the high school level when fully scouting college players entering the pros. Over the last 5 years, no team in the NFL has drafted more players who once appeared on Rivals.com's Top 100 high school football recruits than the Eagles. During that span, the Eagles selected 11 players who were former high school mega-studs. They were (in alphabetical order) Bryce Brown, Matt Barkley, Keenan Clayton, Riley Cooper, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Macho Harris, Cornelius Ingram, LeSean McCoy, Ricky Sapp, and Charles Scott. There are some hits and some misses in that group.

Keeping that in mind, here is a list of former Rivals.com Top 100 high school recruits who are eligibile to be drafted this year, sorted by their their ranking on CBS' prospect list.

Players in CBS' Top 100:

And the best of the rest:

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

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