Consider all the blocks at the NovaCare complex officially busted. The Eagles pulled off their second big trade of the pre-draft season—this time a bona fide blockbuster—to move up to the second pick in next week’s NFL Draft, giving the Cleveland Browns more than a team should ever have to give to move up six spots.
Yep, the Birds gave up a lot.
It was clear earlier this week that Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman were high on both Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. They seemed higher on Wentz, with the hope that the Los Angeles Rams moved up to the top spot in the draft to take Goff.
The first reaction to the trade is what everyone in town must be thinking right now: They better freaking get this right, because the Eagles just mortgaged their future for one guy, and it’s not clear (at least from the outside) they’re sure which guy it’s going to be.
To compare, the Rams gave up the 15th pick this year, two second round picks—including one they got from the Eagles in the Sam Bradford trade—a third rounder this year and their first and third rounders next year. In exchange, the Rams got the first overall pick—and the right to Goff or Wentz, whoever they prefer—and a sixth rounder just to, ahem, even up the deal.
The Eagles traded Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell along with the 13th pick in the draft to move to the eighth spot, then shipped that, this year’s third and fourth round picks, next year’s first rounder and the following year’s second rounder, for the second pick—Goff or Wentz, whoever is left—and a fourth-rounder next year.
The Rams gave up two firsts, two seconds and two thirds for the top pick from Tennessee.
A week later, after most NFL pundits loudly questioned the Rams for giving up that much for a quarterback that is by no means a lock franchise signal caller—either or both of them, if you’re asking almost any independent scout—the Birds gave up two firsts, a second, a third and swapped a fourth this year for one next year.
If we look at the Eagles trade in context of the one that preceded it, moving to No. 2 for what they had to give up wasn’t all that bad. (Does it make the trade better or worse to know the fourth rounder came from the DeMarco Murray trade?)
But if we look at the Eagles trade in the context of where they were in the draft and who might be available at that spot, well, they better be freaking right.
Think about this one year ago, when the Eagles weren’t able to mortgage the future for Marcus Mariota. How much more would that have taken to get the top pick last year?
What if the Eagles said they could trade their new, big-ticket cornerback, the reigning NFL leading rusher, their first round pick this year and next and a handful of other high picks and the guy they traded for LeSean McCoy?
What if they said they could have traded McCoy, Maxwell, Murray and four picks for Mariota?
It sounds nuts, and whatever the Titans were asking for last year it was too much for the Chip Kelly-led Eagles to give. But they gave all that up for Carson Wentz. Or Jared Goff. As an investment.
“We’re going to invest in quarterbacks, Eagles GM Howie Roseman told reporters on Wednesday. “We had time as an organization to study: What are the keys to winning? What are the keys to being a championship caliber over a long period of time? … It’s quarterbacks.”
Roseman also told reporters that no matter who they pick, that guy won’t be the day one starter in 2016.
“Let me be clear, Sam Bradford is our starting quarterback,” Roseman said Wednesday. “We told Sam that. We intend to support him and the moves we made this offseason we believe will give us a chance to compete this season.”
Now, it’s fair to say that Bradford is the Eagles starting quarterback right now, but that doesn’t mean after the draft he still will be, especially if a team looking for a quarterback—ahem San Francisco—is willing to help the Eagles replenish their draft pick stock load by taking Bradford off their hands for, let’s say, a second round pick. To think Bradford plays one more down for the Eagles is naïve, and yet, it’s just as likely he starts the entire season while Goff or Wentz (probably Wentz!) ride the bench and learn the position for the future.
The Eagles have rolled the dice on their future by mortgaging much of it, knowing that either of the two quarterbacks will be better than what they have.
Roseman, and more likely Peterson, feel both Goff and Wentz, probably Wentz, can be franchise quarterbacks, and while they said nice things about Paxton Lynch and did their tire-kicking on Christian Hackenberg, it was clear there is a significant drop off after these two.
The only question that remains, other than which quarterback the Eagles are able to draft, is if either of them are truly worthy of giving up this much?
It’s one thing if the Titans or Browns rolled the dice on one of the top quarterbacks in the draft, but the Rams and Eagles are doing that after giving up a crazy amount to get there.
It’s clear on every major pundit’s big board that Goff and Wentz are the top two QBs, yes, but there isn’t one big board of note that has either of them as the top two overall picks.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network has Wentz seventh on his big board and Goff eighth. Hey, that’s where the Eagles were picking! Bucky Brooks has Goff fifth and Wentz 10th. Lance Zierlein has Goff eighth and Wentz 11th. Charles Davis, one of NFLN’s top draft gurus, has Goff 11th and Wentz 12th.
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report has Goff fourth and Wentz ninth on his big board.
ESPN’s Scouts Inc. has Wentz 11th and Goff 12th on their grading system.
Quarterbacks in the NFL are at a premium right now, so it stands to reason that a team looking to draft one is going to have to overpay, but by all accounts, the Eagles let the market dictate their future, not the other way around. They bought high, hoping their investment pans out.
Only, it almost never does.
In 2012, Washington traded a ton to the Rams to move up to No. 2 to take Robert Griffin III. He’s now in Cleveland. In 1998, San Diego moved up to No. 2—just one spot—and gave up a ton to do it, and took Ryan Leaf. He’s now…uh…
Let’s hope Goff or Wentz, probably Wentz, is better than Leaf. Let’s hope they last longer than RGIII.
Let’s hope this is the right move. It’s all we can do at this point, and wait for the quarterback of the future to get here.