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NFL sources believe Eagles trade up for Marcus Mariota "could be on the horizon"

It's happening?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles have been very busy recently. On Tuesday, the team officially released cornerback Cary Williams. Reports of a Trent Cole release and then a LeSean McCoy trade also emerged. Those two transactions haven't been officially confirmed yet, but they are expected to happen.

But the REAL question in all of this is: how do these moves impact Philadelphia's chances of moving up for Marcus Mariota?

According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the deal could still happen. Bold emphasis mine:

"The trade didn't come as a complete surprise. Those close to McCoy believed that he was on the block but that he would be involved in Kelly's attempt to move up in the draft for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Instead, the running back will end up being part of a swap for another Duck.

Rumblings that the Eagles coach will do whatever it takes to get Mariota persist, and some sources around the league believe a trade with one of the teams with a high draft pick could be on the horizon."

...

Last week it was Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice who reported that he is "becoming more and more convinced daily that the Eagles are trading up to #1 prior to the draft." Then it was Pat Yasinskas of ESPN who reported he was hearing that a Buccaneers-Eagles trade was imminent... until the rumor suddenly disappeared from his reach.

Update: Read our NFL Draft 2015 positional rankings.

It's worth noting that the Buccaneers are in the process of hosting top quarterback prospect Jameis Winston for a visit this week. Tampa Bay could definitely be targeting him with their No. 1 pick. But here's where it gets odd, via Adam Schefter:

"Jameis Winston visiting Buccaneers today might be unprecedented. Potential No. 1 picks don't visit teams with No. 1 pick this early. Ever."

What's the driving force behind the odd timing of this Tampa Bay visit? It could mean nothing. But if you'll entertain my conspiracy theory and allow me to speculate, perhaps it means that the Eagles do have some kind of deal in place if Tampa Bay wants to pull the trigger. Before the Buccaneers can decide, they want to be sure on Winston. And if that's the case, this is all happening now, before free agency, because the Eagles would want to make such a trade before the new league year starts. Why? Because like how the Redskins-Rams deal went down before free agency in 2012, it gives the team trading up a better sense of what holes they need to fill on the open market. Again, no inside information here, this is all just connecting the dots.

Kelly is in charge now and so far he hasn't been shy with his power. Could that translate to making an aggressive move for Mariota? If McLane's report about a potential deal being on the horizon is true, it might not be long before we find out.