PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles have some key players with one year left on their contracts, including three starting members of their secondary: James Bradberry, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and Marcus Epps.
Some decisions will need to be made, and all three are making it more difficult for GM Howie Roseman with their play after two games.
Bradberry already has a pick-6, Gardner-Johnson has played all but four plays since arriving on the last day of August in a trade, and Epps has 16 tackles in the early going.
Only Avonte Maddox and Darius Slay are signed beyond the season among the starters in the defensive backfield.
Bradberry said on Thursday that he would be open to returning but didn’t want to get too much into his contract situation.
“I would definitely listen,” he said, “but I’m trying to focus on the season, so I wouldn’t want to talk about it too much. I wouldn’t make it an extensive talk.”
There is plenty of season left to sort it out, but there’s no doubt Bradberry, Slay, and Maddox have worked well together.
“He’s added a lot,” said Maddox of Bradberry. “You can see he’s playing really well. He’s very good. We all knew that, that’s why we went and got him and recruited him here. He’s been such a great addition to the defense since he’s gotten here. Smart football player.”
The three CBs already have four interceptions between them, with three of those coming in Monday night’s win over the Vikings. Slay had two and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Now comes the challenge of Carson Wentz, who the Eagles (2-0) will face Sunday (1 p.m./FOX) in Landover, Md.
"He's lighting it up right now," said Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon on Thursday. "It's a big-time challenge. He has a big arm, he can make off-schedule plays. He has really good skill guys. Their O-line does a good job of when they need to protect him, they protect him so we have a big-time challenge."
The Washington Commanders QB doesn’t usually throw many interceptions, though he already has three in two games this year as the Commanders sit at 1-1, and there was the ghastly total of 15 in 2020 when he played his way out of town.
He has, however, thrown just seven in four of his six-plus seasons. He does like to put the ball on the ground, though. He has 67 fumbles in his career, 28 of which have been recovered by the other team.
The Eagles are already plus-3 in the takeaway/giveaway department.
Last year, they didn’t have their first interception until Week 4 and it wasn’t until Week 5, when they intercepted Carolina’s Sam Darnold three times, that they reached four picks.
The Eagles finished with 12 interceptions as a team, Nine different players had at least one, and, of those nine, only four are back this year – Slay, Maddox, LB T.J. Edwards, and safety Marcus Epps.
Slay had three and Rodney McLeod, now in Indianapolis, had two.
Gardner-Johnson, meanwhile, had three for New Orleans last year but is still seeking his first with his new team.
“I thought he took a big jump from week one to week two,” said Gannon about CGJ. “He understands he's going to keep growing in that role as far as this is where you have to be, these are the calls you have to make. Then from there just go play, play free. You don't want him thinking a lot.
“He's very intelligent and very smart, but what I mean by that is it comes natural, and he doesn't have to think about things and he can just unleash his talent and just go make a bunch of plays for us. So excited where Chauncey is, and I think he's going to continue to get better.”
GM Howie Roseman can’t re-sign Bradberry, Gardner-Johnson, and Epps can he?
Maybe he can, but that decision doesn’t have to be made now.
There are 15 games to go to see how it all plays out.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.