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Spadaro: Who will step up as the new leaders for the Eagles? 

Captains Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Jason Kelce with honorary captain and Eagles legend, Mike Quick.
Captains Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Jason Kelce with honorary captain and Eagles legend, Mike Quick.

This is a natural transfer in every NFL locker room, and it happens organically as well as by design: Leadership manifests itself in many ways, and so with the Eagles losing center Jason Kelce and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox to retirement, other players will accept the mantle.

There are plenty of veterans – offensive tackle Lane Johnson, defensive end Brandon Graham, cornerback Darius Slay, tight end Dallas Goedert, quarterback Jalen Hurts, wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, and kicker Jake Elliott among others – who are already in that position.

Some younger guys, namely linemen Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, and Cam Jurgens on offense along with defensive tackles Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter, now have the opportunity to assert themselves even more in that role for 2024.

"You don't replace a Jason Kelce, you don't replace a Fletcher Cox," Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman said earlier in the week at the NFL Annual Meeting. "You're talking about two guys who I feel should be in the (Pro Football) Hall of Fame and they're that way as people, too. Those are big losses. Anything I say here isn't to diminish their value, because it's tremendous. As we went through the last few drafts and the talent-acquisition cycle, we knew this day would come at some point. With that in mind, we were trying to find guys who can fill that role for our team, not necessarily their (Kelce and Cox) role because we can't replace those guys but fill a role as a leader and as a captain.

"You see some of that come to fruition with our (contract) extensions. Landon has tremendous leadership capabilities. Obviously, Lane is the leader of the offensive line with Jason not there. Jordan has grown tremendously as a leader. We expect him to be tremendous. Cam was a captain (in college) at Nebraska.

"On the defensive side of the ball, bringing back BG is a huge deal for us. He's the leader of the defensive line. We are counting on guys in the middle of the defense. Jordan Davis has leadership ability. I remember someone telling me after the (2022) NFL Draft that he should be on the Mount Rushmore of Georgia players for what he did and how he led. 

"We count on some of our young guys. Devin (White at Tampa Bay) was a captain. Nakobe (Dean) was a captain at Georgia, one of the leaders of that team. Slay is one of our captains."

This is something to watch, for sure, but the Eagles think ahead and bring in players with high character and leadership skills and the transition shouldn't be a problem. Everyone has a fresh slate in 2024.

Everyone's voice will be heard.

"I'm excited about building the team, the team, the team," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said. "We're looking forward to building a team where everyone is happy for each other. It takes time and it takes work, but I always believe this: It's not the best group of individuals that wins, it's the best team and that's what we're excited about developing here over the next several months heading into the first game."

Neither Kelce nor Cox was especially a rah-rah guy; rather, they led by example with their preparation and dedication to the craft. Their habits rubbed off on those around them, so that day-to-day approach shouldn't change.

Oh, and there is a new wave of players who are Eagles, including running back Saquon Barkley, hailed in New York as one of the leaders since he entered the NFL in 2018.

"It's about building that chemistry and the trust," Sirianni said. "That's what we're going to start working on when the players report (for the offseason program on April 15). That's what the offseason is for. New season, new group of players, and a chance for everyone to come together and develop."

And build leadership – a lot of which is already in place thanks to a forward-thinking approach and some that will develop organically over the course of time.

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