A little over a month after the Philadelphia Eagles said “enough’s enough” and finalized a trade for Ronald Darby to upgrade the cornerback position, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer suggests another swap could be in the works, or at least should be.
Sharing 10 thoughts for the MMQB column this week, Breer says he expects NFL teams “will call on the availability of (New England) Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler” after the once-disgruntled defensive back didn’t start for Bill Belichick’s unit on Sunday. And with the in-season trade deadline fast approaching on Oct. 31, Breer identified one potential trade partner: The Eagles.
Who would be the trade partner? The Eagles make sense. And they have a versatile front seven piece that would fill a major need for the Patriots and has been tied to trade talks in the past: linebacker Mychal Kendricks.
This, to be clear, is only speculation from Breer. This isn’t a report claiming the Eagles and Patriots are having talks, going to have talks or ever will have talks regarding Butler’s availability as a trade chip. But how logical is the speculation, you ask?
Firstly, as to whether or not Belichick and Co. might actually deal Butler, who is playing under a first-round restricted free agent tender in 2017, Breer is as justified as anyone to suggest the corner could still be moved. Not only because the veteran Pro Bowler and former Super Bowl hero was a perpetual topic of trade rumors in the offseason and literally paid a visit to the New Orleans Saints during contract negotiations but because, as Breer points out in his column, Belichick “showed last year with (linebacker Jamie) Collins that he won’t hesitate to move on.”
Now, as to the Eagles being linked to Butler, the idea makes sense on the surface. Even after dealing for Darby, Philadelphia is needy in the secondary. Safety Malcolm Jenkins went on record himself to call the defensive backfield “paper thin,” according to Philly.com’s Zach Berman, in advance of the Eagles’ Week Three game. Darby will be sidelined for weeks to come with an injury. Behind youngsters Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas, the team has only veteran slot man Patrick Robinson and recent New York Jets castoff Dexter McDougle. It’s not like the safety spot is any less banged up to assist, either.
As BGN’s Brandon Lee Gowton pointed out to me, landing Butler, no matter the cost, might also benefit the Eagles when it comes to getting compensation for jettisoned corner Eric Rowe. Since Philly will receive a future third-round draft pick — instead of a fourth-rounder — from the Pats if Rowe plays at least 50 percent of New England’s defensive snaps, purging Butler from Belichick’s roster seems like a surefire way to elicit some better draft capital.
In reality, though, there are probably more reasons to assume this is nothing more than, well, what it is — speculation. Sure, the Eagles could use corner help, and Butler sounds like a big name to bring in, especially if you’re pairing him with Darby down the road. But the Eagles aren’t exactly in the position to be throwing around more draft picks after giving up a third-rounder (in addition to Jordan Matthews, remember) for Darby, especially if those draft picks are going toward a guy who seems bent on angling for a lucrative contract extension in 2018, when, if all goes according to plan in Philadelphia, recent second-round pick Sidney Jones should be ready to play anyway.
As far as Kendricks goes, he makes the most sense as a potential trade chip considering the circumstances and, you know, the fact that he admitted to requesting a trade in the offseason. But unless the Eagles are on a warpath for corners like Butler, they might just be content with keeping No. 95, who’s had quite the start to 2017 even in limited snaps at linebacker.
Should the Eagles trade Mychal Kendricks for Malcolm Butler?
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