Clean-Out Day: Locker Room Packs Up And Departs

Quarterback Nick Foles held court in the Eagles’ locker room on Monday and spoke at length about his time as an Eagle and about his future. Foles has a contract for 2019 that pays him a reported $20 million should both he and the Eagles opt into the contract within five days after the start of the 2019 NFL business calendar in March but there is nothing definitive about his future. So as he addressed reporters at the NovaCare Complex, Foles did so truly not knowing what’s going to happen next.

“I’m proud of every single person here for giving everything they had to the team,” Foles said. “It’s emotional, but at the same time, getting to talk to guys, getting to talk to the coaches, talk to my teammates, I’m going to come back for a few days this week before my family and I head out and take a breath, it’s emotional. It will probably set in more and more as the days go on because it’s so fresh. We just played a game last night and gave it everything we had, but no matter what happens it’s been a joy being here every single day, being in this locker room, wearing this jersey, being a part of this city.

“We’ll see what happens.”

Foles said that “everything is open” as far as what happens next with his contract, but it’s far too early to know anything definitive. Earlier in the day, head coach Doug Pederson did his weekly appearance on SportsRadio 94WIP and discussed Foles.

“I can’t say enough good things about Nick,” Pederson said. “For him to come here and be the backup behind Carson (Wentz) and then to do the things he’s done the last two years, like I said, I can’t thank him enough. He’s a pro’s pro. He’s a great human being, great leader in the locker room. He’ll always be remembered in Philadelphia for bringing a Super Bowl to this city. So, a lot of great things for him and we’ve got these next few weeks, few months to make some tough decisions, but we’ll make them at that point.”

BRANDON BROOKS FACES A LONG REHAB

Guard Brandon Brooks is taking the optimistic approach. A torn Achilles tendon suffered in Sunday’s loss in New Orleans means that Brooks will spend his offseason rehabbing the injury instead of playing, for example, in the Pro Bowl in two weeks. And that is actually OK with Brooks, who vows to “attack” his rehab.

“I don’t feel pity for myself. I don’t feel down. Surprisingly, I think this is actually what I needed,” Brooks said. “It reignited a fire for me that I haven’t touched in a while. I look forward to it. The recovery, it’s six to eight months so, doing the math, hopefully in June and July I get back out there with the guys (on the practice field). That’s going to be the toughest thing. It’s going to be bittersweet.”

At the very least, Brooks’ injury is something for the Eagles to take into account as they plan their offseason. Can Brooks be counted on to return at full strength for the start of the 2019 season? He’s got faith and he’s going to rely on that and a lot of hard work to return to form, but time is an issue here.

THE DAY AFTER FOR JEFFERY: BOUNCE-BACK TIME HAS BEGUN

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery suffered a fractured rib or a broken rib (he didn’t specify on Monday) on the final drive in the win over Chicago when he took a shot to the back going over the middle, an injury that wasn’t disclosed until after the loss in New Orleans. He was in physical pain as he cleaned out his locker at the NovaCare Complex.

His mental pain after the late-game mishandling of a Nick Foles pass that was intercepted by New Orleans cornerback Marshon Lattimore was healing much faster.

“I’m moving on. It’s on me for that pass and it hurts and it’s always going to hurt,” he said. “I’m accountable for that drop and I’m going to work hard and move on from it. We’re going to bounce back. I’m going to bounce back. I’m already looking ahead to next season. I’m going to work hard and be the best I can be for next year.”

WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP FOR LB JORDAN HICKS?

Starting middle linebacker Jordan Hicks is one of several players scheduled for unrestricted free agency and he wasn’t ready on Monday to declare any sense of knowing what’s going to happen next.

“You weigh all your options and right now I don’t even know what all those options are,” said Hicks, a third-round pick in 2015 who had 89 total tackles, three quarterback sacks, and four passes defensed in 12 regular-season games this year. “So, we’ll see. I’ve learned throughout my time and my experiences that to control what I can control. I can’t control who’s got interest and different things, what your market is. I can control how I play and what decisions I make that are best for me and my family and go from there. I really don’t have any nervousness or any type of ill feelings about what’s to come.”

FLETCHER COX, PLAYING THROUGH EXTREME PAIN

All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox wore a walking boot on his right foot on Monday after an injury limited him to 44 snaps, just 52 percent of the defensive total, in Sunday’s game. Cox left the field once on a cart and another time limped into the locker room, but he kept coming back to help the defense as he played through the pain.

“It’s tough. The biggest thing for me is to gain respect in the locker room from the guys that they know I’m always out there fighting, no matter the situation,” said Cox, who added that he suffered a torn hip flexor weeks earlier in the game at Los Angeles. “I said last night that you’d probably have to take a limb from me for me not to be out there with those guys.”

Cox was injured on the fake punt play the Saints executed to convert a fourth-and-1 play in the second quarter as New Orleans mounted its comeback from a 14-0 deficit. He battled though, as did the entire team. The Eagles now face an offseason that will be interesting, to say the least.

“It’s a sad day, especially when you have exit meetings and you’re not celebrating like we did last year,” Cox said. “I’m really proud of this team, the way we fought all year and proved everybody wrong. We ended up coming short, but again I’m super proud of everybody in this locker room."

WILL BRANDON GRAHAM REMAIN THE LONGEST-TENURED PLAYER ON DEFENSE?

Defensive end Brandon Graham is another player scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and he’d love to extend his career in Philadelphia. That’s yet to be determined for Graham, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2010.

“I feel like I’m not done yet. I feel like we’re just getting started with what’s to come,” Graham said. “Man, we were so close. Not saying that the next one wouldn’t have been a big one, but this was the hump game. We saw the Rams before – obviously it’s hard to beat a team twice. With stuff being up in the air, I feel like that will take of itself. I’m just going to enjoy the process. Nine years have been great, and hopefully 10, 11 however many more are to come. We’ll find out soon.”

CHRIS LONG 'AT PEACE' WITH WHAT FUTURE HOLDS FOR HIM

Chris Long wants to continue playing in the NFL. The 33-year-old defensive end will be a free agent in March. He wants the best football situation because he's "at peace with what I have at this point in my career."

"I know I had a good year and I don't feel like I'm playing old," Long said.

Long was a valuable part of the defensive end rotation as he tallied 6.5 sacks, his highest total since 2013.

"I will look back on this year and be proud of it. I'm not going to look back ashamed. I have no personal regrets," he said.

Early next month, Long will attend the NFL Honors ceremony in Atlanta as one of the finalists for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. In March, Long will return to Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money for the clean-water initiative Waterboys. Could he then return to Philadelphia?

"I have no idea. I love this city," Long said. "Coming to work every day, I feel like I have a real connection with this place. Coming here two years ago, my career was going a lot different, ups and downs, and this place accepted me, and I really love Philly. I can say that wholeheartedly. I appreciate the fans for everything this year. There wasn't a single time when it wasn't loud at the Linc even after those awful losses, and I just love this place."

DARREN SPROLES UNDECIDED ON 2019

Running back Darren Sproles wanted 2018 to be his final season. After ending 2017 on Injured Reserve, his daughter, Devyn, encouraged him to give it one more year.

However, Sproles missed 10 games with a hamstring injury. He scored three total touchdowns in the final five regular-season games. That opened up the possibility of returning in 2019.

"When I actually got back (from injury), I saw that I could still do it," Sproles said.

Sproles indicated that players and coaches want him to come back. But unlike last year, his family wants him home.

"I'm going to take some time away and I'll make my decision," he said. "It all depends on how I'm feeling."

Sproles ranks sixth in NFL history with 19,520 all-purpose yards.

Take a look at the best photos from the locker room clean-out day after the loss in the Divisional Round.

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