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Max Unger Injury: Could Saints trade for Eagles center Jason Kelce?

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Let’s play matchmaker.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints woke up to some bad news on Monday morning. Saints starting center Max Unger suffered a foot injury and will miss the start of the 2017 NFL season, according to Ian Rapoport.

So, the Saints need a new center. If only there was a team in the NFL that had a surplus at that position ... oh, wait! There totally is. The Philadelphia Eagles have a lot of depth at center with Jason Kelce, Stefen Wisniewski, and Isaac Seumalo all under contract.

Of those three players, Kelce is the one who has been rumored to be on the trade block this offseason. The Eagles have publicly maintained that they intend on keeping Kelce, but it’s not like they can say otherwise in order to maintain his trade value.

From the Eagles’ perspective, trading Kelce would save $3.8 million in cap space. Kelce is currently paid like a top 10 center and he hasn’t performed at that level over the past two seasons. He’s still a starting caliber player, but he’s clearly not at the peak of his career anymore.

In addition, Kelce’s departure would help clear up the current logjam on the offensive line. Wisniewski, who the Eagles re-signed this offseason, could start at left guard and Seumalo could start at center, or vice versa. Chance Warmack and Allen Barbre could also be potentially competing for a shot at the left guard spot.

So what could the Eagles get in return for the 29-year-old Kelce? The Saints have all their draft picks in 2018 except for their second round selection. They also potentially have an extra seventh round pick from the Patriots due to a conditional trade. The Eagles don’t seem to be willing to ship out Kelce for anything, or else he’d have already been gone by now. Maybe Philadelphia is hoping for a late Day 2 or early Day 3 pick?

Or maybe the Eagles would be interested in acquiring a player. Saints running back Mark Ingram would fill a major need for the Eagles and New Orleans suddenly has a crowded depth chart in the backfield.

Mark Ingram
Adrian Peterson
Alvin Kamara
Travaris Cadet
Daniel Lasco
Marcus Murphy

The Saints signed Peterson in free agency. His physical style makes Ingram’s skill set a little redundant. Then New Orleans traded their third and seventh round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, PLUS a 2018 third round selection, in order to get Kamara. Cadet played the second most snaps of Saints running back in 2016. Lasco was a seventh round pick last year.

Ingram is coming off a strong season. He rushed for six touchdowns and 1,043 yards on 205 attempts (5.1 average) in 2016. He also had 46 receptions for 319 yards and four receiving scores. Thus, it’s hard to believe the Saints would just give up the 27-year-old Ingram so easily, but maybe the two sides could work something out where draft picks get added to an Ingram-Kelce swap.

For now this is all just hypothetical, but there is some logic to the deal. Philadelphia desperately needs running back help and they have a logjam at center. Howie Roseman is always active in the trade market so this situation is something to keep an eye on.