Signings, trades. draft pick exchanges -the new league year certainly started off with a bang for the Eagles and head coach Doug Pederson. After the multitude of transactions over the first two days of free agency, the coach was first up to publicly discuss the moves during a Thursday afternoon press conference.
He began by welcoming six new players in cornerback Ledois McKelvin, safety
“Talking about the quarterback situation going forward,
“It just goes without saying, being a former quarterback and a backup in this league, having two guys – we’re always going out and we’re always going to get the best players at every position. You see what we did right here in free agency these past couple of days. We went out and we found the best players. We signed our current guys and then we found guys that can be solid starters and/or backups on this roster.”
Pederson wants there to be competition among the players on this team. As he explained, “iron sharpens iron,” a phrase that goes for every position, which is why he was thrilled to secure Daniel as a backup quarterback.
Although Daniel has seen limited starting time in his career, the coach’s comfort level and knowledge of the player was something that couldn’t be ignored. Now, Pederson knows he has multiple quarterbacks on this roster who he can count on.
“His confidence level is extremely high,” Pederson said of Daniel. “It’s hard to explain unless you’ve been around someone for three years like I have. You have that trust and confidence in that individual. That’s the level of trust that I have in Chase Daniel and the confidence that I have in him. If for whatever reason he has an opportunity to go in a football game, then we know that he can act and play just like a starter because that’s where he is in my mind. It’s a good confidence to have. In this league, it’s a comfort to have two solid quarterbacks.”
With the quarterback position further solidified, the head coach was also pleased to discuss the addition of Brandon Brooks along the offensive line. That was an area both he and executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman labeled as a priority heading into free agency.
Brooks was at the top of their target list and will certainly help bolster a position group that struggled to play at the level it wanted during the 2015 season.
“Big, strong, athletic, road grater-type, nasty mentality and demeanor. He’s a guy that can get out on the perimeter and run,” Pederson said. “He’s smart. He has all the things that you look for in a guard that we need right now on this offensive line. He’s a leader and a guy that has a lot of games under his belt. It’s going to be a good fit for our line.”
Of course, Brooks won’t be blocking for running back DeMarco Murray in 2016, who was traded to Tennessee in one of two big trades the Eagles made on Wednesday. According to Pederson, the discussions about dealing the back began a few weeks back and in his eyes, the move allowed Murray a fresh start in a new city, just as the former Eagle wanted.
“Everybody has an opportunity in this league. I had an opportunity when I was a player to become a free agent. Obviously it was a trade situation with him,” the coach said. “The talks really began to escalate at the NFL Combine. Everybody is in one location, things began and people had interest in him and he felt like it was an opportunity for him if he wanted to continue his career to move on and help another organization. I wasn’t going to stand in his way of allowing him to go somewhere and play.”
All of the moves the team made throughout the past two days were a collaborative effort, which may ultimately help the Eagles succeed in the long run. The team is pleased with the moves they’ve made and everyone is on the same page, working to put together something with the potential to be great.
“It’s been great, it really has. That communication has been very high,” Pederson said. “We’ve been able to bounce a lot of ideas off of each other over the past few days, building up to free agency. I just think that the respect (defensive coordinator) Jim (Schwartz) has in the National Football League, the respect that I have for him and the players that he coaches, plus my evaluations and Howie’s evaluations really opened the door to have those guys come to us.”