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Which Eagles Are Most Valuable In A Trade?

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If Chip Kelly is still looking to move to the top of the draft, there are a few current Eagles who could find themselves part of a blockbuster trade. Let's look at some of the options.

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During his surprise press conference at the start of free agency, Chip Kelly made it clear that if Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy weren't safe, no one was. And while Kelly has stated publicly that he won't be mortgaging the future to trade for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, the rumors still persist. Heck, even Mariota himself thinks it could still happen.

That said, moving from the 20th pick to the top of the draft is no small feat. A leap like that is unprecedented, and with Kelly and new VP of Player Personnel Ed Marynowitz at the helm, there's no telling what could happen come draft night.

It's also important to mention at the outset that this is not a ranking, and that losing all of these players would end up hurting the team in some way, shape or form. As Sixers GM Sam Hinkie said, players are not assets. They're dudes who would have to leave the NovaCare Complex and go live somewhere muggy like Tampa.

With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the players who, for various reasons, could be part of either a trade to attain the services of Mariota, or could be moved in other various offseason trades, a la Bryce Brown.

Let's start with...

The Andy Reid-Era Vets

As the heading says, this group of guys consists of players drafted during Andy Reid's tenure as head coach. For the most part, some combination of scheme change and/or difference of coaching philosophy have kept these otherwise talented players from seeing as much playing time as their talent warrants. Unlike some players who are conspicuously missing from this list (more on them later), trading any of the guys on this list would be a win-win: the Eagles get something of value in return, and the players get a fresh start and the opportunity to play significant snaps.

Vinny Curry, DE

Of all the guys on this list, losing Curry would be among the biggest bummers, not only because of his on-field talents, but because he's one of us. A native of Neptune, NJ, Curry grew up an Eagles fan. The day after being drafted, Curry was brought in to the NovaCare Complex for his introductory press conference, which, oh by the way, happened to be the same day Brian Dawkins announced his retirement.

Unfortunately for Curry, the highlights haven't come as frequently as either he might have hoped. The change from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme kept Curry, who was kept at defensive end, down the depth chart. But to his credit, Curry didn't let that stop him from showing up. Despite playing only 32 percent of the total defensive line snaps, Curry still finished the year with nine sacks. Needless to say, this kind of production would be enticing to a 4-3 team looking to make a trade.

Of the teams at the top of the draft, a team like Tampa Bay could certainly use help at defensive end. If the Buccaneers and Eagles are talking trades, it's likely Curry's name has come up in the negotiations.

Brandon Boykin, CB

After being drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, pundits and hack bloggers alike lauded the Eagles for taking a chance on an undersized but talented player who slipped in the draft due to injury. But with the new coaching staff came a new philosophy. What started out as a promising career has turned into a sort of Sisyphean quest for a starting role. Despite the Eagles' struggles at corner in 2015, Boykin never really had a chance to start. When pressed on this topic throughout the season, Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis gave several reasons: he wasn't ready. He was better suited for the slot. He was given the chance to start, and didn't win the job.

Whatever the reason, Boykin ended up playing less than half the defensive snaps in 2014 (42.7 percent, to be exact), but had shown enough to prove he could start - and even saved Chip's ass in the biggest game of the coach's NFL career.

Since it's clear the Eagles don't have any long-term plans for Boykin, the best move for both parties is probably a parting of ways, which is a shame. While a team like Tennessee or Tampa Bay may not necessarily be looking for starting help on the outside, perhaps the talent-starved Jaguars or Raiders would be interested in a super athletic cornerback who can do this.

The Chip Kelly Guys

While a number of players on this list were drafted before Kelly took over as head coach in 2013, there are a few notable exceptions. It's important to mention that, while these guys could be part of a deal in the offseason, it's less likely that the Eagles would want to give up one of them.

Zach Ertz, TE

Outside of Boykin, no current Eagle's lack of playing time as baffled fans as much as Ertz. Chip used his 2013 second-round pick on the tight end from Stanford, who showed immense promise his rookie year. Heck, one of the most popular storylines of last summer was the inevitable breakout year Ertz was about to have. And while he finished the year with 58 catches for 702 yards and three touchdowns, he went largely unused in several games, and was on the field for less than 50 percent of the snaps.

So what gives? The coaches needed to see better blocking from Ertz before handing him more responsibilities, and evidently Chip and Co. didn't see enough improvement in that area to give him snaps over Brent Celek, one of Kelly's favorite players on the team.

That isn't to say Ertz is without value to the Eagles. On the contrary - he figures to be a large part of the offense moving forward, and should be the long-term starter once Celek moves on. But if the Eagles are indeed trying to move up to the top of the draft, one of the first players another team will ask after will be Ertz.

With the exception of Washington and Jacksonville, two teams that recently addressed their tight end spots, every team near the top of the draft could use help at tight end. Losing Ertz would be a bitter pill to swallow, but if Chip really wants to move up, trading Ertz could prevent the Eagles from giving up many other players or picks.

Jordan Matthews, WR

Speaking of bitter pills, losing Matthews, one of the most popular young players on the team, would be tough. Last year's second round pick endeared himself to fans early on by displaying the things Eagles fans love more than anything else: hustle, humility and potential. Named the team's slot receiver from the start of Training Camp, Matthews ended the season second on the team in receiving yards (872), catches (67) and touchdowns (8). His season started off slowly, but when Mark Sanchez took over at quarterback, the two showed an immediate chemistry that resulted in 559 yards and five touchdowns in the final eight games.

Matthews is another Chip Kelly draft pick whose stock should only rise as he becomes more comfortable in the system. And his work ethic, upside and impressive skill set will make him all the more valuable in trade talks--should the Eagles decide they need to trade him.

Lane Johnson, OT

For sentimental reasons, losing Johnson, Chip's first ever draft pick, would sting. But for pragmatic reasons, trading Johnson might be among the most logical options. Just about every team picking in the top five could use tackle help, and Johnson has proven that he can be a capable starter at a premium position. While he's not yet a finished product, his size and athleticism make him an intriguing option for a team looking to turn its high draft pick into a core of young players with upside.

The Wild Cards

The players on this list appear to have as good a chance to be impact starters for the Eagles as they do to be in another uniform by the summer. Neither outcome would surprise most fans, which makes for interesting offseason discussion.

Mychal Kendricks, LB

Kendricks could have also been filed under the "Andy Reid-Era Veterans" category, but recent speculation about his status moves him here. While he's been a productive player who has improved each year, he's also become something of an odd man out. After the Eagles traded for Kiko Alonso, the assumption among most NFL observers was that the team's inside linebacker position had gone from an area of legitimate concern to a position with two potentially great, young players. But Kelly said Demeco Ryans - the player Chip Kelly famously dubbed the Mufasa of the Eagles - will stick around. That means that the undersized Kendricks may be on the outside looking in at a starting role (no pun intended).

Like some of the other players on the team, a trade could be mutually beneficial for a player who is scheme-diverse and talented. While the Bucs and Titans might not need help at WILL or ILB, respectively, finding a team with interest in a versatile and athletic linebacker shouldn't be difficult. If Kendricks is traded, it's possible that he isn't part of some blockbuster move, but ends up being moved in a draft day deal to move up later in the draft.

Sam Bradford, QB

How you feel about Bradford's future on the Eagles largely depends on how you feel about a potential Marcus Mariota trade. While some feel that Kelly was being honest when he publicly stated his support of Bradford, others feel it's a pre-draft smokescreen designed to send Bradford to another team as part of a deal for Mariota.

There are certainly elements of Bradford's game that translate into Kelly's system. And despite his bust label, Bradford has displayed the tools that made him the first overall pick in 2010. Like this:

If the Eagles really are looking to move Bradford, there appear to be options available. The Browns reportedly offered the Rams the 19th overall pick for Bradford before the trade with the Eagles, and Kelly hinted that Cleveland offered them the same deal as well. Could the Eagles make a trade with the Browns for that pick--or their other first-rounder, the 12th overall selection--and use those two firsts as ammunition for another move?

Kelly and company could also use Bradford as part of a package deal. It seems unlikely that Tampa would be willing to give up the first overall pick and end up Bradford as their guy (despite rumors to the contrary), but would the Titans, with head coach Ken Whisenhunt, be interested?

The Blockbusters

The guys on this list are perhaps the most unlikely to be traded in the offseason: they're among the most talented players on this list, and are both young and inexpensive, two traits that make these players that much more valuable.

Kiko Alonso, LB

Surprise! Just as trading a star player like Cox makes little sense, giving up Alonso - a player for whom Chip just traded - makes even less. #DuckBias aside, Alonso is still recovering from knee surgery that kept him out of the entire 2014 season, though his rookie campaign was the stuff of legends. While Alonso might be an appealing trade piece for a team looking to get a good return in a trade, don't expect Kelly to give up his guy before he even suits up in Philly.

Fletcher Cox, DE

Say it ain't so! As one of the most talented players on the roster, losing Cox would be a blow to a defensive line that is arguably the best position group on the team. Cox played at a Pro Bowl level last season, and is adept at creating havoc from a position not generally known for the kind of impact plays we saw from Cox in 2014.

Because of his natural talent, position versatility and relative youth (he'll turn 25 at the end of the season), Cox would be the cornerstone of any blockbuster trade. Giving up a player Kelly saw as the team MVP last season would be difficult. If there is a plus side to a move like this, it's that trading Cox would likely mean that the number of picks and players required for any hypothetical Mariota trade would shrink considerably.


Who do you think could be traded during the draft?