Last year at this time the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback situation was much less settled than it is right now. Despite trading a 2016 second round draft pick to acquire Sam Bradford, there were still rumors and speculation that Chip Kelly was going to try to trade up in the 2015 NFL Draft to select Marcus Mariota. Of course, it ultimately didn't happen. The Tennessee Titans took him at No. 2 overall and that was that. That doesn't mean Kelly didn't try, however. At the time it was reported that the Eagles offered a huge package to the Titans.
What package are #Eagles talking about to go to No. 1 or No. 2? Two 1st rounders, a 3rd rounder, Fletcher Cox, Boykin, Kendricks, more. Wow.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 30, 2015
It remains to be seen if that offer was true. I've heard from sources that Fletcher Cox was never truly offered in a deal last year.
NFL insider Peter Schrager offered more insight on what the potential Eagles-Titans trade looked like in a recent interview with Colin Cowherd. The context here is that they were talking about the possibility of a team like the Rams, who own the No. 15 overall pick this year, trading up high to get a quarterback. Hat tip to Philly Sports Network on the find:
NFL Insider Peter Schrager shows just how desperate Chip Kelly was to draft Mariota....wow pic.twitter.com/rFy6iMkxVB— Liam Jenkins (@LiamJenkins21) March 17, 2016
"Last year the Eagles offered the Tennessee Titans, and I know this, a 2015 first round pick, a 2015 second round pick, a 2016 first round pick, and said 'take any of our quarterbacks, that's Bradford, that's [Mark] Sanchez, that's whoever. And take anyone on our defense. We want that number two pick.'"
For what it's worth, Kelly denied that the Eagles ever got close to acquiring Mariota last offseason.
"We had a conversation with both teams at the front, but it was way too steep to do anything," he said. "It didn't get very serious, to be honest with you."
"We didn't offer any players to anybody," Kelly claimed. "We didn't get into any discussions. It was just a really steep price. It was like driving into a nice neighborhood and looking at a house, and they tell you the price and you walk away. We didn't walk in the front door and take a look around. Part of our plan, as we've said all along is we're going to build this team. We still think there is a lot of value in this draft and in future drafts. So we want to try to hold on to our picks, if we can."
All of this is spilled milk now. It's in the past. But for the sake of debate and discussion, would you have done the trade Schrager suggests here if you were the Eagles? So let's say instead of Nelson Agholor, Eric Rowe, having their first round pick at No. 13 this year, and Bradford, the Eagles would have Mariota. Would you do that? The former Oregon Ducks quarterback certainly flashed franchise potential as a rookie. Meanwhile the Eagles are merely hoping Bradford can be something he's never been in his career: well above average.
It's interesting to think about what last season would be like if the Eagles had gotten Mariota. Would they still have finished 7-9? Would Kelly still be here? And would Kelly staying around have been a good thing? There are a lot of possibilities to consider in an alternate timeline like that. We'll be left wondering what could have been.