Realistic Draft-Day Trade Possibilities for the Philadelphia Eagles
Player-for-player trades are rare in the NFL, and trading up from No. 22 overall probably isn’t in the Birds’ best interest. That being said, there are still deals to be made during draft weekend that can help the front office add what it so desperately needs: more picks.
The Eagles currently hold six selections in next weekend’s draft, yet they certainly have more needs than that. Based on the number of aging veterans, impending free agents or issues of depth, Philadelphia could stand to add one or more prospects at wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, cornerback, safety and kicker.
The Eagles can get a hold of some of the extra picks they desire, though. Dump a veteran here, move down a few spots in the draft, and the next thing you know, the Eagles will have enough picks, they’ll be packaging some of them to trade back up.
Inside, we dissect three potential trade-down scenarios. But first, here are a couple of veterans who could be on the block while the Eagles are on the clock.
Brandon Graham for a Mid-Round Pick
While there has been some talk of the Eagles packaging Brandon Graham and either a first- or second-round pick in a trade to the Miami Dolphins for Dion Jordan, let’s get serious. No general manager in his right mind would send all of that for a prospect—an investment—another organization is willing to give up on after one season.
As much as Chip Kelly can vouch for Jordan from their time together at Oregon, even though a change of scenery might do the second-year player some good, you’ve got to be skeptical.
None of which means Philadelphia couldn’t get something else for Graham. While many observers tend to view the 13th overall pick in 2010 as a draft bust, he’s actually been relatively effective in limited opportunities. According to metrics site Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Graham ranked seventh among 3-4 outside linebackers in pass-rush productivity in ’13 based on a formula that combines sacks, hits and hurries per pass-rush attempt.
So why get rid of him? For one, Graham is buried under Trent Cole and likely another soon-to-be rookie on the depth chart. Plus, despite his success rushing the passer, Graham would seemingly be a better fit in a 4-3 alignment.
With this being such a deep draft, the time is now to cash in on whatever value Graham may have. I would be willing to go as low as a fifth-round pick, provided the Eagles pick up another pass-rusher on Day 1 or 2 of the draft.
Evan Mathis for a Pick
This was originally listed under the “creative” trades the Eagles could make, but it’s also realistic. If Philadelphia drafts a guard at some point in the first two or three rounds and the coaching staff makes the judgment that player can start on opening day, Evan Mathis could be as good as gone.
Ian Rapoport for NFL.com revealed the Birds placed Mathis on the trade block a little while ago after the All-Pro left guard asked to renegotiate his contract. And while he may be the best in the business, Mathis is also the oldest.
Mathis is such an outstanding technician, he could probably thrive for a few more years. He’ll turn 33 this season, however, so rapid and unexpected decline could always be right around the corner.
Therefore, it’s only logical the Eagles can take what they can get if somebody is offering. Jason La Canfora for CBSSports.com indicated the return could be a third- or fourth-round selection.
Fine, provided the front office fills his position before doing the deal. It’s not like there is anybody on the roster. Sure, journeyman veteran Allen Barbre would probably make for a viable short-term solution, but that would only exacerbate the depth issues that already exist along the line.
Ultimately, my guess is Mathis will be back for another season in midnight green. He reported for voluntary workouts last week, which would seem to indicate he’s not going to make a stink over the contract. If the Eagles were to get a good offer, though, who could blame them for pouncing on it?
Trade Down, Scenario 1
Trading up in Round 1 doesn’t always have to be expensive, at least when jumping just a couple of spots. When the team in question only has six picks, though, as Philadelphia does, losing even so much as one can be painful—especially in a deep draft such as this year.
For that reason, it’s unlikely the Eagles would attempt to move up in the first round. But move down and accumulate more picks? That the front office will strongly consider.
Of course, half the battle is finding a partner that wants to move up, and one with the necessary firepower to do so at that. Jimmy Kempski for Philly.com outlined six potential scenarios a few weeks back, of which we’ll delve into three here.
The first would be with the San Francisco 49ers, who could be motivated to move up in part because they own too many picks. On a stacked team such as the Niners that’s been to at least the conference title game in three straight years, there’s almost no way it could use 11 picks and expect to be able to keep everybody.
Using the draft trade chart, Kempski theorizes if the Eagles were willing to move down eight spots to No. 30, they could gain an extra third-round pick for their trouble. Maybe San Fran would throw in an extra seventh for good measure, if that does anything for you.
It might for the Eagles. That would be two more picks than they had before, and there will still be plenty of good players available at No. 30.
Trade Down, Scenario 2
Or is it all an elaborate show, part of an enormous smokescreen for the rest of the league should the Texas A&M quarterback fall to No. 22?
There’s little doubt Kelly is enamored with Manziel to some degree—he did attempt to recruit Johnny Football to Oregon after all. And the interview, the pro day, those are all typical things Kelly and the Eagles front office does with quarterbacks who are entering the draft.
The Birds have Nick Foles, and therefore are extremely unlikely to use their first-round pick on another signal-caller. It doesn’t hurt to lend the appearance that it is a distinct possibility, though. It might help later when antsy general managers start calling.
The Cleveland Browns are currently set to pick 26th. If they pass on a QB with their first pick at No. 4, and Manziel or Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater happen to take a tumble, the organization may view this as a time to strike.
Kempski suggests Philly could move down four spots if the Browns are willing to send an additional fourth-round pick—not bad to give up a passer the Eagles don’t need. Cleveland gets the security of knowing it lands its franchise quarterback, while the Eagles add another selection for a minimal move down the board. It’s win-win.
Trade Down, Scenario 3
For the franchise and general manager who have it all, why stop at two first-round picks when they could have three?
That could be something for the St. Louis Rams to consider on draft day as they look to improve upon an underrated squad that finished with a 7-9 record in ’13. They own the second overall pick thanks to their 2012 trade with Washington for Robert Griffin III, which pairs nicely with the No. 13. With 10 more picks in the draft, they could easily climb back into the first round if they were so inclined.
Kempski thinks a second-, third- and fourth-rounder to Philly gets it done.
Of course, the downside to this deal is much larger than the other two. The Eagles would have to be willing to drop out of Round 1 completely—no selection at all the first night of the draft—down 22 spots to No. 44 overall. That’s a long time to wait to make a first pick.
Then again, that would be quite the haul. There is still going to be a ton of talent available on Day 2, more so than a lot of years. Plus, there’s a good chance the Eagles could package two picks and move up a little higher than 44 after the deal is done.
One thing is for sure, and that is there are several teams capable of sending picks to Philly to move up in the draft. It may only be a matter of which one wants to make a deal.