By Len Rosen
Wanna’ think outside the box? So far outside that gravity won’t save you, or the box? Okay. Here’s why the Philadelphia Eagles should consider trading starting quarterback Nick Foles before or during the first day of the NFL Draft. And who knows? Given coach Chip Kelly’s penchant for the unpredictable (think the gasp-inducing move-up in the fourth round last year to draft quarterback Matt Barkley), who’s to declare, definitively, that Kelly would never trade Foles? Now is a good time to never say never.
Why’s that? Please consider:
· When will Foles’ trade value be higher? Last season, he threw for 27 touchdowns with just two interceptions, meaning he took care of the football like it was a dependent. His 2,891 passing yards and 119.2 quarterback rating substantiate a stellar season that seemingly came out of nowhere – a drafted-in-the-third-round nowhere.
· So why trade a 25-year-old quarterback not diminished by NFL injury whose resume was upgraded by being named Pro Bowl offensive MVP in January? Here’s another reason why: The Eagles’ offensive line stayed intact last season. That was unlike 2012 when injuries along the line gave Michael Vick about two-seconds-or-else to release the football. "Or else" happened at an unconscionable rate. Being a human anvil to the hammers was not pleasant. In 2013, the immobile Foles had an additional second or two – approaching eternity in the NFL – to throw the ball. What are the chances that the offensive line will stay as injury-free in 2014? And it might be productive to keep in mind the Eagles probably won’t focus much on the offensive line in the draft.
· Ultimately, wouldn’t Kelly be able to unleash his creative offensive mind in more varied ways with a faster, quicker quarterback, one who at least presents the threat of running the option – or running for 15 yards instead of five when large openings appear? (Think the Colin Kaepernick species of running threat.) Now if you believe that Foles will be the next Tom Brady, or something close, that ought to provide pause. But maybe you don’t. NFL television analyst Cris Collinsworth was disturbed by Foles’ habit of looking down at the turf, not downfield (ala Drew Brees), when hurried. Won’t defensive coordinators studying the Nick Foles of 2013 implement ‘’hurry him and hurry some more" an awful lot? When rushed hard, Foles cannot be expected to escape quickly and extend plays like Tony Romo and Russell Wilson.
· Going into the draft next month, the Eagles need all kinds of help on defense. But their first two selections are currently at 22 and 54, plus they have no pick in the 6th round. Even with Kelly’s inventive mind, the team’s chips to move up, or gain additional picks in an allegedly talented draft, are nearly absent. Unless Foles enters the equation. The Eagles probably won’t be serious Super Bowl contenders until the defense is solidified. They did not focus on defense during free agency. Connect that to the fact the Kelly has attended an unusually high 12 Pro Days. It’s as if he will have more than six selections in the draft. Maybe the Eagles intend to create more picks by trading down, or does Foles factor in?
· Several teams drafting in the top half of the first round are considered to have a need at quarterback. The general consensus? Those teams will have to overlook or minimize that none of the highly-rated college QBs are regarded as top-10 worthy talents. Foles, a proven commodity, has an NFL pedigree: no speculation or projection necessary.
So what exactly is his trade value? What could the Eagles get for him? Before banishing to oblivion the possibility of trading Foles, wouldn’t you like to know? Knowledge can set you free or strengthen your suspect defense, right? If the Eagles cannot reap what they might be sowing behind the scenes, then don’t trade Foles. But is it football blasphemy to explore that possibility, or, to slightly paraphrase coach Kelly, shouldn’t the Eagles do what they believe is necessary to improve the team? Should any carefully plotted strategy, even if initially unpopular with the fan base, be characterized as unthinkable?
· But is all this conjecture – maybe some logic but not enough? Is the Consider-Trading Foles scenario a spring fever pipedream, perhaps from inhaling the first releases of April pollen? Could be. Still, I wonder: Is it accidental that the Eagles recently signed free agent (and former first-round pick) Mark Sanchez who, seemingly, would have had a better chance to start for other teams pursuing him? Is it so far-fetched that Chip Kelly believes he and his staff can make either Sanchez or Barkley the next Nick Foles while improving the rest of the team, especially on defense? Or, if your flight of fancy features drafting Texas A&M bruising wham-bam-slam-the-press-coverage receiver Mike Evans, perhaps wishful thinking could be converted into wish fulfillment. Also: Note the reports that coach Kelly has been working extensively with Barkley, the apparent heir to the third-string quarterback position. Trade Foles and take a more mobile QB late in this draft, or next year. Is that unreasonable?
The last point isn’t a football-related. Okay, maybe it is. The English inventor Trevor Baylis runs Trevor Baylis Brands pic, a company dedicated to helping inventors protect their ideas and to find a route to market. Here’s a quote for all who cannot imagine trading the Pro Bowl MVP quarterback: "The key to success," Baylis wrote, "is to risk thinking unconventional thoughts. Convention is the enemy of progress. If you go down just one corridor of thought, you never get to see what’s in the rooms leading off it." Does that mean the Eagles should definitely trade Foles? No. But it’s a big NFL draft world out there. Look around – perhaps you’ll see something you like. A lot. If so, Kelly doesn’t seem a fan of inertia or, like Mr. Baylis, conventional thinking. While spring cleaning your "Fly Eagles Fly" thoughts, maybe that’s something to ponder.