This time last year, I argued that Marcus Mariota was worth losing all the picks and players in the world. Today, dear reader, I'm here to offer a slightly modified, but ultimately identical message: trading all of this for Carson Wentz (or Jared Goff, but probably not) is worth it, regardless of what you think about the trade itself.
On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Eagles traded the eighth overall pick to the Cleveland Browns for the second overall pick. And, oh yeah, the Eagles also traded a third-rounder this year, next year's first and 2018's second round selection. General manager Howie Roseman did that--he put the job he fought and clawed to regain on the line--because he understands the simple, unavoidable truth of the NFL in 2016:
Without a great quarterback, you may as well not even make the playoffs.
Is that hyperbolic? Maybe. But it's also not too far from the truth. As we've seen over the past three seasons, historic defenses can come up big and put a team over the edge. But betting on that happening with your team is foolhardy. And, frankly, building an elite defense is at least as difficult as finding a great quarterback.
But let's be real - you probably already know that you need a great quarterback to win it all. Patrick, you're saying, my issue isn't that they went and got their guy. It's the circumstance surrounding it. And to that point, I say 'fair enough.' There are legitimate issues to be had with both the amount the Eagles gave up and the player they are (presumably) getting in return. When it's all said and done, the Eagles traded valuable picks in each draft through 2018 for a quarterback who was 'pretty okay' for a 1-AA team.
But that's not what I'm here to argue. Just like with the Sam Bradford trade, there are certainly gripes to be made about the "who" and the "how." But ultimately, the "why" is most important. Just as an NBA team needs to have at least one star to even pretend to make noise in the league, NFL teams need at least an above-average quarterback to be in the discussion for contention. And as we saw last year, league average will almost never cut it.
The Eagles have the makings of a top 10, if not top five, defense under Jim Schwartz. They've got plenty of holes on offense, but they also have a revamped offensive line that could be better than people think. The offense won't be a world-beater, but it'll be fine. And the team has a core of young players who could take a leap next year. A team like that isn't going to be picking high enough in the draft to get a top quarterback prospect. Not without a drastic move like this.
Doug Pederson and Roseman did their research, decided they would be comfortable with the quarterbacks at the top, and did what they had to get one. And hey, they also got rid of some bad contracts and unhelpful players along the way. Not too shabby.
Wednesday's shocker was the culmination of a plan at least two years in the making. And frankly, it shines a light on Howie's surprising second act as GM. Remember, last year the rumor mill said that Chip Kelly wanted to trade Bradford to move up in the draft, then use those picks to move up again - to second overall - for Mariota. This time around, Howie was ironically able to move up thanks to Chip's bad transactions and use that to get the guy at two.
How Wentz will perform as the Eagles' quarterback is anyone's guess. If you're in Mike Mayock's camp, you might think he'll be a true franchise quarterback. If you're more like BGN Radio's own John Barchard and James Seltzer, you're yelling bad words and shaking your head at the front office. But regardless of where you fall, the most important thing is that the Eagles knew they needed The Guy, found one they liked, and went for it. If these guys in relatively safe jobs are willing to roll those dice, it's worth seeing how those dice fall.