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The topic of a potential Nick Foles trade was front and center as Philadelphia Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman and coach Doug Pederson addressed the media Wednesday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. The duo managed to convey the importance of Foles to their team without shutting down the possibility of dealing the quarterback this offseason.

“We’re trying to keep as many good players as possible, and you’re talking about a Super Bowl MVP,” Roseman said. “He’s been unbelievably successful for us, he’s got great character, great leadership. That room is exactly what we’re looking for. We have a franchise quarterback [in Carson Wentz], we have a Super Bowl MVP, and we have a young quarterback [in Nate Sudfeld] that we’re excited about as well, so that’s kind of how we’re looking at it as we get started in the offseason.”

Pederson, though, indicated it’s possible that Foles gets moved.

“I’m a big believer, you don’t just blindside a player like that if that happens,” said Pederson, asked if Foles will have a say in his fate if a potential trade comes up. “I think you’ve got to have that open communication with him. And we’ll see, we’ll see where it goes. Howie just mentioned, we’d love to have everybody back, but we know the nature of the business. We’ll talk about it before, if and when the time comes.”

Foles stepped into the starter’s role when Wentz tore his ACL in December and helped guide the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title. He threw six touchdowns to just one interception in the playoffs and went blow-for-blow with Tom Brady in the championship game, throwing for 373 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

In the final year of a two-year contract, Foles comes with a 2018 cap hit of $7.6 million. He is a pricey No. 2, but he more than showed his value this past season. With Wentz still rehabbing from a torn ACL and LCL, it’s important that the Eagles have a good insurance policy heading into the season.

Roseman noted that he thinks Sudfeld, the 24-year-old out of Indiana whom they picked up in September after the Washington Redskins released him, has the tools to potentially develop into a starter. Depending how ready they feel Sudfeld is, there is logic in dealing Foles while he’s at his peak value, especially considering the Eagles don’t have a second- or third-round pick in the upcoming draft.

The Eagles are in a position of strength when it comes to Foles. They’d be in great shape with the Super Bowl MVP in the fold for another season but can deal him if an offer comes around that’s simply too good to refuse. By the sounds of it, they’re leaving their options open.

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Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr. plan to rehab from ACL tears together

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New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. are in similar spots. Both are rehabbing torn ACLs and are using each other as resources in the process.

The former Giants teammates speak regularly, and they plan to get together to rehab and train this offseason.

“Only thing I do know that I have planned for sure, I’m definitely going to link up with [Odell],” Barkley told ESPN during an interview he did while promoting Campbell’s Chunky Million Meals Challenge, which is raising money to provide over 100 million meals to children. “Obviously Odell tore his knee a little too. I think we both need just being there. We’re really good friends. Competing with each other and pushing each other will also be good too. That’s the only thing I know for certain I will do. Everything else is up in the air.”

Barkley had surgery on his right knee Oct. 30 in Los Angeles. Beckham needed his left knee repaired Nov. 10 in Florida. So they are not far off as they try to get back to 100% for next season.

Barkley, 23, has been rehabbing at the Giants’ facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and praised the work he has done with physical therapist/director of rehabilitation Leigh Weiss and the rest of the team’s staff. That will continue until the NFL finalizes its offseason plans sometime around the Super Bowl. But at some point, he will take his training to the West Coast, where Beckham is stationed.

“Every year we always link up with him at some point, somewhere. Definitely going to find a way to link up,” Barkley said. “Obviously I would love to, any of those guys that are going through this injury, whether it’s Joe [Burrow], [Devin] Bush, Bud [Dupree], there’re a couple guys, any guy, I think it would be really dope if we could all link up.”

Burrow, Bush and Dupree also suffered torn ACLs this season.

Barkley said he thinks being around others in similar predicaments could be useful. Not necessarily to compete but to see how each is attacking his rehab and comeback.

“It’s not more of like comparing [with] each other, because everyone’s injury — they may have this or that — is different,” Barkley said. “So it’s not really more comparing or competing with each other. What I mean by competing, like competing within ourself and making sure that we’re there pushing each other and getting the best out of each other.”

Beckham has consistently been adamant about surrounding himself with like-minded individuals who excel at their given crafts. He is known to be friendly with LeBron James and rapper Drake.

So it’s hardly a surprise Beckham would welcome Barkley into his tight circle. The two have been close ever since Barkley was drafted by the Giants in 2018, and they remained friendly even after Beckham was traded the next year.

“We definitely talk, whether it is on the phone or playing ‘Call of Duty.’ Obviously probably played a little more of that than I would have liked to this year,” Barkley said. “But it was weird. I’m literally rehabbing. I remember I’m rehabbing. I’m looking up, and I’m watching. I see a clip, and I see Odell get hurt. That definitely hurt me.

“But obviously we both wouldn’t want to go through this, I guess you would say, but I think it’s very important that since we are really close and we know each other so well and we are two competitors and we think we can really help each other, I do think it’s important to really link up. But at the same time, we both have to come in with the mindset of getting 1% better each day. That’s what we have to get from each other. Any way you can get it.”

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Should Philip Rivers make the Hall of Fame? NFL experts debate his legacy with Chargers, plus the Colts’ future at quarterback

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Philip Rivers is retiring from the NFL. The No. 4 pick in the 2004 draft spent 16 seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers — after a draft-night swap with Eli Manning, who spent his career with the New York Giants. Rivers finished his career with a final season on the Indianapolis Colts.

Rivers’ total of 421 career touchdown passes ranks fifth in league history, and his streak of 240 straight starts is second behind only Brett Favre among quarterbacks. Rivers had 12 4,000-yard passing seasons and finished his career with 63,440 passing yards, the fifth most in NFL history.

Rivers, however, never played in a Super Bowl, and his teams had a 5-7 record in the playoffs, including a loss in the wild-card round earlier this month. His most memorable playoff moment was when he played through a torn ACL in the 2007 AFC Championship Game.

We asked our panel of ESPN NFL experts to weigh in on Rivers’ legacy, whether he should make the Hall of Fame and what the Colts could do next at quarterback:

What will you remember most about Philip Rivers’ NFL career?

Mike Clay, fantasy writer: Watching him play a lot despite living on the East Coast. Rivers was the Chargers’ quarterback for 16 years, which meant a majority of his games were during a 4 p.m. ET slate that usually includes only two or three games. At times, Rivers was arguably the league’s best quarterback, and his career wound down with some incredible late-game shootouts. He’ll surely be missed.

Jeremy Fowler, national NFL writer: His likability. His trash talk was harmless and fun. Teammates love him. In a game that takes itself far too seriously, Rivers was genuine and approachable. That he gave his retirement story to a longtime local columnist in San Diego, the Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee, is the perfect example.

Dan Graziano, national NFL writer: The personal interactions with a great player who was always generous with his time and insight. Talking to him a couple of years ago and doing a story on the trash-talking quarterback who never swears, and asking him and those around him what he says instead, was one of the most fun stories I’ve done. He is a genuine individual who gave everything he had physically and emotionally to the game and his teammates.

Jason Reid, The Undefeated senior NFL writer: How spectacularly talented he was. Judging by the comments about Rivers on social media the past few years, many seem to forget that he could once sling it with the game’s best. The fact that he had relatively little success in the postseason provides yet another reminder of how hard it is to win a Super Bowl.

Kevin Seifert, national NFL writer: I’ll always remember how much fun Rivers had playing football. We could see that in his trash-talking, his competitiveness and his decision to seek out another year in Indianapolis after his time with the Chargers came to a natural end. He was the most emotive, expressive player of this generation — and it was awesome.

Seth Walder, sports analytics writer: The entertainment factor. He was never the best quarterback in the league, but he was good and you could bank — with unreasonable certainty — that the game would come down to a fourth-quarter Rivers drive and hinge on whether his risks paid off.

Mike Wells, Colts reporter: That I covered him for a season and never officially got to meet him, never shook his hand and never stood at his locker interviewing him on Wednesdays during the week in the regular season. And his unique throwing motion. It wasn’t ideal for many people, but it was good enough for him to play 17 years in the NFL and finish in the top five in passing yards and touchdown passes in league history.

Field Yates, NFL analyst: I was fortunate to be on the sidelines for the 2007 AFC Championship Game while working with the Patriots. Rivers, who had just torn his ACL in the game before, gutted through the game as if his knee were fully intact. Few players personified toughness and competitiveness like Rivers, who was as gracious off the field in conversation as he was impressive on the field.


Should Rivers make the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Clay: Absolutely. As noted earlier, Rivers was one of the league’s best passers at his peak and that peak lasted for roughly a decade. That included a run from 2008 to 2010 in which he led the league in yards per pass attempt in three consecutive seasons. He might be lacking a Super Bowl ring, but he has led his team to nine winning seasons, has thrown for 4,000 yards 12 times and has 421 career passing touchdowns.

Fowler: Yes. The numbers are there, ranking top five in many career passing categories. The toughness is there, playing in every game since 2006 despite a litany of injuries. He doesn’t have a Super Bowl, but his 5-7 playoff record is respectable, and where you play matters. The Chargers were long considered the Bengals of the West Coast. He elevated the franchise.

Graziano: Yes, of course he should. He’s top five in yards and touchdowns and started 240 games in a row. It’s a silly question, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame voting process has done dumber things than make a guy like this wait, so you never know.

Reid: Objectively, yes. Just look at where he ranks in passing yards and passing touchdowns. And for those who would cite all the standard talking points about today’s inflated passing statistics relative to days of yore, save it for someone who’s interested. Now, will he make it? Well, as previously stated, his career lacks a Super Bowl championship punctuation. And with many of my friends who vote for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, well, you never know how they’ll roll.

Seifert: Yes. The Hall of Fame is for the best players of the generation. Since he became a full-time starter in 2006, Rivers threw for more yards than every quarterback but Drew Brees. He tossed more touchdown passes, and his teams won more games, than everyone except Brees and Tom Brady. Those numbers suggest a clear qualifier.

Walder: I lean yes, but the volume stats don’t do it for me, especially without an era adjustment. And he was worse than a number of his contemporaries: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and arguably Ben Roethlisberger and Tony Romo. But he did have four top-three QBR seasons, which is probably enough.

Wells: Yes. You can’t skip a player who is top five in passing yards and touchdowns while also starting 240 consecutive games. It shouldn’t take long for the voters to make their decision when Rivers is up for consideration.

Yates: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.


Rank these QBs from the 2004 class based on who was best in the prime of his career: Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning

Clay: Rivers, Roethlisberger, Manning. Big Ben and Manning have the rings, but I believe Rivers was the best quarterback of the three. It was tough to pick between the first two, but consider this: comparing his career marks to Roethlisberger’s, Rivers has a higher completion rate, a higher touchdown rate, a higher yards per attempt, an almost identical interception rate (seriously) and a higher QB rating (to name a few).

Fowler: Roethlisberger, Rivers, Manning. Winning is my tiebreaker. Roethlisberger never has had a losing season in 17 years, compared with a combined nine for Manning and Rivers as full-time starters. The Steelers organization had five losing seasons in the 17 years before drafting Big Ben. Rivers was a little more prolific than Manning, whose playoff hot streaks keep this close.

Graziano: Roethlisberger, Rivers, Manning. I would say Manning had a better career than Rivers, because of the Super Bowl titles, and Rivers might even agree if you asked him. But I think Rivers was more consistently capable of taking over a game and putting the team on his back, and he did it with less help. Tough to rank. All three tremendous careers.

Reid: Manning, Roethlisberger, Rivers. Although I’ll likely (undoubtedly?) take some heat from my co-panelists, I’ve never been afraid to go it alone. Eye-opening statistics are part of it, obviously, and Rivers definitely checks that box. For me, however, the scoreboard is the deciding factor. Manning and Roethlisberger each have two Super Bowl titles. Granted, Roethlisberger has more Pro Bowl selections than Manning. Based on the “eye test,” many would argue Roethlisberger was just better in terms of being an elite signal-caller. I get it. But on the game’s biggest stage, Manning twice was selected the Super Bowl MVP. In that key category, especially for QBs, Big Ben has a doughnut. And Manning did it in New York. Case closed.

Seifert: Roethlisberger, Rivers, Manning. Normally I would say that Roethlisberger’s Super Bowl wins were more a function of having a better team and organization around him than Rivers did. But we can all agree that Roethlisberger has made some exceptional plays — the throw to Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLII comes to mind — that spurred those victories. Rivers, on the other hand, developed a late-career habit of inopportune throws in key situations.

Walder: Roethlisberger, Rivers … big gap … Manning. The first two are very close, and I’d be very open to arguments flipping them. I can’t shake the Super Bowl runs for Roethlisberger if I’m splitting hairs between them, though believe it or not Rivers had a vastly superior postseason QBR to Roethlisberger’s over the course of both careers. Manning earned the rings but was not on the same level as the former two.

Wells: Roethlisberger, Rivers, Manning. This isn’t an easy decision because Manning has more Super Bowl titles, but he’s coming in third on this list. We know where Rivers ranks on the list of passing yards and passing touchdowns, but Roethlisberger is not far behind him in those categories and he has two Super Bowl titles, which is something Rivers never accomplished. The reality is, you can’t go wrong with any of those three as your quarterback.

Yates: Roethlisberger, Rivers, Manning. There isn’t a perfect answer here, and there’s a case for Manning having the highest peaks with his two separate Super Bowl MVP awards. It feels almost unfair to have to rank one third, but in terms of consistent level of play, I’ll rank Big Ben first, Rivers second and Eli third, understanding that the answer might be perceived by many as imperfect.


Whom should the Colts target as their 2021 QB starter?

Clay: Carson Wentz. It might not be fiscally reasonable for the Eagles to move on from Wentz this offseason, especially considering their terrible cap situation, but I’m in the camp that they should be in the market for a potential franchise quarterback. That said, finding a way to get Wentz back with Colts coach Frank Reich, who helped him to his best season in 2017, makes a ton of sense.

Fowler: Matthew Stafford. That’s the guy some people around the league targeted as a Colts fit long before Rivers retired. He turns 33 next month; his contract is reasonable ($20 million in cash owed in 2021); and he’s still a top-10 talent. He’s more of a sure thing than Carson Wentz at this stage. But general manager Chris Ballard staying patient and taking a swing in the draft is hardly off the table.

Graziano: Every team but about four or five should be targeting Deshaun Watson, but I don’t see any way Houston would trade him to a division team, so let’s cross that one off. I like Stafford as the Rivers-type move for the Colts this offseason. He’s going to be available, comes cheap salary-wise and would be the perfect veteran fit for a team that’s otherwise ready-made to contend.

Reid: Well, now that Rivers has moved from his playing days, a Wentz-Frank Reich reunion would make sense. Well, at least for Indianapolis. Still not sure if that’s necessarily the route the Eagles are interested in taking.

Seifert: Wentz. Yes, he has had a few rough years. But it’s not as if he has never shown us that he can be an elite NFL quarterback. He did, in 2017, with Reich as one of his coaches. It would be a commitment, but the Colts could support it. Also, this question isn’t fun if everyone picks Stafford.

Walder: Dak Prescott. If Prescott became available, he should be Plan A for Indianapolis (assuming Watson is off the table). We’re talking about a player who ranks sixth in QBR — just fractions of a point behind Watson — since he entered the league, and would make the Colts, in my view, the AFC South favorites immediately.

Wells: Sorry to those who want a Wentz-Reich reunion. I’m taking a hard pass on that and going with Stafford. He’s only 33 years old and still has plenty of good years of football left for a roster in Indy that has talent on both sides of the ball, most notably in linebacker Darius Leonard and offensive lineman Quenton Nelson. And his price tag isn’t steep, as he is due only $9.5 million in base salary next season. That also allows for Jacob Eason, the Colts’ fourth-round pick last spring, to continue to learn and develop.

Yates: Stafford. While new Lions general manager Brad Holmes might not be intent on dealing Stafford, the Lions are a team that does profile as a potential rebuild with the No. 7 pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Where Stafford would make most sense is with a franchise in which he can be a ceiling raiser, and we know that Indy’s roster is plenty good enough to make a postseason run. If Detroit were inclined to move Stafford, dealing a star to an AFC foe is always preferred to a team you might see soon (the Colts and Lions don’t play again until 2024) and would likely be alluring to Stafford himself.



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New Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell agrees to six-year contract, source says

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The Detroit Lions have agreed in principle on a six-year contract with Dan Campbell to become the team’s next head coach, a source tells ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter had reported on Sunday, after the New Orleans Saints were eliminated from the postseason, that Campbell was expected to be hired as the Lions’ head coach.

Campbell, the Saints’ assistant head coach/tight ends coach replaces Matt Patricia, who was fired in November after less than three seasons with the franchise and a 13-29-1 record, as the club tries to reset from finishing last in the NFC North the past three years.

Campbell is expected to bring fellow Saints assistant coach Aaron Glenn with him as defensive coordinator, though Glenn has a few other suitors, but Detroit is the favorite, the source told Fowler.

The 44-year-old Campbell, who has never been a coordinator in the NFL, is viewed as a motivator and someone who can bring a team together instead of an X’s-and-O’s guru. The Lions had been searching for people they considered unifiers as they identified qualities they deemed important to building a winner out of a franchise that has one playoff win in the Super Bowl era and claimed its last division title in 1993.

Campbell doesn’t have much experience as a head coach — just 12 games as an interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins — but the Lions clearly saw enough to pair him with recently hired general manager Brad Holmes. Without experience calling plays on either side of the ball, whom Campbell brings in as coordinators will be paramount to his success.

During Holmes’ introductory news conference on Tuesday, the Lions said all three of Holmes, Campbell and vice president of football administration Mike Disner will report to team president Rod Wood, creating a balanced structure. When asked if either Holmes or Campbell would have final say over the 53-man roster, Wood said it would be a collaborative process.

“They’re each going to have input,” Wood said. “As we’ve talked about — we want a culture where everyone’s working together, and I think that will work fine once we have our new head coach in place.”

The Lions had conducted their searches for Holmes and Campbell simultaneously, often asking candidates if they had people in mind for the other position they would want to work with. After Holmes was hired last week, Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp said Holmes spoke with some of their remaining candidates.

Campbell played 10 seasons in the NFL, including the final three years of his career for the Lions.

ESPN’s Michael Rothstein contributed to this report.

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