Jay Glazer says the Eagles are going to be “aggressive” at the trade deadline (Tuesday at 4pm), in particular trying to acquire another offensive tackle. Why not?
The Eagles have the best record in the league and nobody knows what the future holds. Besides, with Carson Wentz accelerating the Eagles rebuild, the future is now, and the Eagles could use reinforcements. In-season trades are generally cheap, the Bills-Jaguars trade of Marcell Dareus for a 6th/conditional 5th round pick should help solidify the market. Additionally, with the Eagles on a bye after next week, the timing is perfect. A player acquired in a trade would almost certainly be inactive on Sunday against the Broncos anyway, but then he would get the bye week to help get up to speed with the playbook. The adjustment period would be as good as could be asked for.
So what could the Eagles trade for? Three positions stand out, and a fourth makes sense as well:
This is the biggest need. The Eagles like Halapoulivaati Vaitai, but they don’t have anything behind him. The third tackle is Taylor Hart, who was added last week, was a healthy scratch against the 49ers, and the next snap he takes at offensive tackle in a competitive game will be his first. The insurance of someone who has some actual experience at blocking is both a big need, and a low bar to clear.
Duane Brown, who returned from a hold out in Houston to find out his owner called him a prison inmate, is the big name that will get banded about, and there’s no doubt he wouldn’t mind a change of ownership scenery. But the $4.7 million that Brown is owed for the rest of the season would eat up a lot of the Eagles remaining cap space of $6.5 million, which would severely limit the moves they can make if there are more injuries. More likely is a move for a Bills offensive lineman.
The situation at linebacker is similar to offensive tackle. The Eagles like Joe Walker, but behind him they don’t have much. Najee Goode and Kamu Grugier-Hill are just special teams players, and Nate Gerry is transitioning to linebacker from safety. Mychal Kendricks has missed time in every season he’s played, and the second half of the Panthers game showed that the Eagles don’t have the depth if they have to go two deep off the bench. An upgrade at linebacker is another low bar to clear, and unlike offensive tackle a new addition can be worked into a rotation as he gets up to speed.
The Eagles running game has been fine in Darren Sproles’ absence, but there’s a few elements that they haven’t been able to replicate. In addition to his abilities as a pass catcher, Sproles was the best pass blocker of the running backs. With Kenjon Barner the punt returner, the backfield is crowded, but while the Eagles have a team on the phone they should at least do their due diligence. A new running back could play right away in a limited capacity as well.
Here’s a wild card that’s unlikely to happen, but again while the Eagles have a team on the phone, why not ask. The loss of Chris Maragos was the special teams equivalent of losing Jason Peters on offense or Jordan Hicks on defense. The Eagles have in-house options on the active roster and practice squad to say nothing of street free agency, and Dave Fipp is outstanding at getting newcomers to hit the ground running, but if there’s a difference maker on special teams out there, why not go get him? In his year in limbo, Howie Roseman studied roster constructions in other sports. In leagues where trades happen all the time, teams that can’t pull a deal to shore up a weakness sometimes instead make a move to deepen a strength. For a team that isn’t going anywhere, flipping a special teamer for a late round pick is a smart add-up-the-margins move, for the Eagles, a team that counts on great special teams play, re-enforcing a unit that just suffered a major injury is also a smart move as well. Like offensive tackle, linebacker, and running back, special teams are potentially another injury away from being an issue.
Trades in the NFL are rare, and during the season they’re so infrequent that the trade deadline should probably be moved back. Despite Howie Roseman’s impressive resume in trading, expect the Eagles to not be able to make a trade, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be aggressive. Nearly everything is coming up Milhouse (H/T to BSH’s Kurt) this season, giving up a 6th round pick shouldn’t stop anything.