Last year it seemed like the Eagles would trade back at some point, and we took a look at what to expect if they did. And they wound up trading back in the 1st round and got expected value. This year though, it seems the Eagles will be trading up, very far up, and so the question is what can we expect it will cost them?
While the traditional draft value chart is not used to the letter, by looking at trades since the new CBA in 2011 it is clear that teams use a general guideline. Trading from late in the 1st to the middle of the 1st costs a 3rd, trading from the middle of 1st to early in the 1st costs a 2nd. Illustrating that draft value is fluid, trading within the 2nd has resulted in different returns, each team has different values on picks and circumstances are never the same from draft to draft.
For the Eagles to trade from the 20 to near the very top of the draft is basically unheard of. Since the 2011 CBA, which capped rookie wages and made trading more appealing, the furthest a team has traded up from to get into the top five was in 2013 when the Miami Dolphins traded the 12th overall pick and a 2nd rounder to the Raiders for the 3rd overall pick. This trade is another illustration of the fluidity of draft trade value. There was no quarterback worth taking that high and the feeling was that Oakland was desperate to pick up an additional pick in their rebuilding effort. Miami was likely the only team offering the kind of return they received. Such a light trade won't be in the cards for Eagles this year, because when teams are trading up to draft a quarterback, the cost always goes up. Since free agency started in 1993, teams have traded into the top five to draft a quarterback only five times. The prices have varied, but have always been higher than similar trades for non-quarterbacks.
1998: Ryan Leaf
The 1998 draft had what many considered two franchise QBs, Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. The Arizona Cardinals, drafting 2nd overall had no need for a QB, Jake Plummer was coming off a promising rookie season. So they had a lot of leverage to trade the pick. The San Diego Chargers, drafting 3rd overall, had every reason to need a QB. San Diego had the worst offense in the league in 1997, and an aging starting lineup gave them no hope of turning it around. They were desperate. A month before the draft, the Chargers gave up the 3rd overall and a 2nd rounder in 1998, their 1st rounder in 1999, All Pro punt returner Eric Metcalf, and linebacker Patrick Sapp, a 1996 2nd round pick who disappointed. The Cardinals got two extra picks, a top return man and a spare part from the Chargers and in return gave up nothing, since they weren't going to draft Leaf there was no difference to them between picking 2nd and 3rd.
Acquired: 2nd overall.
Price: 3rd overall, an additional 1st, a 2nd, a starter and a backup.
Extra cost (compared to a non-QB trade): The additional 1st and Metcalf. The year before the Rams moved from 6th to 1st by giving up a 3rd, a 4th and a 7th, which is approximately the value of a 2nd rounder. In 1995 the Bengals traded from 5th to 1st by giving up a 2nd rounder.
2001: Michael Vick
Just three years later, the Chargers were again in need of a quarterback after Ryan Leaf became one of the biggest busts in NFL history. The 2001 draft had just one quarterback considered worth a top pick, Michael Vick. Unable to come to terms with Vick before the draft, San Diego decided to move on and trade the pick. The Atlanta Falcons, who were looking for a star to build around, gave them what they were looking for. The Falcons gave up the 5th overall pick and a 3rd in 2001, a 2nd in 2002 and WR/KR Tim Dwight; a similar but lesser haul to what they gave up for Leaf: two picks and a return man to move back a handful of spots.
Acquired: 1st overall.
Price: 5th overall, a 2nd, a 3rd and a starter.
Extra cost: The 3rd rounder and Dwight. Compared to non-QB trades, the Falcons paid extra, in 2000 the Broncos traded from 15 to 10 and gave up a 2nd. But compared to the Leaf trade, the Falcons made out. The extra picks were a round lower and they gave up only one player, who wasn't as good.
2004: Eli Manning
This one requires a bit more back story. In 1983, Ernie Accorsi was the General Manager of the Baltimore Colts and had the #1 overall pick. John Elway, the top player in the draft, made it clear he had no interest in playing for them. Accorsi turned down multiple offers before the draft for the pick, demanding he get three 1st round picks and more in return. Unable to find a team willing to meet his requests, Accorsi drafted Elway anyway, and immediately his options were limited. Before the draft, the Chargers had three 1st rounders in 1983 and were unwilling to meet Accorsi's price. The Raiders had a deal in place to acquire the Bears' pick, 6th overall, to make a package deal with the Colts, but the trade with the Bears was mysteriously vetoed. Al Davis had recently won a bitter legal dispute with Pete Rozell over moving the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles. But now with those options gone and with Elway holding the leverage by threatening to instead play baseball (he was a 2nd round pick by the Yankees in 1981 and played in the minors for them in 1982), the Colts had painted themselves in a corner. Owner Bob Irsay, impatient at the thought of getting nothing for Elway, went behind Accorsi's back and dealt Elway to the Broncos for a much smaller package than would have been received pre-draft: Chris Hinton, who was Denver's top pick that year and the Colts liked, plus a future 1st and backup QB Mark Herrmann.
Lesson learned by Accorsi: If you want the player, you can wait it out and get a better deal. Of course, the team has to have reason to trade the player after drafting him. In 2004 Accorsi, now the GM of the Giants, was on the other side of the coin. Eli Manning was the top player in the draft, and the Chargers, who had the #1 pick, wanted him. But Manning (technically, his dad) made it clear he would not play in San Diego. Unable to reach a pre-draft deal, Accorsi was content to let the Chargers draft Manning and then deal him, knowing they would want Phillip Rivers in return. Which they did. The Giants gave up Rivers, a 2004 3rd and a 1st and 5th in 2005, most likely paying less than if San Diego had made the trade before the draft. The Chargers couldn't draft a QB #1 overall then walk away from the draft without a QB, and the Giants were the only ones shopping a top prospect in return.
Acquired: 1st overall.
Price: 4th overall, an additional 1st, a 3rd and a 5th.
Extra cost: 1st rounder. In 2002 the 8th pick, a 3rd and a 5th were dealt for the 6th pick. And as we just saw, in 2001 going from 5 to 1 cost a 2nd a 3rd and a player.
2009: Mark Sanchez
In the 2009 draft, the Jets had a new coach and needed a QB after Brett Favre left in free agency. The draft had three QBs considered 1st rounders, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman. Stafford was a lock to go to the Lions and did, and picking at 17 the Jets couldn't be sure they would land Sanchez. Cleveland, with new management and coaching taking over a bad team, was willing to deal from 5th overall. To move up 12 spots and draft "The Sanchize" the Jets parted ways with their 1st and 2nd round picks that season, plus three players: DE Kenyon Coleman, QB Brett Ratliff and S Abram Elam, all of whom were acquired by the Jets when Browns coach Eric Mangini was the Jets coach. Ratliff was a third stringer throw in, but Elam and Coleman were starters for Magini on both teams.
Acquired: 5th overall.
Price: 17th overall, a 2nd, two starters and a backup.
Extra cost: At least one of the starters. 12 spots in the 1st round is a big jump and rare. In 2006 the 49ers moved up 15 spots from the 2nd to 22nd overall and gave up a 3rd, so to move up to 5th should cost more, approximately a 2nd. In the context of trading for a QB, parting with Elam, 28, and Coleman, 30, was a bargain, they were more valued by the Browns than the Jets.
2012: Robert Griffin III
What happens when one man wields so much power and is hell bent on getting his way? You get a really bad trade. Like the 1998 draft, the 2012 had what two franchise QBs, and the team drafting 2nd overall thought it already had one and so was willing to trade and able to drive up the price. They found a dance partner even more desperate than the Chargers were in 1998: Daniel Snyder, who was hell bent on getting the charismatic Griffin. To move up from 6th to 2nd and draft Robert Griffin III, the Redskins gave up their 2013 and 2014 1sts and their 2012 2nd. It was a total outlier of a trade, the Redskins gave up massively more than they should have.
Acquired: 2nd overall.
Price: 6th overall, two additional 1sts, a 2nd.
Extra cost: The two 1sts and the difference between a 2nd and 4th, which is approximately a 3rd. In the 2012 draft alone there were two trades were a team in the top ten moved up only two spots, one cost a 4th, the other a 4th and a 5th. Moving up from 6 to 2 should have cost a 3rd rounder, perhaps also a 5th. Instead the Redskins gave up their next two 1st round picks and a 2nd.
If the Eagles are going to move up to the top 5 from 20, they are going to need to give up at least an additional 1st , a second day pick (most likely a 2nd), and either an additional high pick or a combination of players and lesser picks. If they could find a way to get another first in the middle of the round, say, 12th overall from Cleveland, then that pick, 20 and either a second day pick, or player and a lesser pick, or two players should get the job done. Anything significantly more would be overpay for a QB.