After A.J. Brown trade, Eagles have strong core of young offensive players

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After Brown trade, Eagles have strong core of young offensive players originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

For all the numbers we’ve heard about A.J. Brown since the Eagles traded for him on Thursday night, this one seems to stick out.

He’s 24.

Brown has already played three full NFL seasons, going over 1,000 yards twice, and he won’t even turn 25 until June 30. There were three players drafted this past weekend who are older than Brown.

So the Eagles didn’t just land themselves a veteran and known commodity, they landed a really young and talented receiver who is still theoretically getting better. And they’re pairing him with a 23-year-old DeVonta Smith, who was a Heisman Trophy winner and first-round pick just a year ago.

With those two and several other players on that side of the ball, the Eagles have built a strong — and young — core of key of key offensive weapons.

Their top three targets going into the 2022 season are Brown, Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert. Smith is 23, Brown is 24 and Goedert is 27. All three are under team control through the 2025 season and could be cornerstones of what head coach Nick Sirianni hopes will become a dynamic offense.

Those three all have Pro Bowl potential going into 2022 and all three will now have the chance to grow together over the next four seasons. That’s a fun thought, no matter who the quarterback is.

In fact, seven of the Eagles’ 11 projected starters on that side of the ball are 25 years old or younger. And nine of those 11 are 28 or younger.

QB: Jalen Hurts (Age: 23; under contract through 2023)
RB: Miles Sanders (Age: 25; under contract through 2022)
WR: DeVonta Smith (Age: 23; rights through 2025)
WR: A.J. Brown (Age: 24; under contract through 2025)
WR: Quez Watkins (Age: 23; under contract through 2023)
TE: Dallas Goedert (Age: 27; under contract through 2025)
LT: Jordan Mailata (Age: 25; under contract through 2025)
LG: Landon Dickerson (Age: 23; under contract through 2024)
C: Jason Kelce (Age: 34; under contract through 2022)
RG: Isaac Seumalo (Age: 28; under contract through 2022)
RT: Lane Johnson (Age: 31; under contract through 2025)

The Eagles also have other key contributors like Kenny Gainwell, Zach Pascal, Jack Driscoll, Andre Dillard, Cam Jurgens (and Jalen Reagor) all also in their 20s.

This is an exciting time for the Eagles’ offense.

When’s the last time you were really excited about a group of young Eagles weapons? They won the Super Bowl in 2017 with Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor so that doesn’t really qualify. You’d probably have to go back to the days of Maclin, Shady and DeSean. That was a decade ago.

Of course, a lot of their success will hinge on the performance of Hurts, who will turn 24 in August. Despite a really rough playoff game in Tampa, Hurts definitely improved from Year 1 to Year 2. And if he can continue to improve at that rate in Year 3, he could prove to the Eagles that he’s worthy of being their franchise quarterback.

Either way, Hurts now has the weapons around him to get a fair evaluation. Sink or swim time.

Ditto for Sirianni. The Eagles had the 25th-ranked passing offense in the NFL in 2021. He wisely flipped the identity of the Eagles’ offense to a run-heavy attack last year when he realized that’s what would help them win games. But he also know they have to be more balanced going forward.

The Eagles should have the talent to do both in 2022. And with the core group of young offensive playmakers, the future looks pretty bright too.

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