As anyone on Twitter who follows any of the Eagles bloggers, BGN regulars or Jim Irsay can tell you, rumors and speculation right now are swirling ferociously around whether or not Jeremy Maclin is on the trading block and if the Colts are trying to aquire him.
I'm not going to post any of the tweets, I'll get to why a little later, just take my word for it. Think of this as motivation to get on Twitter and start following some of the regulars here, Tommy @ Igglesblitz, Jimmy @ bloggingthebEast and others. Well worth it my friends. Also, Irsay's tweets are cryptic as hell. Take DeSean's tweets and modify them as if he were old, white and an NFL franchise owner as opposed to a NFL player and you would have a good idea of what you are dealing with.
Now, I have no inside knowledge on the situation so I can't validate any of the speculation, but I find it to be a fascinating topic for discussion right now (after the opening of FA and as it is winding down and before the Draft) and as resident self-proclaimed Eagles insider and composer of impromptu party FanPosts Eagladelphia suggested on an earlier thread, maybe it is worthy of a FanPost for us to discuss. I agree and hence, here we are.
To start, Tommy wrote an article late last night after a few of us engaged in a Twitterbate on this situation, which can be found here. Go check it out. Don't worry, this FP isn't going anywhere and will still be here when you get back. Plus, Tommy recaps a lot of what occurred before his article in his article and so that will set up the rest of this FP.
First, I want to get into a few reasons why trading The Mac should be advised against.
As Tommy notes in his article
He won’t turn 25 until May. He’s already got 258 catches and 26 TDs. He is a high character guy that has played well, but still has room to get better. Organizations don’t like to trade players like that. It looks bad.
These are great points and should be given a great deal of consideration. To put into context where those stats stand historically, I am going to steal a little thunder from BGN user Randy Marsh (OT: great handle. Randy has surpassed Homer as my favorite cartoon dad. Just a great fucking character in every sense) from this morning's BGN Linc
That is some rarefied air ladies and gentleman (and Eagla!)
Also, as Tommy pointed out on Twitter last night, it is rare that a team willingly trades away a former 1st rounder before he hits his prime. Tommy says that it makes the org. (specifically the GM) look bad and I can see the logic behind that. You invest an expensive draft pick in a player, but don't see that investment through to the long term. It is generally bad business to buy high and sell low, and in essence, that is what would be done with trading Mac right now. You would have to get a 1st rounder in return to even out and I doubt that is going to happen.
But, as great as these points are and how strong of an argument they present, I put forth a few questions this morning that I believe may counter those points and establish a reasonable argument to trading him now, depending of course on how each of us respectively answer them.
1- Will Howie pay top dollar for two WRs and your top RB? And if he can get Bryce to blow up, then you have another RB that you will have to pay in the near future and you have to consider that as well.
2- Is Mac a guy who can block but doesn’t out of choice but CK can get him to, or is he a guy who simply doesn’t have it in him to mix it up in the running game?
3- What can we get back for Mac? Can we get two picks, 1 this year and a cond 1 next year? And if so, will they be valuable enough to offset what Mac gives you?
4- If you only want one top WR, who fits the ideal Offense the best between DeSean and Mac? Remember, the WR will probably be involved in the run game in some fashion (more than just blocking, actually carrying the rock in option plays).
5- Can we get a satisfactory WR in the draft to replace, or at least make up enough difference to minimize trading Mac (or DeSean)?
6- If we are going to more 2 TE sets, then do we need 2 top WRs?
(And yes, I just quoted myself. What can I say, vanity is my second favorite sin.)
For the 1st question, the salary cap pie is only so big and one would be completely reasonable to question if Howie would feel comfortable allocating such a large portion of it to the Offensive skill positions. Shady and DeSean have just recently been extended, and even though those deals are looking like team friendly deals already (when compared to what some FA WRs have gotten this off-season), they aren't necessarily cheap by any stretch of the imagination.
LeSean is getting $4.95M in '13, $9.7M in '14, $11.95M in '15, $8.85M in '16 & $7.85M in '17.
DeSean is getting $9M in '13, $12.5M in '14, $12M in '15 & $10.5M in '16.
(Check out Eaglescap.com for further details) Those are some healthy salaries, and while Howie has structured them with cheap outs in the later years, as is his M.O., both guys are probably being seen as key contributors moving forward for this Offense and they won't be cut/traded unless they regress greatly. It would be hard to add Mac to those at anywhere from $7M AAV to something that may be even higher on a long term deal. Also, if Bryce Brown can excel in CK's run heavy offense, as can be reasonably expected after his semi-breakout last year, he will be due some decent money in the near future as well.
Question #2 presents an interesting angle, one that any Duck fan can tell you is important; Can Mac block well enough for CK's liking? I think the saying is "No block, No rock" (or something to that effect) and intimates that you can't just be a pass catching WR on CK's squads, you have to block to get playing time. As we have seen, or at least read from folks who study the tape, blocking is not one of Mac's strong suits. If CK feels this way, then I would think that would not bode well for Mac remaining an Eagle. Also, A Benn who was just aquired in a trade, is a tremendous blocker and a guy who should be a key contributor on STs, and based on the FAs we have added and resigning Colt and the Magician, STs are being taken very seriously under CK.
For #3, the potential return for Mac would be the biggest determining factor in whether or not he would be a serious candidate for being traded. I am not going to speculate on what that would be, but the Percy Harvin trade would probably set a price max (I don't think Mac would fetch as much or more than what the highly versatile Harvin was traded for) and I think the Eagles would absolutely want a 2013 pick as well as a 2014 pick in return that would be conditional. Maybe on whether or not Mac gets an extension. Maybe on his stats. It would suck if Mac went to Indy, blew up with Luck tossing him the rock and all we got back was a late 2nd, early 3rd. We would seriously look bad if that happened, and I am pretty sure Howie don't like looking bad, he likes looking like a Boss! The question then becomes is Mac seen around the League, and in this case specifically in Indy, as a guy who would be worth giving up 2 (or more) picks for. I don't know, but you have to remember that the GM in Indy is Ryan Grigson, a former member of the Eagles Front Office. As far as organizations outside of Novacare, he is probably the most familiar with what Mac represents and so Howie isn't dealing with a FO that has an element of ignorance regarding the player in question in this case.
The 4th question is rather hyperbolic and to speculate on this is really just an exercise in futility because we don't really know what the NFL version of CK wants yet for his offense as a whole, let alone the WR position specifically. Maybe he plans on relying more on passing in the NFL than he did at Oregon and requires 2 or more elite WRs. Maybe he only wants 1 WR and actually sees Mac as the better fit and would prefer moving DeSean. Maybe he wants to bring in Tayvon in the draft and doesn't want 2 diminutive WRs on his squad and by keeping Mac, you keep a guy who has a little better size. Maybe I should stop with the maybes and move on to the next question.
To answer #5 in a succinct fashion; yes. Yes we can. We may not need to draft another WR as the roster stands, but as many have noted before; a 4-12 team shouldn't have any positions that are looked at as not needing improvement. As is the case every year, there are some intriguing WR/TE prospects that may be a good fit for CK and his ideal Offense.
And lastly, the perceived (and probably correct) theory that CK is going to implement more 2 TE sets means that a player from another position is going to have to come off the field. Given CK's tendency to run more than pass, that would seem to imply that a WR would come off the field before a RB. As I have already pointed out, DeSean is signed long term and has a high dead money amount if moved early in that deal, so he most likely isn't going to go anywhere any time soon. That would mean that Mac may be the odd man out.
To recap; Mac is on the last year of his deal and all of the other major offensive position players (outside of QB) are signed long term. Mac is probably going to be an expensive resign and Howie may prefer not to allocate that much salary cap to offense. CK's hypothetical run-first offense may not be the best fit for Mac as he doesn't block well. Mac may be seen as a quality addition to other organization's, especially one that has a high familiarity with him with Grigson's time in Philly. Mac, as great as he has been, may actually be replaceable through the draft with a player who would be signed to a team friendly rookie deal and provide some element of cost certainty.
As I said before, I have no insider knowledge of the situation but feel that it should lead to some great conversation. So, BGNers, get at it.
Thanks for reading. Time's yours. Have a great day and a better tomorrow.